EFFORTS to protect the green lanes of the region’s moors and dales from damage by illegal off-roaders have been ongoing for decades.

Some of the lanes are left almost impassable by unscrupulous riders and drivers, who pay no heed to the safety of walkers, cyclists and horse-riders using the routes. Their actions also cause huge difficulties for farmers going about their everyday business.

It is important to make the distinction between illegal off-roaders, who are responsible for the anti-social behaviour outlined above, and those who use the lanes entirely within the law.

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Organisations such as the Trail Riders Fellowship and the Green Lane Association work hard to promote responsible use of the routes, with their members often spending time repairing the destruction left by others.

Today we report on calls for a new debate on the management of green lanes in the Yorkshire Dales, after closures imposed by North Yorkshire County Council were ignored.

In the past, some campaigners have called for blanket bans on motorised access to green lanes, but this is not a practical solution and would penalise responsible users.

Because the lanes are public highways, any move to reclassify them has to go through a lengthy legal process. And unless a body with enough financial clout is willing to fund the case, and is prepared to defend any subsequent appeals, such challenges run the risk of becoming long-winded and expensive.

The solution surely lies with a combination of harsher penalties for illegal and anti-social riders and drivers, better education within the green laning community about the impact their actions can have, and as outlined in today’s article, a commitment from all parties to work together to better protect the landscape.