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Campers urged to respect the Welsh environment this Bank Holiday weekend

Credit: Natural Resources Wales

People visiting the great outdoors in Wales this Bank Holiday weekend are being urged to consider the impact ‘fly-camping’ can have on the environment and wildlife and to only camp at designated campsites.

An open letter signed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Snowdonia National Park Authority, National Trust Wales and the RSPB Cymru, highlights the damage that fly-camping can do to the local environment and the surrounding communities and urges campers to find and book official sites ahead of their visits.

‘Fly-camping’, the term given when campers pitch tents or park campervans or motorhomes on land without permission, has been on the rise over the summer, especially in Wales’ national parks, forests and nature reserves.

Not only is fly-camping an offence when done without the landowner’s permission, it has led to environmental damage, overcrowding, public health concerns, littering, and an increase in the likelihood of wildfires.

With the potential impacts of coronavirus still very much a concern, the coalition has come together to urge those looking to camp overnight in Wales this weekend to act responsibly and only stay at designated campsites.

In the letter, they say:

“Wales has seen a significant and worrying increase in ‘fly-camping’ incidents this summer, especially in our National Parks, woodlands and countryside sites. Beyond being an offence, the rise in this unauthorised activity is harming our environment, our wildlife, the tourism sector and our local communities which are all respectively recovering from the effects of the pandemic.

“Coronavirus has not gone away, so everyone still needs to be vigilant and Keep Wales Safe by following government guidelines on handwashing and social distancing. Fly-camping can make following these guidelines difficult.”

Clare Pillman, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales said: 

“Wales is home to such beautiful outdoor spaces and while we encourage everyone to go out and enjoy them, we want people to do this safely, legally and without harming the environment.

“We know lockdown has been hard on everyone and while we’re all eager to get back to enjoying the outdoors we and our partners are asking that this enjoyment isn’t done at the expense of nature and others.”

Tegryn Jones, Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority said: 

“I urge people to respect our National Parks, forests and national nature reserves and use official campsites for your stay to support local businesses and protect our iconic landscapes.

“The thoughtless behaviour of a few is threatening to spoil enjoyment for others and is a worry and concern for the local communities that are left to clean up the mess left by unauthorised campers.”

“Officers will be patrolling across our National Parks throughout the weekend and if needed penalty notices will be issued to those flouting the rules and parking overnight.”

Rebecca Williams, Assistant Director for the National Trust in Wales said:

“It’s great that so many of us are enjoying outdoor spaces, but we ask people to treat the countryside with care and tread lightly.
“Unfortunately, we have seen a big increase in unauthorised fly-camping this summer which has had a detrimental effect on the environment, visitors and local communities and dealing with these takes scarce resources away from vital conservation work.”

RSPB Cymru Director, Katie-Jo Luxton said:

“Much of our wildlife has become used to the peace and quiet over the last few months of lockdown and we kindly ask visitors to nature reserves to keep disturbance to a minimum.

“Over the past few weeks, we’ve noticed that people have been pitching tents and parking vans and motorhomes overnight at some RSPB reserves. This unfortunately often leads to problems such as littering, blocking of access to roads and paths, damaging habitats and at times, other antisocial behaviour.

The majority of visitors are respectful of nature and after many months of lockdown, we want everyone to be able to enjoy the incredible wildlife we have here in Wales.”