North Yorkshire Police and national park rangers will be monitoring routes being used by off-road vehicles in the Dales this winter. The checks will cover public footpaths, bridleways and byways and are aimed at raising awareness of new legislation on motorbikes and 4x4s for recreational purposes.

The police will also checking bikes and other vehicles to make sure they are legal as well as taking action where clear breaches of the law are committed.

“Off-roading is probably one of the most sensitive issues for national parks in terms of recreation,” said park ranger Matt Neale. “Even a small number of bikes in the wrong place can have a serious effect on both sensitive habitats and the peace and tranquillity of the area – just two of the special qualities of the national park that so many people come here to experience.

“There is now plenty of information available explaining exactly where off-road enthusiasts can go and what is legally required of them, so there is no excuse for people to ride or drive in areas where they have no legal rights to take recreational vehicles.”

In October the park authority published a free trail bike leaflet, produced in partnership with the Trail Riders Fellowship, Natural England, the North Yorkshire and Cumbria county councils, the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Beauty and North Yorkshire and Cumbria police. It explains where and how trail bikers can use the byways and unsurfaced, unclassified county roads and it sets out the legal issues involved and the ways in which riders can help minimise the effects of their activities on wildlife, the landscape and other users.

Specific route information can be found by contacting Matt Neale on 01969 666220 or at www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/green_lane_management.

The police say they welcome reports of illegal off-roading incidents from members of the public. These should be handed into local police stations in Grassington, Settle, Ingleton, Hawes and Leyburn.

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