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Cyclists accused of causing “unlawful” damage to nature reserve by digging up “important habitat” to create mountain bike jumps

This latest appeal to young cyclists comes after residents in Wales threatened to “pop” the bike tyres of children who cleared a woodland of litter to create a cycle track – but which the local housing association claimed was causing “severe damage”

Young cyclists in Lancashire have been accused by conservationists of causing “serious” damage to a nature reserve by digging up parts of the earth to create mountain bike jumps, just days after a group of children in Wales were threatened by residents after they cleared a woodland of litter to create a cycle track, which the local housing association claimed was anti-social behaviour that was causing “severe damage” to the area.

According to the Wildlife Trust, a section of wildflower meadow at Cross Hill Quarry, a former quarry site and green space located just outside Clitheroe, has been dug up in recent weeks to create a number of small jumps, an act the Trust claims is “unlawful”.

“The quarry floor at Cross Hill Quarry is one of the most important areas on the site for wildflowers. In fact, just next to the damaged area an orchid was in flower, and countless other important species associated with these limestone grasslands may have been lost,” Kim Coverdale, East Lancashire’s Reserves Officer for the Trust, said in response to the ramps’ creation.

“We very much want people to be able to visit and enjoy the nature reserve, but to do so responsibly. The Wildlife Trust and our amazing volunteers work really hard to look after this wonderful place, so to see this damage is really disappointing.”

Cross Hill Quarry damage

(Kim Coverdale)

The wildflower meadows on the old quarry site, the Trust says, are filled with orchids, quaking grass, lady’s bedstraw, and crosswort, supporting pollinators such as hoverflies and bees, while the area’s “diverse habitat” houses several birds and insects.

“Whilst making a few small jumps may seem harmless it can actually have a really significant effect on species right across the nature reserve, on top of damaging this precious wildflower meadow,” Coverdale continued.

“Nationally, we have seen a 97 per cent decrease in our wildflower meadows since the 1930s, so it really is important that we treasure and protect these beautiful habitats and protect the diversity.

“Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is unlawful to uproot any wild plant without permission from the landowner or occupier, and whilst we have no desire to go to such lengths, we just appeal to people to love and care for our nature reserves.”

> “They threatened to pop their tyres!” Local kids who cleared woodland of rubbish to create bike track accused of anti-social behaviour and causing “severe damage” by residents, as housing association fences off entrances to ward off young cyclists

The call for young cyclists, seeking some makeshift bike facilities over the summer, to respect Lancashire’s natural environment comes around the same time that children in South Wales were stopped from entering a woodland they were using as a cycle track after clearing it of litter.

As we reported on the live blog last week, throughout June, the group of local kids, all around primary school age, spent their weekends clearing rubbish from Garw Wood, which runs between houses in Croesyceiliog, a suburb of Cwmbran, to create a makeshift bike park.

However, at the end of the month, the Bron Afon community housing association fenced off the entrances to the ancient woodland, a decision it claimed was due to “anti-social behaviour in the area which has caused damage” – but which local parents have claimed was due to pressure from residents who had threatened and swore at the children.

Woodland fenced off after children create bike track (Bon Afron Housing Association)

“It was overgrown and full of brambles and has been for decades,” local resident Robin Willis said of the woodland. “And a group of local kids have gone in over the last three weekends and cleared it and made a little bike track – it’s only 200 or 300 yards.

“The area was overgrown and people have used it for a shortcut, and the boys have cleared rubbish out of there. They had four black bags of rubbish out of there and there were cans, glass, and plastic bottles.”

However, the Bron Afon housing association has said that it has been contacted by “concerned local residents groups” who claimed that “severe damage” had been caused due to bark being removed from some mature trees.

These complaints prompted Bron Afon to install metal fences at each of the entrances to the woodland, which it says will remain close until the area is made “safe”. The association added that it is concerned about the woodland being used for riding bikes, along with the creation of ramps.

It said that while the ramps may not “inherently harm the woodland, associated activities and lack of proper planning can lead to negative consequences”, including damage to trees, flowers, and the soil, and the disturbance of the “delicate eco system of the ancient woodland”.

