January 9, 2012
After a Youtube clip titled “forestry commission assaulting mountain biker” was posted last Thursday, the Forestry Commission Wales has released a statement announcing an urgent investigation into the incident.
The confrontation took place between a lone video-camera wearing cyclist and a trio of workers in Wentwood, Monmouthshire. The heavily edited clip, since removed by the user, showed the cyclist repeatedly asking why the workers were doing so much damage to the trails during their operations. After a prolonged discussion, one worker says “you’re starting to p*ss me off now” and then appears to push the cyclist.
The Woodland Trust own 352 hectares of Wentwood and the remainder is owned and managed by the Forestry Commission Wales, with a small area in private ownership. Both the Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust have an open access policy for quiet, informal recreation.
There is an active riding community and the Wentwood Cycling Association work in conjunction with the landowners to maintain a number of trails there. As with most woodland, there is no automatic right of way anywhere except gravelled surfaces, something one of the workers in the video points out.
Forestry Commission Wales had this to say:
“We are seriously concerned by what this video appears to show and have launched an urgent investigation into the incident.
Good relations with visitors to our forests – and, indeed, their safety – are extremely important to us. Although the person involved in this incident is not employed by Forestry Commission Wales, we expect contractors and anyone else who works on our behalf to treat visitors with courtesy and respect”
“While we do not condone the actions in this clip, we would remind people that harvesting sites in our forests can be dangerous places and warning signs to keep away should be observed at all times.”
“We hope that by taking prompt and decisive action to address this regrettable incident, we will reassure the many thousands of mountain bikers who we welcome to our trails every year.”
The Forestry Commission say that they will give details on the outcome of their investigation in due course.
As ever, the matter has been discussed on our forum…