Beyond the hills


As many people are aware, the county of Shropshire is a great area for green laning and has many miles of beautiful and varied lanes to explore.

Unfortunately this also means we have our share of people who ride around the lanes going off piste and generally creating as much destruction as they can. Purposefully getting bogged down so they have to be towed out or winched over delicate terrain. At this time of the year the destruction not only erodes banks and woodland but also destroys ground nests and young plants.

Several lanes around Quatt have received this treatment and the response as always from a small but powerful faction is to close the lane. Once this happens it becomes easier for other lanes to also be closed.

The local council hold quarterly meetings to discuss lanes and footpaths amongst other things and will only allow a representative from one organisation to attend. In this instance representing Green Laner’s and other vehicular users its the GLASS rep who is very good at advising us of any changes or concerns.

As such yesterday Dan Evans from ATUK West Midlands and myself for ATUK Shropshire met out on the lanes with members of the National Trust, Farmers, the local councillor, environmental health liaison, a council land manager and the TRF and GLASS rep.

As expected the initial conversation was about how to close the lane. It was gently explained that you cant just close a byway and that although we all appreciated that hooliganism is unacceptable and should not be tolerated, we don’t close the M6 when people take to racing up it, and the principle is the same. If it was closed the lane would need to be blocked off and then there is the risk that other routes would be made across fields which would then cause more damage without solving the problem.

There was the talk of course about prosecution and it was acknowledged that the police cant be everywhere but people are being prosecuted and vehicles crushed when there is enough evidence-always difficult to find in the middle of the countryside.

We then walked the byway and looked more closely at the damage that has been caused. As several of us have used the lane in the past we were shocked at the extent of erosion and blatant disregards for keeping to the route that had occurred.

Together we discussed possible solutions, responsibilities of all parties and the possible costs of any scheme, always the sticking point for many ideas and plans.

What became apparent was that we were all willing to give some time to help with a variety of possible solutions and we considered ways to try and educate the people who would ruin our hobby. We are now waiting for the land manager to get back to us with costs and permissions. The GLASS rep is going to be central to coordinating communication and then we as individuals will inform our respective groups. Everyone agreed that working together we are going to be more effective and the lanes should be maintained for everyone to use sensibly. I’ll keep you posted.

Debbie Stopforth.

Steering Committee Member & Shropshire Assistant Representative

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