It added that “increased human activity can disturb wildlife habitats, scare away animals, and disrupt natural processes”.

Child riding bike in Garw Wood, South Wales (Robin Willis)

Bron Afon’s claims that the children were causing damage has been disputed, however, by Robin’s wife Emma, who also said that the boys were subject to threats from residents angry at them cycling in the woodland.

“There wasn’t any damage and no anti-social behaviour,” she wrote on Facebook.

“The only harassment was coming from tenants of the flats by the woodland who were threatening the kids, swearing at them and threatening to pop their tyres!

“All the boys wanted to do was make a track to ride their bikes down, it was an absolute pleasure to hear them all having so much fun! As I said woodland areas always grow back, that’s nature for you. Those boys went home every day happy telling their parents about all the fun, and that they had they built something for them and were excited every day to go out and play!”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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46 comments

Avatar
richupnorth | 1 day ago
0 likes

Interestingly there has been a recent reengagement from Lancashire council with volunteers who had been looking after organised MTB trails on their land. Hopefully this can create some collaboration and not confrontation.

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Garnett | 2 days ago
4 likes

By their own admission, these Boomers have overseen "a 97 per cent decrease in our wildflower meadows since the 1930s", in their grabby, selfish endeavours to be the 1st generation to leave their children poorer than them.

STOP BLAMING THE KIDS AND CLEAN UP YOUR OWN F**KING MESS

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Rendel Harris replied to Garnett | 2 days ago
2 likes

40% of the wildflower meadows present in the 1930s disappeared during World War II in order to feed the besieged nation and, as spen has pointed out below, the 1930s definition of wildflower meadows actually encompasses what was just agricultural land left fallow. Since World War II more of this land has been put back into production or repurposed to meet the food, housing and employment requirements of a population that is now approaching double its 1930s level. Is it only those born between 1946 and 1964 (of whom I am not one, incidentally) who have required food, housing and industry? The destruction of the countryside is a matter of great concern and one which all generations should take seriously, hysterically SHOUTING and trying to pin the blame on one particular cohort doesn't really help anybody.

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Muddy Ford replied to Rendel Harris | 2 days ago
3 likes

Anyone born from late 1980's onwards refers to anyone born before them as 'boomers' and have no idea where the term boomer came from. They also believe these 'boomers' bought their homes with paper round money, then went on to buy more houses for a few quid each in order to rent them out to these 'youngsters' for amounts they believe to be significantly more than they would have to pay on mortgages if they had bought them instead of spending their money on 50k lease cars, 3wk exotic holidays, £2k phones, every streaming service going, and getting Uber to deliver them pizzas.    

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to Muddy Ford | 2 days ago
2 likes

What an incredibly convenient, blinkered, and ignorant argument you make.

I was born in the mid seventies, and I can clearly see the incredible priviledge, unbridled arrogance, and unrivalled sence of entitlement, enjoyed by many within the boomer generation. 

Whenever I hear a 'boomer' calling today's youth lazy and entitled, I draw an instant parallel with motorists calling cyclists entitled for having the audacity to expect to use the roads safely. How dare future generations want a piece of the pie? 

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brooksby replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 2 days ago
1 like

I thought if you were born in the mid seventies then you're Generation X, not a boomer?

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hawkinspeter replied to brooksby | 2 days ago
0 likes

brooksby wrote:

I thought if you were born in the mid seventies then you're Generation X, not a boomer?

I think 1964 is considered the cut-off for Boomers (1946 to 1964 was considered the baby boom)

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to hawkinspeter | 2 days ago
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It depends on which researcher you ask as to when the baby boom starts and ends.  It also depends a lot on region - just like the swinging 60's bypassed a lot of provincial towns.  I'm a boomer (born 1963) by some measures but a gen-x by others and some have even split this and my life story sort of fits into Generation Jones  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Jones

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to brooksby | 2 days ago
1 like

The original comment referred to people born late 80's onwards.
My point is that I'm older, but can still see the distinct differences in circumstances the current youth face compared to those born in what is widely recognised as being the golden age.

