Clampdown on quad bike and motocross riders on Skegness beach

Quad bike and motorcross riders who repeatedly flout the law by using the beach as a playground are being warned they face having their vehicles destroyed.

The clampdown comes as Lincolnshire Police focus on wildlife crime ahead of the warmer weather and lockdown restrictions being eased.

Recently, the police in Skegness have had numerous complaints from the public about riders on beaches and especially near Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve.

The Standard joined nature reserve warden Kevin Wilson and officers from the Skegness Neighbourhood Policing Team on the beach to hear more about the problems.

PC Ben Morris and Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve Warden Kevin Wilson at the entrance to the Site of Special Scientific Interest along the coast at Skegness.

"It's an important time of the year at Gibraltar Point for nature - lots of our migrant birds are arriving, lots of our first summer birds are arriving - chiffchaffs and sand martins - and also we still have a lot of our winter birds around so it is a transitional time," explained Mr Wilson.

"Also our winter birds have been with us since October-November - we are talking about wading birds and they are relying on mudflats for feeding and when the time comes they look for somewhere to roost on the outer ridges.

"These birds can be vulnerable to disturbance at all stages during the day - and also big numbers of birds. We are not talking about 10 or 20 here and there we are talking literally thousands.

Last Sunday we had a big roost of wading birds - about 25,000 birds came up to the ridges to roost and feed on the feeding ground so they are very vulnerable to disturbance.

Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve warden Kevin Wilson explaining the problem with off-road vehicles using the Site of Special Scientific Interest.

"When the weather is cold energy reserves are low and they don't want to use up all of their energy flying around because they have been disturbed.

"We've seen a different audience over the past year - people who have been out of work during lockdown - and they don't necessarily respect the countryside and wildlife.

"We need people to realise these sites are for quiet enjoyment and watching wildlife - and we welcome that.

"Quad bikes and motorcross bikes can cause various problems for the wildlife, especially in the Sites of Special Scientific Interest - as well as spoiling the enjoyment of visitors.

25,000 birds came up to the ridges to roost and feed on the feeding ground at Gibraltar Point and are very vulnerable.

"For one thing they are very loud, but the sound travels great distances, so even at several hundred metres huge numbers of birds will be flustered.

"Also the are ground nesting birds that will be disturbed so the last thing we need is for a quad bike or trials bike to come roaring through.

"Also the tracks these vehicles leave on the salt marshes - they rip up the habitats which are quite fragile. Tracks remain for several years before they are grown over.

"These areas are for quiet enjoyment - they are not for quad bikes or trials bikes or for people to bring their dogs and run them off the lead.

Police are clamping down of off-road vehicle riders using the beach, especially near Gibraltar Point.

" We are grateful to Lincolnshire Police for their response to the problem of off-road vehicles on the Nature Reserve.

"Hopefully, through their actions, the activity will cease before any more damage and disturbance is caused as we move into bird nesting season."

Police told us there is nowhere along the Skegness coast where it is legal to ride off-road bikes - and they are keen to stop further incidents.

"We have had a significant increase of off-road vehicles since lockdown, particularly in the Site of Special Scientific Interest," said PC Ben Morris.

"It's something we are keen to tackle. A lot of people are taking the opportunity to exercise in the outdoors such as dog walkers so it is there safety also we have to consider.

"From the reports we are getting some of the motorcycles are travelling at enough speed to do some damage as well.

Habitats can take years to recover from damage caused by trials bikes and off-road vehicles.

"We also have to consider the impact it is having on the area.

"From our point of view we are going to be increasing patrols in the area and taking action against offenders.

"There will be an educational element to it for people who are not aware but if we end up in a situation where we have repeat offenders we will be looking at seizing and potential destroying the vehicles."

Members of the public are encouraged to report any incidents so the police can take action.

IF YOU THINK A CRIME HAS HAPPENED

- don’t disturb the scene

- don’t touch or remove dead animals or birds (in the case of some protected species, if you take possession of the dead animal you could be committing an offence)

- record as many details as you can; date, time, location, details of anyone involved

- if possible, take photos or video of the scene

- write down any registration numbers of any vehicles involved

- don’t put yourself at risk and don’t approach anyone, contact us in one of the ways outlined below

HOW TO REPORT A CRIME

If you think a wildlife crime is being committed then contact police by calling 101.

If a crime is happening or someone is in danger, always call 999.

You can also report wildlife crime anonymously to Crimestoppers, by calling 0800 555 111.