South Downs National Park sees rise in anti-social behaviour and illegal camping

An increase in illegal camping, as well as people leaving litter and lighting fires, has been seen across the South Downs.

Photo by the South Downs National Authority

The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) said in a post on social media that it was ‘incredibly frustrating for regular visitors to these sites and nearby local communities’.

Photos posted by the authority show grass scorched black by fire and people camping on the land.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

The post read: “It’s fair to say that in recent weeks most people enjoying the South Downs have been brilliant. Not only taking their own litter home but removing litter they find along the way.

Photo by the South Downs National Authority

“Disappointingly, we have seen an increase in anti-social behaviour; small numbers of people camping illegally on sensitive sites, lighting fires, leaving behind litter and damaging the landscape.”

Ranger teams have been carrying out spot-checks across the national park, including at weekends.

Wild camping is illegal in the South Downs National Park and under no circumstances should barbecues or fires of any kind be lit, a spokesman from the SDNPA said.

The National Park is home to a total of 1,024 designated nature conservation sites – including a total of 85 Sites of Special Scientific Interest with some of the highest levels of wildlife protection in the world.

Photo by the South Downs National Authority

The spokesman said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a renewed wave of interest in connecting with the outdoors and nature and the vast majority of visitors to the South Downs National Park are enjoying this wonderful landscape respectfully and responsibly.

“However, there have been isolated incidents in very sensitive areas that underline the detrimental impact on nature when the National Park is not treated with care and respect.

“We would ask everyone visiting the National Park to please show respect and care for this landscape, which has been designated on behalf of the entire nation for its amazing biodiversity, natural beauty and cultural heritage.

“By showing that you care, everyone can enjoy this wonderful place and nature can continue to flourish.”

The Park Authority has created a new colourful and informative graphic with top tips on how to enjoy the national park safely and responsibly – find out more here.

Anyone who sees illegal activity in the South Downs should report this to the police using the 101 number and call 999 in an emergency.

A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news, I am asking you to please purchase a copy of our newspapers.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspapers.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Stay safe, and best wishes.