Public authorities in Cumbria are warning people against camping overnight following a multi-agency operation yesterday morning (27 May).
Campers who spent the night in locations across the Lake District found themselves in receipt of an enforcement ticket with a £100 penalty for breaching the Coronavirus laws by staying away from their main home overnight.
The Lake District has seen a significant increase in complaints from communities about camping since the relaxation of the lockdown began to permit people in England to travel away from their home for exercise and recreation. The law does not however allow overnight stays away from home. However, many people have ignored the legislation over the last fortnight to travel to Cumbria from all over the country to camp in everything from motorhomes and camper vans, to cars and tents.
The Bank Holiday weekend saw campers take to beauty spots in the Lakes despite overnight stays away from home being prohibited under the Coronavirus legislation.
The Lake District is not yet ready for tourists in great numbers. Only some of the toilet facilities are open as yet and there are no campsites open as the law does not allow them to be so at present.
Campers have been using laybys, car parks and open ground not only to camp in, but as their toilet too. Additionally, several have been lighting camp fires and cutting branches and trees for fuel. This has led to Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service being called to numerous fires in the open air. The hot weather of late has resulted in tinder dry grass and undergrowth, increasing the potential for a significant fire.
In response, a multi-agency operation has been launched involving Officers and staff from:
- Cumbria Constabulary
- Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service
- Lake District National Park Authority
- South Lakeland District Council
- Forestry England
- National Trust
A total of sixteen fixed penalty tickets were issued this morning to campers who had travelled from as far away as Manchester, Croydon and Essex.
Superintendent Sarah Jackson of Cumbria Police said: “This operation has become necessary due to the significant influx of people using beauty spots, car parks and laybys in the Lake District as unofficial campsites. This is clearly in breach of the Coronavirus legislation, and has had the additional impact of creating environmental damage and the risk of wildfires.
“The Lake District is a fabulous place to visit, and as soon as the facilities are safe, ready and open, we will join with our partners and local businesses to welcome the tourist population to holiday here. In the meantime, I’d like to appeal to people to respect the law and to refrain from overnight camping in the Lakes. This multi-agency operation is continuing, and those found to be breaching the regulations may receive a fixed penalty of £100.”
Richard Leafe, CEO of the Lake District National Park Authority, said: “The staff and volunteers who are working with Cumbria Police live and work here every day. We know all the places campers hide, so don’t try it – and for now, please make sure you return home each evening.”
Richard Gibson, Station Manager from Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service said: “As a result of the number of fires in the open air we have had reported to us over the past couple of weeks, we have been working in conjunction with our partner agencies to provide fire safety advice to day trippers and campers in order to reduce the likelihood of wildfires.
“In doing so we are seeking to protect our local communities and natural habitats from the dangers of wildfires and the environmental damage they cause.”