4x4 owner gets police warning after driving through Somerset AONB

4x4 found stuck in Mendip Hills AONB

The 4x4 was found in the Mendip Hills AONB - Credit: Mendip Hills AONB

Police have been in touch with the owner of a vehicle alleged to have been driven across a scheduled monument in Somerset illegally.

The driver of the 4x4 was traced by police after the vehicle was found on the monument in the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

On November 25, an off-road vehicle that had entered a Scheduled Monument illegally was found to have been abandoned, a spokesperson for the Mendip Hills AONB said.

"The vehicle had driven across sensitive areas of the site damaging the surface and the rare plants that live in the unusual habitat before becoming stuck," they added. 

"The site is a Scheduled Monument as it has been mined for lead and other minerals for 2,000 years, the spoil heaps provide a unique habitat for rare plants.  

"Before the vehicle was reclaimed the police had traced the registered owner and subsequently issued a Section 59 warning notice and informed of the damaging results of their actions. 

"The warning is given to both the driver and the vehicle. This means that if either are subsequently stopped then a seizure may take place even if another driver is in the original vehicle, or the original driver is another vehicle."

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Jim Hardcastle, Mendip Hills AONB manager, said: "It's reassuring that the police have taken this and other incidents of damage to our national heritage seriously. 

"These sites are protected as they represent our collective history and can't be recreated. This particular site is also a stronghold for rare plants and animals, at a time when we're facing an ecological emergency these sites become even more precious to us all. 

"The message should go out to all people that drive off-road illegally that we take it seriously and will work with the police to prosecute offenders."

Bob Croft, from the South West Heritage Trust, added: "The nationally-important Roman and later lead mining remains at Charterhouse on Mendip are exceptionally fragile and can be easily damaged by irresponsible off-roading.

"The recent damage means that careful repairs to the earthworks will now be necessary."