From: Carol Robinson
Chief Executive, Friends of the Peak District
Open letter to: Tony Favell, Chair of the Peak District National Park Authority
Last year Friends of the Peak District launched its Take Back the Tracks campaign to stop off-roading damaging the National Park. It reflected the serious concerns of our 1,000 members and many Peak District communities and visitors who are horrified by the disturbance and damage being caused by 4x4 drivers and trail bikers to tranquil green lanes.
In 2007, the Peak District National Park Authority recognised that action was needed and adopted its current policy on off-roading. Since then, it has (in co-operation with Derbyshire County Council) published plans for eight priority routes and announced only one temporary Traffic Regulation Order – or route closure – for the historic Chapelgate in Edale.
We support these steps but we are asking the Peak District National Park Authority to be bolder! The Park Management Plan embeds the principle that all are welcome and that routes can be managed by accommodating legal uses without spoiling the National Park or other people’s enjoyment of it. Unfortunately this favours the rights of the few over the enjoyment of the many – and often goes against the highest principle of all: that of conserving the National Park.
It is time to review the policy and recognise that consultation, consensus-building and compromises can only go so far. Friends of the Peak District believes that where voluntary agreements are powerless to stop unacceptable damage and disturbance to sensitive areas of the National Park, there can be no compromise.
We believe that the Peak District National Park Authority must use its powers to serve TROs under the 2006 NERC Act and close routes where damage is continuing. It has had these powers for five years and not yet served a single permanent TRO.
We know that solving these problems is not easy but the Peak District National Park Authority must recognise that in some cases the legal rights of off-roaders are outweighed by its statutory responsibilities to protect National Park purposes.
We urge the Peak District National Park Authority to change its policy when it meets to review it in mid-July. To make our point, Friends of the Peak District and other user groups are holding a rally at Long Causeway, Stanage Edge on Saturday 9 July.