Trail riders’ bid to use Dorset lanes thrown out by court
A judicial review sought by trail riders seeking permission to change the status of green lanes in Batcombe and Leigh was quashed by a High Court ruling on Tuesday.
The Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) had appealed a decision made by Dorset County Council in 2010 to refuse applications for Byway Open to All (BOAT) status for five lanes in Dorset.
The status would mean riders could tour lanes, including Bailey Drove, in mechanically-propelled and four-wheel-drive vehicles such as quad bikes.
It is only legally allowed to take place on routes which are open to all traffic.
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The council had rejected the bid for changes on grounds that maps attached to the application were not to the right scale.
The TRF fought to obtain a judicial review and took the dispute to the High Court.
This week a judge ruled to uphold the council’s decision and dismissed the case.
A TRF spokesman said: “Our legal team is examining the judgment and a notice of our intention to appeal has been lodged.
“Meanwhile, the public of Dorset are left with public rights of way that are not open to the public. Some of them are so badly overgrown that they are impassable to all users.
“Dorset County Council Rights of Way department could have resolved this situation easily by making an order for restricted byways, but chose not to.”
In an article printed in the TRF newsletter before the judgment, David Tilbury, sports and recreation representative for the fellowship, accused the council of “splitting hairs” when they refused the application.
Dave Ayre, head of countryside and business development at Dorset County Council, said: “Subject to the appeal, we will now not be considering the five applications for byways to be opened up to all traffic on the basis that the map scales aren’t compliant with the relevant legislation.”
The previous government introduced legislation that said amendments to the status of footpaths must have been submitted by January 2005, resulting in a surge of bids from pro-trail riding groups who wanted to get as many as possible recognised as BOATs.
In response, opponents to the activity, including MP for West Dorset Oliver Letwin, campaigned against them.
Alastair Dennis, chairman of the Green Lane Protection Group which covers Leigh, High Stoy and Cam Vale, said: “All those who have been involved with the campaign will be delighted with the news.”
Mr Letwin said: “Green lanes are not the right places for noisy, motorised vehicles and many of my constituents have made clear that they share this view.”