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Destruction of ‘illegal’ bike course sparks anger

PUBLISHED: 06:30 30 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:33 31 July 2020

An illegal bike course at Syderstone was removed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Inset is the trust's director of nature conservation, Kevin West. Pictures: NWT/Chris Hill

An illegal bike course at Syderstone was removed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Inset is the trust's director of nature conservation, Kevin West. Pictures: NWT/Chris Hill

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An ‘illegal’ bike course that was built in a protected beauty spot has been dismantled, sparking the fury of nearby residents.

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust has this morning removed a bike course that was illegally constructed at Syderstone Common during the lockdown period. Picture: NWTThe Norfolk Wildlife Trust has this morning removed a bike course that was illegally constructed at Syderstone Common during the lockdown period. Picture: NWT

Norfolk Wildlife Trust did away with the course, which was built at Syderstone Common - a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) west of Fakenham.

The course included timber ramps and excavated berms and jumps, a covered barbecue area and excavation for a lined pond.

Kevin Hart, the trust’s director of nature conservation, said: “Although we appreciate the increased need for outdoor leisure activities during recent months across the county, we cannot allow this type of unauthorised, unconsented development to take place on one of our nature reserves.”

But villagers including lifelong Syderstone resident Steve Kidd, said the trust had no right to remove the course, and claimed the trust did not actually own the site as they say.

Kevin Hart, director of nature conservation for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: Chris HillKevin Hart, director of nature conservation for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: Chris Hill

Mr Kidd, 63, said: “It’s absolutely shocking what they’ve done. It’s caused a lot of anger in this village, and in the neighbouring villages.

“They’ve rekindled an old dispute over whether they own the common - which as far as we know was never resolved.

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“It says in the deeds to the property that the common was for use by the locals, but the NWT are saying there’s no common rights.”

Mr Kidd said a village committee would be formed and the bike course rebuilt in another part of the common.

Mr Hart said the course was illegal as it contravened the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which covered SSSIs.

He said: “But there are further concerns with how safe the structures and jumps are for users as this is not a professionally designed and constructed track.

“Norfolk Wildlife Trust has a duty of care to people visiting its nature reserves and must do everything reasonable to prevent foreseeable accidents.

“We know this removal will have upset people who were keen to see it stay but it is in the wrong location, being built on a protected nature reserve.

“A conservation charity cannot be expected to take on the liability or the additional responsibility and cost of monitoring and safety checking the structures to ensure they are safe to use.”

The site supports one of the last remaining areas of lowland heathland and acid grassland in the region, and it is also home to one of the last remaining inland locations of the endangered natterjack toad.


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