PROPOSALS have been drawn up to halt damage being done to Ryedale’s ancient roads by off-road vehicles.

North Yorkshire Local Access Forum has issued a report on the future of unsurfaced, unclassified roads for consultation as the first step to agreeing a policy on their use.

Adrian Rayner, the county’s public rights of way team leader, says in a report: “The minor roads, footpaths, bridleways and byways of North Yorkshire are an extremely important resource, particularly for recreation in the countryside.

“The 750,000 kilometres of unsurfaced roads, often known as green lanes, are valuable to provide habitats for wildlife as well as being of historic significance.”

But he added there can be conflict between users because many walkers and horse riders consider the quiet enjoyment of the countryside spoilt when the routes are also used by vehicles.

Because the roads don’t have surfaces, they are prone to weather damage which is aggravated by vehicles.

Some are subject to private rights of way and in putting together management proposals, landowners will be consulted, he said.

“As in the case of cobbled and paved ways, many of these routes have been constructed using materials and methods which lend character, distinctiveness and historical significance to the landscape.”

Some of the worst affected tracks are in the forestry and moorland areas around the North York Moors National Park.

The county authority is drawing up assessments of the roads and tracks, many of which date back centuries.

The report is now out for public consultation after which the county council will make decisions on the routes.