Woodland strewn with rubbish after hundreds attend illegal rave

Thousands of empty bottles and cans, plastic bags and laughing gas canisters were left strewn across the ground at a popular woodland site after hundreds attended a rave despite ongoing lockdown warnings.

Pictures reveal the mess left behind at Fir Tree Flash in Leigh, Wigan, after ravers partied into the early hours over the weekend.

Walkers described seeing the ground littered with rubbish the day after a huge crowd of people descended on the wildlife reserve to drink and play loud music into the night.

People living close by told the Manchester Evening News they could hear people arguing at around 2am on Sunday morning while others reported waking to find their cars had been damaged.

One neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: ‘It looks horrendous. There is rubbish everywhere. We went for a walk last night at about 8.30 and heard the music booming then.

‘There were hundreds of them in their early 20s and late teens. They were there until about two in the morning.’

Pictures shared on social media of the mess attracted comments from people claiming social distancing measures were flouted despite lockdown rules still stating that a distance of two metres must be observed to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The neighbour said: ‘They should not be congregating anyway given the current situation. I have not seen my dad in a long time and they can just do this and get away with it.’

Fears have also been expressed about the impact on wildlife in the area as the Fir Tree Flash – a popular angling spot – is currently part of a project to transform the former Bickershaw Colliery into a country park.

Once completed, the area will be able to hold more than 200 million additional litres of water, creating areas for wildlife and protecting homes at high risk of flooding.

The neighbour said parties like the one held at the weekend risks ‘ruining’ the project.

‘It makes me angry that they have not even had the decency to tidy up after themselves. If they have got away with it the once, it could happen again,’ she said.

Police said they were called to the site on Saturday night and spoke to a group of young people who they deemed to be ‘acting peacefully and not in the vicinity of people’s houses’ and no further action was taken.

Chief Inspector Steph Parker, from Greater Manchester Police, said:

‘At around 5.20pm on Saturday, 30 May, we received a report of a gathering in woodland in Leigh.

‘Officers assessed and closely monitored the situation, continuing to review similar reports to police throughout the evening.

‘We absolutely appreciate that members of the community may have concerns due to the current COVID-19 climate, but ultimately we have to make difficult decisions about our response to incidents based on the threat, harm and risk posed to the public.

‘This ensures that the right service is provided to those who need it most.’