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Ruling over Peak District 'road' sparks heated debate

Posted 4 December 2012
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Ruling over Peak District 'road' sparks heated debate
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A heated debate has arisen over a ruling made last week that overturned an "experimental" ban on motorised vehicles using the Chapel Gate crossing between Edale and Chapel-en-le-Frith in the Peak District.

The national park authority established the order 15 months ago, but this was overturned by a judge after a campaign by the Trail Riders' Fellowship, meaning 4x4s and trail bikes can use the crossing.

Grough Magazine's report on the ruling sparked a lengthy online debate among its readers. An individual signing in as 'Park Ranger' posted: "Keep off our Moors", but a 'Law abiding trail rider' retorted: "Whose Moors? It's a road."

Another said: "Who's moors? Your own land? Or the land designated for ALL as a result of the Kinder Trespass?" He concluded by claiming: "You guys don't want access for all".

Such a statement probes deep into the issue of what national parks are for and what they are about. For some, the events of 1932 and the Kinder Trespass show access for all is the priority, whatever the means by which people exercise it. For others, however, the damage done by off-roaders spoils the very thing people want access to.

For those in walking boots, the problem is that the designation of the route as a road ignores the fact that it is not tarmaced. This means that the route can easily become a quagmire as wheels churn it up.

Whatever the arguments, motorised vehicles are now allowed back on the route, so walkers heading from Edale to Chapel-en-le-Frith may need to pick their way carefully, or seek an alternative route.

The national park authority can, however, draw on 15 months of impact evidence of what a vehicle-free Chapel Gate has been like, with its audit, resources and performance committee chair Christopher Pennell stating: "We will take time to reflect fully on the legal judgement and the evidence gained to consider whether further restrictions are needed or not."

Such comments indicate the issue will not go away and the experience of other national parks may emphasise this.

For instance, the Walna Scar Road between Coniston and the Duddon Valley is now closed to motorised vehicles after a lengthy battle between the national park and those who wanted to drive or ride there. One day - but not yet - the same may happen at Chapel Gate.ADNFCR-2803-ID-801500007-ADNFCR