Bikers spark fear for safety at Portbury wildlife haven
Parish leaders in Portbury are calling for a crackdown on teenagers riding motorbikes at a nature reserve amid fears for people and wildlife.
Youngsters have been seen taking off-road bikes and mini-motos onto the site next to the Ashlands housing development.
The reserve, which was created as part of the new developments on the eastern side of Portishead, only opened at the beginning of the year and is fast becoming a haven for wildlife, including many species of birds and greater crested newts.
Residents and parish leaders are concerned that if the bikers continue to use the area as a race track, it will frighten away wildlife.
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They are also concerned for the safety of many walkers and horse riders who use the reserve.
Portbury Parish Council chairman Les Summerfield said he had received a number of complaints from residents about the bikers.
"The reserve was created as somewhere for local residents to enjoy, not for teenagers to use as a race track," he said.
"We have received a number of complaints from people in the area who can hear the bikes roaring around the reserve. We think the riders are getting onto the site because some of the boundaries are insecure.
"The area is used by horse riders and walkers and the bikers are not only posing a danger to them, but also the wildlife that lives in the area.
"Some of the species at the reserve are quite rare and if this kind of behaviour continues, it may force the wildlife out.
"We have raised our concerns with the local police and intend to also contact the landowners to request signs are erected around the reserve, making it clear that bikes are not allowed."
Mr Summerfield said bikers had also been seen racing along the cycle path between Pill and Portbury.
He added: "I was down there a couple of weeks ago and there were bikes speeding along the cycle path.
"This is very dangerous as the path is narrow and windy in places – it is an accident waiting to happen."
The 100-acre reserve's wildlife habitats including wetlands, hay meadows and raised pastures.
It stretches from the estuary, already a wetlands area of national importance, to the Ashlands.
A number of birds, including curlew, red shank and whimbrel are all common in the area as well as water voles.
Greater crested newts, grass snakes and hairy dragonflies have also made the reserve home and there is evidence otters are living there.
The reserve was developed by Persimmon Special Projects Western as part of the development of the former power station site.
The work was carried out by the Landmark Trust and eventually the area will be taken over and managed by the Wildlife Trust.
A Persimmon spokesman said: "We were unaware of the issues at the nature reserve, but are now investigating the alleged problems."
Portishead police have identified the problem with the teen riders as a policing priority in the area.