Lake District campers handed fines for breaching Covid-19 restrictions

A warning has been issued after sixteen campers were issued with fixed penalty tickets for breaching COVID-19 restrictions in the Lake District.

An increase in complaints from communities since the relaxation of lockdown led to a multi-agency operation on Wednesday.

Cumbria's public authorities, including Cumbria Police and the Lake District National Park Authority, have stressed that people staying away from their main home overnight are breaking lockdown laws.

The rules apply to all forms of overnight stays by visitors – including camping, motorhomes, caravans, boats and second homes. Credit: Cumbria County Council

Campers who spent the night in locations, several during the bank holiday weekend, were handed an enforcement ticket with a £100 penalty.

Police say some have been using laybys and carparks to sleep and several have started camp fires - something they say increases the potential for a significant fire.

A spokesperson from the force said the Lake District is not yet ready for a wave of tourists in great numbers, with toilets closed and no campsites open.

Sixteen fixed penalty tickets were issued on bank holiday Monday to people who had driven from as far as Manchester, Croydon and Essex.

Superintendent Sarah Jackson of Cumbria Police said: “This operation has become necessary due to the significant influx of people using beauty spots, car parks and laybys in the Lake District as unofficial campsites.

"This is clearly in breach of the Coronavirus legislation, and has had the additional impact of creating environmental damage and the risk of wildfires.

“The Lake District is a fabulous place to visit, and as soon as the facilities are safe, ready and open, we will join with our partners and local businesses to welcome the tourist population to holiday here.

"In the meantime, I’d like to appeal to people to respect the law and to refrain from overnight camping in the Lakes. This multi-agency operation is continuing, and those found to be breaching the regulations may receive a fixed penalty of £100.”

Credit: PA

Richard Leafe, CEO of the Lake District National Park Authority, said: “The staff and volunteers who are working with Cumbria Police live and work here every day. We know all the places campers hide, so don’t try it - and for now, please make sure you return home each evening.”

Richard Gibson, Station Manager from Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service said: “As a result of the number of fires in the open air we have had reported to us over the past couple of weeks, we have been working in conjunction with our partner agencies to provide fire safety advice to day trippers and campers in order to reduce the likelihood of wildfires.

“In doing so we are seeking to protect our local communities and natural habitats from the dangers of wildfires and the environmental damage they cause.”