Use of off-road bikes on valley bed illegal; ERA investigating video
A number of off-road bikers who have frequently been practicing their hobby in Zebbug’s Wied Qirda are breaking the law, the police and the Environment Ministry have confirmed.
The Malta Independent has recently received videos showing a large number of off-road bikers driving on the valley bed of the picturesque Zebbug valley. Witnesses said the bikers were even seen driving up the sides of the valley, trampling over vegetation.
The videos were sent to the police, who confirmed that the activity is illegal as it is considered off-roading, which is regulated by law.
A spokesperson for Environment Minister Jose Herrera said the video has been forwarded to the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) for investigation.
“If there are instances brought to ERA’s attention where it is suspected that protected trees, other protected flora/fauna and biodiversity may have been impacted upon, ERA evaluates the situation and what can be attributed to the particular offroading activity.”
ERA then assists the Police in applying environmental legislation concerning protected flora and fauna and the protection of biodiversity and habitats.
If off-roading activities are organized in Natura 2000 sites, a Nature Permit from ERA would be required, the spokesperson said.
Off-roading is defined in the law as all forms of driving, manoeuvring and parking of motor vehicles that is carried out off the road, excluding for agricultural, maintenance or public maintenance purposes.
Off-roading activities may only take place in sites that are licensed as such by the competent authorities.
These sites have to be clearly marked with the appropriate signage and there have to be clearly defined ‘lanes’.
People breaching these regulations are liable to a fine of between €116.47 and €1,164.69, which may increase to between €232.94 and €2,329.37 for repeat offences.
Wied Qirda is classified as an area of special conservation and national importance.