Residents angered by quad bikes in West End
Quad bikes were spotted in the West End of the island yesterday and angry local residents questioned whether a controversial plan for commercial tours had been given the go-ahead.
But a government spokeswoman said last night the proposal for commercial tours in the area had not yet received the green light.
Lisa Neasham, who opposed the introduction of a quad bike business on the Railway Trail, said she saw four of the vehicles being parked in the old bus terminal on Beacon Hill Road yesterday morning.
It was the first time she had seen the all-terrain vehicles. Ms Neasham said that she had objected last year to tour operators using the quad bikes on protected land “for many reasons”.
She explained: “I walk on the tracks daily with my dogs because it is safe and traffic-free.
“I believe that the parks are no place for motorised vehicles destroying the vegetation.
“People birdwatch and go to these places to get away from noise and traffic.”
A second area resident said she saw the vehicles in operation.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said she saw three of the vehicles on the Railway Trail driving towards Sound View Road at about 9.30am.
She said the ATVs were “about as loud as a lawnmower” and were travelling at about 10mph.
The woman, who has two toddlers, said she was concerned about noise from the vehicles because of the high number of children in the area.
She explained: “We go for walks on the Railway Trail constantly as a family.”
She said she felt the size of the ATVs made their operation unsafe. The woman added the Railway Trail was “for walking and relaxing and just enjoying nature”.
Ray Charlton, former chairman at West End Development Corporation, said he would back a protest against ATV operations in green spaces.
He explained: “I can see this doing damage to the parks, I can see this doing damage to people's quiet enjoyment of those spaces, all for the profit of one person.
“If you do an analysis of the value of this proposition, it is really not something that should even be considered.”
Mr Charlton, who lives on West Side Road, said the use of the vehicles “goes completely contrary to the intent of the parks and the Railway Trail”.
The public were canvassed for their views on the use of ATVs on the Railway Trail and protected reserves in Sandys last year.
The proposal came under fire from residents, farmers and environmental groups.
Jonathan Starling, executive director at environmental charity Greenrock, said he had been waiting on the findings of the consultation.
Mr Starling said Greenrock remained “critical of the plan and are not convinced that it fits with the Bermuda product”.
He added: “Ultimately though, there is limited information around the plan, and so it makes it difficult to provide an informed opinion at the moment.”
A government spokeswoman said: “The Ministry of Public Works has yet to make a final decision regarding the ATV proposal.
“Once a decision has been made the minister will update the public accordingly.”