By Sam Rkaina, Local Government Reporter
THE National Trust has urged people to call the police if they see anyone spraying graffiti on the Avon Gorge.
The 200ft gorge has been a target for vandals for years, and despite repeated efforts to clean it they struck again earlier this month.
The graffiti has been described as “soul destroying” by Evening Post readers, who feel it damages one of Bristol’s most attractive sights.
Repeated calls have been made to do something about the scrawling and to prevent it happening again.
But the National Trust – the charity that owns the land – says it is not a simple problem to solve.
The trust is currently considering what to do about the latest graffiti, but it says in some respects it’s hands are tied.
The last time the gorge was properly cleaned of graffiti was around 2004.
Over three days, 30-year-old graffiti was removed by abseilers using power washers, spraying 10,000 litres of water over 2,500 square metres of the gorge’s two biggest rock faces.
The £5,500 makeover was funded by Bristol City Council, but the trust says it is no longer able to use the same technology to remove new paint as it causes problems for wildlife in the area.
Spokesman Alan King said: “It is our land but it is difficult to get access.
“The equipment uses water and sand to blast paint off the rock face.
“We’ve also got the problem that there are a lot of rare plants there and removing the paint is toxic for them.
“Natural England says we can’t use the sort of equipment we’ve used before so we’re kind of stuck.
“There’s no easy solution and it’s causing a bit of a problem.
“It’s been a target for years – I’ve been told it was used for propaganda during war time.
“We hope that if people see someone graffiti-ing it then they call the police so we can stop it that way.
“It is a sad fact of modern life that we have to spend our limited resources on this.”
Mr King felt it was “disappointing” that a minority would vandalise the gorge as it diverts the charity’s resources.
He said the trust would rather spend their money on improving other trust properties to make them more appealing for visitors like Leigh Woods.
National Trust warden for the area Bill Morris told the Post the charity has tried other ways of tackling the graffiti problem.
He said: “Because it’s a really sensitive site we’re restricted. What we’ve done in the past is attempt to camouflage it by painting over the top of the graffiti.
“It’s not something we can do ourselves, we need to get rope contractors out as it’s on a 60 degree slope.
“It costs around £250 and is time consuming to set up.
“What we’ve also try to do is restrict access to the site and now it’s not happening as much as it used to.”