Recreational use of local amenity woodland is now at risk of being lost due to health and safety concerns.
Organised motorbike trials and orienteering at a north-east forest are in jeopardy because motorbikes are using the site illegally – and police are now to step up patrols of the area in a bid to stop those responsible.
Various groups, including Bon Accord Motorcycle Club, have permission to use the woodland at Kincardine Estate in Deeside but continued illegal access by other bikers, without permission to use the land, is putting other people’s safety at risk and causing excessive ground damage.
The site is used for many activities such as commercial forestry, walking, cycling, orienteering, stalking, 4x4 off-road driving and motorbike trials.
Leanne Imlach, a land agent in Strutt & Parker’s Banchory office who manages the estate, said: “The forest owners welcome responsible use of the woodland and have long-standing agreements with many groups. They believe it offers important amenity use to the local community and are delighted that people enjoy using it. They hope they will continue to do so for many years to come.
“However, more recently we have had an increasing number of issues with illegal motorbike access. This has become a health and safety issue as it challenges our ability to ensure the safety of all those using the site. It is also damaging the ground.”
This illegal use contravenes rights of responsible public access to the countryside, as outlined in The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and The Scottish Outdoor Access Code. The forest’s long standing amenity use is being threatened by the actions of a few irresponsible bikers.
Leanne continued: “We have discussed the issue at length with the police, Bon Accord Motorcycle Club and Aberdeenshire Council. The police will now increase informal patrols of the area.”
“We would like to ask anyone who is aware of any illegal access of the forest area to call Police Scotland on 101.”