Concern over quad and scrambler bikes usage on local Donegal beaches

Questions have been raised over ‘who has responsibility’ if someone is ‘seriously injured’ by a quad bike or scrambler on Inishowen beaches.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 12:13 pm

Donegal County Council has appealed to owners of the vehicles to ‘enjoy them responsibly’ and said there are many reports of owners taking their machines onto privately owned coastal dune lands and causing serious degradation of the environment.

A spokesperson said that ‘such reckless behaviour is destabilising the fragile dune systems and resulting in increased levels of erosion and habitat loss.’

Councillors at this week’s Inishowen Municipal District meeting were also told that there is a proposal to strengthen Garda powers which would allow them to seize scramblers and quad bikes.

Damage to dunes on a Donegal beach. Picture: Donegal County Council.

At the remote meeting, Labour Councillor Martin Farren said while dunes are of vital importance, there are concerns over the safety of those who visit the beach.

He disclosed that he receives phonecalls about dunes and scramblers on beaches such as Big White Bay in Shroove and Sweet Nellies in Greencastle on a weekly basis.

Colr Farren outlined how has been told to contact Gardai about the issue, but queried if they currently have the power to remove dunes and scramblers from the beaches.

He also sought clarification on Donegal County Council’s responsibility in the matter.

“I do understand it’s a difficult one to deal with, but I’m getting calls every week, mainly at weekends.

“Can someone tell me, do the gards have the powers to get them (the vehicles) off the beach asap? I understand these powers in relation to quads and scramblers have yet to be signed into law.

“Does Donegal County Council have a responsibility? I’m led to believe that in West Donegal there are signs on the beaches telling people not to drive quads on them.”

Colr Farren said the quad bikes and scramblers on the beaches are driving people away from them.

He told how one man enjoyed swimming at Sweet Nellies but will now not do so due to the usage of these vehicles on it.

Colr Farren said he doesn’t know where to turn to report the vehicles or who has responsibility for them on Donegal beaches.

“I need to know who to contact about this and we need to get a handle on it before the summer.

“As a public representative, we can be contacted 24/7 and I’d like to get an answer on where we stand, as a council, on these vehicles on our beaches.

“Who is responsible if someone gets seriously injured? I would like someone to tell me who deals with this.”