The Cumbria Wildlife Trust has appealed for people to take more care over natural wildlife sanctuaries, after three men caused damage to the South Walney Nature Reserve this weekend. Driving a brand-new, rented Range Rover Sport, the men drove onto the beach and got the vehicle stuck in the sand.
The beach is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is restricted even to pedestrians. Tony Jesson, a member of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, described the scene as he watched the car sink into the sand.
Cumbria Wildlife Trust is calling for people to have more respect for natural wild places following the trespass by the driver of a Landrover which got stuck in the sands off the Trust's South Walney Nature Reserve on Sunday 25th February. @nchapplesNWEM@NWEMlive@HuddleHubNewspic.twitter.com/EIURLEKGtf— CumbriaWildlifeTrust (@cumbriawildlife) February 26, 2018
"They'd definitely gone to great lengths to get on that beach," he said. "There are very clear posts up saying 'do not go on the beach' and there are even wooden trunks acting as a barrier.
"We sat there for an hour watching them trying to drive it out, pull it out, dig it out. It was very much stuck. They had no luck getting it out and it sunk even more. The next day I saw pictures of it after the high-tide had been in and the windows were smashed.
"The beach is closed to the public and it's very obvious that you're not supposed to go on there. They ignored all the warnings."
The trust reports that the vehicle damaged vegetation on its way onto and off the beach, as well as spilling oil due to damage by the tide. "We'll now need to clean up before nesting birds arrive in spring," the Trust said in a tweet.
The three young men driving the car have been reported to police, and even if not prosecuted are likely to face a hefty bill for the repair of the Range Rover. The Range Rover Sport retails from £61,315, but the example driven onto the beach here reportedly cost in excess of £100,000.