Our response: use of 4x4s on unclassified road between Tilberthwaite Farm and Little Langdale

View west across Little Langdale Tarn towards the Greenburn valley

The National Trust has been looking after special places in the Lake District on behalf of the nation for the past 120 years. We look after over 20% of the Lake District National Park, including land on either side of the unclassified road running between Tilberthwaite Farm and Little Langdale. The road itself is the responsibility of Cumbria County Council, and is being looked after by the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) on the council’s behalf. We have no authority to control the use of this road.

Update at 19 December 2019. We’ve noted the decision and recommendations from the LDNPA committee of 8 October. We still believe that there is a need for a more comprehensive Heritage Impact Assessment to be completed. We’ve been asked to participate in a management group being set up – and we will do so.

We are aware of the moves by GLEAM to seek a judicial review on the decision, including a crowdfunding appeal. At present, we do not feel that such a legal challenge is the best way forward given the cost and LDNPA resources that this would incur, and we would prefer to give the LDNPA time to move their approach forward.

Our position, shared at the National Park committee meeting on the 8 October 2019, is below.

We take a wide view – as a major landowner and landlord, a membership and conservation charity and as a key member of the Lake District National Park Partnership.

We believe that MPV use is damaging and should be regulated by a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) at Tilberthwaite and High Oxen Fell.

We know that opinions differ, and a wide range of evidence is being considered. But we think the report’s recommendations are based on an incomplete understanding of three fundamental principles that lie at the heart of managing the Lake District National Park.

These are: Landscape Character, the Sandford Principle and the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site.

These principles help national parks find the right balance between conservation and recreation and protect what is important. They are also key to qualifying for a TRO. In particular, we think that

1. The most recent technical expert advice was not followed in carrying out the assessment of the impact on Outstanding Universal Value.
2. The Sandford Principle says if there is a conflict between protecting the environment and people’s enjoyment of it, that can't be resolved by management, then protecting the environment is more important.
3. Describing these remote valleys as honey pot sites – on a par with Windermere and Bowness, shows a lack of understanding of Landscape Character.

While we fully understand that the current use is lawful, on these and other similar routes in the National Park, we are also equally clear that, should a request be made to start such activity on our land in the Lake District, it would be refused.

And we think that this activity is at odds with what people want from their national parks in the 21st century – to tackle climate change and champion sustainable transport – cornerstones of the emerging Partnership and Local Plans.

We fully understand that managing a national park is challenging but where conflict can't be resolved by management, protecting the environment is more important.

We can’t support the Lake District National Park's current recommendation, and we’re asking them to defer the decision until a more comprehensive impact assessment is done, which we would be happy to support.

For more information on this matter please see the Lake District National Park's website.