A group of 4×4 drivers are being warned they could face legal proceedings after being spotted driving along a Shropshire river.
Several off-road vehicles were photographed by a member of the public who reported the group to the Environment Agency. In a tweet, Chris Bainger, Environment Agency fisheries technical specialist for Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, said “this is not okay”.
“Rivers are sensitive ecological environments, not green lanes.”
Anyone who is found to have driven along a river could be subject to criminal proceedings under the Wildlife and Countryside Act or civil proceedings for trespass. Owners of riverbanks own up to the centre point of a river. Anyone entering a river and crossing over the centre point should have permission from the owners of both banks.
‘Directly crushing any ecology’
Chris Bainger said: “Do they realise the harm they may be doing?
“They are directly crushing any ecology and while some fish like trout and larger juvenile salmon may be able to get away, small salmon won’t escape. Plus, if there are a number of vehicles following each other they are damaging the sensitive gravel on the riverbed.
“That means fish will be less able to successfully spawn later in the year, additionally the churned up sediment smothers the river bed and the small creatures that live within it. Those are an essential part of the food chain for larger aquatic wildlife in the river. The knock on effect is longer term stress on the localised environment.”
The Environment Agency is urging people with evidence of anyone driving down a river bed to contact the police. Alternatively, crimes can be reported anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 055 111.
Earlier this month, police were searching for a green 4×4 “with loud exhaust” after it was seen “tearing up the golf course” near Telford, Shropshire.
In a tweet, Telford Police said: “We are looking for it now. There were players on the course so you can appreciate how dangerous it was.”