A legally enforceable ban on antisocial behaviour in Dorset, including lighting disposable barbecues in woods and camping illegally on beaches is being proposed by Dorset Council for some areas but not for the majority of Purbeck including Swanage and Studland.
New Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) are being proposed for areas of open land in Dorset, like Wareham Forest and some Dorset beaches like Lulworth.
They are intended to help tackle issues arising from camping on beaches and introduce new measures to help to prevent wildfires.
Illegal camping and littering in Studland
Increase in illegal camping during the pandemic
This follows from the Wareham Forest fire in 2020 which destroyed more than 220 hectares of woodland and heath and the increase in illegal camping during the pandemic when holiday accommodation closed and travel restrictions prevented people traveling abroad.
These orders mean that if people are behaving antisocially and they don’t stop when asked to by the police or an authorised person like a ranger or enforcement officer, it is a criminal offence and they can be dealt with by a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100 or prosecution in the magistrates court.
Now Dorset Council is consulting on these proposals and asking for feedback from residents.
Wareham Fire Station was called to extinguish this fire in Arne that had been started by a discarded disposable barbecue
The Dorset Open Land Antisocial Behaviour Related PSPO will prohibit the lighting of fires, barbecues including disposable barbecues, Chinese lanterns or fireworks.
Proposed areas of open land to be covered by this legislation
- Hurn Forest, West Moors and Cannon Hill near Ferndown
- Wareham Forest, Rempstone Heath and Hethfelton near Wool
- Puddletown Forest, Affpuddle and Moreton
Notably in the Purbeck area, the places not covered are Studland and Godlingston Heath, Durlston Country Park and RSPB Arne.
Knoll Beach in Studland
The Dorset Beaches Antisocial Behaviour Related PSPO prohibits unauthorised camping resulting in antisocial behaviour, littering, inappropriate disposal of waste and damage to facilities and the environment. There is a clause that allows people to fish overnight on beaches.
Proposed beaches to be covered by this legislation
- West Bay
- Burton Bradstock to Abbotsbury
- Abbotsbury to Weymouth
- Weymouth to Portland
- Weymouth Beach
- Lulworth Beaches
It’s not proposed to cover any beaches in Purbeck, east of Lulworth, by this legislation. This includes beaches at Studland and Swanage.
Swanage Fire crew put out a barbecue at Bramble Bush Bay in Studland
Consultation with stakeholders
Dorset Council says it has already consulted with key stakeholders in preparing these proposals.
Swanage Town Council says that it hasn’t been formally consulted and will consider the proposals at its next planning and consultation committee meeting.
Chair of Studland Parish Council, Nick Boulter said:
“We haven’t been consulted on this by Dorset Council and I find it hard to understand why not.
“The National Trust in Purbeck has faced a lot of trouble in the last two years with people camping illegally, lighting fires and littering along the beaches in Studland, as well as on the dunes and heathland.”
Illegal camping and the remains of a fire in Studland
“We don’t currently have enough evidence“
Responding on why some areas in Purbeck hadn’t been included in the PSPO proposals, a spokesperson for Dorset Council said:
“The proposed PSPOs include areas where we have evidence of ongoing problems. They have been identified in consultation with local bodies including Dorset Local Resilience Forum, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and Forestry England.
“The Dorset Open Land PSPO has been proposed to cover areas where there have been issues with wildfires. Equally, the Dorset Beaches PSPO includes beaches where we have evidence of ongoing problems relating to people camping on beaches.
“While we’re aware of a limited number of issues on some beaches in the Swanage area, we don’t currently have enough evidence that these have continued to be problematic. However, if additional areas are suffering ongoing issues then we would welcome views and feedback to help inform plans.
“These are just proposals at this stage and we’re asking for the views of the public to help us ensure the PSPOs are effective in targeting specific behaviour which is having a detrimental effect on the community, in the areas where it’s needed.
“Following consultation, we will consider any additional areas for inclusion if we receive evidence that indicates these measures are needed.”
Fire fighters tackle a blaze on Rempstone Heath
“Make sure our public spaces can be used and enjoyed by everyone“
Dorset Council is also consulting on renewing existing PSPOs for Weymouth, Portland, Dorchester, Bridport, West Bay and Lyme Regis.
Councillor Laura Miller, Dorset Council portfolio holder for customer and community services, who is leading on these proposals, said:
“Dorset Council has a key role to play in helping to make sure our public spaces can be used and enjoyed by everyone.
“We don’t want to prevent or stop people from enjoying themselves responsibly, but we know how antisocial behaviour can impact our communities and we need to ensure we have measures and tools in place should we need them.”
Respond to the proposals
The public consultation will run until Thursday 13th January 2022 and anyone can respond to the proposals via the surveys on the Dorset Council website