A NEW , lighter vehicle is being trialled by the Cave Rescue Organisation as its members come to terms with life after the Land Rover Defender.

The Clapham based voluntary rescue team, currently has three Land Rovers, which famed for their off-road capabilities and storage space are a favourite with voluntary rescue organisations across the country.

The CRO’s white Land Rovers, with their distinctive yellow logos, are a familiar sight as they race to the aid of injured or lost walkers, cyclists and others, in the area of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, and in Malhamdale.

But with the oldest of its vehicles now 14 years old, and with the last of the Defenders rolling off the production line in 2016, the CRO is considering its options.

It says in the short term at least, it has taken delivery of a Honda Pioneer, four seater Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) - also known as a ‘side-by-side’ All Terrain Vehicle (ATV), and the cousin of the farmer’s friend, the Honda Polaris.

The team has been able to buy the vehicle, which has come from agricultural machinery dealers, Paxtons of Bentham, thanks to a very generous legacy. It has also been able to buy two equipment trailers, thanks in part to a donation from Ingleton Co-op’s community fundraising scheme.

In a year’s time, it will review its vehicle fleet once again, and make a decision whether the oldest Land Rover will be re-built, or replaced with something with a reduced off-road capacity.

In the meantime, members have been given off-road instruction at the Coniston 4x4 training centre and believe the Pioneer will leave a ‘lighter footprint’ in the some of the area’s more vulnerable paths.

Andy Plimmer, CRO’s training officer and a qualified 4 x 4 driving instructor, said: “CRO members are acutely aware of the potential for causing damage to sensitive routes, particularly with a heavily-loaded 4 x 4, so the Pioneer should be the ideal vehicle for taking a small team rapidly onto the fell and giving patients more immediate care.”

Mr Plimmer also thanked the team at Paxton’s for its patience and help in identifying the right, road-legal vehicle for the rescue team’s needs.