Drone helps to tackle illegal off-roading

Funding has been given to a project to fund two police officers and state-of the-art technology to help tackle illegal off-roading.

The initiative between Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly councils and Gwent Police has been operating since the start of November resulting in the seizure of 10 illegal off-road vehicles to date.

The local authorities have invested £122,220 Shared Prosperity Funding to fund the officers’ posts, as well as a drone, Land drover and quad bike to catch people who ride scramblers, quad bikes and motorbikes illegally on the mountainsides.

The project is being led by Torfaen Council and will see a PC and Police Community Support Officer based in the upland area for 60 per cent of their time.

Councillor Helen Cunningham, Deputy Leader/ Cabinet Member Place & Environment, said: “Illegal off-roading causes significant environmental damage and can be a nuisance to animals and landowners.

“We have been trying to deal with this issue for a long time, but the isolated location and a lack of resources has made it difficult to catch offenders.

“We hope the new officers and equipment will apprehend anyone riding illegally and act as a deterrent to others.”

Superintendent Mike Richards, who oversees the policing response in Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly and Torfaen, said: “This initiative is designed to complement Operation Harley, our established approach to combating the illegal use of off-road bikes in Gwent. 

“Our neighbourhood teams are acutely aware of the impact dangerous off-road activity can have on our communities and continue to carry out regular zero tolerance operations across Gwent.

"I’d like to thank our partners, whose continued support will allow us to address the issue head-on in the coming years, but I’d also like to thank the public.

"We need to know where these bikes are being used and stored so we can seize them and identify individuals who often show no regard for their fellow road users, neighbours or pedestrians.

“The information the public provide plays an integral part in informing our investigations, helping us to remove these vehicles from our streets."

Nick Smith, Blaenau Gwent MP, added: “Illegal off-roading is a scourge that causes devastating damage to the environment, disturbs livestock and wildlife and also intimidates farmers and walkers.

“The regional roundtable group I established to focus on this ongoing problem has heard many times how difficult it can be to police an issue that largely takes place on mountaintops.

“It's fantastic that this new equipment is in place to help officers quickly access those areas, identify those responsible and clamp down on illegal off-roading.”

This project is funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda. The Fund provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills.

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Wednesday, 20 December 2023