OVER 20 vehicles were seized on Salisbury Plain last week in a new operation to tackle illegal activity.

Operation Aston, launched by Wiltshire Police and the Ministry of Defence (MOD), aims to tackle illegal activity on the Salisbury Plain Training Area, including off-roaders in areas not open to the public, and people contravening by-laws.

The operation deals with illegal activity occurring on the day, but also acts as future deterrent helping to educate people about how to safely and lawfully enjoy Salisbury Plain.

Throughout the operation officers stopped over 20 vehicles, including four motorcycles seized for being driven with no insurance, and three fixed penalty notices issued for vehicles being driven off-road without landowner permission, with the drivers issued warnings for anti-social or inconsiderate driving.

Rural crime officer Emily Thomas said: “If you are planning to drive or ride on the Plain, remember motor vehicles are still limited to by-ways open to all traffic.

“Using an unofficial track or leaving the permitted by-ways could see you receive a Section 59 warning notice, or a £50 ticket for driving on an area other than a road.

“It is wrong to think just because you are out in the middle of nowhere that the usual rules for driving a car on a normal A road no longer exist. The same rules regarding tax, insurance and a valid MOT still apply. Be considerate of others on the Plain and travel at a quiet and unobtrusive pace.

“Know that the speed limit on the Plain is 30mph which helps ensure it is an enjoyable place for everyone.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Mr Angus Macpherson and the MOD Deputy Commander for the South West Region Brian Heil also attended the operation.

Mr Macpherson said: “It was a really insightful day getting to see first-hand the great collaborative working between Wiltshire Police and the MOD and the issues they are facing on Salisbury Plain.

“Issues which have the potential to be exacerbated by the declining weather conditions as we move into winter.

“Hopefully Operation Aston will help word spread that people need to take some personal responsibility for knowing how to lawfully and safely enjoy the Plain or risk having vehicles seized and being issued fines like we saw happen today.”

MOD’s Deputy Commander for the South West Region Brian Heil said: “The safety of the public and our own personnel on Salisbury Plain is a main priority for us and is why initiatives like Operation Aston are so important to ensure the Plain is used correctly and responsibly.”

More information about SPTA by-laws and public rights of way can be found at, the government website, wiltshire.gov.uk/recreation-rights-of-way).