Off Road motorised vehicles are having a major impact on the Surrey Hills. The popularity of these activities through the woods and commons of this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), with new tracks being illegally carved out on private land, has created tension with landowners and leisure users.
On a recent site visit with Rural Police Officer PC Mark Trezise, Surrey Hills Board Member Councillor David Mir and the Surrey Hills AONB Director Rob Fairbanks were shown first-hand what damage these vehicles are doing to Byways in Mole Valley and Guildford.
Mole Valley Councillor and Surrey Hills Board Member David Mir comments:
“There is mounting concern about the damage being caused to the protected Surrey Hills landscape by an irresponsible minority of off-road drivers. This site visit has highlighted how great the problem is in Mole Valley. Today we saw deep rutted tracks caused by vehicles that when filled with water hide brick and rubble that can cause serious damage to walkers, cyclists and horseriders. We need to highlight the seriousness of this problem and work together to solve it”.
They visited a series of byways in the Mole Valley area including; Wolverns Lane and Beggars Lane. The photographs show the poor conditions of these byways including deep rutted tracks, criminal damage to barriers and new tracks being carved out illegally.
PC Mark Trezise, Rural Affairs & Wildlife Crime Officer for Surrey Police comments;
“It was important to undertake this site visit to show how damaged byways are becoming in the local area. It is quite clear that there are groups of off-roaders on bikes or in cars who believe they can drive where they want no matter what damage they cause. It is important to send out a message to those who use the lanes inconsiderately and in an antisocial manner and to make them aware that where the law has been broken robust action will be taken.”
In the case of one byway in Mole Valley, it is in such a state that a temporary closure has been placed on it for the safety of the public. There is evidence that a vehicle had used this lane whilst it was closed and as a result had rolled down a 20ft bank, leaving glass and debris behind. The driver had then removed farm gates to escape the area.
Rob Fairbanks, AONB Director comments:
“It was shocking to see the state of our ancient routeways, which are just not sustainable given the level of use and the very wet weather conditions. These issues will be raised with the Surrey Hills Off Road Working Group to proactively manage the impact and ensure that all user groups are able to enjoy the Surrey Hills without spoiling it for each other.”
Although the site visit focused on Mole Valley and Guildford this issue is endemic across many parts of the Surrey Hills.
For further information on the Surrey Hills Off Road Working group visit https://www.surreyhills.org/board/off-road/