Military police target off-road drivers in training area
By Warminster People | Wednesday, May 04, 2011, 09:00
An operation to crack down on off-road drivers and bikers illegally using Salisbury Plain’s military training area saw a total of 73 vehicles stopped in just one weekend.
Soldiers, wardens, police officers and members of the MoD police and the Royal Military Police blitzed the roads onto the Plain, which stretches across Wiltshire from Warminster in the West to Amesbury in the east.
They mounted the operation because the off-roaders had become a growing problem, both for damage to the sensitive wildlife areas of the Plain, and in terms of the risks from unexploded munitions. The Wiltshire training area is normally off-limits, but the paved roads crossing it are open to the public at Christmas and Easter, which allows access to the lost village of Imber.
But defence chiefs said they were becoming increasingly frustrated because off-roaders were leaving the paved roads and heading across Salisbury Plain’s rugged landscape, and acted in the weekend before Easter to send a message to off-roaders to stay away over the Easter period.
Of the 73 vehicles stopped on the training area, 14 people were fined and three motorcycles were seized. Penalty notices for drivers ranged from breaching the off-road laws to having no insurance. Sgt Mark Venning, the man in charge of policing Salisbury Plain for the MoD Police, said: “The vast majority of Salisbury Plain is owned by the MoD and it is regularly used for military exercises. The public are allowed access and vehicles are permitted but only if they stick to the numerous marked byways and official tracks.
“But unfortunately we have been receiving more and more reports of motorists and bikers going off-road.