ANCIENT "green lanes" which have criss-crossed the Yorkshire Dales for centuries are to be given further protection from leisure vehicles like 4 x 4 off-roaders and trail motorbikes.
In a move guaranteed to ignite controversy - the pro-4 x 4 lobby is one of the most vocal protest groups in the area - these vehicles are to banned from some of the best known lanes until September next year.
At the weekend, North Yorkshire County Council, which is the traffic authority for the county, announced that a temporary ban imposed in March this year but due to expire in September will be extended for a further 12 months.
Many local authorities, including the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Craven District Council, would like to ban leisure vehicles from the lanes indefinitely because of the noise they cause and the damage they do to grass highways which were intended only for pedestrians or horse-drawn carts.
But, as public highways, they are legal rights of way to anyone under laws passed sometimes centuries before the invention of the internal combustion engine. Changing those laws would possibly need an Act of Parliament and the pro-4x4 lobby has in the past threatened to go to court to protect their rights of access.
Affected by the new ban are Mastiles Lane from Street Gate to Kilnsey, Long Lane from Clapham to Selside, Topmere and Starbotton Cam Road from Kettlewell and Starbotton to the Coverdale road and in Horsehead Pass from Halton Gill to Yockenthwaite.