A pressure group which wants to protect the island’s green lanes has recommended closure of 15 of them to motor vehicles.
The group Green Lanes Our Heritage (GLOH) has produced its own report on the conditions of the island’s unsurfaced highways.
The 126-page report has been presented to politicians and is also available in the island’s public libraries for members of the public to read.
The group also condemns the Green Lane Users’ Group, set up to protect the lanes and encourage sustainable use, as too motorcycle focused and the report recommends it be disbanded and replaced by a new body with representatives from Manx National Heritage, Manx Heritage Foundation, the Municipal Association, Manx Footpath Conservation Group, British Horse Society, Manx Harriers and an MHK. If the recommendation were followed, the Manx Four Wheel Drive Club would be represented too, along with ‘representatives from other groups with interests in off road driving’. No specific mention is made of any representative from off-road motorcycling groups who currently use the lanes.
Richard Crowhurst from GLOH said: ‘Our concern is that the upland tracks in particular are sensitive and many are soft and can’t stand the abuse they are getting mainly from motorcycles. They are becoming a network of scramble tracks.
‘The GLUG has become dominated by the interests of motorcycle groups and the more reasonable interests have not been taken account of.’
The report contains photographs illustrating damaged turf which is then exacerbated by drainage water eroding deep scars into the land.
Fellow GLOH member Brian Beattie said they were recommending closing three cul-de-sac tracks, which are actually in good condition, because users were damaging heathland by continuing illegally beyond the end point to reach other tracks. The tracks in question are Laxey mines, Glen Dhoo, Glen Auldyn to Black Pool and Park Lewellyn. In addition, those recommended for immediate closure because of serious damage include Narradale, Mountain Box to Sky Hill and Monk’s Path to Glen Mooar.
Mr Crowhurst said his only concern was sustainable use of the green ways and he was not trying to ban motor vehicles from all of them. Continued vehicle use is recommended on a number of the existing greenway roads and creation of some new off road tracks for bike and four-by-four use is suggested. Improved signs and volunteer wardens to police the tracks are also proposed.
Richard Crane of the Manx Four Wheel Drive Club, which organises working groups to maintain the green lanes, said the report was inaccurate and unnecessary. None of the issues were new and all could be addressed without widespread closures.
‘His concerns are shared by all users but we address it in a different way. These are roads so vehicles use them legally.’