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Rendel Harris replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 2 days ago
1 like

That's highly debatable, that is in no way my experience of that generation (of which, as I said above, I am not a member), but in any case childishly screaming at the "boomer" generation for the disappearance of wildflower meadows since the 1930s, 40% of which vanished before they were born and most of the rest of which vanished before they were adults, is pathetic.

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to Rendel Harris | 2 days ago
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I'd encourage you to look harder, as the traits I mention are everywhere if you choose to see them.
The adage I always come back to, is that the baby boomers were born with nothing, but had a world of opportunity at their feet, whereas now, kids are born with everything, but with very limited opportunities.
I do fully agree with you however, it's a big reach to blame the boomer generation for the destruction of wildflower meadows.
I just don't like the boomer generation, lolz!

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Muddy Ford replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 2 days ago
3 likes

It's no different from the blinkered, ignorant arguments made by millenials and gen-z, blaming everyone older than them for any hardship they feel. I am gen-x, like you, and I think how unfortunate it is I just missed out on the 'final salary pension' schemes enjoyed by the previous generations but I don't blame them that I have to contribute significantly more of my pay in an attempt to get a bigger pension than what the state will provide. Sure, I bought my home at a lower salary multiple than the current generation (it is an investment that usually increases in value, else why would we buy it) but the current generation havent had to pay nearly 20% interest rates on that mortgage like I did for a while. Many of my friends lost their homes as a result of that action (it was a boomer who decided to raise the rates so high to beat inflation). We are responsible for our own actions and future planning. If we decide to spend our money on designer gear, fancy holidays, top of the range cars rather than eat beans on toast for a few years so we can own a house, that's our choice.

As for your 'parallel', it isnt. I want safe roads, boomers want safe roads, millenials and gen-z want safe roads. Only ignorant,selfish arseholes don't and they can be from any generation.  

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to Muddy Ford | 2 days ago
0 likes

The difference however is that much of the blame for the challenges of the current youth can rightly be placed on previous generations, none more so than the baby boomers.
Pensions is a great example. The boomers have great pensions that our generation, and younger are currently paying for, compromising pension pots for the foreseeable future.
I will happily concede that many of the challenges faced by the current youth have not been caused by boomers, but equally, many have. What I will say is that none of, and I can't stress this enough, none of the challenges faced by the current youth are their fault.

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Rendel Harris replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 2 days ago
3 likes

Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

What I will say is that none of, and I can't stress this enough, none of the challenges faced by the current youth are their fault.

Seriously? Every generation creates opportunities and challenges for itself. Just as an example, one of the biggest challenges to prosperity and security for the current younger generations is Brexit, yet only 64% (highest estimate) of 18-24 year olds bothered to use their vote in the referendum compared to 90% of over 65s. Given that in opinion polls 75% of 18-24s said they would vote Remain, if they had turned out in the same numbers as the older generations most likely Remain would have won. You can't refuse to do something as simple as exercise your democratic right and then say that the consequences of the vote in which you refused to participate aren't your fault.

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mdavidford replied to Rendel Harris | 2 days ago
2 likes

Depends who we're talking about - anyone under 26 now didn't get a vote in the referendum. Do you still count as 'youth' if you're over 26?

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Rendel Harris replied to mdavidford | 2 days ago
3 likes

mdavidford wrote:

Do you still count as 'youth' if you're over 26?

Yes you do. In fact on the Harris system you count as youth if you're under 56, until I turn 56 in October, and then you will count as youth if you're under 57.

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perce replied to Rendel Harris | 2 days ago
2 likes

If you live in Chesterfield you are called youth well into your fifties.

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Muddy Ford replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 2 days ago
1 like

Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

The difference however is that much of the blame for the challenges of the current youth can rightly be placed on previous generations, none more so than the baby boomers. Pensions is a great example. The boomers have great pensions that our generation, and younger are currently paying for, compromising pension pots for the foreseeable future. I will happily concede that many of the challenges faced by the current youth have not been caused by boomers, but equally, many have. What I will say is that none of, and I can't stress this enough, none of the challenges faced by the current youth are their fault.

