Drivers who illegally take their vehicles off-road face having them seized Grampian Police is warning.
A new campaign launched by the force highlights the dangers of off-road driving in the region’s woodlands.
Officers are warning 4x4, quad and motorbike drivers that they face a criminal record if they are caught off-road driving without the permission of the landowner.
Calum Murray, of The Forestry Commission, said: "The illegal use of motorbikes, quads and 4x4s in the forest poses a real danger to visitors in our forests.
"You can imagine what might happen when a fast moving bike or quad meets a horse rider and frightens the horse. We don't want that kind of incident in the forest.
"The drivers of these vehicles are not only putting other forest users in danger, they are also putting themselves at risk. They could take a bend at speed and find a timber lorry or a harvester coming the other way. These are the types of vehicles that move about most of our forests on a daily basis.
"Hundreds of visitors use our beautiful woodlands across the north-east to enjoy the scenery and find some peace and quiet. We want to ensure they have a safe visit as well.
"There are ways drivers can use off-road vehicles in the forest safely and we would encourage them to become involved with one the many organised clubs. In the north-east these include Buchan Off Road Drivers, Aberdeen and District Motor Club or the Bon Accord Motorcycle Club.”
Mr Murray said all of these clubs were well organised and get the necessary permissions to hold events in the commission’s forests.
Chief inspector Ian Wallace, head of roads policing, said: "We work closely with the Forestry Commission and conduct regular enforcement operations however this new campaign is about more than that.
"Its also about educating drivers about the very real dangers of being involved in this type of driving illegally - not just for the individual involved, but also for other members of the public too.
"Unfortunately, our officers are increasingly encountering people who don't realise that many of the laws and regulations which apply to normal roads also apply to them. We are currently receiving a few reports of off-road driving in the forests most weekends."
"Drivers engaged in this type of unauthorised off road driving could be committing a number of offences. They need to be aware of that and the fact that they face a potential fine or, in the worst cases, having their vehicle seized by police.
"Off road driving can be a fun and safe hobby and clearly we will not stand in the way of that, however, our message is simple - make sure you're safe and legal before you venture out."
Anyone who suspects any vehicles are being used in the forests illegally, or who see vehicles with trailers parked up at the entrances to forests, should note the registration numbers of the vehicles and contact Grampian Police on 0845 600 5 700 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
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