Almost 300% increase in damage to countryside by off-road vehicles in parts of Wales

  • Watch the full episode of Coast & Country on ITV Cymru Wales on Tuesday at 7:30pm

Damage to parts of our countryside by off-road vehicles has grown by almost 300% in the last year, according to Dyfed Powys Police, despite the stay-at-home restrictions in Wales.

Police officers and park wardens have been patrolling Wales' national parks during lockdown to monitor visitor numbers and carry out border checks.

Dyfed Powys Police has noticed a large increase in the amount of damage caused by off-road vehicles such as motorbikes and quad bikes across the Brecon Beacons National Park, in particular.

PCSO Billy Dunne, Rural Crime Team, Dyfed Powys Police said: "It's got worse [during lockdown]. On a normal weekend I might have a report of half a dozen off-road bikes.

"The last four or five times we've been up here doing this, we're talking in excess of 40 plus bikes. So near enough a 300 per cent increase over the last year.

"We try to educate people. I don't want to take someone's vehicle off them if they don't know the rules.

"What I would ask people to do is to check before you leave the house. Check to see if where you're going is a legal place where you can go riding. If in doubt, ask the landowner."

The police force has also recorded a 'sharp increase' in the number of livestock attacks by dogs in the last year.

In February 2021, NFU Mutual released figures that found dog attacks on livestock cost farmers in Wales £165,000 in the last year.

PC Charlie Jones is one of the officers responsible for policing the Brecon Beacons National Park during the pandemic and told ITV Cymru Wales: "Last year we had 57 incidents [of dog attacks] in Powys alone.

"Force-wide in Dyfed Powys we had over 150 incidents reported and that has a devastating impact.

"Sometimes it's dogs being let off leads and being permitted to chase livestock. Other times it's dogs escaping from properties and allowed to wander off freely on their own."

PC Jones added: "We do enforce and we do investigate every single incident. There's quite tough penalties out there for livestock worrying.

"We also work with the Brecon Beacons wardens and other large landowners to educate dog walkers.

"No farmer wants to go out in their field and find 10 dead sheep mauled to death by a dog which is what we do see and it's happening all over Wales. It's not just Powys."

You can see more of how our police officers and wardens are patrolling Wales' national parks during lockdown on Coast & Country on ITV Cymru Wales on Tuesday at 7:30pm.