THE issue of 4x4 vehicles using 'green lanes' in the heart of Cumbria is currently being examined, the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) have confirmed.

Deep concerns have long been expressed over the effect of 4x4s and motorcycles on such unsealed routes in the National Park with two in particular, at Tilberthwaite and High Oxen Fell in the Langdale area, under increasing scrutiny after claims both are now badly damaged.

The problems were highlighted last week when the National Trust issued a statement saying that in their view, use of the track at Tilberthwaite by recreational motor vehicles “causes harm to the recognized Special Qualities of the National Park, and in particular, ‘Opportunities for Quiet Enjoyment’.”

"We believe that the use of recreational 4x4s and motorbikes around Tilberthwaite and High Oxen Fell is unacceptable," said the statement on the National Trust's website.

The Trust goes on to say it will now recommend the application of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) to the LDNPA, which would effectively exclude recreational motor vehicles from these green lanes.

A spokesperson for the LDNPA said they were aware of the issues and were now gathering evidence for a report which will be scrutinised by the organisation's Rights of Way Committee in October.

The LDNPA pointed out that current Defra guidance stresses that the application of TROs was a 'last resort' and other management options should initially be investigated.

World Heritage Watch (WHW), a global non-governmental organisation which advises UNESCO, published a report last year condemning the degradation of landscape, particularly at Tilberthwaite, due to recreational use by 4x4 vehicles.

In the report, the organisation concluded that the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) was "violating" the area's world heritage status.

The Save The Lake District Campaign, whose recent petition calling for action to "save the Langdale green lanes" garnered more than 6,000 signatures, claimed on its website that the number of 4x4s operating in the area had increased from 90 a month in 2008 to an estimated 400 per month in 2017.