Page last updated at 13:56 GMT, Saturday, 3 January 2009

Patrols target off-road drivers

Leith Hill (Picture John Miller/Surrey Hills)
The National Trust said 4x4 drivers like to go over Leith Hill in the summer

Patrols by police and National Trust wardens are being stepped up in Surrey countryside to tackle 4x4 off-road drivers who "trash historic woodland".

The patrols will be carried out across the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty during 2009.

Two vehicles were snared in a pilot patrol in December, Pc Jo Morris said.

One 4x4 stopped was found to have three illegal off-road motorbikes in the back, she added. Two had no MOT and the third was not registered, she said.

The vehicle was stopped at White Down which is not open to vehicles because of "excessive damage" that has been caused there, Pc Morris added.

'Strong message'

National Trust warden Mark Richards said that over the coming months his wardens would be building up a profile of the times and places that were most popular for off-roaders so future patrols could be more accurately targeted.

He added: "We would like to do night patrols too. The 4x4 drivers like to go out on summer nights - for example over Leith Hill at Coldharbour."

And he said: "Just having the police cars out in the woods sends a strong message to people that they can't just drive anywhere."

The pilot patrol included four National Trust wardens and 11 police and community support officers in four all-terrain vehicles.

The Surrey Hills area covers a quarter of the county and includes the chalk North Downs and wooded Greensand Hills.

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