After claiming the need to protect Newtown from disturbance by the proposed new Coastal Path, the National Trust has been condemned as ‘hypocritical’ by wildlife campaigners.
On BBC1’s Inside Out on Monday, Countryside Manager Robin Lang described the Island’s only National Nature Reserve (NNR) as ‘a special place’.
But James Allaway, of ‘Keep Newtown for the Birds’ (KNB) claims this hardly conformed with the Trust’s recent drive to bring in more visitors. He said: “Last year we forced them to cancel their programme of ‘Bear Hunts’ that brought in over 400 extra people there in a single day.
“Paths through the woods have been opened up so that colonies of owls, squirrels and lizards have been destroyed. We are now getting reports of dog walkers finding human faeces and toilet tissue there.
“The Trust has promoted a cycle route, obviously aimed at mainland clubs, as it leads directly from the East Cowes car ferry terminal into the heart of the NNR. So why should it worry about a few ramblers?”
KNB had discovered that more and more water craft were coming in and the Trust was encouraging canoes and paddleboards – which were particularly intrusive during the breeding season.
Mr Allaway added: “In 1971 just 40 boats a day were arriving at the height of summer. By 2006 up to 130 were recorded. At the present time, according to the harbourmaster, fine weather can attract up to 200.
‘A senior member of the NT staff has commented that all visitors want is ‘a view, a loo and a brew’. If that’s what they mean by a special place they might as well run the Coastal Path straight through it.”