Bikers warned to keep out of Barnstaple woodland
POLICE have issued a stop it or lose it warning to bikers being blamed for the gradual erosion of a Barnstaple woodland. Motorised bikes have caused on-going damage to tracks and bridleways at Sepscott Woods, also known as Snapper Woods, while illegal h
POLICE have issued a "stop it or lose it" warning to bikers being blamed for the gradual erosion of a Barnstaple woodland.
Motorised bikes have caused on-going damage to tracks and bridleways at Sepscott Woods, also known as Snapper Woods, while illegal high-speed off-roading has also resulted in a number of "near misses" with members of the public, including local Scouts, who regularly meet at the nearby Collard Bridge Scout Camp.
Pit bike, quad bikes and mini motos' riders now risk having their vehicles confiscated under Section 59 legislation should they continue to break the law and ride their bikes in the wood, which are privately owned. The public bridleway is only accessible to walkers, horse riders and pedal bikers.
PCSO Gareth Woolway said that although the problem was not a new one for land managers, activity in the woods had increased in recent years.
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"Locally the woods are always talked about as a decent place to go riding that is 'out of the way'," he told the Gazette.
"Unfortunately constant abuse of the land has resulted in a land re-structure whereby the natural water way has been affected.
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"These bikes are being ridden on private property and causing criminal damage. There have been a couple of 'near misses' with members of public and the local Scouts fear for their own safety each time they use the woods for their own activities."
Land manager Simon Brent, of forest management specialists, Fountains, spoke about an on-going "war of attrition" with quad and pit bike riders.
"You have only got to go on the Internet and visit sites like YouTube to see the harm that these bikes do to the woodland," he said.
"It's a big problem at this particular wood, and many of the tracks have become quite badly rutted up.
"The neighbouring fish farm is also being adversely affected by sediment being washed downstream when motorbikes use the watercourses.
"But my main concern is that a rider may end up killing themselves or a member of the public legally using the bridleway.
"There have been a number of occasions where horse riders have had near misses with bikers and at some stage something serious will happen.
"Devon County Council is also involved in trying to keep bikes off the public bridleway and will be supplying a new horse-friendly barrier shortly," he added.
PCSO Woolway said police would take a hard line with anyone caught using vehicles in the woods.
"We want to inform youths and other bike users that the woods and public bridleway are off limits," he said.
"This is a serious matter, one that is causing a lot of damage to the environment.
"The noise from the bikes and quads is also a nuisance to residents and to nesting birds of prey."
"We have the power to seize any bike that we feel is breaking the rules.