'Mini music festival' in West Cork dunes sparks calls for illegal camping clampdown

The sand dunes behind Long Strand in West Cork were left strewn with clothing, plastic, glass, broken pallets, human faeces and used toilet paper
'Mini music festival' in West Cork dunes sparks calls for illegal camping clampdown

The remains of a fire at the illegal campsite at the Castlefreke/Long Strand Dunes. People may not be aware that they may be camping in environmentally protected and sensitive areas, and even less aware of the damage they could be doing. Photo: Dan Lettice

There have been calls for a major education programme and increased enforcement to prevent illegal wild camping in environmentally sensitive and protected coastal areas.

It follows the staging of a 'mini music festival' in the sand dunes behind Long Strand in West Cork, which are part of the Kilkeran Lake and Castlefreke dunes Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), protected under the EU Habitats Directive.

About 20 tents, two mini marquees equipped with musical sound equipment and lights were delivered to the site in a rental van. Wooden pallets were burned, and the area was left strewn with clothing, plastic, glass, metal drinks containers, broken pallets, cooking equipment, and human faeces and used toilet paper.

Illegal camping also occurred in dunes behind Ardnahinch Beach in the Ballycotton Bay SAC over the bank holiday weekend, with several tents abandoned and litter strewn across the dune system.

Wildlife photographer, Dan Lettice, said the illegal camping and antisocial behaviour in the Castelfreke dunes has always been an issue but has worsened over the last two summers.

“The SAC needs to be protected. The government is obliged to do so under European law and Irish law prohibits these destructive activities," he said.

“The council also needs to act and stop this under their bye-laws. If neither the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) or the council can act they need to request the gardaí to do so."

He said the NPWS erected extra signage in the dunes last year but some of the signs have been turned around and others removed.

Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan said a coordinated national approach involving the NPWS, local authorities and gardaí must be adopted to stamp out this illegal camping activity.

Some of the pallets left behind at the illegal campsite at the Castlefreke/Long Strand Dunes. Wildlife photographer, Dan Lettice, said the illegal camping and antisocial behaviour in the Castelfreke dunes has worsened over the last two summers. Photo: Dan Lettice
Some of the pallets left behind at the illegal campsite at the Castlefreke/Long Strand Dunes. Wildlife photographer, Dan Lettice, said the illegal camping and antisocial behaviour in the Castelfreke dunes has worsened over the last two summers. Photo: Dan Lettice

Apart from the public health issues which arise in the context of the Covid pandemic, he said many people just aren’t aware that they may be camping in environmentally protected and sensitive areas, and even less aware of the damage they could be doing.

“We need to monitor this activity and police it and either stamp it out or regulate it, otherwise it will have a detrimental impact on these SACs," he said.

“I’m not saying ‘don’t use the dunes’. I would be slow to put up rock armour or fences. It shouldn’t come to that.

“But there is a major education element to this.

“We should be seeking to manage the pedestrian activity and certainly the camping activity, and make people aware of the impact wild camping has on such areas.” 

More in this section

IE_180_logo
Price info

Subscribe to unlock unlimited digital access.
Cancel anytime.

Terms and conditions apply

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

logo podcast

War of Independence Podcast

A special four-part series hosted by Mick Clifford

Available on
www.irishexaminer.com/podcasts

IE logo

Commemorating 100 years since the War of Independence

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

LOTTO RESULTS

Saturday, September 25, 2021

  • 3
  • 7
  • 11
  • 28
  • 31
  • 43
  • 46

Full Lotto draw results »