I’m no great advocate for recreational motor vehicle (off-roading) use, on unsealed, or non-tarmacked routes within our National Park. However, off-roaders pay road tax and, by and large, use legitimate highways. Whereas, we lucky walkers, mountaineers, mountain bikers and others, enjoy the right, but also the privilege of widespread, free public access. This right exacts an enormous cost in repair and maintenance, not forgetting the disturbance to wildlife and farm stock.

Compare the very small number of off-roaders, to the thousands of motor vehicles driving relentlessly, 24/7, on our ill-equipped roads, with all the noise and pollution this creates. Then, there’s our rapacious need for car parking in our towns, villages and valleys. It’s simply not sustainable.

Incidentally, what about the far greater number of quad bikes using our sensitive fells, inevitably damaging fragile landscape and habitats. However, I would view all these activities, and others, as challenges that sit alongside the complex issues that require radical, comprehensive solutions. Climate change, pollution, environmental degradation, the future of farming, increased tourism and new recreational trends, are challenges that we must confront. We’re at crucial moment in time that require a radical change and approach in the way we think and act.

The relatively minor issue of ‘off-roading’ lacks perspective. It seems far too simplistic an issue. Are we not hypocrites, forgetting our own responsibilities and impact, as individuals and communities, living in the Lake District?

Luckily, we are blessed with a forward-thinking, professional National Park Authority, supported by the Lake District Partnership. However, all too often ‘they’ seem to be convenient Aunt Sallies. Perhaps we target them, to deflect from our own responsibilities and deficiencies?

We should reflect that these organisations are led by our own, elected representatives; parish, district and county councillors. They have a demanding, unenviable task; balancing sensitive and conflicting issues, whilst always being mindful of National Park and World Heritage site aims and purposes,

The management of National Parks in the 21st Century, requires the positive participation of us all.

My challenge for everyone who lives and works in the Lake District, including those with a stake and passion for this special place, is to share in the ownership and responsibility for its future.

So, come on, let’s bury our differences and work together to make the Lake District National Park the envy of the world.

Pete Fell