Conviction for two men who used scrambler bikes in protected Wicklow SAC

Date Released: Monday, March 6, 2023

The illegal use of scrambler bikes within the Wicklow Mountains Special Area of Conservation (SAC) has resulted in convictions and fines for two men. On the 2nd March in Carlow District Court Mr. Chris Teasdale of Corragh Co Wicklow and Mr Colm Flynn of Crosschaple, Blessington Co Wicklow, pleaded guilty to  breaches of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011-2021.  The SAC lands are protected by Ministerial direction and the recreational use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), such as scramblers and quads, is therefore specifically prohibited.

Both men pleaded guilty breaches of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011-2021, specifically Regulation 29, the use of an ATV in the Wicklow Mountains Special Area of Conservation (SAC), and Regulation 5, failure to comply or obstruct an officer in the exercise of their duties.

Mr. William Maher, BL presented the case for the state. A National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Ranger represented the Minister and outlined the evidence to the court and highlighted how damaging scrambler bike use can be to the fragile habitats in the SAC.

The NPWS Conservation Ranger stated that on 29th November 2020, several NPWS rangers, supported by An Garda Síochána, were engaged in a targeted patrol to deal with illegal use of ATV’s on the Wicklow Mountains SAC.  The men were observed leaving Mr Teasdale’s house and travelling onto the surrounding hills with their scrambler vehicles. They entered into the Wicklow Mountains Special Area of Conservation and travelled an estimated 7km across protected habitat causing damage to the vulnerable blanket bog habitat.

District Court Judge Geraldine Carthy convicted the men on both counts and said in this instance she would not impose a custodial sentence but imposed a fine of €1,000 for the first matter and €500 for the second matter for each of the men. Judge Carthy also awarded costs of €1,500+VAT to be shared.

Patsy Glennon, BL for the defendants, made a plea against conviction and suggested that his clients would be happy to donate a sum towards a relevant wildlife charity. Judge Carthy rejected his plea and stood firm on conviction, citing that his clients were “old enough and wise enough to know better”.

This is the second successful case for the illegal use of ATV’s before Carlow District Court in the last month and shows the commitment of the NPWS and An Garda Síochána in combating this damaging activity in the Wicklow Mountains SAC.

ATV Damage: Wicklow Mountains SAC