Quad bike ban in mountains


QUAD BIKES and scrambler motorbikes are being banned from more than 160,000 hectares of mountain, forest, beach and marsh land under new regulations introduced by Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

The ban has been introduced to protect sensitive nature sites which were being damaged by recreational vehicles.

Some 13 sites have been selected for protection including most of the Wicklow Mountains, the Slieve Bloom Mountains in Laois and Offaly and Gweedore Bay and Islands, Co Donegal.

Quad bikes, scramblers and other motorbikes and 4x4 vehicles were causing the destruction of habitats and species protected by EU law, Mr Gormley said.

“Unrestrained use of these vehicles can cause the destruction of upland vegetation leading to erosion, the disturbance of ground-nesting birds and destruction of their nests, and permanent damage to sand dune systems,” he said.

Individuals who break the new ban could face fines of up to €5,000.

The 13 scenic locations are designated “Natura 2000” sites by the EU and must be given a high level of environmental protection.

The use of certain recreational vehicles is prohibited in sites which have either Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) or Special Protection Areas (SPC) status, under the EU regulations.

The new regulations are not aimed at agricultural or other working use of quad bikes and other similar off-road vehicles or their use by the security and emergency services, Mr Gormley said. Landowners will also have the right to seek an exemption where the regulation affects their land.

The areas included in the ban are The Raven SAC, Wexford; Blackstairs Mountains SAC, Wexford/Carlow; Wicklow Mountains SAC,Wicklow/Dublin;Kilpatrick Sandhills SAC, Wexford; Cahore Dunes Polder SAC Cahore Marshes SPA, Wexford;Slieve Blooms SAC, SPA, Laois/Offaly;Carlingford Mountain Louth; Ballyness Bay SAC, Donegal;Gweedore Bay Islands SAC Donegal; Castlemaine Harbour SAC, SPA (including Inch Strand) Kerry; Galtee Mountains SACLimerick/Tipperary; Slieve Bearnagh SAC Clare; Slieve Aughty SPA Galway/Clare.

Separately, but under the same regulations, camping and lighting fires in Knocksink Wood which extends into Dublin and Wicklow is also banned.

A total of 161,176 hectares of land will be affected by the bans. Signs will be erected at the boundaries of each site indicating what activities are prohibited on their lands.