From James Allaway, Keep Newtown for the Birds, Newport: News the National Trust means to welcome more dogs (Daily Express 04-02-19) will dismay volunteers at the IW’s only National Nature Reserve, where uncontrolled pooches pose a major threat to all forms of wildlife.

Despite their protests, dog walking has been actively encouraged at Newtown. They are often found running freely in the rare wildflower meadows and even on the saltmarsh, disturbing the breeding birds.

Over the years volunteers here — and I dare say all over the country — have suffered a good deal of abuse when they ask dog owners to put their pets on a lead and I will be very much surprised if this new NT executive manages any better.

It is unlikely National Trust director general Ms McGrady had no control over the appointment of Mike Greenslade as her new IW general manager. Last year, we warned over the dangers of allowing Newtown —practically the last estuary on the South Coast unspoiled by development — to go the way of the trust’s Stackpole estate in Pembrokeshire.

Until very recently this was under Mr Greenslade’s direction — and it has been overrun by visitors chasing a programme of activities so intense that at all times of day there is absolutely no peace anymore.

Ian Campbell, of the Campaign for the Protection of Pembrokeshire, has protested against the ‘degradation’ of the site. He says what was ‘once a unique wildlife refuge is now an income generator and job-creation scheme for the National Trust’.

Apart from organised dog walking sessions, events scheduled there last summer included walks taking in highly vulnerable bat sites, jogging, bushcraft and a triathlon — some of these repeated on up to 17 dates.

Barafundle Bay on this estate offers a stark warning of how visitor numbers can quickly get out of hand. Over the past three years, they have increased by 30,000, causing the erosion of footpaths, disturbing wildlife in the dunes and sending a tide of litter out to sea.

In desperation, the trust asked people to instead move to another beach of theirs nearby which has ‘only’ attracted 8,000 new visitors.

We don’t want this happening to Newtown, so Mr Greenslade’s appointment must be of serious concern. It also gives a clear indication of the direction the NT is moving as a whole — and despite its pious claims to the contrary it won’t be doing our wildlife any favours.