Gold panner ordered to pay £3000 in first case of its kind

He said gold panning was “part of the cultural heritage” of Wales. Welsh gold is highly prized and has been used widely, including by the Royal family in wedding rings and coronets.

Speaking after the case, Mr Wright, a former rights-of-way officer at local councils, said: “All our freedoms are being removed. The freedoms of the forest – they even stop local people from gathering firewood – if they catch them.

“They’re picking on me as an example, because they know all the other gold panners know me. Now they’ve got this – I’ve done them a favour because they might be able to go after other people on this basis.”

The largest piece of gold ever found by Mr Wright is five ounces, smaller than a five pence piece. He hoped to donate gold found in the river to be used in the a coronet for the next Prince of Wales.

Natural Resources Wales says that gold panning, which involves digging up gravel on the river bed with a trowel and looking for flecks of gold, has damaged salmon spawning beds in the river.

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