Author Archives: ianmabberley

Stemming the scourge of the off road motor bike

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.”

"i didn't know" isn't going to be an alibi any longer!

“i didn’t know” isn’t going to be an alibi any longer!

“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.”

Happy Birthday

Happy 1st Birthday to the CIC!

Our new logo

Our new logo

Yes, it really was a full year ago when we got our Companies House registration.

For both of us Ian’s, it has been a busy year trying to get things done around the bureaucracy and intransigence of other organisations.

Ian the IT has been struggling to get BT to give him any idea of when fibre optic cabling might come to the valley – although interestingly it seems to be much in evidence in the Grwyne Fechan and on the road towards Llanbedr.    {In fact Ian has been struggling with all things BT, one of which left the whole valley with crossed dead lines for a week or so.  Thanks very much BT!  Not Ian’s fault. }

He is now working with a local Broadband supplier who hopes to be able to supply something clever, which will help the lower part of the valley in the first instance, with the hope that it can be extended further as technology allows.

Ian the Environment has finally managed to get some work underway in respect of restricting off-road motor bikes.  After an initial false start, we obtained a £10,000 grant from Welsh Government which has been added to by £5,000 worth of installation costs by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and new barriers and signs are being erected on the forest roads as I type.

We will be calling an AGM in the near future and hope to see all the Members for a good chat about where we go from here.

Carbon neutral?

This week has seen the coming on line of the third micro-hydro electricity generator in the Valley.  The three systems, all running off different streams that feed into the main Grwyne Fawr river, have a combined maximum power output of around 24KwH, which works out at about 576Kw a day or around 38Kw per household per day.  I reckon that this is plenty to run each house quite comfortably, which seems to make the Grwyne Fawr a Carbon Neutral (or even Carbon negative!) valley.

OK it doesn’t rain all the time – in fact it didn’t rain much all summer – but there are also a couple of Solar PV arrays which can pump 4KwH each into the system when the sun shines.

There are also proposals afoot for up to three more hydros, so we could become a major “green power station”!!!

New grants available

The Welsh Government has announced a new set of environment grants for organisations such as ours and we will be looking more closely at this in the next few days.

A draft proposal was formulated late last year for undertaking a number of initiatives in the valley to improve visitor understanding and enjoyment, but fell through due to the then funding partner pulling out.  Now Conservation Director, Ian Mabberley, is again working with organisations including the Brecon Beacons National Park to resurrect the plans.

More details will be posted on this site as matters progress.

Chance meeting

By chance, CIC IT Director Ian Mitchell was returning from a business trip to London when he realised that the person sitting opposite him on the train was our new MP Chris Davies.  Never one to miss a chance to press his case, Ian engaged Chris in conversation and explained about the problems we are having getting suitable communications, particularly Broadband, in the valley.

Chris said that he understood the frustration of being part of the very small percentage of the population which doesn’t look like getting high speed Broadband and promised to do what he could to find a solution.

We realise that as a new MP he will have a huge amount of requests like this ‘on his plate’, but we hope that this personal face to face request for help will not be ignored!