Press Release: 3 July 2008
The Motoring Organisations' Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA) takes the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to the High Court over the decision to put permanent prohibition of motors orders on eight unsealed roads.
The use of 'recreational motor vehicles' on unsealed roads in the Yorkshire Dales National Park has been a contentious issue for many years. The Yorkshire Dales Trail Management Advisory Group (with members from a wide range of organisations) recommended a package of traffic control measures, each tailored to the specific situation of an initial set of eight routes:
After two rounds of wide public consultation, but not based on evidence, the Access Committee of the National Park Authority resolved in April 2008 to ignore its own officers' original recommendations, and to put full-time, permanent motor traffic prohibition orders on all these routes. LARA took Counsel's advice on the validity of the National Park Authority's decision and, consequent upon this has made an application to the High Court to have the orders quashed on eight grounds, including straightforward non-compliance with statutory requirements.
LARA's Member Organisations are not opposed to necessary and proportionate traffic regulation on unsealed roads, and actively pursue this in many places across Britain. The decision of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority rides roughshod over a great deal of hard work in finding a workable solution that allows motorists to share what is only a very small proportion of the National Park's unsealed rights of way.
The issues identified by LARA's legal team are applicable to almost all traffic regulation order cases, and clarifying and establishing the legal and procedural requirements that bind highway authorities will have a value way beyond the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales.
Fighting this case is very expensive, win or lose. Everyone involved in motor sport and recreation is asked to visit LARA's website and make a donation to the Fighting Fund.
For further information, or to make a donation to the Fighting Fund, please visit www.laragb.org
LARA's Members are:
Association of Land Rover Clubs
Amateur Motor Cycle Association
British Motorcyclists Federation
Green Lane Association
Motor Cycle Industry Association
Motor Sports Association
Trail Riders Fellowship
The press release is available here:
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3 posts • Page 1 of 1
Latest press release, following today's judgement...
Green Lane Traffic Ban Quashed as ‘Unbalanced and Irrational’ by the High Court.
The decision handed down by His Honour Judge Behrens, QC, in the Administrative Court in Leeds has restored four important green lanes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park to potential recreational motor vehicle use.
The Motoring Organisation’s Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA) challenged the decision of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to discard the recommendations of its own Green Lane Advisory Group, and instead to impose full-time prohibition of driving orders. Judge Behrens held that the Park Authority had not conducted the necessary degree of balancing of movement of traffic, and acted irrationally when moving to exclude recreational motor vehicles from ‘green lanes’ in the National Park.
LARA has worked tirelessly over a number of years to fairly regulate and manage the use of green lanes in the National Park, despite the YDNPA adopting a policy to not liaise with recreational motor vehicle users. The Authority has also lobbied for national legislation against recreational motor vehicle activity in the Park, and has accepted the exaggerated lobbying of the anti-vehicle Yorkshire Dales Green Lane Alliance,
Geoff Wilson, one of the claimants in LARA’s case, is a great advocate of the principles of national parks, and is a past member and chair of the YDNP Local Access Forum; however he has become increasingly concerned at the arrogant and irrational manner in which the YDNPA, and in particular its Access Committee was performing. As the judgment was handed-down in Leeds at noon on 19th June, Geoff said,
“I have a great fondness for the Yorkshire Dales and in many respects applaud the examples set by the Authority, but there are examples of the Authority acting unfairly and without appropriate balance for all elements of the Park community. The issues exposed by this judgment are a clear illustration that my concerns are well founded.”
“Throughout the long and often complex process adopted by the YDNPA, I, along with others, have sought to persuade the Authority to adopt a more inclusive and evidence-based approach, and to expose its procedures to greater scrutiny. However, in my view, it was a combination of underlying arrogance and lack of objectivity on the part of Park Authority officers and committee members that resulted in them falling foul of the errors identified in the judgment. In addition the Authority allowed itself to be guided by its own confused and contradictory Access Strategy. We told them that they were wrong, and why, but they just would not listen”.
“Through YDNPA intransigence this case must have cost the YDNPA, and tax payers, upwards of £50,000. It is time and money that need not and should not have been expended had the NPA been more rational in its approach. As a gesture of goodwill LARA even withdrew part of its original claim and made offers that would have avoided the greater part of these costs but typically in arrogance the Authority turned them down and cost the taxpayers a lot of money.”
LARA now urges the YDNPA to go back to the considered proposals of its Advisory Group as the basis for any orders to be remade, and undertakes to work positively with the YDNPA to achieve a fair balance of management measures.
The lessons learned from this case are widely applicable to the making of traffic regulation orders everywhere, and not just on green lanes. The rules and considerations identified here apply to sealed roads just as much, and will help regulate spurious ‘access only’ prohibitions.
Notes for editors:
Gist of the TROs judgment.
1. The challenge was to four of a set of eight ‘no motors’ traffic regulation orders made by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) in May 2008.
2. The other four orders were not challenged because the order as made was not significantly worse that that proposed by the Yorkshire Dales Green Lane Advisory Group (YDGLAG), although LARA alleged that the process by which these orders were made was also flawed.
3. LARA’s action set out a number of ‘grounds of challenge’, with the two most significant being:
In making the TROs, the YDNPA Access Committee failed to consider and/or to take into account YDNPA’s duty under section 122 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to preserve vehicular traffic flow on roads. This is the central allegation; and,
The Access Committee acted irrationally in making TROs on routes where vehicular rights have not yet been ‘conclusively’ established, but are reasonably alleged to subsist.
4. YDNPA vigorously opposed all of LARA’s grounds, asserting that the Access Committee had carried out all the necessary processes, considerations and tests properly.
5. Judge Behrens found in favour of LARA on these two primary grounds (but not in respect of the other grounds) and made an order to quash the four TROs challenged.
The Issues and Implications.
6. The Yorkshire Dales Green Lane Advisory Group, with a wide range of members, including people with a motor sport and recreation background, spent a great deal of time and effort in coming up with evidence-based recommendations for the management of this set of green lanes, taking into account the balanced needs of all types of users, and of conservation. All this work was in accordance with Government advice, experience and good practice, and local circumstances.
7. The National Park Authority officers bowed to outside pressure and made recommendations to committee for harsher restrictions.
8. The YDNPA Access Committee decided, on no evidential basis at all, to impose what amount to total prohibitions on recreational motoring on these routes. In their eagerness to impose these prohibitions, the Access Committee and YDNPA Officers, overlooked the need to comply with the statutes and with the need for rational decisions.
9. LARA welcomes the decision of Judge Behrens as vindicating both the view of the YDGLAG and the considerable undertaking of a voluntary group fighting a wealthy public authority in court.
10. LARA now urges the YDNPA to go back to the considered proposals of the YDGLAG as the basis for any orders to be remade, and undertakes to work with the YDNPA to achieve a fair balance of management measures.
11. The lessons learned from this case are widely applicable to the making of traffic regulation orders everywhere, and not just on green lanes. The rules and considerations identified here apply to sealed roads just as much, and will help regulate spurious ‘access only’ prohibitions.
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