Dogs to be banned on some Northumberland beaches this summer
Dogs will be banned from part of the Northumberland coastline this spring and summer to protect breeding birds.
A trial dog zoning scheme is being introduced on the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve to help shorebirds including little terns and ringed plover.
It would see dogs banned from the Wide Opens extending to Ross Back Sands south and north to the Beacons and Blackl Law; and the western section of Budle Bay.
While dogs would be allowed to be exercised off their leads at the North Shore on Holy Island, they would have to be kept on a short lead at all times elsewhere on the reserve.
Andrew Craggs, Natural England senior reserve manager, said: “Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve is an internationally important site for a range of wildlife and it’s vital we protect the habitats they call home.
“The area already has a series of wildlife protection zones in place from late April to early September for breeding shorebirds but, despite this, there is evidence that increased visitor numbers and dog ownership is having an impact on breeding birds.
“The current by-law, which is in force throughout the national nature reserve, requires dogs to be kept on a lead or at heel to prevent them from worrying or disturbing any animal or bird.
“From May 1 to September 1 this year we are trialling revisions to the current by-law that will designate specific zones where dogs are allowed on site.
"We hope this will enable locals and visitors to enjoy this beautiful landscape with their pet dogs without disturbing wildlife. It will also include an area where dogs can be exercised off the lead.
“We’ve consulted widely in the local area and following the trial we’ll carry out an evaluation to see what impact this has had on the site’s internationally important wildlife.”
The proposal was discussed by Belford Parish Council which has Ross Sands in its patch and will also soon have Budle Bay.
Cllr Guy Renner-Thompson, parish chairman and local county councillor, said: "I’ve had quite a lot of correspondence from residents who are not happy about it.
"I haven’t got a problem with what they’re trying to achieve to protect the birdlife but people haven’t been consulted about it. I think it’s a major PR blunder by them.
"I would also like to see more evidence of bird disturbance before conceding to any of this.
"It’s a very emotional topic for a lot of people, some of whom have been taking their dogs on these beaches for generations of the same family.
"I can tell you now there will be a lot of objections.”
However, the proposal was supported by Cllr Julian Cunningham, who said: “One of the most important things about Northumberland is the fantastic opportunities for breeding birds. Many species are under threat so I am very much in favour of there being restrictions during the breeding season. It’s not saying dogs can’t be walked or are banned. There are only certain areas with restrictions.
Cllr Kerry Noble added: “We have to bear in mind that it is just a trial and it’s only a very tiny part of an area where very few people go. I support it but I think there could be a storm coming.”