YOUR report (Gazette, August 15, 'Report sparks debate over 4x4s in the Lakes') on off-road vehicle use in the Lake District National Park quotes Mr Fieldhouse painting a beguiling picture of off-roading as "an old Land Rover gently rattling" down a quarry road, and asks, what’s the problem?

But those who live on the roads used by the off-roaders know the reality is somewhat different. We now have convoys of vehicles, generally in military colours. I sometimes feel I’m living in the middle of a military training area rather than a national park.

Some of the vehicles advertise ‘off-road adventure’, but should be more accurately be described as ‘trash-a-public-highway adventure’.

I don’t blame the off-roaders; they are only taking advantage of naive and complacent authorities. The idea of approved trail routes was a well-intentioned, if doomed, plan to solve the problems previously caused by the off-roaders.

But the upshot has been the attraction of more vehicles, re-creating the nuisance on public highways.

I don’t suppose anyone is surprised the LDNPA is once again in the dock. However, it is astonishing that Cumbria County Council, the highways authority, has not only abandoned its statutory duty to maintain roads for which it is responsible but invited their inevitable damage.

A number of roads advertised as ‘trail routes’ are actually ‘maintainable at public expense’. In short, they have the same legal status as most other roads in Cumbria, and the county council has a legal duty to care for them in exactly the same way. It has no authority to turn them over to be wrecked for recreational fun. It is a disgrace and a scandal.

Rubbing salt into the wound is the fact this problem is centred on the heartland of Beatrix Potter’s magnificent bequest to the nation. That one of her favourite farms has been rendered uninhabitable by ‘recreational use’ would simply confirm her view that national park authorities would be a waste of time.

Mr Fieldhouse’s imagery, if true, would cause little comment, but the plague of these vehicles, mostly now travelling in convoys, can have no place in an iconic environment like the Lake District.

Graham Kilner