Attacks on right-to-roam signs in Wales are damaging tourism and deterring walkers from areas opened up under access law.

Damage estimated at £5,000 has been caused to signs in Carmarthenshire, which were placed to inform the public where they could use open access land. 50 of 130 signs have been ripped down.

Geoffrey Williams, chairman of the Carmarthenshire Access Forum, said those responsible for the damage must be prosecuted. The forum, set up under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act which established the access areas, includes representatives of walkers, landowners and occupiers.

There was opposition in some areas of Wales to the opening up of the countryside to walkers, but Mr Williams said that relations in the county had been improving.

The metal signs had been concreted into the ground so, Mr Williams said, a tractor or large vehicle must have been used to take them down.

He told the BBC: “I would like to know what is being done about it. Are they [Carmarthenshire Council] going to take those responsible, if they are able to prove it, to court? Are they going to replace them?”

The council’s access manager Eirian James said the authority would prosecute where ‘gentle enforcement’ had failed. Penalties could be up to £1,000.

He added that, where some of the signs had been replaced, no further problems had occurred.