Police have warned it is time to get tough with motorcyclists and 4 x 4 drivers illegally using nationally important Lake District land.
Caldbeck Common in the northern fells – which falls into two high scale protection categories – has seen extensive surface damage and threats to animals, including some of the area’s outstanding wildlife
It is owned by the Lake District National Park and area ranger, Graham Standring, has welcomed police support, saying the deteriorating situation and wanton damage has to be stopped.
He explained: “We’ve had spiralling problems and although Wigton police impounded a vehicle in the autumn, the situation is again causing great concern
“People delude themselves into thinking because it’s a common, it gives them the right to use four wheel drive vehicles, quads and motorbikes on this relatively remote and precious land. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
“They are breaking road traffic, wildlife and countryside acts, as well as trespassing. Only registered commoners are allowed to use the land for agricultural purposes.
“This is a Special Area of Conservation and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. As well as causing widespread surface damage, there are very real dangers to livestock and ground nesting birds such as curlew, meadow pipit and skylark.”
Graham said wherever possible registration numbers were being taken and handed to police, who were taking the matter very seriously.
Inspector Dennis Kelly, of Cumbria Police, said: “We will be working closely with LDNP to trace the inconsiderate people who are committing offences on Caldbeck Common. Those found to be driving illegally on the land will be dealt with seriously – it is a beautiful area that we should all respect and work to protect.
“We are aware of the extent of the damage caused and will be carrying out enquiries and conducting checks in the area to ensure that people understand that by driving on this land they are breaking the law and can face prosecution.”