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News on Green Lanes

November 2023


The Green  Lanes Environmental Action Movement (GLEAM) has just published its report 'Calling Time on Off-roading', spelling out the public nuisance and environmental damage being done by 4x4s and motorbikes driving off-road on countryside tracks.

The report, illustrated with photographs, also spells out how and why current legislation is failing to protect 6,000 miles of green lanes in England and 1,000 miles in Wales – including in the National Parks and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty and on the National Trails.

In a GLEAM press statement, chairman Dr Michael Bartholomew said:

‘The ancient tracks that thread their way through the countryside are a precious, historic feature of the landscape. Calling Time on Off-roading explains how driving on them for fun with 4x4s and motorbikes is destroying them. It causes public nuisance to residents and to people on foot, horse or cycle, including people who are disabled. It disrupts farming activities. It places heavy burdens on highway authorities and the public purse, and it brings noise, pollution and the depletion of nature into otherwise tranquil, unspoilt areas.

‘The law as it stands is failing to deal with all this damage and nuisance. What is needed is new legislation to bring off-roading to an end -  everywhere’.

June 2023

The Lake District is one of 49 World Heritage Sites at risk listed in the latest report by World Heritage Watch, a civil society NGO in close dialogue with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. The report urges the Lake District National Park Authority to take immediate action on eight of the routes most affected by 4x4 and motorbike enthusiasts.

Other cases where urgent action is needed are the ongoing eviction of the indigenous Maasai from Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the disfigurement of the Acropolis of Athens, the crumbling mining mountain near Potosí in Bolivia, the drying up of Spain’s Doñana National Park, and the plan to destroy the oldest archaeological site of St. Petersburg to make room for a business complex.


You can read the report here. (The section on the Lake District is on p. 104 - 105)


March 2023

The LDGLA presents its report to UNESCO and ICOMOS at the World Heritage Watch Forum. You can read it in our April Newsletter.


Nightingales and motorbikes - R4 Today reported on the National Parks Soundscapes.  This is a new project documenting sounds in National Parks, both natural  and noise pollution. You can upload your sounds here.


If you're in any doubt how intrusive engine noise can spoil a track, just look at this Youtube video.


December 2022

After the 2022  consultation on protected landscapes, what will Defra do about green lanes?

In a letter to GLEAM, the Green Lanes Environmental Action Movement, the Defra Minister at the time, Lord Benyon, gave details about the government’s plans for the protection of green lanes. The main points:

1) At this stage no legislation is envisaged, although that remains an option for the future. 

2) Defra is proposing to rewrite the guidance in order to allow the mechanism for protecting green lanes to be easier to use and empower highways authorities to implement TROs effectively.

3) Defra will identify those routes which carry vehicular rights but are unsuitable for vehicular use and gain collaborative agreement that TROs on these most vulnerable routes will not be contested by the vehicle user groups. (The original letter from Lord Benyon used the term 'unsustainable'. In a further letter the new Minister, Trudy Harrison,  wrote that this would be replaced by 'unsuitable'.) 

We at the LDGLA hope that this will allow the Lake District National Park Authority to tackle the green lanes problem with renewed vigour. Surely all of us share the same aim – to protect this unique landscape and help it regenerate. Defra will now make it easier to achieve this aim. 

May 2021

Lakes Parish Council votes in favour of a TRO for the Tilberthwaite route.

August 2020

The High Court reaches decision in the judicial review brought by GLEAM against the Lake District National Park Authority. The judge finds that the LDNPA did not act unlawfully in refusing to consult on Traffic Regulation Orders for the High Tilberthwaite and High Oxenfell routes. However, The judgement says nothing about whether the LDNPA's decision was right or not.

December 2019

GLEAM (Green Lanes Environmental Action Group) asks for a judicial review of the LDNPA's decision not to consult on Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) for two lanes near Little Langdale, High Tilberthwaite and High Oxenfell. 

A Crowd Justice appeal raises £89,000 to pay for legal costs.

October 2019

The LDNPA's Rights of Way Committee decides against TRO consultation for two green lanes near Little Langdale. Instead the Committee concludes that no action is needed for the High Oxenfell track, and that a 'partnership management group' should decide on the future management of the Tilberthwaite route.

This decision goes against a request by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre to apply TROs to both routes. The ICOMOS report containing this request was received by the LDNPA on the day of the Committee meeting and could not be taken into account.

ICOMOS (via the UNESCO World Heritage Centre) issues its second Technical Review on the Lake District in response to the National Park's Assessment Report on the High Tilberthwaite and High Oxenfell routes. It describes the conclusion reached by the National Park (i.e. the establishment of a 'partnership management group') as 'inadequate.

August 2019

The LDNPA publishes its Assessment Report on the High Tilberthwaite and High Oxenfell routes. The report ignores hundreds of impact statements made by unmotorised users on the impact of motor vehicles 

May 2019

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre sends a report prepared by its official advisory body, ICOMOS, to the LDNPA. The report demands an end to the practice of green lane motoring.

April 2019

The National Trust issues a statement supporting TROs on the two routes near Little Langdale.

October 2018

Petition reaches 270,000 signatures. ITV broadcasts item about off-roading on the Tilberthwaite track.


May 2018

Defra publishes the final report of the Glover review on protected landscapes.

April 2018 

Langdale residents and home owners write to UNESCO World Heritage Centre, pointing our the impact of off-road vehicles on the Outstanding Universal Value, the qualities for which the Lake District was listed as a World Heritage Site.

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