England

'Dogging' and drug abuse close Uffmoor Wood

Bluebells Image copyright The Woodland Trust
Image caption The Woodland Trust says it hopes the closure is not permanent

A wood is being shut to the public after complaints of "dogging", drug dealing and out-of-control dogs.

The Woodland Trust says all entrances to Uffmoor Wood, near Halesowen, West Midlands, will be padlocked from Wednesday after it became one of its most "problematic" sites.

It follows reports of dog attacks, dog fouling, drug abuse, the use of off-road bikes and illicit sexual activity.

The trust says the closure is a "last resort".

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It said in some cases dogs have been attacked by others allowed off the lead, while a sheep was killed on neighbouring land.

The trust said the closure of the 209 acres of ancient woodland was "unprecedented" and it had only ever closed a few car parks across the whole of the UK.

It said it had tried to tackle the issues with posters and by speaking to visitors during community action days. Police have also been called on several occasions.

Image copyright The Woodland Trust
Image caption The beauty spot is located about a mile from Halesowen

Other problems have included staff being knocked to the ground by dogs and others verbally abused by visitors.

The trust's website page for Uffmoor Wood has a number of comments in which concerns have been raised.

Gareth Hopkins, regional operations manager for the Woodland Trust, said he hoped the action was "not a permanent measure".

"We're very sad to take such severe measures," he said.

"Drug dealing, out-of-control dogs and dog fouling have made this wood unsafe, despite our best efforts to work with and educate the irresponsible dog owners."

Maintenance work will be carried out while the wood is closed.

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