After 3 decades of uncertainty and legal wrangling, Walna Scar, one of the Lake District’s most popular fell passes, will not be open to motorised vehicles.
If you're not familiar with it, Walna Scar is in the Lake District National Park lying in the Coniston Hills - and the pass shares its name with a popular hill-walking summit.
The modern day debate about whether motorised vehicles should be allowed to use Walna Scar dates back to May 2006, when the pass was closed to mechanically propelled vehicular traffic because of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006.
Users of motor vehicles, however, claimed Walna Scar to be a BOAT - a Byway Open to All Traffic - using the exemption clause contained in the NERC Act 2006.
The Lake District National Park Authority assessed the BOAT modification order application, and concluded that the route should be a restricted byway (for all traffic except motorised vehicles) and this was made an order in 2007.
After several objections were made to this - and further evidence received - an independent inspector was appointed by the Secretary of State. This inspector decided the route was a Byway Open to All Traffic – including motor vehicles, and on 15 June 2010 the route again became available for all traffic.
Following an appeal to the High Court, that inspector’s decision was been quashed, and the whole process started again.
Today, we have finally got a decision.
Members of the Lake District National Park Authority's Rights of Way Committee discussed the historical evidence and the effect of modern day legislation, and agreed that the route was a restricted byway, which effectively means only walkers, horse riders, cyclists and pony and trap drivers will legally be able to use the route.
However, it isn't a closed and done deal, as the public will have between 10th February and 1st April 2012 to object, which would then result in the matter being referred to the independent planning inspectorate.
Meanwhile, it remains illegal to use the route with a motorbike or four wheel drive vehicle.