The Sunday Telegraph

Having a blast at the seaside: illegal beach campers face rude awakening by air horn

- By Steve Bird

THE sound of the surf lapping the seashore can be soothing and soporific – but, the tranquilli­ty of beaches across a swathe of southern England will be shattered this summer by air horns blasted at tents pitched overnight on the sands.

Illegal campers are being promised an “uncomforta­ble night’s sleep” after Bournemout­h, Christchur­ch and Poole council introduced a nighttime patrol with hourly wake-up calls to deter increasing numbers of people setting up camps on Dorset beaches.

The policy has proven so successful – 21 such camps have been abandoned on 15 miles of beaches – that town hall bosses are recruiting a new warden to patrol parks to deter campers.

Local councils and the National Trust have reported a rise in wild camping, where pitches are set up without permission, and fly-camping, where outdoor kit is simply abandoned after an overnight stay. It is feared the enforced staycation will lead to record numbers of unofficial camps being set up around the country in breach of local by-laws.

The hourly air horn blasts, only used on beaches far away from local residents, is one of a number of methods used by the Bournemout­h council. It also uses drones to monitor visitor numbers and has recruited Covid marshals to patrol beauty spots. An app was also created to show visitors which beaches to avoid if crowded.

May Haines, the councillor responsibl­e for community safety, said the nighttime patrols, usually comprising four wardens, had proven successful and that those who camp on the beaches risk prosecutio­n and a £1,000 fine.

“Anyone thinking of camping on the beach should expect an uncomforta­ble night’s sleep as our team will visit to carry out hourly wake-up calls.” she said.

Homeless charity Crisis urged the council to ensure that they do not also target rough sleepers who sometimes take refuge in tents. Chief executive Jon Sparkes said: “There is a world of difference between camping out for leisure and being forced to live in a tent.”

‘Anyone thinking of doing it should expect an uncomforta­ble night’s sleep with hourly wake-up calls’

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