Wicklow Uplands Council adds their voice to criticise the irresponsible use of quads and scramblers in the Wicklow and Dublin Uplands in recent days.
This illegal activity involves groups and individuals travelling on fragile mountain habitats, forest tracks and on the public road and comes at a time when nationwide restrictions are in place to combat the spread of Covid-19. Reports indicate that some groups are travelling to the area in contravention to these restrictions.
The use of these vehicles within the Wicklow Mountains National Park and Special Area(s) of Conservation is illegal and can be extremely damaging to the fragile landscapes of the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains.
Concentrated activities cause the loss of vegetation and erosion which leads to gullying, scarring of the landscape and eventual landslides. The unregulated use of these vehicles is also a concern for wildlife and livestock, interfering with breeding ground nesting birds, and disturbing groups of animals and interfering with their natural behaviour.
The topic of off-road motorised vehicles in the uplands was discussed at length at a recent Panel Meeting hosted by Wicklow Uplands Council. The well-attended event included representatives from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Mountaineering Ireland, Motor Cycling Ireland and other interest groups, who all participated in an informative discussion on how best to address the growing illegal use of vehicles in the uplands.
Although further discussions on how to tackle this issue are ongoing, today’s reports have brought new attention to the matter, especially as the incidents are set against the restrictions related to Covid-19 and a nationwide focus on preserving emergency services to aid communities and other frontline services.
Speaking about the recent incidents, Brian Dunne, Coordinator of Wicklow Uplands Council shared:
“These illegal activities can cause immense damage to the uplands’ fragile ecosystem by destroying vegetation and the underlying peat leading to long-lasting environmental damage”.
Mr Dunne added:
“Landowners can use quads to access hills for agricultural purposes but the recreational use of off-road vehicles is illegal. There are also organised trials events which are permitted but these are not taking place at present due to the COVID restrictions”
In a statement issued by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht this afternoon, the department stated:
“This activity is a scourge to upland habitats. Reports will be followed up on and perpetrators prosecuted where possible. Given the current national crisis, we would hope that the precious resources of the State are not required to deal with such avoidable behaviour”.
The department which oversees the protection and presentation of Ireland’s heritage and cultural assets including the Wicklow Mountains National Park also shared:
“We remind all users of the Wicklow Mountains that the use of recreational off-road vehicles within the Special Area of Conservation is illegal under the European Communities Birds and Natural Habitats Directive and ask people to report such behaviour to the Duty Ranger of Wicklow Mountains National Park at 087 980 3899 and the Gardaí”.
To read the full statement issued by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, please visit www.chg.gov.ie/quad-bikers-in-national-park-posing-a-threat-to-mountain-areas-fragile-nature-and-the-public/