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Illegal off-roaders 'destroying Baildon Moor'
Illegal off-roading by quad-bikes to Range Rovers means 4x4s are wrecking Baildon Moor, the ex-policeman in charge of the land’s preservation has said.
Deep ruts and gouges now scar the historic land, where thrill-seeking drivers regularly break the law by hurtling over the fragile heather, destroying the topsoil as they go.
Mark Scrimshaw, Baildon Parish Council’s environment warden, said part of his job is to clamp down on this threat to the ancient landscape.
“The problem of 4x4s on the moor has become much more of an active issue recently and we do have two prosecutions under way at the moment,” he said.
Culprits face fines, licence points or having vehicles seized and possibly crushed.
“Once the damage has been done, it’s almost ruined forever,” said Mr Scrimshaw. “When the ruts are made, the vegetation is destroyed and the weather eats away to make them deeper.
“During the summer we have trials bikes, quads and all sorts of 4x4s up here every weekend, although it goes on throughout the year. Recently there was a bloke just spinning his Land Rover around on deep snow,” said former Shipley police constable Mr Scrimshaw, 57. “The bikes start off in the old quarry at Shipley Glen and then tear up onto the Moor. But we’ve had all sorts up here, Range Rovers, Discoveries – even a four-wheel drive lorry.”
Mr Scrimshaw said although the moor might look quiet, it was home to a range of wildlife.
“For example, it’s the only place in West Yorkshire to have the rare Lesser Twayblade Orchid and we have lots of bird life such as short-eared owls, golden plovers and partridges which depend on good ground cover,” he said.
“It is also home to a lot of ancient history with bronze age ‘cup and ring’ stones all over the place. One of those was damaged recently by a 4x4. It’s not difficult to wreck them with a low oil sump.”
Friends of Baildon Moor chairman David Sturge said the problem was caused by inconsiderate and uninformed people.
“I’ve seen children running off in terror as motorbikes have raced past family groups on the moor,” Mr Sturge said. “It’s downright dangerous and off-road access by quad and dirt bikes and 4x4s is strictly illegal and is a criminal offence.
“This abuse is one of the largest and constant threats to Baildon Moor, causing significant and lasting damage to the moorland habitat and archaeology and is a major nuisance and hazard to legitimate users.”