We know that the use of off-road bikes and vehicles is a concern for residents in certain areas of Gwent. Every year when the weather improves, there is an increase in the illegal and antisocial use of these vehicles. Not only are those involved in this behaviour causing a nuisance, they are also causing damage to the local environment and putting themselves and others in danger.
To help combat this problem, Gwent Police launched a new crackdown in 2019, entitled Operation Harley, which will run throughout the spring and summer months - initially in Newport. Working with the public and partner agencies, officers are using a range of tactics to raise awareness of how reports can be made, what the law says about this behaviour and what action we can take.
Where can you ride your off-road bike?
On any land, where the land owner has given you permission to do so
- Byways Open To All Traffic (BOATS), as long as there is no Traffic Regulation Order (TRO)
- If your vehicle is road legal (has number plates) and you have tax, insurance and a driving licence, then you can legally ride it on the road (or green lanes that are classified as roads)
Where can’t you ride your off-road bike?
On any land, where the land owner hasn’t given you permission. This includes:
- Common land
- Restricted byways
- Canal tow paths
- Disused railway lines
- Roads, including Green Lanes that are classified as roads (if you haven’t got a driving licence, insurance, tax, MOT and if the bike doesn’t have number plates)
- Roads Used as Public Paths (RUPPS) – these were altered to restricted byways several years ago
It is illegal to drive or ride a mechanically propelled vehicle without lawful authority on common land, moorland or land not forming part of a road, or on any road which is a footpath, bridleway or restricted byway (Section 34, Road Traffic Act 1988).
If you are caught riding your off-road bike, quad bike or off-road vehicle illegally, then you could face the following:
- Officers have the power to seize vehicles from uninsured drivers, and drivers that don’t have a driving licence under Section 165A of the Road Traffic Act 1988
- You can be reported to appear in court for driving without insurance or a driving licence, as well as for careless or dangerous driving, driving without due care or attention or for driving on common land
- In addition, officers can issue Section 59 Notices if you are caught driving on land without the land owner’s permission. If you receive two notices in 12 months then your vehicle will be seized, and you will have to pay to have it returned. If you don’t pay, then it will be crushed
There are a number of legal off-roading sites in South and Mid Wales. Here are details of a few: