Wiltshire Police and the Ministry of Defence were out in force on Salisbury Plain last month to tackle the problem of vehicles illegally driving across the Defence Training Area.

This was a joint operation involving Ministry of Defence Police Neighbourhood Policing Teams, and Wiltshire Police including the Roads Policing Unit on Off Road Motorcycles, as well Training Area Marshalls and Landmarc Land Wardens.

Many vehicles were checked which resulted in 8 people being issued with fines and three motorcycles seized for being used without insurance and or a licence.

A further 5 Section 59 ASB notices were also issued, which will assist in the deterrent of further offences over the next 12 months.

Sergeant Mark Venning, the MOD Police senior officer for Salisbury Plain, said: “The vast majority of Salisbury Plain is owned by the MOD and it is regularly used for military exercises.

“The public are allowed access and vehicles are permitted but only if they stick to the numerous marked byways and official tracks and they must be fully road legal including insurance.

“No vehicles are allowed to leave these rights of way, primarily for range safety reasons. But unfortunately we have been receiving more and more reports of motorists and bikers going off-road.

“This is an operational military training environment so this clearly presents a safety issue, but there is also the fact that 20,000 hectares of grassland on the Plain have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conversation.

“We have had reports that damage has been caused to this environment by these unauthorised vehicles and motorbikes driving across the grasslands and in the woods.

“Given the size of the area to be covered, working together with Wiltshire Police and our land wardens gives us a greater ability to deter and detect such offences across the plain and Wiltshire’s Off Road bike capability, had a dramatic and positive impact within this operation and we will continue to work in partnership to safeguard this important training and conservation area.

“MOD land on Salisbury Plain is subject to a range of byelaws which are posted on all access points so there should be no excuses for ignorance.

“These byelaws also give us powers of arrest for offences and allow us to remove vehicles and other property if they are being misused.”

Anyone with information about illegal activity on Salisbury Plain should call Plainwatch on 01980 674700 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.