Nick Smith MP Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent
Thanks to everyone who attended the meeting of the Off-Road Vehicle Roundtable I set up last week, including Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds and Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert.
The damage being caused to our mountains by illegal off-roaders has been highlighted again in the press recently and, heading into the summer, there is obviously some concern that the issue is going to get worse before it gets better.
I was very glad to hear that there has been some strong police activity in Blaenau Gwent to tackle this issue recently, with vehicles being seized and Section 59 notices being issued in Tredegar earlier this month and in Cwm on the weekend.
We heard at the meeting about the operation currently being carried out in Newport to tackle the use of illegal off-road vehicles and how a similar operation will be rolled out in other areas of Gwent in the future.
I know there is some frustration around this issue and, while I have sympathy for the tough task ahead of the police, I do share this frustration.
I spoke at the meeting to explain that there needs to come a point where we stop talking about introducing a major operation in Blaenau Gwent and get on with it.
There was also a brief update on the use of drones to gather information on off-roaders using land illegally. Hopefully these will be being used in Blaenau Gwent sooner rather than later.
It was once again highlighted at the meeting how important it is that the police are able to gather information, enabling them to formulate strategies for dealing with these matters.
I would encourage people to continue to report any illegal use of off-road vehicles they encounter as we all work towards dealing with this menace and putting a stop to the damage that is being to our environment.