I visited Blaenavon this week to meet with council officers who took me to see a few of the areas within the World Heritage Site that are being badly damaged by illegal off-road biking.
It is tragic to see this beautiful landscape, that was so crucial to the Industrial Revolution, being eroded away by a minority of off-road bikers that don’t understand the wider consequences of their actions.
The illegal use of off-road vehicles is harming the countryside across Gwent.
It causes injury, distress and even death to grazing animals. This, together with threatening behaviour from some riders, makes it incredibly hard for farmers to look after their animals properly and is damaging their livelihoods.
Then there is the environmental damage to wild animal habitats, walking and cycling routes, and an increased risk of flooding as the landscape’s natural defences are destroyed.
The problem doesn’t end there. Many of these vehicles are uninsured, untaxed and shouldn’t be ridden on the roads, meaning normal road users and pedestrians are also being put at risk.
It is a very hard crime to police. Our countryside areas are vast and the police’s powers to take any kind of preventative measures are limited.
However, Gwent Police are committed to tackling this issue and have seized more than 135 off road vehicles over the last year. Owners have been given warnings and made to pay for the return of their vehicles and, where there is no proof of ownership or insurance, or where the vehicle has not been fit for use on the road, they have been crushed.
To take effective action the police need people to report these issues. If you suspect someone is using an off-road bike illegally can report information anonymously to Gwent Police via 101, or Gwent Police’s Facebook and Twitter page. You can also report information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
In an emergency always call 999.