Use military land responsibly, public urged

 Members of the public are being asked to use local Ministry of Defence (MOD) land responsibly over the summer. 

This follows a series of incidents of antisocial behaviour and parties, fires and unauthorised vehicles on MOD land across Rushmoor and Hart. 

Representatives from Rushmoor Borough Council, Hart District Council, Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (MOD) met to discuss the issue and are now keen to remind residents about what activities are not allowed on MOD land locally including Hawley Woods in Hart and Caesars Camp/Long Valley near Aldershot. 

Over recent months, there have been a number of significant gatherings in Hawley Woods with large amounts of litter left, including glass bottles. 

There has also been an increase in people swimming in the lake, putting themselves in danger because of the hidden obstructions under the water. This is despite the ‘No swimming’ warning signs around the lake. 

In addition, there have been several deliberate fires in the area, resulting in significant damage to MOD land nearby and significant cost to both Hampshire and Surrey Fire and Rescue Services – estimated to be in the tens of thousands of pounds.  

Dog waste continues to cause significant issues to ongoing military training, with units having to spend time clearing up before any training can take place. 

Residents in both Hart and Rushmoor have been affected by negative behaviour on the MOD land, in particular by the rowdy and inconsiderate behaviour of people parking in the area and then going onto the land. There have been incidents of late-night noise nuisance, criminal damage to properties and verbal abuse of residents.  

There are bylaws in force governing the MOD land, which include restrictions on camping, fires (including barbecues), littering, causing nuisance, damage to trees, digging and illegal vehicles getting onto the estate including motorbikes. Breaches of these bylaws could lead to prosecution. 

Members of the public are also being asked to familiarise themselves with the warning flag system used on the live firing areas on MOD land including Caesars Camp/Long Valley. If red flags are displayed, no access is allowed and anyone going onto the land could be seriously hurt.  

Dean Howard, the Deputy Security and Public Access officer for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, said:

“The MoD supports access to the military training areas and respects the public’s enthusiasm for wanting to explore it. In return, they ask everyone to respect the very real dangers associated with doing so. Whether they are dog walkers, mountain bikers or ramblers, everyone should stick to main tracks and paths. 

“If a red flag is flying then access to that area is prohibited, as live firing will be taking place.  Also, some of the training areas are out of bounds, when in use for military training, as indicated by locked gates and signs or notices – we encourage the public to check the GOV.UK web site for closures of these areas before heading out. 

“By abiding by these simple rules, everyone has a part to play in helping to make sure that we can all enjoy the land safely, and the military can train uninterrupted.” 

More information about the dangers of disobeying MOD bylaws and scheduled military training can be found on the GOV.UK website by searching “DIO”. You can search “Respect the Range” on YouTube to view a video about the topic. 

Residents can report incidents of antisocial behaviour on public land to Hampshire Constabulary on 101, or by contacting their local council Community Safety Team. 

They can also report non-emergency issues on MOD land to the Ops Room at Longmoor on 01420 483405. All emergency issues should be reported to 999.