THE dispute over allowing 4x4-vehicles on two ‘green lanes’ has trundled on as the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) rebutted allegations made against it by a pressure group.

The Green Lanes Environmental Action Movement (GLEAM) has filed a claim for a judicial review against the LDNPA, alleging that it acted unlawfully in relation to decisions made at a meeting of its Rights of Way Committee.

On October 8, 2019, the committee decided against banning the use of 4x4 vehicles on unsealed sections of the Tilberthwaite and High Oxen Fell Roads at Little Langdale.

According to authority solicitor Julie Wood, the claim form alleges that the LDNPA “failed to properly advise members of the Rights of Way Committee of their duty” under the ‘Sandford Principle’, which states that where “conflicts of purposes of national parks” cannot be resolved, priority should be given to “conserving and enhancing the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the area.”

However, the LDNPA is asserting that it “advised members about the approach it should take in applying the Sandford Principle”, stating that guidance notes from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) “make it clear” how the principle is to be applied.

Ms Wood also refers to claims that the LDNPA “failed to discharge its duty” regarding the the next step to be taken where management of the green lanes was concerned.

She states: “The (LDNPA’s) assessment report carefully considered the available options and the relevant material factors.

“It concluded that the evidence did not support the argument that the only means of management open to us at this stage was prohibition of mechanically propelled vehicles on the unsealed sections of road in question.”

“On that basis the Rights of Way Committee disagreed with GLEAM’s arguments.

“The committee determined that it was not necessary at present to begin the process of consulting on a Traffic Regulation Order (to prohibit 4x4 use) and decided to first enter into alternative management and monitoring arrangements."

The LDNPA will file its response to the claim on February 4. Ms Wood noted: “A claim may only be brought with the court’s permission and the court has yet to determine whether or not it will give permission.”