What is the responsibility of the National Park Authority?
The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act gives a clear answer:
To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage
To promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public
To enhance their powers of conservation, National Park Authorities were enabled in 2006 to ban recreational motor vehicles from green lanes by imposing Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs), with specific guidance on reasons and procedures.
When there is a conflict between access for special groups and conservation, then, according to the 1995 Environment Act, greater weight must be given to conservation.
The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) is extremely reluctant to use these powers, unlike the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District National Parks. The LDNPA prefers instead to rely on a voluntary restraint scheme, the 'Hierarchy of Trail Routes'.
This limits the number of 4x4s at any one time to four, and the number of motorbikes to six, but does not impose an overall limit. Since the Hierarchy of Trail Routes was started in 2000, on the initiative of off-road motor vehicle groups, there has been a massive increase in recreational off-road driving.