Council cracks down on scrambler use on Carnmoney Hill

Carnmoney Hill.
Carnmoney Hill.

The council has teamed up with the police and the Woodland Trust to appeal to parents not to buy their children off-road vehicles for Christmas.

The move is part of a wider campaign aimed at cracking down on the illegal use of scramblers and quad bikes on Carnmoney Hill - a Local Nature Reserve.

Scrambler and quad riders have caused significant damage to the hill over recent years, causing disturbance to wildlife and a noise nuisance to local residents.

While the efforts of council staff, Woodland Trust representatives, the police and local residents have led to a reduction in the number of scrambler riders using the hill, the problem is often exacerbated by parents purchasing off-road vehicles for their children at Christmas.

“Quads and some scramblers don’t comply with Construction and Use Regulations and Safety and Vehicle Standards and, therefore, are restricted to off-road use only. These vehicles should only be driven on private land where the landowner has given permission and should not be driven on pavements, roads, public property or parks; this includes green grass areas and public paths,” Inspector Stephen McGuigan explained.

At their November Leisure Committee meeting, local councillors agreed that signage be erected at the entrances to the hill to reinforce that scrambling is not permitted; that cameras be installed to collect evidence against offenders; and that the PSNI’s education officer target local schools.

Alderman Thomas Hogg said that householders in The Brackens, Carnmoney have reported a “significant reduction” in the number of scrambler riders using the area. And he praised council parks staff for their efforts at reducing the nuisance to local residents.

Others members, including Alderman Billy Ball and Cllr John Scott, said that signs were unlikely to stop riders using the hill and stressed that offenders need to be caught.

Cllr Lynn Frazer said the problem is one that has been going on for “many, many, many years” and said it is vital that private land owners on the hill are on board with the crackdown on scrambler use.

A council spokesperson said “the tranquillity on the hill has been increasingly interrupted by scramblers causing significant amounts of damage to both privately and publicly owned land” and appealed for the practice to stop.

The council and PSNI are encouraging people to report sightings of scramblers on the hill immediately by calling Newtownabbey Police on the non-emergency number, 101.