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Monday, November 10, 2014

Officers meet to find answer to off-roaders issue

Council officers have met with police and a countryside agency to hammer out a solution to the issue of off-roading in the Dee Valley, Llantysilio and Berwyn Mountains.

Llangollen county councillor Stuart Davies, who was there to represent the views of people in his ward, said: “The officers’ working group meeting last Friday included officers from Denbighshire, Gwynedd and Wrexham Councils, Natural Resources Wales and North Wales Police.
“The aim was to find a way forward to deal with issues arising from off-roading that are being reported by local residents and landowners.

“The big issue facing the area remains the illegal use of off-road areas in open countryside by illegal vehicles.
“I made my views known about calls for the closures of unsurfaced public roads, which is a legally based process that can only be undertaken under set circumstances often at considerable cost, especially if challenged.

“Basically, they are highways and in these times of budget cuts I could not support the spending of possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds on the process of closures where the outcome is uncertain. There has already been a failed attempt to do this by Powys County Council.”
Cllr Davies believes there are three issues involved, which are:

Classification of the highways so that users have no uncertainty as to what is legal or not and appropriate times or means of use.

Enforcement against those who are using vehicles in the countryside in an unlawful manner, the management of which is the remit of the North Wales Police.

Engagement and management of users to promote considerate use with respect and regard for the needs of other users and local communities.

He added:  “As for classification, work is to be done by Denbighshire officers, supported by other agencies and off-road user groups, to produce a Green Road Code to identify routes legally available for vehicles and set standards for their reasonable use and management.

“North Wales Police are already doing work on enforcement, with other operations planned.
“Police officers at last Friday’s meeting, supported by the other group members, confirmed their commitment to securing a reduction and elimination of the unlawful use of motor vehicles in the area.

“As part of this process a local PCSO successfully stopped and served notices on three motorcyclists riding on the moorland at the Horseshoe Pass last weekend.
“The meeting identified specific sites where off-roading is a significant issue and over the next few months a number of specific multi-agency action days will be held to find, stop, and deal with persons using a vehicle in contravention of the various laws in these locations.

“The ultimate penalty is that not only a fine can be issued but the vehicle used for such activity can be confiscated and destroyed.
“In terms of engagement and management, DCC officers, other agencies and off-road user groups are working together to educate users to better manage the use of unsurfaced roads and for users to support and assist in their future maintenance.

“Sophisticated logging devices developed for National Parks to record vehicle activity have been acquired by DCC with grant funding from Wales Government.


“These have been installed during since the beginning of the year in all affected areas and `honeypot’ spots and have given a good understanding of the levels of usage and type of vehicles using these areas.”
Cllr Davies went on: “My view is that if we could manage all three of these points, then this would go a long way to mitigating issues arising from the increasing popularity of off-road tourism in the area and would extend the visitor season, helping local tourism-reliant businesses.

“The latest Local Development Plan, which is just about a year old, designates the Llangollen area as a tourism destination and says that considerate use of the unsurfaced road network is already a popular component of the many features of the area that weekend and short break visitors find attractive. Legal unsurfaced road use falls in to this category.”

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