The article below appeared (in slightly different forms in the Abergavenny Chronicle and Valley Views)
Most of us have been annoyed by off–road motor vehicles, particularly bikes, in the Grwyne Fawr for some time. However a new initiative between the residents and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) will hopefully go some way to deterring and informing riders, especially those who hop from side to side of the valley via the tarmacked road.
Last year Grwyne Fawr residents set up a Community Interest Company (CIC) that has enabled us to bid for grant funding for projects. At the end of 2015 the CIC found itself successful in obtaining a grant of £10,000 from Welsh Government to improve the barriers on the forest roads and put up new signage indicating that motorised vehicles are prohibited in the forest and on the common land.
Ian Mabberley, one of the directors of the CIC, said “the problem has been around for some time. We have worked with the Park and Police in the past which has had a short term effect due to lack of resources to maintain the vigils, but the bikes eventually return. I don’t think that the bikers realise that they are causing so much damage to the environment, to the enjoyment of walkers and cyclists and to the quality of life of the residents. In fact four motor bikes nearly ended up in our garden a few weeks ago, way off any legal routes.”
“We have beefed up the existing barriers with an extra beam, installed horse step-overs and, off the Car Parks, disabled access kissing gates and fenced and are installing block stones alongside. New signs indicating that motorised vehicles are prohibited in the forest and that vehicles could be seized and crushed, will also inform the riders that they are not allowed to be there. We have also purchased some surveillance cameras to allow us to spot illegal use. This won’t, of course, affect those with legitimate access rights to the forest. The new barriers should make it almost impossible for off-roaders to link sections of the forest roads by hopping on and off of the valley road. This allied to the signage indicating that their bikes could be seized and crushed may help to deter them longer term.”
Michael Cresswell, Land Management Officer for NRW, who manages the forest said: “It has been fantastic working alongside the Grwyne Fawr Community Interest Company to reduce the effects of this illegal activity in Mynydd Du forest. Illegal off road trespass is a problem throughout Wales, with Mynydd Du being a particular ‘hot spot’ in my area. This activity damages the natural environment, impacts on legitimate users’ enjoyment and causes financial implications for the organisation. I really appreciate the ongoing support from the local residents reporting incidents and keeping an eye on the forest. I implore anyone who visits any NRW forest to report any suspicious or obvious acts of an illegal nature to the Police via 101, or 999 in an emergency”.
Ian adds “We’d like to ask all residents to report any and all instances of anti-social behaviour to either the Police, NRW or to me. The more we react the more chance we have of stopping such activities.”
Congratulations on tackling the problem of off-road vehicles! Passed some of your new signs and barriers today. They look very sturdy 🙂
I have a query regarding the area of Mynydd Du (pine forests one side, flat land great for picnicking between two foot bridges, sheep and wild ponies wandering freely, and a lovely clear river great for paddling & with a pool to dive in) and whether any of your CIC initiatives involve this particular part.
Is the barbed wire fencing blocking off the picnic “site” just beyond Mynydd Du carpark also part of this (illegal off-road) initiative, or another to stamp out anti-social behaviour, or is the fencing to do with National Resources Wales instead?
Having seen this post of yours and another with a brief reference to “raves”, I’m wondering if it’s the anti-social behaviour issue that’s the reason for the fencing…
Thank you Cari
I hope you had a good day in the valley – lovely weather.
The fencing around what was the picnic site was done by NRW about 18 months ago in response to a number of big “parties /raves” and is incidental to the off road motor bikes activity. As residents we love the opportunity to live here, but we do have to suffer the anti-social aspects of those who decide that this is a great place to do whatever they want. We are all very happy to welcome walkers, cyclists, horse riders etc but unfortunately the minority often spoil the enjoyment for the majority. Indeed this evening as I locked the Car Park barrier at Cadwgan a group of young people who were just leaving said exactly that.
If you have ever experienced the noise (and other things) of a rave you would understand why NRW (and residents) are very concerned about Bank Holiday weekends!
There is an ongoing dialogue about the fencing off of the site you mention, but at present I can’t see an easy answer.
If you want to discuss this further please call me on 01873 890219.
Thank you very much for your comment, and please do visit the valley again.