Cam High Road Threatened By Forestry Wagons
Benjamin Hampshire, Correspondent
An application submitted to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority could see an ancient Roman path converted into a highway for heavy forestry vehicles.
The proposal, put forward by the owners of Cam Forest, outlines plans to transform Cam High Road into a track for wagons weighing up to 44 tons, raising concerns for the tranquility of the surrounding area.
Although the application only refers to a section of the historic road, there are fears that the peaceful nature of various popular routes, including the Dales Way, Pennine Way and the Pennine Bridleway could be significantly affected.
The hugely scenic area neighboring Cam High Road has become a popular destination for walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders eager to see some of Yorkshire's finest views.
In 2008 a Traffic Regulation Order was placed on the route following the detrimental effect 4x4 vehicles made on the unsealed surface. Yet a walk down Cam High Road in its current state readily displays the damaging effect of heavy rainfall with the surface already beginning to disintegrate.
Now the threat of 44-tonne wagons carrying timber out of the park concerns the Yorkshire Dales Society as Vice-Chairman Hugh Thornton explains how the plans could distract from the intention of the National Park.
"People come to the National Park because it is special and areas like Cam High Road allow you to get into remote areas which are quiet," he said.
"Quiet enjoyment was the original aim of the National Park and this provides a direct conflict as the park was established to protect tranquility."
The area, near Ribblehead Viaduct, is seen as the most economical route to extract timber from the National Park but some see the proposed use of the road for heavy wagons as in direct contradiction of previous moves.
"It is also in conflict with the reasons why the National Park put a Traffic Regulation Order on the route in 2008, to stop 4x4s and motorcycles using and damaging this enormously important recreational route," Mr Robertson added.
"In addition, we feel it opens up the possibility of using the same route to extract timber from the neighbouring and much larger Greenfield Forest."
The Yorkshire Dales Society believe that while a route through Gale and Hawes may be slightly longer it would be in the best interest of the National Park.
Further concerns came to light with plans to cross a limestone cave by the ford at Gearstones, which the Yorkshire Dales Society believe would struggle to stand the weight of forestry wagons.
The Society is in the process of submitting a formal objection to the application, which is up for review at the next committee meeting.
A spokesman for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority said: "As the National Park Authority is also the planning authority, it would be inappropriate to comment on the application until a decision has been made."
The application is due to go before the Authority's planning committee meeting on February 12.
Cam High Road Threatened By Forestry Wagons, 1st February 2013, 12:58 PM