Jurassic Coast beach crowds 'showed shocking disregard for area'

image copyrightClean Jurassic Coast
image captionThousands of visitors flocked to Durdle Door at the weekend, leaving litter scattered on the beach

The Jurassic Coast has been treated with "shocking" disrespect by visitors since lockdown restrictions were eased, conservation groups have said.

The Unesco World Heritage site has been deluged with crowds in recent days.

The Jurassic Coast Trust said many were "determined to arrive at any cost" and volunteers described "horrendous" amounts of litter being abandoned.

Current rules state that households can drive any distance in England to destinations such as parks and beaches.

The Jurassic Coast Unesco World Heritage Site covers 95 miles (150km) of coastline from Devon to Dorset, and features "rocks and fossils which record 185 million years of Earth's history".

The Clean Jurassic Coast group said waste had been buried in the sand, and washed into the sea and caves along the coast.

image copyrightProject Planet
image captionVolunteers with Clean Jurassic Coast have been collecting waste left by beach-goers

Volunteer Anna Taylor said: "I was picking things up that I really shouldn't have to pick up.

"I had litter thrown at me, I had bags and bags of rubbish dumped near me to deal with.

"I've had people shouting at me when I asked them nicely to take their litter with them."

Jurassic Coast Trust chief executive Lucy Culkin said it had been a "difficult and challenging" weekend.

On Saturday three people were airlifted to hospital after tombstoning from the limestone arch at Durdle Door Beach.

Ms Culkin said the trust received hundreds of complaints about "appalling" volumes of litter on beaches, as well as human waste, sanitary items and disposable barbecues on footpaths in dry, hot conditions.

"It was clear to see that some had all but forgotten the guidelines of social distancing or welfare for themselves and others, or indeed any respect for the natural environment they were visiting," she said.

"To witness the disregard with which Durdle Door, our beaches and coast paths have been treated is shocking."

Ms Culkin said the trust supported Dorset Council's plea to the prime minister to review unlimited travel guidelines.

A government spokesman said: "Over the course of the pandemic people across the country have made huge sacrifices, and thanks to the efforts of the public the government's five tests are being met and we can begin slowly moving towards the next phase of lifting the lockdown.

"But we all still need to play our part by staying alert, and continuing to follow social distancing guidelines.

"The overwhelming majority of the public are following the rules, and we expect the police to use their discretion, judgment and experience in enforcing them."

image copyrightAndrew Matthews/PA
image captionThousands flocked to the Jurassic Coast during the weekend sunny weather

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