Cumbria Wildlife Trust are highlighting what damage off piste drivers can actually do, this comes after a Range Rover driver got stuck in the sands off the Trust’s South Walney Nature Reserve on Sunday 25th February after venturing onto the protected beach illegally.
The Range Rover was driven across the nature reserve, ignoring ‘No Entry’ signs, on to the protected beach and into the sand which is populated with seals. The vehicles occupants even went as far as to remove a log barrier to gain access to the area which is protected under several conservation designations:
- A Site of Special Scientific Interest
- Special Area of Conservation
- Special Protection Area
Sarah Dalrymple the South Walney Warden had this to say:
“It is illegal, dangerous and damaging to take cars onto the sands. There is damage to the vegetated shingle from the vehicle itself, then there will be further damage from the vehicles that are going down to remove it, and if it cannot be removed there is serious risk of pollution from the petrol tank and oil as it rusts away. If the vehicle cannot be recovered it will potentially remain as eyesore for years”. She added, “I am appalled that some people think this is acceptable behaviour. The police are now dealing with the matter.”
The driver has caused damage to the vegetated shingle beaches in Lighthouse Bay which are an unusual wildlife habitat and where an individual community of striking plants has developed over hundreds of years. Plants, yellow horned-poppy, sea campion and biting stonecrop all grow here. In spring birds such as oystercatchers and ringed plover will nest on the shingle beaches and could be affected by the oil and petrol leaking from the vehicle if it cannot be recovered.
There is no access to the beaches at South Walney Nature Reserve for vehicles or visitors all year around, in order to prevent disturbance to the seals and the breeding and wintering birds. Beautiful public beaches can be visited at the north of Walney Island at Biggar Bank and West Shore.
All images are property of Sarah Dalrymple