Treadlightly! volunteers teamed up with Police Officers from the Dyfed Powys and Gwent Police forces recently to target people using off-road motorcycles and cars illegally in four remote areas of Wales. The partnership team was backed up by the Police helicopter and assisted by a Brecon Beacons National Park Warden and an officer from Kent Police seconded to act as an observer and assess the effectiveness of the exercise.
The joint operation, part of the Treadlightly! Campaign, saw volunteers use their own vehicles to assist the Police in catching illegal drivers and riders, and resulted in more than 20 vehicles being stopped. Depending on the offences they had committed the illegal drivers and riders were either advised or charged accordingly. Over the course of the operation one driver was arrested for driving whilst disqualified, two were given fixed penalty tickets for illegal off-roading, another vehicle was reported for illegal off-roading after being spotted and identified from the Police helicopter, three drivers were charged with driving with no insurance, two with driving otherwise than in accordance of a licence and three Section 59 warnings were given.
'Treadlightly! is delighted to assist the Police in this and many other similar operations,' says Trustee Duncan Green. 'We represent the many responsible and lawful users of green lanes who are seeing their passion destroyed by what is a small minority of illegal drivers and riders who use parts of the countryside illegally and often behave appallingly to other users. Responsible users have a strict code of conduct and treat other users of legal byways with absolute respect. We go out of our way to ensure that no damage is done to the byways themselves. It is totally contrary to our interests to upset other people and to harm the environment which is the basis of our sport.'
Under the Treadlightly campaign, The Green Lane Association and Trail Riders Fellowship are encouraging all users of off-road cars and motorcycles to abide by our code of conduct and to only use lawful sections of unsurfaced public roads and green lanes. Treadlightly! is grant supported by The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and is committed to assisting Police forces nationally to educate drivers and riders and, where necessary, to enforce the law. We will increasingly be adopting this strategy, particularly focusing on areas which are experiencing significant problems.
A spokesman for Dyfed Powys Police commented, 'We are one hundred per cent behind the Treadlightly! initiative and delighted that they are assisting us in this way. Illegal off-roading is a problem in many areas of the country and it is extremely difficult to stop offenders without specialist vehicles. The voluntary assistance of responsible users allows us to either educate or, where necessary, enforce. The penalties for being caught are harsh – illegal drivers and riders can have their vehicles permanently taken away and this is a course of action we resort to regularly. This is only the start of the campaign, illegal drivers and riders should be warned that we will be making regular returns and Treadlightly! are encouraging other forces to carry out similar projects.'
Commenting on the operation, County Councillor Wynne Jones, Cabinet member for Regeneration & Culture for Powys said, 'This innovative partnership working stems directly from the policies set out in WORMS (Welsh Off Road Motoring Steering Group) which is based on three pillars: education, enforcement and provision.'