Doggers close Highnam RSPB reserve car park in Gloucestershire
BIRDWATCHERS have been locked out of a car park at an RSPB beauty spot due to the activities of doggers.
Gates have been shut at the Highnam reserve on the A40, seven years after the hide was shut because of people cruising the area day and night for sex.
"We have just had enough," said RSPB spokesman Tony Whitehead. "It's a terrible shame and it's a last resort. It's done with heavy heart but while it remains a target for people who engage in this inappropriate behaviour, we have no option."
RSPB staff have had to check the site at odd hours and remove items, including used condoms, while some members of the public have been confronted with people having sex in broad daylight. Complaints about the activities have been received regularly by the RSPB. The bird charity was considering removing some vegetation but that would have meant changing the habitat of the area, so it was ruled out.
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The reserve is still accessible by bicycle or on foot but virtually all of its visitors arrive by car.
The RSPB will open the car park for pre-arranged visits and will be running events throughout the year.
Police spokesman Chris Jackson said: "This was the RSPB's decision and follows 18 months of multi-agency work to try and resolve the issues in the area.
"We have consulted with independent advisers, charities and local councillors to try and improve the situation and understand the decision that has now been taken by the landowners.
"While we had regular patrols prior to the closure, this measure has now resolved the issue at the site. While we have found evidence of sexual activity at the site there have not been any prosecutions in connection with the issue. We are aware of the effect this has on the staff who work there and the general public in the area."