The pension pot ran out decades ago. Anyone who thinks paying 9% employee + 12% employer on a 30k salary for 35yrs will yield a liveable income in retirement for 30+ years is an idiot. Labour will means test for state pension. The boomers might just get away with it because a final salary pension based on a final salary of 20k isnt very much. 

Brexit might not have happened if the current youth had bothered to vote

What challenges are not their fault?

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Mr Hoopdriver replied to Muddy Ford | 1 day ago
0 likes

Muddy Ford wrote:

What challenges are not their fault?

Their parents.

Or less flippantly, all those problems/challenges created by their parents and preceding generations.

I'd say the largest and most obvious one though is climate change.

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eburtthebike replied to Muddy Ford | 2 days ago
4 likes

I thought it was capuccinos and avocado toast?  Neither of which existed when I were a lad, hence being able to buy my mansion, which is relatively small, I only had a Saturday morning paper round.

To be serious for a second, hopefully the new administration will make good on its housebuilding ambitions and relieve the pressure on the housing market.

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Muddy Ford replied to eburtthebike | 2 days ago
0 likes

eburtthebike wrote:

I thought it was capuccinos and avocado toast?  Neither of which existed when I were a lad, hence being able to buy my mansion, which is relatively small, I only had a Saturday morning paper round.

To be serious for a second, hopefully the new administration will make good on its housebuilding ambitions and relieve the pressure on the housing market.

There's currently over 500,000 properties for sale on the market. If there was a housing shortage surely this number would be zero? If what is required is a price crash so more people can afford to buy, who would buy in a falling market? Pay 400k now, 2yrs later its worth 350k and the loan to value is higher, increasing the risk so the interest rate is raised resulting in a higher monthly cost?

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spen | 2 days ago
2 likes

Why is unlawful in inverted commas, as the trust pointed out what was done is a criminal offence. Just because it was done by kids on bikes does not make it right

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Cayo replied to spen | 2 days ago
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spen wrote:

Why is unlawful in inverted commas...

You realise it would have been easier just to actually type that in 'inverted commas'?

😜

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check12 | 3 days ago
2 likes

“Nationally, we have seen a 97 per cent decrease in our wildflower meadows since the 1930s" all caused by a couple of kids making a jump out of soil no doubt! 

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spen replied to check12 | 2 days ago
3 likes

I wish people would put that 97% figure in to context. In the 1930s it was cheaper to import wheat and corn, especially from Canada, than grow it here and as a result the amount of agricultural land under grass was the highest it had ever been. To call this wild flower meadow is to look back through very rose coloured glasses.

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open_roads | 3 days ago
5 likes

Residents: "the local kids need occupying - they are always hanging round the streets causing problems"

Residents: the local kids need occupying - they are always hanging round in an old quarry causing problems"

etc.

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dubwise | 3 days ago
1 like

Kids, eh?

How long before our lords and masters outlaw kids and make having them illegal?

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eburtthebike replied to dubwise | 2 days ago
1 like

dubwise wrote:

Kids, eh? How long before our lords and masters outlaw kids and make having them illegal?

Not for themselves of course, see Jacob Rees-Smug etc, altough he's probably not quite so smug now.

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don simon fbpe | 3 days ago
6 likes

The kids should have a word with Gee Atherton to see how he (and his company) is/are able to tear up strips of Parc Genedlaethol Eryri, I'm guessing the answer is offsetting by planting stuff elsewhere. 

As for the anti social kids? What did the miserable bastards do when they were younger?

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Jon_score | 3 days ago
17 likes

50-80% cut in funding for open and play spaces since 2011. Research demonstrating the harms to mental health of our children through lack of play spaces. The criticism of children making their own play, albeit with (age appropriate) naivety about the impact of their actions... All the while, multinational companies pollute our waterways with absolute impunity.

And people wonder why our children become disillusioned adults.

If only the guardians of these open spaces would engage with the innate curiosity and enthusiasm of these young people. Steer their energies, don't stamp on them.

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