Following on from our update in May (see: https://www.rmnf.org.uk/protecting-the-moors-around-rochdale/) we are pleased to report that whilst progress has been slow, due to the impact of Covid-19 and a shortage of raw materials, the work completed thus far has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of illegal off-road incidents reported to the Police. The general feedback from members of the public, farmers, residents and user-groups has been very positive too. In certain locations you can already see damaged flora is recovering.
The expected completion date of the project is now September when two more gates and a horse friendly vehicle barrier should be installed, subject to availability of materials.
From the outset of this project, we knew we weren’t going to be able to stop all unauthorised motorised vehicles accessing the moorland, but through a process of education (see the BBC North West news item: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rooleymoorneighbourhoodforum/posts/1812930962213775/) and reducing the number of opportunities to get motorised vehicles on to the moors, we seem to be left with a hard core of illegal off-roaders who simply don’t care about the adverse effect they are having on people, the environment and upland farming.
Fortunately, our project is providing support to Greater Manchester and Lancashire Police enforcement activities and generally speaking, the once silent majority of the public are now vocal in letting offenders know they are not welcome.
We have also seen a great pulling together of the community with the public, Police, local MP’s & Councillors, landowners, businesses, Rochdale Ramblers, Rossendale & Pendle Mountain Rescue Team, Peak and Northern Footpaths Society, National Trail Officers for Natural England, community groups such as Prickshaw & Broadley Fold Neighbourhood Watch and the equestrian community through the Rochdale & Bury Bridleway Association, all contributing to the project by providing information and taking positive action to reduce these illegal off-road activities.
Lancashire Police have introduced a “Rural Task Force”, which is operating to great effect. The facilities management company for Scout Moor Wind Farm has had approval from their client to install two large gates on turbine service tracks. These gates will help enforcement activities by reducing the number of access and egress points to the moors for motorised vehicles. Marshalls Quarry in Edenfield has taken a number of actions to reduce moorland access and egress points for motorised vehicles. United Utilities are taking action to repair walls, fences, styles and gates that have been damaged to facilitate access to the moors via their land. The Lord of the Manor of Rochdale has given permission and provided financial support to inhibit illegal access to their land. Local Members of Parliament are helping RMNF approach companies in the rural area to get involved. Local Councillors and the Rights of Way Officers in Rochdale, Whitworth and Rossendale are looking at the possibility of introducing Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) to further protect our moorland by making penalties for these illegal activities commensurate with the crime.
Looking to the future RMNF is actively working with other organisations to try and implement similar “off-road mitigation measures” in the area of Lancashire that borders with the RMNF neighbourhood area.