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Vandals cause tens of thousands of pounds of damage at nature reserve

25 May 2024 5 minute read
Kenfig Pool at the Kenfig National Nature Reserve in Bridgend. Credit: Kenfig National Nature Reserve

Lewis Smith, local democracy reporter

Workers at a popular Welsh nature reserve say they have been targeted by acts of vandalism over the last two years that have resulted in tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage.

The attacks have seen the destruction of fences, gates, parking machines, and even a bird hide at the Kenfig National Nature Reserve, costing in the region of £25,000 to repair.

Much loved location

The Kenfig National Nature Reserve is based in the borough of Bridgend on the coastline between Porthcawl and Port Talbot, and is described as being “one of Wales’s top sand-dune reserves” featuring a wide range of wildlife, as well as the area’s largest lake, Kenfig Pool.

It is currently run by the Kenfig Corporation Trust, which has owned and managed the site since it was transferred from the care of Bridgend Council in 2019.

However, workers say ongoing and “disheartening” acts of vandalism are becoming a regular occurrence that they would like to see stopped.

A damaged Bird Hide At Kenfig National Nature Reserve Credit: Kenfig National Nature Reserve

Conservation

Chris Jones, 43, works as a warden at the reserve and said the issues with vandalism started a little over two years ago, when fencing was put up to keep grazing animals on the site and keep scrub grasses in check.

He said: “This area is really special and it’s a hub for local wildlife. There’s a lot of different plants and animals that are only based here and a few other places in the country.

“We’re currently considered as a national nature reserve, a site of scientific interest, and a special area of conservation, which are big designations for wildlife that we are trying to conserve.

“The problems first started for us over two years ago when we needed to get more grazing animals on the site, and to do that we needed to put a fence up as you don’t want big animals going up on to the road.

“Gone are the days when the council were here with teams of mowers out there cutting, and because we physically don’t have the infrastructure to do that we needed to get grazing animals as there’s no other options.

“We got consent for the fencing but within days of it going up it started being cut down. It’s been cut around 152 times to date which means we’re constantly going through a lot of repairs at a very high cost.”

Chris went on to say that despite the fencing going up in the reserve there were still a number of gates and access points designed for the public to walk through.

Cut Fencing At The Kenfig National Nature Reserve. Credit: Kenfig National Nature Reserve

He added: “It is very frustrating for us as the fences are put there to keep the animals in and there are still plenty of pedestrian access and bridleway gates that you wouldn’t have to walk far to get to.

“In terms of other damage they’ve also smashed every single panel up to waist height on our bird hide, as well as damaging the parking meter in the furthest car park to the point where we don’t have the money to repair it or put another one in.

“It’s just disheartening to see that the conservation of the site is being held in such low regard, and we feel the people who come here to cut the fences are just doing it because they don’t like it.”

International importance

Another member of the trust who did not wish to be named added: “This is an internationally important nature reserve and it is one of the largest sand dune areas in Europe so it’s incredibly important for local wildlife, as well as being a resource for local people who come here to walk.

“There’s also a centre which is well used by the local community for a range of activities such as wellness and wildlife courses, and it really is becoming a community hub.

“It’s sad because most people who come here are no problem at all, it’s just a small number that’s causing the issues and it’s making life very difficult.”

A spokesperson for South Wales Police confirmed that there had been reports of damage at the reserve, saying: “On April 9, South Wales Police received a report of damaged fencing at Kenfig Nature Reserve. The matter remains under investigation.

“Anyone with any information is asked to contact South Wales Police on 101 quoting reference 2400114056.”


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Jeff
Jeff
9 days ago

Every time I go down, someone has cut open the fences, even repaired sections and then you have the sharp edged sprung back. Every freakn time. There are plenty of gates. They cut the fence a few yards from a gate! Who is carrying wire cutter, or a utility knife around down there. Dog walkers or surfers or just someone with the hump over fences? They all seem to be cut on the more direct routes to the beach. Then you hear the scrambler bikes further over, all the police have to do is park up at known locations and… Read more »

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 days ago

No cameras, no respect, no intelligence…

What do you teach your children down there !

hdavies15
hdavies15
8 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Place is awash with scumbags. Can’t be excused by citing “deprivation” as a lot of the culprits swagger around in smart expensive designer stuff waiting to graduate to drug dealing or similar. Lot of the scrambler bikes are ridden over from adjacent communities so they are seldom transported there.

As for dog sh*t well that is a serious problem throughout the county. Residents and visitors alike seem to think that a path is a top class dog toilet which is cleansed regularly on their behalf by a man in hi-viz.

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
8 days ago

This sort of thing makes me incredibly angry. I hope anyone with any knowledge gets in touch with the police to find the scumbags responsible. They need to be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

In the meantime, Kenfig Corporation Trust should install covert and overt cameras around the nature reserve.

David Parry
David Parry
8 days ago

Trail cams tactically placed near gates will catch them out. Then throw away the key.

A.Redman
A.Redman
7 days ago
Reply to  David Parry

Couldn’t agree more.These waste of space people should then be named and shamed and given the job of replacing all the damage and in all weather wearing tabards so everyone that sees them can show their disgust at their mindless behaviour!

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