Campaign targets illegal off-roading

The campaign is aimed at deterring motorcyclists from accessing woodland
The campaign is aimed at deterring motorcyclists from accessing woodland

Local agencies have joined forces to clamp down on motorcylists illegally accessing forests.

Forest Enterprise Scotland, Police Scotland and Bon Accord Motorcycle Club have united to tackle the ongoing issue blighting the area.

Now, motorists who illegally access national forest estate woodlands in the North-east have been warned they will face prosecution for their anti-social behaviour.

Neil Taylor, recreation ranger with Forest Enterprise Scotland, said: “Unauthorised access with motorised vehicles is illegal, dangerous and a sure fire way to spoil other people’s enjoyment of the forests.

“Last year, recklessly-driven motorbikes spooked horses, causing them to throw off and seriously injure their riders. One horse then ran out onto public roads and was also injured.

“Quite simply, illegal motorbike access is anti-social behaviour and we want to put a stop to it.

“Our partnership with Police Scotland has had some impact and we intend to make full use of the law to get the message across that it will not be tolerated.”

FES encourages off-road biking and driving enthusiasts to get organised and join an official club.

Neil added: “A great example of how to do things properly is the Bon Accord Motorcycle Club, with which we have a good working relationship.

“They regularly approach us with ideas for events and to seek permissions and – after discussing relevant issues and agreeing some conditions of use - we are happy for them to make use of local forests.”

Sgt Mark Conner, of Police Scotland, said: “We are determined to work with Forest Enterprise Scotland to tackle this anti-social behaviour.

“Not only is it illegal for unauthorised motor vehicles to access these forests but some of the people who do so are driving recklessly at speed across terrain that is more than likely not appropriate for this type of activity.

“This type of behaviour is not only putting themselves at risk of serious or fatal injury but also other members of the public who are enjoying Aberdeenshire’s forests.

“Members of the public who witness such illegal activity are encouraged to report this through Police Scotland’s non-emergency line – 101. They should report as much detail as possible including location, registration, colour of vehicle and detail of the driver/riders clothing.”

FES staff have placed signs at all gates indicating the name of the access point to help the public report such matters.

“If you are interested in finding out how to gain permitted access to national forest estate sites for off-road driving, contact the team at Moray & Aberdeenshire and together we can make the Forests of the North East safe for everyone to use,” said Neil Taylor.