Paintball games stopped in ancient wood

An inspector has upheld an enforcement notice directed against paintball games in a Northamptonshire wood after finding that the activity degraded the ecological value of a county wildlife site.

The site could accommodate up to 100 players who usually progressed through five locations during a day. The inspector found that while the trees had been little affected, the undergrowth and ground vegetation in the gaming sites had been trampled to bare earth. He estimated that the gaming sites had resulted in the loss of about 2ha of diverse woodland ground vegetation.

He inspected three sites that had not been used for three to four months. These areas remained mainly bare ground and there was little evidence of regrowth of vegetation over the summer period. He also found it hard to believe that birds' breeding activities would not be adversely affected by paint guns, flares and noise from up to 100 people shouting and crashing around every weekend.

The inspector appreciated that paintball games are a popular and growing recreational activity but took the view that it was not a suitable site. He reasoned that there must be many wooded areas, such as conifer plantations, where such activities could take place with little ecological damage. He also held that the possible presence of dormice in the wood required a precautionary approach.

DCS Number 100-050-428

Inspector Clive Whitehouse; Written representations.

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