Ancient woodland in Sheffield 'treated with disdan' by off-roaders and fly-tippers, resident claims

A Sheffield beauty spot is being ‘treated with disdain’ by off-road vehicle owners and fly-tippers, it has been claimed.

By Dan Hayes
Friday, 7th May 2021, 8:57 am

According to a resident, ancient woodland behind the Smithywood industrial estate development off Cowley Lane in Chapeltown is currently being ‘destroyed’ by the trespassers.

A large warehouse built by St Paul’s Developments on the site is currently unused, but measures to keep people out of the woodland behind it are continually being circumvented.

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Van loads of rubbish have been left at the site, including this sofa.

This has given access to the site to people who use it to drive off-road vehicles including 4x4 cars and scrambling bikes, cutting up the ground and damaging the ecologically valuable site.

But it has also opened up the area to fly-tippers, with the site now covered with van loads of rubbish, electrical items, fridges and even sofas.

Local woman Carol Matthewman said she had been in touch with the council about the problem only to be told they do not deal with off-road sites.

She said: “I am just disappointed that people can behave like this and they think it is acceptable. They wouldn't want it in their gardens.

The Smithywood site in Sheffield

“And nothing is being done about it. If a place is clean then it deters people from thinking they can get away with it.

“I have enjoyed the countryside all my life and I just want whoever is responsible for the site to tidy it up and secure it.

“It really is a beautiful bit of woodland - it is like a fairytale. The trees are beautiful, old and statuesque. But it is being treated with disdain.”

However, David Newton, the managing director of St Paul’s Developments, who own the land, said lots was being done to protect the site and tidy it up, but that keeping off-roaders and fly tippers out was a ‘never ending battle’.

Bluebells at Smithy Wood (pic: Dave Dickinson, Sheffield Environmental)

Mr Newton added that the managing agent for the site was in regular contact with South Yorkshire Police over the problem, but that short of completely fencing the site off - which he said ‘no one wants’ - the issue would remain a difficult one to tackle.

“Every time we block off the area someone pulls the fence down and away they go,” he added.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.