Peak District: Support urged against Chapel Gate ban

Campaigners in the Peak District
Image caption Campaigners say they will continue to oppose the vehicle ban

A vehicle users group says it will continue opposing plans for a Peak District vehicle ban even if it means further legal action.

The Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) began consulting in May over plans to close Chapel Gate, a 3km (1.8 mile) route, to some vehicles.

The Peaks and Derbyshire Vehicle Users Group said it will challenge any ban on 4x4s and trail bikes.

The PDNPA said it welcomed views from all users of the road.

In 2011 the vehicle users group won a High Court battle to get an experimental order quashed.

Richard Simpson, from the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) which forms part of the users group, said the closures will see "further destruction of public rights to use the park".

'Green prison'

He said: "We are encouraging as many people as we can to respond to the consultation. We took legal action before over the experimental order and will take action again if we need to.

"It is a shame things have gone as far as they have but we are up against people to whom money is no object because they are not spending their own money, but spending taxpayers' money."

Mr Simpson said he believed the authority's intentions were to eventually turn the Peak District into a "giant park and ride" with only designated car parks outside of the area.

"Another problem is people living there will find it very difficult to get people to visit them," he added.

"They will find they are living in a green prison."

However, Peak District resident Anne Robinson, a volunteer with the charity Friends of the Peak District, described the claims as "completely misleading".

She said: "If the consultation on Chapel Gate leads to a permanent ban on vehicles using the route, there will be no impact at all on the ordinary motorist.

"They will still be able to drive into the national park and park in the usual car parks to enjoy these stunning landscapes.

"Chapel Gate has been damaged by off-road motorcyclists and four-wheel drive vehicles, which also intimidate walkers and cyclists and prevent them from enjoying the area."

Former deputy leader of the Labour party Lord Roy Hattersley, who lives in the area, joined the row last month by saying the Peak District should remain a peaceful, tranquil area of countryside.

Jim Dixon, the chief executive of PDNPA said: "Chapel Gate is a route with landscape and wildlife of the highest international importance.

"It is the national park's statutory responsibility to protect this."

Mike Rhodes, rights of ways manager, added: "We have no intention of creating a 'park and ride' national park. In fact we are consulting on Chapel Gate to listen to everyone's views, not just the 4x4 and trial bike users."

Public consultation runs until 28 June.

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