YORKSHIRE Dales residents are battling over plans to build a controversial road to transport timber in 44-tonne trucks along a historic section of Britain’s best known walking trail.

The owners of Cam Forest, near Hawes, in Wensleydale, have applied to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to create a new track between the 240-hectare spruce forest and the Roman track-way of Cam High Road into a road for the heavy forestry wagons.

The trust said the Forestry Commission requires the felling and replanting of the land to protect red squirrels and by using timber wagons along the Pennine Way, Pennine Bridleway and Dales Way routes, the number and length of journeys to and from the forest would be reduced.

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A trust spokesman said by enabling the extraction and restocking of Cam Forest the national park authority would meet its statutory purposes of conserving and enhancing the park’s beauty.

He said: “The proposals have been actively designed in ways that reduce visual impact on the landscape.”

The application has won backing from scores of residents and firms, with Hawes and High Abbotside Parish Council saying the trust’s preferred transport route would “lift the threat of ten years of daily timber wagons using roads totally unsuited to this traffic through Gayle and Hawes”.

Supporters of the plan to build a new section of the track from the forest to Cam High Road say it would mean wagons would not have to pass through 20 miles of roads in the heart of the park.

But Hugh Thornton, vice chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Society, said the authority, which is due to discuss the plan next month, should reject it for being “in direct conflict with the statutory duties of a national park, and will be totally incompatible with the wilderness quality and tranquility of the area”.

He said: “It is also in conflict with the reasons why the national park put a Traffic Regulation Order on the route in 2008, to stop 4x4s and motorcycles using and damaging this enormously important recreational route.”