Illegal off-roading to be targeted across North East Wales

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is calling on people living in North East Wales to help protect its upland landscapes from the potentially devastating environmental damage caused by illegal off-roading.

The calls come following increased reports of illegal off-road activities in the Berwyn a Mynyddoedd de Clwyd / Berwyn and South Clwyd Mountains Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

Illegal off-road driving can have a harmful impact on landscapes and cause distress to both wildlife and local communities. It can also cause far-reaching consequences for the environment by disturbing sensitive habitats.

The Berwyn and South Clwyd Mountains SAC boasts the largest area of blanket bog and European dry heath habitat in Wales. In spring the area sees bird species such as cuckoo, curlew, hen harrier and merlin join resident red grouse and black grouse to nest on the heather-clad moorland.

Disturbance and damage by off-road motorised vehicles, such as quad and dirt bikes, are putting their habitats at risk during a time when birds are breeding and are already in the grip of a nature emergency.

Rhys Ellis, NRW Environment Team Leader for Denbighshire, said:

“Illegal off-roading can put both people and nature at risk. The costs for the ensuing clean-up and restoration are significant and the damage to nationally important and protected sites such as Y Berwyn can be devastating.
“Some of these habitats have formed over thousands of years and are sensitive to ground disturbance. Damage caused in a few seconds of illegal off-roading could take decades to recover - or may never recover without intervention.
“By calling on the public for support, we hope to raise awareness of the impacts of illegal off-roading on our uplands, and the threats they pose to our environment, whilst hopefully helping to prevent damage from occurring in the first place.
“We would urge anyone living nearby known off-roading sites in North East Wales or who sees people driving illegally to report it to the police by calling 101 or to NRW on 0300 065 3000.”

The unauthorised use of any motor vehicles is illegal on the Berwyn SAC and causing damage to any Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) site is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. NRW has powers to investigate and take enforcement action.

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