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To: DERBYSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL & GOVERNMENT LEGISLATION
STOP PEAK DISTRICT FOOTPATHS BEING UPGRADED FOR 4X4 & MOTORBIKE USE
STOP ALLOWING FOOTPATHS BEING UPGRADED TO RESTRICTED BYWAYS OR BYWAYS OPEN TO ALL TRAFFIC (BOAT)
Why is this important?
The Peak District National Park is reputed to be the 2nd most visited national park in the world and when you visit this area it’s not hard to understand why, the area is truly breath-taking and living in the Peak District is a real privilege.
Sadly not everyone who comes to the Peak District wants to enjoy the peace and serenity that the area offers.
The area is under continuous assault by off road enthusiasts who come in significant numbers to rally up and down lanes and bridal ways for recreational sport, these off roaders have learned that if a footpath has ever been used by a horse and cart since the early 18oos they can apply to have the use changed from a footpath to a byway or even worse a Byway Open to All Traffic.
To upgrade existing footpaths to byways of any designation blurs the distinction of what is permissible. Even the description of a route which allows for ‘limited use’ by motorised vehicles clouds the issue and implies some right of vehicular access.
As we have seen in many cases across the national park – abuse of restricted byways by those seeking out green lanes to drive across, is a common fact. There is no meaningful policing of these routes as the police do not view such transgressions as a priority.
This is detrimental to the fabric and essence of the national park and as the authorities have no power to overrule these decisions the applications virtually always get approval as the law is on the side of the applicant. It is an antiquated law that needs to change as a matter of urgency. At the very least - any national park should have special provisions to overrule decisions which will affect these beautiful areas, currently they do not have this power.
We must make sure that these areas are left as we found them for future generations to enjoy in the same way, but once these paths are opened up to broader definitions of traffic, the effects and devastation are substantial. I will list a few below:
1. Erosion rapidly sets in and the ground is constantly churned up by powerful motorbikes, 4x4s, – causing once minimal footpaths to become broad lanes
2. The native wildlife and flora habitats are destroyed (some of these are rare or protected species)
3. Peat bog lands are reduced to slurry
4. Some off roaders not content with the path they have, widen their riding area in search of greater challenges, creating more damage
5. Local residents and tourists suffer as a result of the noise these machines bring to the area
6. Green lane traffic poses a danger to walkers and visitors due to the speed and aggression that some apply whilst in the area
7. Once the area is sufficiently churned up, the ground becomes unstable and when the heavy rains of winter start, the degrading effect happens much faster and the lands begins to wash away
8. Neither environmental impact nor local opposition are taken into consideration on decisions to redefine footpaths within the national park because the authorities are simply complying with the letter of the law
9. The number of routes designated as simple, peaceful footpaths within the national park reduces as the definitions are upgraded to encourage more forms of transport.
The argument against this is huge and a book could be written about the devastating impact to the area, obviously we can’t do this here and indeed the applicants for this will have their own arguments about why they should have access to the land. Our decision to fight this is not because we don’t like the people who carry out this sport it’s because we value our countryside as it should be.
We will add that a large number of disused quarries and certain farmlands charge a small fee for riders to enjoy the ultimate off road experience in purpose-made environments so why on earth would you want to ruin nature at its very best
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