Anti-social behaviour the target of extra weekend patrols at North Wales visitor destinations

Visitors to some of north Wales most popular destinations will see an increased presence in warden patrols this weekend prompted by spikes of anti-social behaviour over recent weeks.

Natural Resources Wales (NRW) officers will be out in force at Newborough National Nature Reserve, Coed y Brenin and Gwydir Forest Park over the coming days as part of the body’s ongoing efforts to control littering and illegal camping at the sites.

The warning comes as Wales’ nature reserves, National Parks, coastlines and other outdoor visitor sites speed to the top of UK destination lists following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

While the majority of visitors leave no trace of their visit, some sites are seeing a significant increase in visitors who show little to no regard or respect for the areas they have come to enjoy.

Forest floors have become makeshift car parks and campsites, and litter and human waste has spilled into areas far beyond bins and designated toilet areas.

Natural Resources Wales has been swift to implement safety measures at sites like Newborough on Anglesey prior to reopening which have successfully reduced the potential risks of such occurrences at its sites.

This weekend’s extra patrols are part of that effort.

Dylan Williams, NRW Operations Manager in North Wales said:

“The easing of lockdown restrictions coupled with long periods of fine weather have prompted scores of people to put Wales’ renowned beauty spots at the top of their day trip and holiday destination lists this summer.
“Some of the extraordinary scenes of over-crowding, fly parking, illegal camping and littering we have seen across Wales over recent weeks have been shocking – especially to those that work tirelessly to ensure our sites can be enjoyed by people safely.
“The type of antisocial behaviour we are now seeing associated with this increase in visitor numbers is a widespread issue across Wales and is completely unacceptable.
“While we are delighted to welcome people back to our sites to relax and recharge the batteries, we must maintain a balance between the wishes of individuals to enjoy the outdoors and the responsibilities each and every one of us has to protect nature and to respect our local communities.”

Newborough National Nature Reserve and Forest on Anglesey in particular has experienced a huge increase in visitor numbers, putting additional pressures on the village and the communities that surround it.

Llanddwyn beach on the island has long been a popular destination. However, the numbers of people choosing to holiday in the UK due to the restrictions bought about by Coronavirus have sparked additional challenges.

As part of its controlled approach to reopening its sites, and in line with Covid-19 public health guidance, NRW has put in measures at Newborough designed to protect the community from the risks of coronavirus as more people capitalise on the easing of restrictions.

This includes introducing more toilet facilities prior to the site reopening in July and trialling new measures to reduce traffic congestion.  We have also introduced temporary opening hours at the main beach car par to reduce the risk of overnight illegal camping and anti-social behaviour. All other car parks on the reserve remain open to residents and visitors at all times. 

Dylan Williams added:

“Our priority at Newborough 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.
“Newborough’s rural location and local conditions mean that it can often be particularly difficult to manage a high influx of visitors, especially in such unprecedented circumstances.
“The opening hours temporarily in place at the Llanddwyn beach car park have been introduced to reduce the risk of overnight illegal campaign and anti-social behaviour which has been rife across other outdoor destinations across Wales over recent weeks.
“This step coupled with the regular patrols of the site by our wardens has seen the frequency of these occurrences reduce.
“We know how much this special place means to residents and that some of these measures has caused some frustration amongst a minority of people in the community. That is why we have taken particular steps to make sure they can access the beach prior to and after the barrier comes down.
“We hope to be able to reopen the main Llanddwyn Beach car park fully in September if the conditions are right and in line with any Coronavirus restrictions in force across Wales.
“In the meantime, we will continue to work with the community and our partners to ensure residents and visitors can continue to enjoy our sites as safely as possible in this most challenging of periods.”