Agenda item

Unsurfaced Unclassified County Roads Discussion Document


A statement submitted by Mr Michael Bartholomew on behalf of Yorkshire Dales Green Lanes Alliance was read out to the Forum by the Secretary in Mr Bartholomew absence, as follows:


1.  Should the LAF take a view, and make recommendations, concerning the management of Unsurfaced Unclassified Roads?  We believe it should.  UURs are an important part of the network of rural tracks that give the public access to the countryside.  UURs certainly bear rights for pedestrians, and in many cases bear higher rights, up to full carriageway rights.  It has never been clear why they should be excluded from the remit of LAFs.  There are some green lanes that start as Byways Open to all Traffic (BOATs), turn into UURs, then into bridleways, and maybe even back into BOATs as they approach their end, even though, on the ground, they are continuous green lanes with a single physical character.  It makes no sense to arbitrarily exclude UURs from consideration by LAFs.


2.  What gives UURs a particular significance, and therefore should engage the LAFs attention, is the destruction of numbers of UURs by recreational motor vehicles, and the malign impact of non-essential motors on the amenity of other users, including farmers and landowners.


3.  If the LAF does consider the management of particular UURs, what approach should it take?  For a start, it should always go out and inspect, first-hand, any UUR that is causing concern, and it should keep an open mind about what, if anything, it might recommend to the highways department of NYCC about its management. (UURs are administered by Highways, not Rights of Way.)  The LAF’s fundamental and highest obligation is the protection of the countryside.  If it considers that the use to which any particular UUR is subject is consistent with the protection of the countryside, plainly, it should do nothing.  If it ain’t broke, don’t mend it.  But if the LAF finds that 4x4s and motorbikes are destroying the fabric of the UUR, and are jeopardising the amenity of farmers and other recreational users, it should consider making a recommendation that a traffic regulation order, prohibiting non-essential motors, should be imposed.


4.  The LAF should not assert, in advance of a survey of any particular UUR, that the route must be kept open to all users that have a legal right to use it.  Clearly, rights should not capriciously be set aside, but in the case of motor vehicles on UURs, it may, in many cases, be perfectly reasonable to impose regulations that require vehicle users to leave their vehicles where the tarmac stops and enjoy green lanes on horseback, on a bicycle, or their own two feet.


Paul Sherwood, Chair of NYLAF recorded his thanks to Mr Bartholomew for his contribution and went on to introduce his discussion document on Unsurfaced, Unclassified County Roads which drew attention to the research previously carried out by Mr Batholomew when he was a member of the Forum.


Doug Cartwright highlighted the issue of access and not prohibition.  He confirmed that motorcycle trail riding community would feel threatened by some of the views expressed by the Yorkshire Dales Green Lanes Alliance as they did not support their legitimate pastime.   He also confirmed he fully supported UCRs being part of NYLAF’s remit and sought reassurance that it would be approached in a balanced way that was equitable to all legitimate users.


It was noted that the suggestion of including UCRs in the Forum’s remit had been discussed previously without any formal resolution.  It was also noted that they were not a PROW but rather a category six highway, and therefore any discussions around policy would need to undertaken with the Highways Team.  Whereas issues around maintenance were the purview of the Countryside Access Team  It was suggested that when Highways had any questions around the regulation of UCRs, the Forum’s views should be sought.


A suggestion was also made that the Forum consider and produce a strategic response to NYCC’s UUR Statement which was fuelling some of the DMMO backlog, and that an informal sub-group be set up to carry out that piece of work.


Resolved – That:

i)          UCRs be included in NYLAF’s remit and the terms of Reference be updated to reflect that.


ii)         A sub-group made up of the following members be set up to consider NYCC’s UUR Statement, with input from an appropriate NYCC Highways officer, if necessary:

·       Barrie Mounty

·       Doug Cartwright

·       Janet Cochrane

·       Will Scarlett


iii)      That NYCC’s UUR Statement be added to the work programme for the next meeting