A holidaymaker who visited Crackington Haven Cornwall has driven hundreds of miles to return a bag of pebbles he took as a souvenir from the Cornwall beach. If he didn’t do so, he would face a fine of £1,000 for his souvenir. St Gennys Parish Council has now managed to track the man down to his home, forcing him to return the pebbles to the beach to avoid prosecution.

The man returned to Crackington Haven and put the pebbles back where he had found them. Due to the incident, the local council has also placed four large signs at the beach to warn visitors not to remove the pebbles and that this is prohibited under the 1949 Coastal Protection Act.

The concern is that if people keep removing pebbles to take home as keepsakes, this could cause coastal erosion, leading to flooding in stormy weather.

Removal of stones causes erosion

According to the St Gennys Parish Council, removing pebbles from the beach can cause erosion in the area. Parish clerk, Barry Jordan, has told the BBC the signs were placed on the beach at the end of July after complaints were received about people removing the pebbles. Jordan said anyone who saw the damage caused by floods a few years ago would understand what water can do. He said that if the pebbles are taken away, the haven would face severe damage from each storm.

Cornwall Council owns 57 of the county’s beaches and says it “strongly urged visitors” not to remove pebbles or sand.

Their spokesperson stated while it might seem a harmless act, with the many thousands of holidaymakers visiting Cornwall’s beaches each year, every stone removed from the beaches could lead to coastal erosion, taking away natural flood defences and threatening wildlife habitats. It was not reported why people choose to take the pebbles from the rocky beach, but possibly they were using them in garden landscaping.

Some residents object to so many signs

As reported by ITV News, some residents have been up in arms about what they call the “ugly” signs. Jen Dixon, a local artist, said that while it is a shame that the problem of stone theft exists, she said the new, large red and yellow signs posted on the beach are “so darn ugly” Dixon said it seems heavy-handed to place so many signs, warning of prosecution.

The council reacted to residents’ complaints by removing two signs on Tuesday. It is hoped that the remaining two signs will dissuade holidaymakers from taking the pebbles in future.