Illegal camping and anti-social behaviour lead to road closure at Northumberland beauty spot

Illegal camping, overnight parking, anti-social behaviour and littering have led to a decision to close a popular beach access road.

Northumberland Estates intends to close to vehicles the private road leading to the dunes at Buston Links near Alnmouth in time for the bank holiday weekend.

Public access along the track on foot, horseback and bicycle will remain unaffected.

This difficult decision has been made following discussions with Northumberland County Council, Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership and other interested parties.

The Buston Links road.

It comes as a result of a large increase in complaints made by local people of overnight stays and anti-social behaviour at the site.

Andrew Robson, agent at Northumberland Estates, said: “This decision has not been made lightly, but in spite of new signage being put up, large numbers of camper vans and tents have been spotted regularly using the site overnight.

"This has resulted in littering and other forms of anti-social behaviour, which are not only unfair on those enjoying the beach and dunes, but also detrimental to this fragile habitat.”

A further concern is road safety.

“The single lane track leading to the dunes was only ever designed for farm access and not for the volume of traffic now using it,” he explained. “While two cars can pass in certain places, large vehicles such as camper vans bring traffic to a halt causing queues on the main road due to traffic waiting to enter and leave.

"Recent reports of vehicles having to reverse out onto the main road to allow vehicle to pass are alarming as visibility at the road end is poor.

“It is a great shame as many residents undoubtedly access the beach via this track.

“However, as the landowner we feel we have a responsibility to do our bit to help preserve this very special site. We hope people will understand and continue to enjoy the dunes while parking elsewhere.”

Iain Robson, access and natural environment officer with the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership, said: “Whilst we regret that access to Buston Links has had to be closed to motorists, we fully support Northumberland Estates’ decision.

“In common with many other areas of the Northumberland Coast AONB, Buston Links has seen unprecedented levels of anti-social behaviour from visitors to the area this summer, despite an ongoing social media campaign to promote responsible recreational visits.

"With no staff resources to deal with these issues on the ground, physical access restrictions are sadly the only solution available to landowners.

"The shore, dunes and saltmarsh at Buston are all designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest for birds and plant life and this restriction will help to protect these valuable habitats and species.”

Cllr Gordon Castle, local county councillor, added: “Though sad this is happening I can see why it has been found necesssary.”

The stretch of the coastline can be accessed from existing car parks in both Alnmouth and Warkworth.

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