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Unauthorised structure on nature reserve removed

Thursday 22nd June 2017

Wildmoor Heath nature reserveWildmoor Heath nature reserve. Adny Fairbairn

An unauthorised structure on Wildmoor Heath nature reserve near Crowthorne, that was used as a drinking den has been demolished by the local Wildlife Trust.

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust is responsible for the safety of all visitors to the nature reserve, and was very concerned about the unauthorised structure. It had been built by a local resident last autumn, initially for children to play on, but it had also attracted anti-social behaviour and vandalism.

The Wildlife Trust assessed the structure, which was found to be unsafe. Initial attempts to demolish it earlier this year were met with abusive and violent behaviour from people who did not want it to be removed.

Alex Cruickshank, Senior Land Manager for the Berks, Bucks, and Oxon Wildlife Trust, who assisted with the successful removal on Wednesday 21 June, said: “The whole area was littered with drink’s bottles and used condoms. The Fire Service had been called out to deal with three cases of arson in a week. It’s not something that we want on a nature reserve.”

Following the earlier attempt to remove the structure, vandalism on Wildmoor Heath had increased dramatically.

Alex Cruickshank explains: “Signs were smashed, our fences cut and gates damaged. This might have led to serious injury as our cattle could have escaped onto nearby roads, and the loose wire can pose a real hazard. Even our staff had been threatened with violence, which meant carrying out routine work had become problematic.”

The Wildlife Trust is working with Thames Valley Police to halt all anti-social or criminal activities on the nature reserve.

Alex thanked people who visit the nature reserve to enjoy wildlife. “People walking their dogs and other legitimate visitors have been giving the area a wide berth, but as the structure came down passing visitors expressed their thanks, as many were aware it had been attracting trouble.

“I am hoping things will settle down because the structure has been removed. But, if anyone sees anti-social or criminal activity, I urge them to phone the police.”

Wildmoor Heath is part of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, an EU designation that protects the heathland habitats for ground-nesting birds and other rare wildlife including adders and butterflies.

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust owns and manages parts of Wildmoor Heath nature reserve in partnership with Bracknell Forest Council.