The New Forest National Park: controversial proposals for access and road use
To say that the New Forest National Park Authority's recreation management plan has received a mixed response is an under-statement. Still in its consultation phase until 31 October 2008, the plan has angered several sections of the community - particularly owners of dogs and horses.
Feelings are running so high, that a pressure group, Forest Uprising, whose aim is to fight the proposals, has been formed.
At the heart of the disquiet are proposals that:
- require horse owners to obtain planning permission before he/she can own a horse for recreational use and then for a whole range of activities related to their animals including the provision of paddocks or shelters and the depositing of plastic-covered hay feed
- create dog-free car parks with the aim of reducing the impact of car-parking in the most sensitive areas of the Park
- introduce road tolls, closures of some roads during peak summer/weekends and the development of car free zones as part of a range of measures to reduce the use of vehicles
Protestors feel that these proposals will have a huge effect on the lives of people who live and work in the National Park. There is also concern that the restrictions will reduce the attractiveness of the park to visitors with an associated impact on local businesses who rely on the tourism trade.
The Park Authority, for its part, has developed the plan with a number of objectives including the conservation of local distinctiveness and a reduction in the loss of landscape character.
Will this plan achieve these goals and at what cost to local communities?
Isn't the balance between economic development and the maintenance of traditional lifestyles on one hand and the preservation of the natural character in our national parks on the other becoming ever more challenging to manage?
For more information and to contribute your views as part of the consultation process see: The proposals put forward by the New Forest National Park Authority
“I agree with Karen Slade, a nationasl park is to be enjoyed by everyone, in an unrestricted manner, always bearing in mind the responsibilities everyone has to the environment. We seem to be heading in the direction of a few priveledged people, either by income or by "fame" being the only ones allowed to enter and enjoy the limited, wild, open, spaces we have in this country. Condemning the rest of us to watch these few via our TV screens, and then listening to government departments telling us to take more exercise. These are NATIONAL Parks, for ALL, Let's keep them that way, reduce restrictions, and allow everyone to use them.”
Geoff Cowper, Camberely
“Isn't it great that we change our once enjoyed beautiful landscape into areas of 'National Park' & rstrict access to it with more rules & regulations?? And ban the whole reason we have open spaces & countryside-it's to be admired,enjoyed,cherrished,but not out of reach! What damage do horse riders & dog walkers do compared to mountain bikes?!!If anyone is to be restricted,then surely they are. I lived in the mountains south of Geneva and I have never seen as much damage to the lovely hillside,as I have there by mountain bikers.Huge great areas have been made into non-passable troughs over 6 feet deep!!They loosten the earth with their tracks and have no way of clinging to the hillside.Down they come rock & mud in terrential rain!Trees removed,paths diverted. It was in a National Park area too.The enjoyment of the people was to take their dogs & horses.Natural-NOT NOISY OR POLLUTING !!”
Karen Slade, Bromley
The views expressed by contributors to this discussion are not necessarily those held by go4awalk.com.