South East Wales

Illegal off-road biking 'on the rise' in south Wales valleys

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Media captionThese bikers are riding legally on a motorcross track but there are concerns about those who choose to use land where permission has not been given for off-road biking

Illegal off-road biking is a problem on the rise in the south Wales valleys, according to Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

Twenty-two people were caught illegally riding motorbikes earlier this month in an operation with South Wales Police.

NRW said it was a form of anti-social behaviour because of the damage caused to the land and the risk to the public.

But many bikers argue they have same right to use publicly owned land as walkers and horse riders.

NRW operational manager for south east Wales, Sally Tansey said not only had the problem of off-road biking increased, but it had become more difficult to manage.

"We're getting commercial operators bringing large groups of paying customers on to the land," she said, adding organised groups were able to "assemble quickly" using social media.

One of Wales' few off-road biking tracks is based near Ynysybwl in Rhondda Cynon Taff.

Despite having a trail cut into the mountainside since the 1960s, the facility was only granted full planning permission eight years ago.

The owner of Bull MX track, Chris Jones said: "The problem can be fixed relatively easily by allocating areas and trails on NRW land - a publicly funded body - and then charging for the use of those trails."

He said the money could then go into other projects and maintaining the trails.

Mr Jones added: "If you're selling tens of thousands of bikes a year and there's nowhere for these bikes to ride then in a way you're promoting illegal riding."

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