HARD-working volunteers have expressed their frustration after graffiti, believed to be left by off-road bikers, has been discovered on the nature reserve they work hard to protect.

The Friends of the Fens Group formed last year to clean up and protect the Fens Pool Nature Reserve in Pensnett.

The reserve is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, due to great crested newts having habitats there and six months ago a Public Space Protection Order was put in place on the site, banning vehicles from driving anywhere on the reserve.

Now graffiti has popped up around the reserve, appearing to be from bikers in defiance of the Order.

Slogans including 'Bike Life', 'Dirt Bikes' and 'Motor Cross' have appeared by the former Pensnett Railway line near the Coppice off the High Street. The graffiti also includes offensive language.

Mark Giles, chair of the Friends, said the discovery of the graffiti was 'heartbreaking'.

He said: "This is appalling, and it makes us really angry. How are we supposed to fight his mentality? The perpetrators are sticking their two fingers up to us and to the authorities."

The group has worked to clean up the site through regular litter picks and they work with wardens to secure site.

Mark added: "We do what we can to get people to visit the site because people were scared off by the off-road bikers.

"No sooner do we clean up one end and then they move to the other. The community are disgusted by it all. It is heartbreaking after all our efforts."

He added that the group have been well supported by ward councillors and the council, but expressed his frustration with the police, who he said have not acted to stop the bikers.

According to Mark, not been arrest has been made while the Order has been in place.

Despite this, Mark says that the Friends won't give up in the efforts to protect the Pensnett beauty spot.

Councillor Judy Foster, ward councillor for Brockmoor and Pensnett and deputy leader of Dudley Council, said: "I am appalled at what has happened. It is soul destroying for Mark and the volunteers with all the hours they put in plus also our Council staff who will have to remove this offensive blight on our beautiful reserve. Let's also not forget the additional cost to the taxpayer either. I will be supporting the group when they raise this with the police at our next community forum.''

Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South, said: “I was very pleased that as a result of my petition last year Dudley Council took out a Public Space Protection Order on our local nature reserves in Pensnett and Wordsley.”

“The police has said that they needed the increased powers that a PSPO would give them to tackle the illegal bike problem more effectively, and now we need to see those powers being used effectively to help the local community.”

“There are lots of competing demands on local policing, but it is really important that police chiefs appreciate how strongly local people feel about the noise, nuisance and danger created by these illegal bikes and will take whatever action they can to deal with those responsible.”

A police spokeswoman said: "There is a huge amount of work going on to tackle illegal and anti-social off-road biking. Our neighbourhood teams carry out regular operations across the force area in response to concerns raised by communities. These are now supported by police drone pilots who gather evidence on offenders.

"Many West Midlands Police teams are now equipped with DNA spray to ‘tag’ motorbikes and riders who cause problems. The DNA liquid is invisible to the naked eye but when exposed to UV light illuminates and allows officers to identify yobs and seize their bikes.

"We’ve made dozens of arrests and a total of 28 men, who were charged in connection with a major ‘ride out’ that caused chaos on the streets of Birmingham in June 2016 pleaded guilty to causing a public nuisance. One further person was found guilty. Sentencing is due to take place during this week.

"Anyone with information on illegal off-road biking can contact us via Live Chat at west-midlands.police.uk between 8am to midnight, call 101 anytime or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.