Anger after police drop probe into bulldozing of Offa's Dyke


Staff reporter (Border Counties)

A DECISION not to carry out a prosecution after an iconic 1,200-year-old piece of history was destroyed has been questioned.
North Wales Police said an investigation into a 50-yard section of Offa’s Dyke – described by heritage experts as priceless – being flattened by a bulldozer has failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove any criminal offence.
The incident happened last August.
The land involved, off the A5 between Froncysyllte and Chirk, is privately owned. However, the historic nature of the site means there are restrictions prohibiting anyone from causing damage or disruption to Offa’s Dyke.
Initially police put a ‘stop notice’ on groundwork which was being carried out on private land near Plas Offa and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct when the damage was reported
But a statement from police last week said: “In August 2013 we received a complaint that a section of the Offa’s Dyke earthworks in Chirk had been deliberately damaged.
“An investigation by Wrexham CID commenced resulting in a local man being interviewed under caution in connection with the matter.
“As a result of the investigation there was insufficient evidence to prove any criminal offence and the matter is no longer being investigated by North Wales Police.”
Cllr Terry Evans, who represents Chirk South on Wrexham Council, said he was astonished at the decision.
“I can hardly believe there is not going to be a prosecution,” said Cllr Evans.
“How can it be that this matter is not going to go any further.
“This is such an important piece of history and it has been absolutely wrecked,” he added.
Jim Saunders, a spokesman for the Offa’s Dyke Association, said: “This section has been destroyed and cannot be replaced. It is 1,200 years old and you can’t put a value on it, this is priceless.”
Mr Saunders said he was worried the lack of legal action may act as encouragement if there are people considering activities which could cause damage to other ancient monuments.
“We have had an email from someone offering to contribute towards a private prosecution, but I don’t think that is an avenue we will be going down. This is rather depressing,” Mr Saunders added.
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said: “The most important thing is that the section of Offa’s Dyke damaged last year is repaired to a standard that satisfies conservation officers.
“However, if anyone else has new information which might assist the police, I would urge them to come forward.”
l The Offa’s Dyke path was opened in 1971, linking Sedbury Cliffs, near Chepstow, with Prestatyn.
It runs for more than 175 miles and crosses the border between Wales and England more than 20 times.
The path is named after, and often follows, the dyke which King Offa ordered to be built in the 8th century.

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