Off-road bikers cause misery at nature spot

A biker riding on the Greenheart area near Wigan Flashes, spotted by photographer Julie Moakes
A biker riding on the Greenheart area near Wigan Flashes, spotted by photographer Julie Moakes
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More complaints have been made to the authorities about the scourge of illegal off-road biking at one of the borough’s finest wildlife and nature havens.

Resident and photographer Julie Moakes is the latest person to blast bikers who are blighting the Greenheart area around Wigan Flashes.

You can be walking along and suddenly there’s a scrambling bike coming towards you or coming up behind you, revving the engine

Julie Moakes

Ms Moakes says the area has been ruined by vehicles since some of the barriers in the area were removed to allow engineers to access the site of the proposed new A49 link road near the flashes.

She says many of the people who walk their dogs on the paths or simply enjoy the peace and quiet and birdlife on the Flashes are extremely angry about what is going on and gave hair-raising accounts of suddenly meeting riders on high-performance off-road bikes along the narrow trails.

Her complaints, which include ringing Greater Manchester Police (GMP) after spotting half a dozen bikes being ridden last Sunday, come just a couple of weeks after regular Flashes visitor and photographer Steve Heaton slammed the way the site is being used.

Ms Moakes, of Richmond Street, said: “It has got worse since the new link road started being put in. Where there was lovely green space to walk the dogs and take the kids has been destroyed and everybody is complaining.

“The biggest problem is around Westwood but there’s bikes getting onto the area at Little Lane in Goose Green and some are driving all the way through to Poolstock. Sometimes they are on the Flashes riding on the footpaths and we’ve even seen them on the paved footpaths.

“You can be walking along and suddenly there’s a scrambling bike coming towards you or coming up behind you, revving the engine.

“On Sunday we were out walking our dog and we came face to face with a bike. He saw me pointing a camera lens at him and he couldn’t turn his bike round fast enough.

“It’s just ridiculous because it’s a Greenheart site. There’s lots of birds at the Flashes: kingfishers, ducks, swans, geese. When the bikes are riding backwards and forwards you can see the birds getting distressed and flapping, so come nesting season we’re going to have problems.

“The whole area is getting scruffier and more churned up and to me that tells people you can do what you want with the place because it’s not looked after. It’s just going to get worse and worse with the weather getting better.

“Why can’t they go to the Three Sisters which is made for it? I have no problem with people riding bikes but they have got to do it in the right place, not a Greenheart area. It used to be such a lovely site and it is now is a disgrace.”

Wigan Council director for economy and environment Karl Battersby said: “We are aware of current issues with off-road bikers and work is scheduled to repair a barrier which should reduce the number of access points to the site. We would encourage residents to report any incidents to the police.

“The work that was carried out on site was in part preparatory work, and some that was required to assist with the detailed design of the scheme. This is a key scheme for the council and work is ongoing to complete the final designs before we move into construction phase.

“This is a large investment in the area, and it will take time to complete but, once completed, will transform the road network in the area, ease congestion and open up former industrial land which will bring jobs and homes to the borough.

“We are very grateful for residents’ patience whilst these works are ongoing.”

LWT said it is as frustrated as the regular Flashes visitors and is working with Wigan Council to resolve the issue, but cannot simply go out and confront the bikers following a disturbing incident several years ago in which a Trust employee was attacked.

Illegal off-road biking should be reported to GMP on 101.