Illegal off-road driving damages Protected Sites

After a recent spate of illegal trespassing by 4x4 vehicles across the Berwyn, Ruabon and Llantysilio mountains Natural Resources Wales is appealing for information from witnesses to prevent further serious damage to key protected areas.

These protected sites are extremely fragile and highly vulnerable to damage caused by a reckless and irresponsible minority, who are determined to pursue their illegal activities regardless of their impacts on wildlife, landscape and the farming community.

If anyone sees any incidents or would like to report any illegal driving on these sites, please contact North Wales Police on the 101 phone number.

Special moorlands like these are protected by UK and European law and are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs).

They are protected for important habitats such as blanket bog, holding heather and cotton grass on deep peat and dry heath as well as heather and bilberry on shallow soils.

These areas also provide a home to a whole host of rare birdlife, such as the hen harrier, merlin, peregrine falcon, golden plover, curlew, red grouse and black grouse, many of which are vulnerable to disturbance throughout the year.

The damaged areas also sit within the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a UK designation that recognises the importance of the character and natural beauty of the landscape.

The damage being caused to the area poses a real threat to the enjoyment of visitors to the area that provide a boost to the local economy.

As well as providing excellent recreation opportunities and supporting important wildlife these upland sites provide an important service for people.

In good condition, peat can store carbon which prevents it from entering the atmosphere, therefore helping combat climate change.

The land also absorbs large amounts of rainwater which it the gradually releases acting as a natural flood defence in times of heavy rainfall.

These activities also have a direct impact on the livelihood of the local farming community through damage to fences and gates which apart from the financial burden of repairing, allows livestock to wander, making some areas difficult to manage.

North Wales Police Wildlife Crime Officer Sgt Rob Taylor said:

“We are taking these incidents very seriously.

"It is an offence to cause damage to these important conservation sites.

"Anyone found to be causing damage to the site is likely face legal proceedings; we would encourage walkers and other in the area to let us know if they see any illegal activity.”

Natural Resources Wales, who have the statutory duty to protect these wildlife sites and manage many of the forest plantations in this area, are working closely with the Police, Denbighshire Countryside Service and landowners to try and prevent this damaging trespass.  

David Smith of Natural Resources Wales said:

“These special moorlands are a part of our natural and cultural heritage here in Wales.

"This activity is completely unacceptable and damages wildlife, farming and the quiet enjoyment of the countryside pursued by the vast majority of visitors.

"Natural Resources Wales is determined to stop this trespass and we are working to make sure it ceases.”

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