Cotswold District Council have been working with Cotswold Lakes Trust on their Enjoy and Respect campaign, aiming to raise awareness of the environmental impacts anti-social behaviour can have on this natural area of beauty.
Cllr Juliet Layton, Cabinet Member for Development Management and Licensing, said: “It is so important to protect the environment around us not only for the benefit of the local habitats but also for the enjoyment of all our visitors
“Cotswold Water Park is in the heart of the Cotswold District and is home to 180 lakes across 42 square miles. It is an amazing place to visit and enjoy, but we are asking people to do so responsibly.
“Each year thousands of visitors come and enjoy the Cotswold Water Park as well as local people. Over recent years, anti-social behaviour has been noted and the Enjoy and Respect campaign is all about tackling that. We all have a responsibility to look after the Water Park and protect the local wildlife.”
Paul Hazel, Executive Chairman of Cotswold Lakes Trust, said: “The Cotswold Water Park has received national recognition for its importance for wetland wildlife. It is a place that acts as a carbon sink, its reedbeds, woodlands and wetlands absorbing and storing carbon from human activities, a place where people can enjoy a unique natural setting.
“We are pleased to be working with our partner organisations to raise awareness of the importance of the landscape and to protect the unique environment for future generations to enjoy.”
The campaign, run jointly between the Cotswold Lakes Trust, Cotswold District Council and local business in the Water Park will be covering the following topics with the aim of keeping people safe and helping everyone to enjoy their visit to the Water Park.
Swimming in lakes safely
Unauthorised swimming in open water can be dangerous, many of the lakes in the Cotswold Water Park are deep, some can be very cold, and there are often hidden dangers beneath the water. Swimming in open water can also disturb wildlife in their natural habitat. Visitors are only permitted to swim in those lakes which are specifically operated for open water swimming.
Visitors are asked not to leave rubbish next to a full bin as wildlife will spread it around. Instead, they are encouraged to take their litter home and recycle where possible. Litter picks have been taking place around the Water Park by volunteers to help keep it tidy.
There are plenty of car parks across the Cotswold Water Park and drivers are being asked to use these when visiting. Inappropriate parking can damage verges, disturb wildlife, block public footpaths, and cause an obstruction for buses and emergency vehicles.
Visitors are being encouraged to use active travel in and around the Cotswold Water Park. New cycle parking has been installed at 6 locations in the Water Park (Bridge Car Park, Lakeside Car Park, Clayhill Car Park, Keynes Country Park, Neigh Bridge Country Park, Waterhay Car Park), making it accessible to leave your bikes whilst exploring the Water Park. New wayfinding boards have also been installed in key locations to guide visitors to new and interesting places that can be reached on foot or bicycle.
Looking after dogs in the Water Park
The Cotswold Water Park is a great place to take dogs for walks as there are many miles of public footpaths and bridleways. Visitors are asked and encouraged to keep dogs out of the water and on a lead when near lake edges to minimise disturbance to wildlife, and also to appropriately dispose of dog waste.
Preventing fires & BBQs
Fires can spread easily to grass, trees, vehicles and buildings, especially when conditions are dry. Fires should not be lit in the Cotswold Water Park due to this risk and lighting BBQs is only permitted in private areas designated for their use.
Protecting local wildlife
The Cotswold Water Park hosts over 35,000 wintering and breeding waterbirds, and a vast array of other wildlife. Visitors are educated on the importance of this Site of Special Scientific Interest. They are encouraged to enjoy the area but asked to avoid disturbance to wildlife by sticking to designated footpaths and keeping dogs on a lead.
For more information about Cotswold Water Park visit: https://waterpark.org/