Team Approach To Tackle Illegal Off-Roading

A recent action day to tackle illegal off-road motorised activity in the North York Moors National Park has been praised by members of the public. Representatives from the National Park Authority, Forestry Commission and North Yorkshire Police received many positive comments from cyclists, walkers and horse riders who were pleased that steps were being taken to prevent trail bikes and 4×4 vehicles using footpaths and bridleways in the area.

The latest operation took place on Sunday 15 March and focused primarily on Dalby Forest, an area which has become a particular hotspot over the past twelve months. Patrols were also carried out in Broxa, Harwood Dale, Wykeham and Langdale Forests.
Illegal Off Roading

Further days will be organised in known trouble spots across the National Park over the coming months with the aim of offering face to face advice to recreational riders and drivers, but also to take necessary enforcement action in cases of blatant disregard of the law. Police action can range from issuing warning notices for first-time offenders to confiscating vehicles for repeat offenders.

In addition to speaking to riders and drivers about lawful and unlawful routes in the North York Moors, it is hoped a visible presence will help deter illegal off-roaders who are causing substantial damage to the North York Moors and its wildlife and are making some routes impassable and unpleasant for other users of the National Park. There is also a considerable cost implication for the National Park Authority in resurfacing rights of way to make them safe to use again.

The action days are part of an anti-social behaviour working group that meets to tackle issues such as poaching, fly-tipping and illegal camping and involves representatives of the National Park Authority, North Yorkshire Police and Forestry Commission.

David Smith, Southern Area Ranger for the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “Illegal off-roading is quite frankly ruining some areas of the North York Moors and is becoming increasingly costly for ourselves and others to repair the damage caused. Off-road vehicles churn up the ground creating deep ruts that make it difficult for people to walk, cycle or ride along. It also disturbs livestock and nesting birds, destroys rare plants and flowers and can ruin visitors’ experiences of what is on the whole a tranquil area. All our voluntary rangers have been trained to spot illegal activity and we fully intend to take enforcement action against anyone found repeatedly riding or driving where they’re not supposed to.”

Tanya Rex, Recreation and Public Affairs Manager at the Forestry Commission said: “We’re determined to send a clear message about tackling illegal off-road biking and inappropriate behaviour across the national park and our forests. It’s a vital part of protecting our unique and much-loved environment at Dalby and local forests. Agencies are working together effectively and will carry on with these patrols. The feedback we’ve had from visitors is unanimous – they want this stopped as much as we do. We encourage people to let the Police know when they’ve seen illegal off-road biking by calling 101.”

PC Tracy Rogers of North Yorkshire Police, who pulled the operation together, said that the day’s event was a proactive and positive operation: “This is the first time that an operation has taken place over such a large area. Its success owes much to the people involved and their enthusiasm to work in partnership with others. I personally would like to thank all of those who took part from the Forestry Commission, North York Moors and all North Yorkshire police staff. This is only the beginning as many more operations will continue so that the residents and visitors to the area have a peaceful quality of life, the wildlife are not disturbed and the countryside that we are so lucky to have around us is not destroyed.”

Anyone concerned about anti-social behaviour including illegal off-roading should contact the police by calling 101 ideally with a description of the vehicles and their location. Information can be given anonymously.

The Motoring Organisations’ Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA) has developed codes of good practice for recreational driving and riding in the countryside which is on their website at Local Highways Authorities can advise on which routes have vehicle rights.