A corridor of precious protected wildlife is being ruined by people driving their 4x4 vehicles and motorbikes through it.
Now a zero tolerance approach is being taken against people who drive along the The Drift and King Luds Entrenchments, a 4km route between Skillington and Denton, part of the Viking Way.
Irresponsible vehicle owners have driven along the route, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), churning up the trail causing deep ruts and leaving behind muddy trails which make it almost impassable for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
It is illegal for people to use motorised vehicles along this section of the Viking Way. Four prosecutions are in progress at the moment. Signs warning people against using their vehicles on The Drift have been vandalised and stolen.
Concrete bollards and concrete blocks secured deep into the ground, known as dragon’s teeth, have recently been installed to prevent larger vehicles using the route. But the blocks are spaced so as to allow horseriders and carts through, meaning that motorbikes can also get through.
PC Nick Smith, based at Grantham Police Station, said: ”Like many officers I have spent hours patrolling the Viking Way trying to advise and inform people that they cannot be there on quad bikes and in 4x4 vehicles. Even though there are signs in the area some are genuinely surprised and compliant with requests to leave the area and not return in vehicles, while others simply do not care and have even tried to outrun officers when we have attempted to stop them.This is simply not acceptable. There are very prominent signs in the area telling people how they can use the area and we are now refusing to believe that people do not know they shouldn’t be there in motorised vehicles. We will not tolerate this any longer and anyone using the area inappropriately will feel the full weight of the law that protects the site.”
The Drift was designated an SSSI in 1984. It is home to 10 types of butterfly and to several declining, ‘red-listed’ songbirds such as the yellowhammer, skylark, corn bunting, linnet and song thrush. Surveys have shown a dramatic decline in the habitat due to reckless use of vehicles.
Angie Lillistone, of Natural England, said: “This site is designated as an SSSI because it contains one of the rarest wildflower habitats within England. It is estimated that 98% of wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s and that one species of flowering plant has been lost from Lincolnshire every two years since 1900. Repeated use by motorised vehicles has led to the loss of many of the species here. It is not acceptable that the actions of a few people have reduced what could be a beautiful area for the public to enjoy to a muddy and often impassable track.”
District Councillor Ray Wootten, chairman of The South Lincolnshire and Rutland Local Access Forum, said: “We support the actions taken by Lincolnshire County Council Highways Department to install barriers. A minority of 4x4 drivers and trail riders, due to excessive use, have put at risk this site of special scientific interest. We also support Lincolnshire Police in the prosecution of any person found driving or riding a motorised vehicle, who despite warnings have ignored signs which prohibit motorise traffic.”