Threats to Common Land

Dogs and the common

Dogs must be kept under close control at all times. To ensure that grazing animals and wildlife are not injured or disturbed, dogs must be kept on a short lead between 1st March and 31st July and at all other times when near animals. It is an offence to allow a dog to attack or chase livestock. If you cannot rely on your dog’s obedience keep it on a lead at all times!

Dog mess can cause infections to people and animals so clean it up and dispose of it responsibly.

Off road vehicles

It is illegal to use a motorised vehicle on common land without the landowners consent — an offence which may result in a fine and/or the confiscation and destruction of the vehicle. Off roading causes erosion and regularly disturbs or causes injury to grazing animals and wildlife. Find out more with this short film by Gwent Police.


In many areas the commons are not fenced and grazing animals and wildlife roam free. This has led to number of serious accidents so be vigilant at all times and drive slowly.

Fly tipping and litter

Fly tipping is illegal and is a serious criminal offence which carries a fine of up to £50,000. Also, litter and rubbish on common land is a threat to wildlife, destroys the visual beauty of the landscape and is a hazard to people. Please take your litter home with you. See this short film by produced by Gwent Police for more information.

Controlled burning and illegal fires

Burning is a traditional management method still in use on Welsh commons. Burning removes much of the old dead grasses and woody plants. The ash created returns nutrients to the soil. This encourages a fresh new growth of vegetation which the livestock can then graze.

Burning is legally controlled in Wales through the Heather and Grass Burning (Wales) Regulations (2008). Controlled burning is undertaken by skilled people under carefully controlled conditions and the Fire Service is always informed. Deliberate fires, on the other hand, can get out of control very quickly and destroy vast areas of moorland and wildlife.

In Wales the Fire Service spends £14,000,000 a year in tackling grass fires. Starting illegal fires can attract fines of up to £20,000.