DEBATE remains fierce over the use of 4x4 vehicles in the Lake District, with the issue set to be considered at a Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) meeting on October 8.

In a report ahead of the meeting, LDNPA officers have advised against the introduction of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) on the Tilberthwaite and High Oxen Fell roads, which lie south of Little Langdale. A TRO would limit or prevent certain types of traffic from using the unsealed (non-tarmacked) parts of these routes.

According to the report, the evidence for introducing such regulation is “not conclusive” and other management options have not been exhausted.

Bill Birkett, who has spent much of his life living in Little Langdale, said: “They churn up the lane surface [and] pollute the atmosphere, making the countryside reverberate to their tune and ultimately physically block the route for the inoffensive pedestrian.”

He added: “How could anyone who understands the fragile and special nature of the Lake District National Park and World Heritage Site not understand that it needs protection from the damaging self-interest of a few - a very few? To see it damaged in this way is a very singular and continuing sorrow.”

The National Trust is in favour of stopping recreational use of motorbikes and 4x4s along the routes in question, citing concerns such as the deteriorating road-conditions caused, in part, by vehicle use.

A Trust spokesperson said there were concerns a TRO could cause the “the problem to spread elsewhere”, adding that the Trust would encourage collaboration with other organisations to manage recreational use of the Lake District.

However, Nick Fieldhouse, owner of Kankku, which provides off-roading experiences in the Lake District, said: “Off road driving is a highly contentious issue, much of which is because of unreal perceptions of what it is about.

“An old farm Land Rover with a Collie in the back rattling down a gravel track wouldn’t raise many eyebrows, and actually this is essentially what off road driving is all about - you get to be the farmer or National Trust Warden for the day.”

He added: “We understand that you can say it is polluting and damaging and noisy, but you would have to ban all vehicles in the valley to improve this situation.

“Make it an electric vehicle valley if you want, 100% electric though, no tarmac roads let-off the scheme, and we’ll comply.”

Additionally, the preamble to a petition to keep ‘green lanes’ (referring to unsealed roads with public vehicular rights) in the national park open, noted that vehicles gave those with physical ailments “the means to access and appreciate the beauty that no one should ever be denied.”

An LDNPA spokesperson said: “Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) need to be thoroughly evidence-based, examining various types and levels of use and various impacts, not just opinions or perceptions.

“Legal intervention to restrict vehicles on unsurfaced public roads is possible through the National Park Authority’s powers to create a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), however applying TROs is a last resort for us, which follows government guidance.”