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  • Oliver Hodgson

COVID-19: Visitors urged to respect local communities and the environment

Police are reminding all visitors to the national parks in Cumbria to respect the local communities and the environment. Significant problems were encountered over the weekend with parking in popular areas of the Lake District. In some cases, emergency services vehicles were impeded or would have been unable to access some locations if required, due to abandoned vehicles.

Again camping has been a problem across the area with tents, campervans and motorhomes in rural locations. The Government has released new guidance on gatherings, public spaces and outdoor activities with the changes in lockdown restrictions. This guidance and extensive questions and answers are available the Government's own website and they make it clear that all overnight stays away from home are still prohibited.

The use of disposable barbecues and lighting of fires has caused problems across the county at a time of extreme fire risk. Recent fires in moorland areas of the region illustrate the risk posed.

The dumping of disposable barbecues, bottles, toilet waste and other litter has also caused problems in communities, particularly for the National Trust Wardens and National Park Rangers who have cleared up 130 refuse bags full of rubbish from beauty spots in the Lake District this weekend.

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery appealed to visitors to behave responsibly and respect the local environment and its inhabitants. He said: “As the lockdown measures are eased across the country and foreign holidays are not available, many people are choosing to visit the Lakes and Dales but we appeal to all visitors to respect the environment and the local communities “Surveys conducted by the National Park Authority over the weekend show that 68 per cent of the visitors would not normally have come to the Lakes and many had never visited before, so we want to stress how important it is for new visitors to protect this World Heritage Site. With so many travelling at a time when most food outlets and most toilets are still closed, it is vital that people behave in a responsible and considerate manner.

“We all hope that the tourist economy can start to open up soon and cater for all who want to visit our fantastic national parks but potential visitors need to understand how facilities are still limited. Until campsites and holiday accommodation are allowed to open, people should not plan to stay overnight in contravention of the Coronavirus Regulations. “Social distancing must be observed at all times, vehicles must be parked legally and considerately and visitors must take their rubbish away to be disposed of safely and responsibly. Roads blocked by parked cars and piles of discarded bottles and barbecues on the lakeshores are not acceptable. Now, more than ever, it is vital that visitors care for the area and leave nothing but footprints."

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