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Off-roaders causing devastation on our moors – can nothing be done?



We have received a report from Rooley Moor and Rossendale of egregious, illegal off road activities occurring on the moorland hillsides. 

 

This has been escalating for years but it has reached a record high, and the impact this is having on the flora and fauna is devastating.  The behaviour of these off-road drivers has and continues to impact the livelihoods of our local, traditional hill farmers; who have to deal with their livestock harassed and their grazing obliterated. Farmers are now having to feed their sheep, cattle and fell ponies throughout the year as a result of the damage to the land.

 

The report we received highlights that there are very few police resources and the method of reporting it totally inadequate. On the occasions that the police do manage to apprehend someone, the penalty is no deterrent.  Locals say that there need to be tougher penalties and for these people to be treated the same as if they were riding on the roads illegally. It is not necessarily the fault of the police, who are stretched as far as they can, but more resources need to be provided to the police to ensure they can apprehend these people.

 

Police resources have been stripped bare, and while the rural task force are very supportive, it's clear that money and additional officers – plus changes to the law – have to occur in order to stamp out these activities.



No where else can a persons place of work be devastated, where you are harassed, threatened, abused, have your fences destroyed, grazing destroyed and get away with it. Yet this is happening day in and day out to our farmers. They desperately need help.

 

A few weekends ago three foals and a mare, as well as a calf, were killed due to illegal off-road bikes.  Two calves were driven into water. The farmer managed to rescue them but sadly one died. One farmer had two lambs separated from an ewe by the off-roaders: had he not been there at the time, he'd have lost the lambs. He declared with his head in his hands that he can't bear to go onto the moor to farm any more.

 

This has also had a detrimental effect on the wildlife: all of the ground nesting birds have been lost.

 

The extent of the damage that is being done means that the land doesn't regenerate. Some of the ruts are waist high, and locals report that there are dozens of bikes and quads every day, Sunday being the absolute worst. Weather or time of day doesn't matter – it’s 365 days a year in all weathers.  These bikers and quad riders come from far and wide, and the scars on the hillsides and moorland are visible for miles.


Recently the rural task force, headed by Sgt. Craig Leech, managed to stop three quads. With the assistance of volunteers the police pinned them down, and those who were caught received fixed penalty notices which will be followed by Community Protection Warnings. Many others managed to evade the police, but it is a start. Sadly, those who weren’t caught are still out there are free to ride another day and cause yet more damage.  

 

 

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