Salisbury Plain off-roaders 'risk lives' during Army training

Live firing demo on Salisbury Plain Image copyright PA
Image caption Salisbury Plain is used by the Army for training exercises

Off-road bikers are risking their lives by straying off public rights of way in areas used by the Army for live firing exercises, the MoD says.

Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire is used by hundreds of soldiers training to use ordnance and armoured vehicles.

The MoD fears both bikers and 4x4 drivers may not see the soldiers during exercises and so should stick to designated routes.

Wiltshire Police says rule breakers could be fined or end up in court.

Lt Stew Andrews, the training area commander, said the land "might have an exploding ordnance on it or other military debris on it".

"For now, we've got 2,000 troops using the plain right now - heavily armoured... these guys are out there trying to train to fight a war.

"If you've got people on the same area then you're going to have a clash of interest.

"The most important thing that everyone should know is it's a safe place to train, it's a safe place to work, a safe place to do your recreational activity and if you're not following the rules it's a problem - and you may get hurt."

Risking lives

The Army said there had been "a spike" in the number incidents of recreational users seen on Salisbury Plain. It did not disclose details of the number of incidents.

PC Ian Cooke, from Wiltshire's Military Community Police Team, said everyone was welcome on the plain - but those caught away from designated routes could be issued with a £50 fine.

"But more importantly those doing this are risking their lives and the lives of others," he added.

Enduro racing champion Daryl Bolter said: "The Salisbury Plain is a massive area and there's lots of places that look [good] to ride but they are illegal.

"On the flip side there are a lot of places out there that not many people know about are legal - and are just as good."

Image copyright Wiltshire Police
Image caption Champion biker Daryl Bolter is supporting the campaign

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