Police on beat to protect Blaenavon World heritage site

A police officer who is part of a conservation scheme to protect Blaenavon World Heritage Site and surrounding countryside, says he is frustrated with people who continue to spoil the area.

PC Rob Maddocks has spent the past eight months as Gwent Police's landscape crime officer.

He has tacked fly-tipping, arson, metal theft and off road bikers, on 80 square km of land covering parts of Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Monmouthshire.

It is part of the Forgotten Landscapes project, which aims to manage the wildlife and industrial heritage of this historically significant area.

He said: "It is difficult to comprehend why they do it, and I think it's not just about enforcement, it's about education as well.

"We've got to speak to these people and realise why they do it."

Since Pc Maddocks took up the post in December 2010, there have been:

  • 10 prosecutions for fly-tipping
  • More than 40 off-road bikes seized
  • 20 fixed penalty fines issued for riding on common land
  • More than 100 warnings for anti social behaviour

The latest area to be targeted by fly-tippers is on a mountainside near Abertillery.

Asbestos, children's toys, mattresses, clothes and household goods are just some of the items piled up at the side of the road.

'Destroying habitats'

"There is just no need for it. It's pure laziness. If they had a car or van to dump it here, there's no reason why they can't attend their local amenities site and get rid of it there."

"I can't reiterate enough, it is laziness. There is absolutely no excuse for just dumping like this on the mountainside. It's ugly and it spoils the beautiful views you've got around here."

Off road bikes are leaving a more permanent mark on the countryside.

"Not only does it scar the landscape and look bad, it also alters the watercourse and table and when you've got things like lapwings which are a ground nesting species, the off-road vehicles don't know that and they could be running straight through lapwing sites.

"They're a protected species and they could be destroying habitats, and it takes years and years to get back."

The scale of the area PC Maddocks covers, means he turns to the local community for help.

"We've set up an intelligence led system with the community. Everyone knows who I am, what I do. The farmers, the landowners and residents in area, if they see anything suspicious, they've got my mobile & they'll alert me to it".

PC Maddocks is seconded to the role for three years.

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