NRW responds to increase in illegal off-roading during lockdown

Off roading in the woods

Tighter security measures have been introduced at Natural Resources Wales (NRW) sites across Mid Wales following a sharp increase in illegal off-roading and anti-social behaviour during lockdown.

Complaints of illegal off-roading and anti-social behaviour have increased dramatically since lockdown measures were first implemented in Wales in March this year.

And as restrictions began to ease over the summer, significant increases in visitors to NRW sites led to more reports of illegal camping, littering, forest fires and more reports of off-roading activity from motorcycles and 4x4s, which damage outdoor spaces and put other forest users at risk.

Working in partnership with the Police, local authorities and security companies, measures have been put in place at the most affected sites across the NRW estate to help curb the number of people taking part in any illegal activity.

This will include extra security patrols as well as additional signage urging the public to report any off-roading activity or signs of anti-social behaviour to their incident hotline (0300 65 3000) or to the police via 101.

All intelligence gathered is being collated by NRW and passed to the Police to help gain a better understanding the scale of anti-social behaviour across Wales as a whole.

Becky Hares, senior officer of land management – senior officer in land management for NRW, said:

“We want to welcome every visitor to our sites – particularly those visiting us for the first time. But we have been extremely saddened to see the impact of anti-social behaviour and illegal off-roading over recent months has had on our sites and the communities that surround them.

“We fully understand the frustration that people have felt while having to face the challenges of lockdown, but we urge everyone to enjoy the nature around them safely, legally and with coronavirus public health advice in mind.

“When illegal off roading and antisocial activities take place on our sites it can put people and nature at risk and the costs for the ensuing clean-up and repair are significant.

“These are not new issues, but we are committed to continuing to work together with our partners and communities to address them for the longer term. Those found guilty of illegal off-roading can be subject to prosecution and can have their vehicle seized.

“We look forward to continuing our ongoing work with off-roading organisations through our official Permissions process, once Covid-19 restrictions allow, so that this activity can be carried out on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate safely and legally."