Visitors to some of North Wales most popular outdoor destinations will see an increased presence in warden and police patrols from this weekend prompted by spikes of anti-social behaviour at sites managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).
NRW and North Wales police officers will be out in force at Newborough National Nature Reserve and Forest and car parks at Coed y Brenin and Gwydir Forest Park as part of ongoing efforts to prevent illegal camping, littering and irresponsible parking at the sites.
The crackdown has been launched following an increase in people staying in car parks overnight at NRW sites.
Camping without the landowner’s permission in Wales is a civil offence and NRW does not permit any form of unauthorised camping on its land. Enforcement action will be taken against those found to be flouting the rules during late evening and early morning patrols at key sites across North West Wales from this weekend.
Dylan Williams, NRW Operations Manager in North Wales said:
“We know lockdown has been hard on everyone and while we’re all eager to take advantage of more opportunities to meet outdoors with friends and family, we’re asking that this enjoyment isn’t done at the expense of nature and others.
“Some of the extraordinary scenes of illegal camping, fly parking and littering we have seen at outdoor sites across Wales over recent weeks have been shocking – especially to those that work tirelessly to ensure our sites can be enjoyed by people safely.
“Anti-social behaviour can harm our environment, our wildlife, the tourism sector and our local communities which are all respectively recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The increase in the number of camper vans and other vehicles parked on verges or in lay-bys can also cause significant access problems for emergency services and put lives at risk.
“This is why we, in partnership with the Police will be taking decisive action to crackdown on this intolerable behaviour at NRW sites this summer. We will not hesitate to take enforcement action on those we find to be breaking the rules in the hope that it will deter more people from partaking in the same disrespectful activity in the future.”
NRW launched the revamped Countryside Code in partnership with Natural England and Defra in April to respond to issues that were being raised during lockdown, such as an increase in littering and sheep worrying by dogs.
The refresh aims to help everyone enjoy parks and open spaces in a safe way, whilst encouraging them to look after our natural environments and the livelihoods of those who work there. The ‘Rights and Permissions’ section of the Countryside Code sets out how visitors would need to seek permission from the landowner to undertake certain activities, including camping.
Dylan Williams added:
“Our priority has always been to ensure local communities feel safe, and that visitors have the confidence to visit NRW’s locations in the safest way possible.
“As more and more people look to holiday closer to home again this summer, we will continue to encourage people to follow the Countryside Code, and will work closely with our partners to encourage those who want to visit the Welsh countryside to act responsibly by only booking and camping at official campsites.”
The revamped Countryside Code can be found here: Natural Resources Wales / The Countryside Code