Disappointment at Chapel Gate court ruling
This is an archived press release
Friday 30 November 2012
An experimental order banning 4x4s and trail bikes from using Chapel Gate has been overturned in a High Court ruling after running for 15 of the intended 18 months.
The Peak District National Park Authority made the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order on the route - a 3km track which skirts Rushup Edge, a high ridge between Chapel-en-le-Frith and Edale – in August 2011.
A successful challenge was made to the order in the High Court by the Trail Riders’ Fellowship.
Chapel Gate crosses a landscape of the highest international importance for its wildlife and natural beauty. This includes a Special Area of Conservation, a Special Protection Area and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Members of the authority’s audit, resources and performance committee took a decision to introduce an experimental ban on vehicles after considering evidence that deep vehicle ruts, mud, water and exposed rocks were deterring walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, and erosion had widened up to 12 metres as people deviated onto surrounding land with fragile wildlife habitats.
High Court Judge Mr Justice Ouseley ruled that the precise wording used in the reasons for the order did not reflect fully the experiment being carried out and so quashed the order.
However, five further arguments made by the Trail Riders’ Fellowship were all rejected by the judge. These were that:
- the order was not a genuine experiment and was irrational or unlawful
- the experimental order was made to avoid the procedure for making a permanent Traffic Regulation Order
- the condition of the route and the cost of repairing it couldn’t be used as grounds to consider an experiment
- they should have separately considered the needs of two and four-wheeled vehicles
- the authority was obliged to undertake the least restrictive form of experiment
Christopher Pennell, chair of the authority’s audit, resources and performance committee, said: “We are disappointed that the order has been overturned.
“But we are pleased that the judge upheld our key arguments that the experimental Traffic Regulation Order was a genuine experiment intended to assess the impact of 4x4s and trail bikes on the route at Chapel Gate.
“We do now have 15 months of evidence that we have gathered during the closure to assess what course of action to take on this route in the future.
“We will take time to reflect fully on the legal judgement and the evidence gained to consider whether further restrictions are needed or not.”
Despite the order being lifted monitoring of the route at Chapel Gate will continue.
A report about the judgement and responses to it will be considered by members of the authority’s audit, resources and performance committee on 25 January.