AN MoD campaign is highlighting the dangers of straying into military training areas.

Across the UK, the Ministry of Defence owns and maintains hundreds of thousands hectares of land for military training. Some of it is publicly accessible and the MoD encourage discovery of these the beautiful and varied expanses. At Catterick Garrison, a highly-visible stretch of military training area covers 18,083 hectares. Military training is conducted all year-round and can be seven days a week. It is high-paced and often includes the use of armoured vehicles, artillery and military personnel. They can also be supported by helicopters fast jets or large transport aircraft.

The area is the responsibility of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and its latest campaign “Respect the range” aims to improve public safety on Catterick Training Area.

Red flags or lights mean the land is being used for life-threatening activities and public access is prohibited. Visitors have been known to ignore the red flags and wander into a live firing area. A group of teenagers ignored the red flags and rode their quad bikes onto the training estate, popping up just behind the targets as a group of soldiers was about to start firing at them. A rifled bullet can maintain its killing velocity for some distance.

Every military area is patrolled by a number of safety marshals, who have heard all manner of excuses from members of the public who stray onto the ranges. People have even driven around barriers and signs saying “danger”. Many rights of way on MoD land are permissive, meaning they have the right to close them when necessary.

A DIO spokesman said: “If you access the training estate during these times it is not safe and you put yourself and our military at risk of injury or worse.

“Just because you can’t see or hear a live exercise, doesn’t mean that it isn’t taking place.”

The DIO ask visitors only to access defence training estates when and where it is safe to do so. Take note of flags, digital signage and wardens who are on hand to offer advice.