The TRF is raising money to help re-open Hexham Lane by challenging a recent Traffic Regulation Order that permanently prevents motorized vehicles (and horse-drawn vehicles) from using the byway.
Hexham Lane, also known as Wolsingham Byway 157, is a historic 2.5-mile greenlane that links Northumberland and County Durham. It was closed in May 2015 after Durham County Council agreed a TRO, primarily in order to prevent damage to the road surface, which was becoming increasingly rutted and impassable for walkers.
After being undamaged for years, Hexham Lane fell victim to a small number of irresponsible 4x4 drivers who destroyed the lane over a couple of heavy winters.
According to a report by Durham Council in August 2014, attempts were made in 2012 to encourage laners to use the byway responsibly to prevent damage to the terrain, but the irresponsible driving continued.
Drainage works costing £20,000 followed in 2013, since which time an unbroken series of temporary closures have been in place. The decision of the council in May 2015 was that a permanent TRO would be the only way to protect the lane from damage, and less severe restrictions would be ineffective.
That decision is being contested by the Trail Riders Fellowship, on the grounds that the remedial work has not had chance to be tested by being open to the public, due to the temporary closures, so it is unknown whether the newly-upgraded lane can withstand use.
Tony Huntrod, chairman of the local TRF branch, said: ‘We’ve submitted over 200 letters of objection to the council from members of the public, saying that there should be other, less-extreme measures before resorting to permanent closure. We also made our case heard at a council meeting, but it hasn’t made a difference – they’d already made up their mind.
‘The biggest problem for me is that the lane will stay open for shooting parties, so the local land owner will still have use of it. The council has spent £20,000 of public money on a lane that’s going to be only accessible for private shooting parties, pedestrians and horses.’
How to donate
The TRF has a JustGiving page to raise the money, which will be directed to the TRF’s central ‘Fighting Fund’ and be used to fund a legal challenge against the TRO.
The campaign’s £10,000 target has already been exceeded, with donors contributing from all over the world, but much more than £10,000 will be needed to fight the case so the TRF needs the donations to keep coming. All donations will join the TRF’s Fighting Fund and be used to help keep greenlanes open across the UK.
If the fund raising campaign is successful, the TRF hopes to begin legal procedures by October 2015, and if successful, the lane will hopefully re-open in 2016.
The TRO, which includes a map of the lane in question, can be viewed on the website for Durham County Council. To donate to the TRF and help re-open Hexham Lane, visit the JustGiving page. For more information, email TRF representative Greg Villalobos at greg@trf