Thieves steal Batford Springs Nature Reserve dumper and dump volunteers with heavy repair work

Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOO

Batford Springs Nature Reserve. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Thieves have stolen a dumper from Batford Springs Nature Reserve, meaning volunteers are having to carry out labour-intensive repair work by themselves.

The Marquis Lane Play Area in Batford Springs Nature Reserve, near to where the dumper was kept. Pic

The Marquis Lane Play Area in Batford Springs Nature Reserve, near to where the dumper was kept. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

On the night bridging Thursday, August 2 to Friday August 3, a yellow Thwaites dumper was taken from a field in Marquis Lane, adjacent to the Marquis of Granby pub, and was spotted on Piggottshill Lane.

The dumper, which is a type of vehicle also known as a dumper truck, has been used around the reserve for ten years and was a gift from a volunteer who worked in the construction industry.

Gordon Steadman, who drove the dumper, said it was “essential” for the work of the volunteers, who have now been saddled with a mountain of extra work.

He said: “We are cutting down a lot of branches and it’s so much labour-intensive work dragging branches and at the moment we are doing a massive project of stream repairs.

“We will not be able to manage without.”

Batford Springs has undergone a number of improvements recently, including a new visitor centre, and Harpenden Town Council have been given permission to build walkways around the chalk stream, a body of clean water which runs through the reserve.

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Recently the dumper has been used to dig up between 50 and 100 tonnes of rubble to help stop sinkholes around the chalk stream, which trap visitors’ legs.

Mr Steadman voiced his frustration with the police investigation into its theft, saying that although a yellow tabard which could have belonged to the thieves was found at the site, the police told him there was little chance of DNA traces on it.

“It’s so annoying they are not even prepared to look at it”, he said. “You would have thought they would have put it straight through.”

Herts Police have confirmed they are investigating the crime.

The dumper weighs two-tonnes, its skip rotates 90 degrees in multiple directions and lifts up and down and ‘Batford Springs Volunteers’ is written on its side. It’s is estimated to be worth around £10,000.

Anyone who has information or saw the theft or any suspicious activity has been asked to contact Hertfordshire Constabulary on the non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference 41/23790/18.

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