The National Park Authority and two local police forces have joined to target illegal off-roaders in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Operations carried out in March saw off-roaders stopped in their tracks, many leaving the National Park with warnings and pending prosecutions.
National Park Authority Wardens, Dyfed Powys, Gwent and West Mercia Police forces have mounted operations to fight illegal off-roading. Quads, 4x4’s and motorbikes are a problem in the National Park, the open countryside with its grass tracks may look like the perfect playground for off-road vehicles, but driving on common and privately owned land without permission is a criminal offence.
It causes damage and disturbs the quiet of the countryside and the National Park Wardens work hard each year alongside the local police force to get this message across.
Police apprehended a number of drivers at Trefil Quarry in the east of the park and the owner of a 4x4 caught driving off-road near the quarry was successfully prosecuted, fined and made to pay court fees.
In this particular case the individual had been warned during a previous
If someone receives this warning (known as a Section 59) it means that if they are caught a second time in the following 12 months their vehicle will be seized, possibly destroyed and they will be fined.
Councillor Rosemarie Harris, National Park Authority member commented,“What the vehicle owners need to realise is that their actions cause damage to the beautiful landscape, with land being cut by the tyres and deeply scarred.
“Wildlife and livestock are also disturbed by this activity and the safety of other park users is put at risk especially when non-vehicular rights of way are used. The police and the authority receive many complaints about this every year.”
Sam Ridge, Area Warden, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority added,“The successful prosecutions send a clear message to off-road drivers that the National Park is not the place to bring their vehicles.
“The National Park wants to eradicate illegal off-roading and with more planned operations for the summer months we hope to stamp out this problem across the park.”
In a subsequent, equally successful operation a quad bike was stopped and seized. Five other drivers were issued with warnings for riding on common land and during the sting twenty to thirty more were deterred from driving illegally by the presence of the warden and police teams.
PC Jamie Whitcomb, of Gwent Police said, “The operations we worked on alongside the National Park Wardens have had positive results in the effort to reduce illegal off-roading across this protected landscape.
“Often the owners of motorbikes, quad bikes and scramblers ride without valid MOT, insurance and protective safety equipment and there is a real lack of concern for their own safety and for members of the public. We too are keen to stop this dangerous and unsociable behaviour and look forward to more joint operations in the future.”
In 2014 the Chronicle highlighted the plight of farmers living in the Blaenavon World Heritage site who were plagued by illegal off-roaders.
Speaking at the time Anita Banks, a town councillor for Nantyglo and Blaina spoke about the struggles many farmers were experiencing with the illegal activity affecting their livelihood.
Ms Banks said, “When I speak of ‘the farmers’ I speak of men and women who are as a family to each other, depending on each other from time to time, coming together in times of need.
“They have watched and worked with their fathers and grandfathers to learn the skills of farming and tending the hills, they have attended agricultural colleges, they still attend courses to further their knowledge and abilities - we are talking of their jobs being on the line!
“These farmers have contributed to the economy for many, many years and they should be allowed to follow their chosen profession just as you or I have. “The scarring to the land of the tracks and ruts caused by the illegal activities will take years to recover and will need careful monitoring and attention.”
• The National Park Authority welcomes any information relating to illegal off-roading activities within the park and you can complete a form online to report specific incidents at http://goo.gl/0O4lDs .