Action plan to combat anti-social activity at Carrick’s Woodburn Forest

Woodburn Forest
Woodburn Forest

An action plan has been drawn up to tackle anti-social behaviour at Woodburn Forest on the outskirts of Carrickfergus.

The draft report has been produced by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council as part of a multi-agency response to a rise in complaints over illegal fishing, fly-tipping, anti-social behaviour, dog fouling, fires and illegal use of quads and scramblers at the popular location.

It follows a meeting in August of representatives from NI Water, DAERA Forest Service, Inland Fisheries, PSNI, Policing and Community Partnership and council officers.

Speaking after council’s Direct Services committee received an update, Cllr Marc Collins said he welcomed the “action plan”.

The DUP representative added: “We had received a number of reports recently of anti-social behaviour such as illegal fishing, scrambler use, fly-tipping etc. and as a result we got together with council officers as well as representatives of PSNI, PCSP, Forest Service, NI Water and Inland Fisheries to develop this plan.

“The meeting was extremely useful and well attended and means that going forward everyone should be singing from the same hymn sheet with regards to tackling these issues”.

As well as tackling anti-social behaviour at the site, Mr Collins explained there were also discussions around potential minor re-development works to make the area more accessible and enjoyable for residents and visitors alike.

He continued: “Woodburn forest and dams already provide a stunning backdrop for fishing, walks, cycling, picnics, etc and we want to ensure that the area is as accessible as possible for people to enjoy it. We have discussed ideas such as benches and signage to help achieve this.

“Another meeting will be held in a few months to track progress and update everyone involved.”

Among the proposals, he noted, are:

A multi-agency approach and, potentially, wardens to cover some areas of concern such as litter, dog fouling and illegal fishing. PSNI to be provided with a key to get better access to the off-road areas.

Use of council’s Green Dog Walker scheme to promote cleaning up after your dog, providing free dog foul bags etc.

Looking into a partnership approach between PSNI and DAERA Inland Fisheries to combat illegal fishing.

Potential for information to be added to new signage for a number of areas with contact numbers for relevant agencies.

Mr Collins added: “We will also be compiling a list of potential development in the area. We will be restricted in this aspect because we need to ensure quality of water is number one priority, but small things like benches, walkways, maybe toilets etc will be looked at.”

Both NI Water and DAERA have previously welcomed a multi-agency response to issues at Woodburn.

A spokesperson for MEA Council said: “Council and its partners recently attended a meeting to discuss a range of issues, including littering, illegal dumping, dog fouling and scrambler use in the Woodburn area. We will continue to work with our partners to resolve these matters.”