Laws aim to control use of recreational off-road vehicles

RECREATIONAL off-road vehicles may have to be registered and licensed in future, partly because their owners are damaging upland heath and bog habitats designated as special areas of conservation.

Farmers who own the lands containing these habitats are likely to welcome a crackdown on recreational users of quad bikes, sports utility vehicles and scramblers.

They could be penalised because recreational users are destroying the habitats on which farmers graze their sheep, warned Mary Alexandra White, TD, in the Dáil.

“I believe the Government will be also penalised unless it brings in bye-laws or national legislation to protect these wonderful upland commonages,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of Environment Minister John Gormley, Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe told the Dáil the damage caused is an issue of concern in places such as the Wicklow Mountains National Park.

It is an offence to damage special areas of conservation and off-road vehicles can cause soil erosion and damage to blanket bog and heath, and disturbance to wildlife.

“For example, I understand many quad bike riders seek to scale Lugnaquilla... in Co Wicklow and barriers erected to prevent entry at certain locations have been damaged and knocked down,” said Mr O’Keeffe.

He said that amendments to the habitats regulations, to be put in place later this year will contain measures to make the control of such vehicles more effective.

He asked anyone with information on where and when such activity is occurring to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service.


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