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Fire fears over illegal camping in area of wood

Jill Robson is concerned about damage to Bluebell Woods in Morpeth. Picture by Jane Coltman
Jill Robson is concerned about damage to Bluebell Woods in Morpeth. Picture by Jane Coltman

A regular user of Bluebell Wood in Morpeth has raised concerns over people illegally camping at the top end of the beauty spot.

Jill Robson has also reported a man-made wooden shelter and both she and a local councillor hope that regular monitoring takes place, particularly with the increased fire risk in the current hot weather.

The shelter made out of branches. Picture by Jane Coltman

The shelter made out of branches. Picture by Jane Coltman

She said: “I walk my dog almost every day in the wood and it is increasingly being taken over.

“I have seen people camping and having fires at the top end and quite a few scorched trees, and a section of a beech tree had been cut out and used as a fireplace.

“In addition, someone has made a wooden shelter out of twigs and it took me by surprise when I first saw it because it’s a substantial size.

“After seeing a man camping out in the woods I contacted my local county councillor – David Bawn, Morpeth North – who told me that the area is the responsibility of Galliford Try.

“I have since been in touch with the company about the issues in the wood. It needs to be managed in a way that is acceptable for all users.”

Coun Bawn said: “Bluebell Wood is one of the hidden jewels of Morpeth and it is very concerning if people are camping out in the woods illegally and damaging the trees.

“With the very dry weather at the moment, the risk of a serious fire is heightened if irresponsible people are lighting fires.

“The owners of the wood need to monitor the situation and make sure that any unauthorised encampments are removed and dismantled.”

Galliford Try has built the Saint George housing development next to the wood.

A Galliford Try Partnerships North spokesman said: “As soon as the camp and fires were brought to our attention we instructed the site security team to patrol the woods and look out for unauthorised camping and anti-social behaviour. We have moved people on and the emergency services have also visited the wood when we reported suspicious behaviour.

“We will continue to make regular patrols to monitor the situation and advise the police and fire services if we see any evidence of environmentally damaging activity.”