In a Judicial Review at the High Court on October 3, relating to two byways known as Moelfre City and Water-break-its-neck, Mr Justice Cranston found that Powys County Council had acted incorrectly in placing permanent Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) on the lanes.
Following years of neglect by the council and pressure from some minority groups of activists and local landowners, Powys County Council had tried to close the routes – initially by an extended series of temporary orders and then eventually by permanent TRO.
The TROs were challenged by a local resident backed by the Green Lane Association (GLASS) and Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) and a series of court hearings followed, the culmination of which was the Judicial Review.
Martin Sullivan, spokesman for GLASS, was keen to emphasise the broader significance of the ruling: ‘Byways are part of our national road network and every person in the country pays taxes to maintain them,’ he said. ‘They are Rights of Way and this judgment shows that the judiciary recognises the need to protect those rights and will force councils to comply with maintaining them for the benefit of all users. The fact that some councils seem intent on wasting more taxpayers’ money on attempting to close Rights of Way than it costs to keep them maintained and open is something that will outrage taxpayers the length and breadth of the country.’
Substantial costs were awarded against Powys County Council and the case is estimated to have cost them and local taxpayers in excess of £50,000 – substantially more than repairs to the lanes would have been.
However, Sullivan urged greenlaners to behave responsibly to prevent future conflict. ‘We would ask both 4x4 drivers and trail riders to use restraint on these two routes and avoid use in wet weather, or we could find that Powys CC have a new reason to place further TROs on them.’
At present, the southern end of Water-break-its-neck is considered dangerous and should not be driven – please do not drive this lane until the necessary repairs have been done. See glass-uk.org