AFTER more than a decade of trying to find legal methods of tackling one of the most controversial problems in the Yorkshire Dales - the use of ancient "green lanes" by leisure vehicles like 4 x 4s and trail motorbikes - talks may start soon on a voluntary control system.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has spent years trying to get a total ban on leisure traffic that regularly churns up the ancient lanes - which were crated in historical times - but has always met a legal brick wall.
The lanes were made public rights of way centuries before the invention of the internal combustion engine and trying to legally limit access to them has so far proved impossible despite the apparent backing of Defra.
Members of the authority's access committee have agreed to begin preliminary discussions with local councils and users on ways of controlling the use of motorised vehicles on the lanes. The talks are expected to include a total restriction over sensitive areas of the Dales.
In January, the YDNPA welcomed a call by Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael for new laws to prevent "inappropriate use of public rights of way by mechanically propelled vehicles".
The park authority wants a total ban on recreational quad bikes, motorbikes and 4x4s but, as that is unlikely to happen in the near future, committee members have decided to hold talks aimed at limiting their use.
Jon Avison, Head of Park Management at the YDNPA, said: "This is one of the most contentious recreational issues for the national park and it is a great cause for concern to Dales residents and visitors.
"A total ban is unlikely so we must reach an agreement with councils and the user groups about how we can limit and control the recreational use of these vehicles on the sensitive landscape of the Dales.
"We want to involve the users in trying to maintain and protect the peace and tranquillity of the area.
"The authority is already working in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council to test the use of traffic regulation orders to stop vehicular use on certain routes and to measure the effects on the environment and other users."
Any talks with members of off-roader clubs are likely to be tough. This subject has created more correspondence on our Have your Say pages than any other controversy.