DAMAGE to the Isle of Man’s green lanes is often caused by over-use and some sort of extended permit system might even have mileage, according to a spokesman for the Manx Four Wheel Drive Club.
But the answer lies with sympathetic maintenance as well as monitoring the degree of use and perhaps restricting access from time to time to give the ground time to recover. It does not lie in exclusion from large areas of green lanes.
That is the view of club secretary Richard Crane in response to a new website which iomtoday reported last week. It has been launched campaigning for the government to take action to preserve the historic tracks which criss-cross the island.
The web site (www.iomgreenlanes.co.uk) contains photographs of damage to different sections of track including the Millennium Way and makes suggestions as to how the problem could be addressed.
But Mr Crane criticised the site for inaccuracy and said while many of the suggestions were valid most are already in place.
The site calls for a survey to assess all the green lanes and an annual monitoring system linked with a power to close those that are becoming damaged. It also calls for an annually produced map showing the green lanes, their categories of use and a calendar indicating when they are open for use. But Mr Crane said all of these points had already been addressed.
In addition the web site calls for categorisation of the lanes according to the level of use they can support and clear signs indicating this. Other measures called for include a clear management strategy for the green lanes based on the results of the condition survey and more rigorous policing to apprehend those who abuse them.
A spokesman for the group, who did not wish to be named, said the island was in danger of losing miles of ancient roads if action was not taken.
However Mr Crane said the root of the problem lay in poor maintenance of culverts and ditches. Instead of being diverted from the green lane into the ditch, running water settled in grooves left by tyres and erosion did the rest leaving the deep scars shown in some of the pictures, he said.
‘To say we have no respect is totally untrue. I walk these tracks more than I drive them. As for visitors, the majority who come over are professional people who can afford to do so. Most are acting in a legal manner and have respect.
‘Four years ago I was told by the Chief Minister visiting off-road riders contributed £340,000 to the island economy,’ he said.
‘Our club has a working day soon maintaining the green lanes. I’m just as passionate about preserving them as anyone else for my kids and their kids.’