Issue is case of fundamental attitude towards natural world

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I WRITE in support of Richard Crowhurst and V. Ritchie (Examiner, February 22) on the subject of the disastrous damage being done to our uplands and greenways by motorbikes and four-wheel drive vehicles.

It is more than 40 years since I first wrote leaders in island newspapers drawing attention to this problem.

How deeply depressing to realise that not only have things not got better, but that over those years they have got infinitely worse.

The motorsport enthusiasts have always tried to shift blame for damage on to others, and have always wilfully denied the additional problems they cause.

The physical damage is the worst but, on a more transient level, a single motocross bike on the hills causes noise pollution audible for a mile or more around, which spoils pleasure in the countryside for everyone else.

Their engines also pollute the air and the shallow waterways in which they ride.

Nigel Beaumont (Examiner, February 1) wrote from the other side that ‘we live in a diverse society, where people have a variety of interests, and where we need to tolerate others, even where their choice of leisure activity may differ from our own’.

This air of sweet reasonableness was deliberately misleading, as if we were discussing a choice between darts or table tennis, embroidery or stamp collecting, as a desirable ‘leisure activity’.

What we are really talking about is a fundamental difference of attitudes, a choice between the Jeremy Clarkson and David Attenborough views of existence.

We have people like Richard Crowhurst, who obviously loves and respects the natural world, pitched against motor sports enthusiasts for whom the roar of an engine will always be more exciting than birdsong, the stench of petrol more attractive than the scent of gorse.

Nigel Beaumont also claimed that our motorsports heritage ‘can only be helpful in raising the Island’s profile, and in attracting tourism’.

On the contrary – when I first came to live here in the 1960s I had many friends in both England and Ireland who said they would never have thought of coming here for a holiday.

They had heard of the TT, and thought that motorbikes circled the island all year round.

It was only after I had explained that the blight lasted no more than a few weeks, and that the place was otherwise very beautiful, that they would consider a visit.

It is difficult to demonstrate a negative, but has Nigel Beaumont considered how many potential visitors are put off by our motorsports reputation?



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