|Attentive NFA members listen to Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre|
Chaired by President, Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, The 148 year old New Forest Association held its 2015 Annual General Meeting at Minstead Hall on Saturday 18 April.
Coffee was dished up by Sarah Ziegler and Val Thorpe, and members arrived from across the Forest, with the largest contingents coming from Ringwood, Lymington and Brockenhurst. Attendees included New Forest National Park Authority CEO Alison Barnes, who has shown consistent support for the work of the NFA.
There being no PA system available, the meeting was a rather intimate affair, with people having to speak up, and attendees having to cuddle a bit closer to listen. The business of the AGM was swiftly and deftly managed by the President, with accounts and minutes adopted and Council members elected. Recommendations for restructuring of NFA management to be better adapted to meeting the challenges of change and pressures currently facing the New Forest were also approved by a show of hands.
The report from the NFA Council to the Association membership highlighted some of the issues dealt with during the past year, including commercial fungi gathering, tranquillity, aircraft noise, undergrounding power cables and national planning policy changes for affordable housing and wider permitted development rights. And monitoring, supporting or opposing the never-ending flow of planning applications made for development throughout the New Forest.
|Catherine Pascoe’s talk on
Autumn Ladies’ Tresses and
Field Gentian captures the audience
Directly following the AGM, fascinating talks were given by Reading University graduate, Catherine Pascoe on the distribution of the declining Autumn Ladies’ Tresses and Field Gentian Violets in an area heavily used by walkers, and by former Chairman, Peter Roberts, on NFA Campaigns of the past, with ideas for future action.
Central to Peter’s message was the need for education for both visitors and residents alike, as to the special and fragile qualities of the New Forest – something the NFA is working on delivering not just within the Forest, but nationwide. The Association’s Education Group is working with the National Park Authority on plans for a Secondary Schools New Forest Conference to be held in Brockenhurst later this year. Peter advocated collaboration as opposed to confrontation with other national and Forest organisations, suggesting that continual dialogue would achieve the best results.
During the open session following the talks, Alison Barnes advised that a close relationship with the other National Parks was important. Officers replied that the NFA had been closely involved with the work of the Council for National Parks since before the New Forest was designated and this would continue.
Member Barry Olorenshaw offered to help take the NFA message to local businesses to garner more support, and Acting Chairman John Ward said he had been impressed on a recent trip to the Yorkshire Dales with the close relationship between all those working for the good of that National Park. Council Member, Emma Blake, who has recently taken over administration of social media for the NFA asked all members to register support for the NFA Facebook page, and went on to say that she had introduced a new feature, entitled “We are Watching” to highlight current Forest issues and encourage members to start discussion on the page.
|Alison Barnes, Chief Exec
of the New Forest National Park
fields questions from
the NFA Membership
John Ward concluded the meeting by saying that the Forest did not face a single major issue such as Dibden Bay, but its qualities were being continuously eroded by a multitude of activities primarily stemming from recreation. The problem was complex and the solutions difficult – but solutions had to be found and bravely implemented.
Following the meeting a demonstration was given by member Max Hadley of a system of field survey using mobile phones. It was intended for use on NFA’s ongoing campaigns concerning low flying aircraft, overhead cables and surplus road signs.
Further enquiries John Ward: Tel: 01590 671205
Photos and Text — Emma Blake