A DECADE-old battle to prevent 4x4s and motorised trail bikes churning up ancient "green lanes" In the Yorkshire Dales for fun has been welcomed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
The park has been trying to ban leisure vehicles from centuries-old lanes designed back in the days of the horse and cart - but have always run foul of the complex laws affecting public rights of way.
Now, Defra Rural Affairs Minister Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael has called for new laws to prevent "inappropriate use of public rights of way by mechanically propelled vehicles".
The Minister wants to see the scrapping of the existing principle that modern vehicles can use the tracks because they have been used in the past by horse-drawn carriages.
His comments follow consultation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) on proposals to address widespread concerns over the damage caused to ancient and often fragile tracks by bikes, quads and 4x4s.
The consultation response - 'The Government's framework for action' - includes new guidance to promote the better enforcement of existing powers to manage vehicle use and legislation to limit the basis on which new rights of way may be acquired for mechanically propelled vehicles.
Jon Avison, Head of Park Management at the YDNPA, said: "The authority shares the Minister's concerns regarding the effects of vehicles on sensitive routes and the impact that that use has on other users.
"Recreational vehicular use of green lanes is one of the most contentious recreational issues facing the National Park and one that generates the most concern from the public. The majority of routes in the Dales are environmentally sensitive and well used by other users."
Any new measures will certainly meet with outspoken opposition from the 4 x 4 lobby. This subject has caused more angry responses to our Have Your Say column than any other.