A hill farmer’s daughter has shared an impassioned plea on social media for people to stop treating moorland like a playground after decades of illegal activity.
Beth Holt, a sheep farmer from the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, posted several photographs on Facebook in a bid to highlight the ‘unbelievable’ mess and destruction ‘grown men’ were creating with their 4x4s and motocross bikes, with some travelling from Merseyside and South Yorkshire to access the moorland.
In the post, Ms Holt said: “They spend their days and evenings shredding our poor moorland to pieces.
"Groups of up to 20 bikes have been sighted and photographed.
“It is illegal to use these moorland for these purposes and the landowners and graziers have been plagued with this activity 365 days a year, [despite] the riders of the bikes and drivers of the 4x4s having no permission to be there in the first place.”
Ms Holt noted incidents where ewes had become stuck in motorbike ruts ‘bogged up to their necks in a peaty soup’, injuries to livestock caused by collisions with bikes and games where cattle were ‘rounded-up’ by bikers.
Highlighting the important ecological attributes of the moorland, she added: “Contrary to popular belief, these hills are not ‘wasteland’ which no-one owns nor cares for.
“They are home to some of the most environmentally friendly beef and lamb for generations, reared on land which cannot support any other kind of agriculture or serve any other productive purpose.
"[Peatland] environments are the UK’s largest store of carbon and the carbon they store is equivalent to eight years of total UK carbon emissions.
“It is hugely important to preserve these carbon sinks."
She warned the peat could no longer do its job properly, with ruts created by the bikers speeding up the flow of water from the hills to the valley bottoms, causing erosion and in some cases, flooding.
"It is only now that I have felt the future of hill farming is very bleak," she said.
It is understood Greater Manchester Police are investigating the issue, but are limited in terms of their resource and funds.