POLICE have been clamping down on the illegal use of off-road vehicles in the Dee Valley.

Personnel from Denbighshire Countryside Services, the Countryside Council for Wales and Forestry Commission joined forces with police to hunt for illegal off-road vehicle use in the Llangollen and Corwen areas.

Use of vehicles beyond the legal network has been a problem for many years on the Llantysilio, Ruabon and Berwyn mountains, where internationally important habitats have been severely damaged and scarred by tyre tracks.

During the operation police issued warnings and provided information on the legal use of off-road bikes to five riders who had strayed from a legal route. They were warned their bikes would be seized if they strayed again.

Three riders were also caught by police officers, travelling along an unsurfaced road in Nantyr, heading towards the north Berwyn Mountains. All three were riding bikes with no tax, MOT or insurance and had their bikes seized and towed away. All three riders face hefty fines pending prosecution.

PC Mark Howell-Walmsley said: “The use of off-road vehicles on the moorland in the Dee Valley is a problem we are determined to clamp down on. This successful operation should serve as a warning to people thinking of riding illegally here or anywhere else.”

Tearing around protected countryside is just as much anti-social behaviour as urban vandalism, say police who will use the force helicopter to catch offenders and warn they will use the full powers of the law to prosecute.

Denbighshire Council’s Heather and Hillforts Project Moorland field officer Nick Critchley said: “We want to send out a message that there are places where people can enjoy off-roading legally, joining clubs and entering events or using the network of roads and byways available to licensed vehicles. We also want to educate and inform off-roaders and to encourage responsible and legal behaviour.”

The police telephone number to report vandals is 0845 6071002 or 0845 6071001 for Welsh language.