Motorcyclists using Port Talbot’s Aberavon Beach to practise for competitions have been warned they could be taken to court for illegal riding and be banned from races.
Riders are believed to be travelling to the beach from various parts of the UK to use its long stretch of sand and dunes at the western edge but they are not only destroying the dune formations they are also posing a serious hazard to walkers and other beach users.
South Wales Police’s Local Policing Inspector Dean Evans said: “Off road bikes in prohibited areas are an issue for our communities and we are working together with other agencies to address and educate people about the dangers and environmental consequences.
“We will continue this work to maintain the natural beauty of the area for all to enjoy for many more years.”
Neath Port Talbot Councillor Peter Richards, who represents the Baglan ward and who, with colleagues, has received numerous complaints about motorcyclists using the beach, said: “We want this despoiling of our wonderful beach and dunes to end now and we’d like anyone witnessing illegal motorcycling to report what they have seen.”
Competition motorcycling unions have also condemned the activities of irresponsible riders and have made it clear they will impose sanctions on those caught.
Roy Humphrey, the Chairman of the Auto Cycle Union (ACU), said: “As the Governing body for motorcycle sport in England and Wales, the ACU supports Neath Port Talbot Council and South Wales Police in this matter and if member riders are successfully prosecuted for illegal riding they risk having their competition licences suspended.
“There are many authorised motorcycle sporting events taking place around the country together with organised practice facilities being made available, please use them instead or lose your bike and racing licence.”
Suzanne Potts, General Manager of the Amateur Motor Cycle Association (AMCA) added: “We stand alongside the ACU in endorsing the action being taken in combatting the illegal practicing going on at Aberavon Beach. We will uphold any action taken against riders by the ACU.”
Neath Port Talbot Council’s Countryside and Wildlife team is concerned over the illegal motorcycling because of safety issues for visitors, damage to dunes (caused by damage to vegetation which anchors the dunes) and also because the Wales Coast Path runs through the site.
Attempts have been made by the team to try to block access to motorcycles. The team has also put up signage making it clear the use of the site by bikes is illegal.
Cllr Richards, also Neath Port Talbot Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Services and Health, added: “Use of the bikes on the dunes is a serious health and safety issue. We’ve had numerous complaints to us over the years and we report it to the police where we have direct knowledge of bikes there and we encourage the public to report incidents themselves.
“In addition to the obvious health and safety issues, the bikes are having a negative impact on the dune habitat. It’s gone much too far and it’s completely bare of vegetation in some areas.”