North Yorkshire beauty spots popular with walkers and cyclists are being damaged by illegal ‘off-roaders’, say Forestry England.
Wykeham and Langdale Forests, on the eastern edge of the North York Moors, have faced “significant” damage from off-road vehicles in recent months.
To tackle this illegal activity, Forestry England is working closely with North Yorkshire Police and North York Moors National Park Authority to deter and detect the culprits.
This includes deploying monitoring equipment and joint Ranger and Rural Police Officer patrols, with specialist support from the Rural Task Force and Off-Road Bike Intercept Team.
“The use of unauthorised vehicles in this area is not only illegal, but it has also damaged the natural environment,” said Nigel Foster, Wildlife Manager for the Yorkshire District of Forestry England.
Our Forests are visited by thousands of people each year with many using it for cycling, horse riding and walking.
Signs have been installed at access points to warn people that unauthorised vehicular use is illegal.
Mr Foster urged people to heed the ban “so the forest’s natural habitat can recover” and vowed that transgressors would be penalised.
Ben Jackson, Area Manager and Ranger from the North York Moors National Park Authority, added:
“The National Park acknowledges responsible and considerate vehicular use of sustainable Unsurfaced Unclassified Roads (often referred to as green lanes) where a legal right of access exists.
“However, Illegal off-roading – when vehicles stray onto areas where no legal rights for them exist – can have a terribly detrimental impact on the landscapes and local communities of the North York Moors National Park.
“There are several hotspots where this activity can endanger wildlife and habitats, damage fragile surfaces and cause conflict with other responsible users. We are aware that several forest paths have been damaged to the point that they are impassable for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
“The National Park works in partnership with North Yorkshire Council to help maintain a more sustainable network of unsurfaced routes that may be accessed by motorised vehicles.
“We also carry out regular joint patrols with North Yorkshire Police who ensure off-road riders and drivers that are aware of the legal requirements relating to their hobby – namely that vehicles must be road legal, and that tracks that they use must have a legal right of access to motorised vehicles.
“We also encourage people to report suspected illegal off-roading to the police, with as many details as possible.”
PC Graham Bilton, the Rural Beat Manager and Wildlife Crime Officer covering Scarborough and Ryedale, said:
“Whilst recognising that the majority of those involved in driving or riding off-road do so responsibly, the extent of the damage caused by the actions of illegal off-roading is a blight on our beautiful countryside.
“Through our partnership working with Forestry England and North York Moors National Park, we’re determined to stop offenders in their tracks and, where necessary, prosecute those involved.
“North Yorkshire Police and our partners will not tolerate this behaviour. Those responsible can expect to have their vehicles seized, receive a fine and, potentially, receive penalty points on their driving licence.
“We’re watching and ready to take action.”
Making a report about illegal off-roading or other rural crimes
You can report incidents via the North Yorkshire Police website or by calling 101, option 1.
If you would prefer to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or by making an online report.
If an emergency response is required, always dial 999.