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Secretary of State Overrules Appeal Inspector’s Recommendation and Turns Down An Application for 5 Megawatt Solar Array in New Forest National Park

The NFA rigorously opposed the original application for an array in Vaggs Lane Hordle believing that this solar array would be a landscape spoiler, that it would be an inefficient use of the precious land of this National Park and that particular protection is needed for this corner of the Park nearest to the Bournemouth/Poole built up area. The application was refused by the National Park Authority. It was then appealed and the inspector recommended that the appeal be allowed. The appeal was recovered for the Secretary of State “because the appeal site lies within the New Forest National Park and he wishes to consider himself whether or not the development proposal would have any impact on the National Park.” The Secretary of State disagreed with the Inspector’s recommendation and dismissed the appeal.

The full report may be found at: – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/511306/16-03-30_DL_IR_Limolands_Farm_3006387.pdf with conclusions summarised in paragraphs 21 to 23:-

Overall balance and conclusions
21.The Secretary of State concludes that, as the appeal scheme conflicts with CSDM Policies CP4 and CP5, it cannot be regarded as being in accordance with the development plan; and he is satisfied that, in accordance with paragraph 215 of the Framework, the relevant CSDM policies can be given full weight as being consistent with the Framework. Hence, in accordance with section 38(6) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, he has gone on to consider whether there are sufficient material considerations to indicate that the appeal should nevertheless be determined otherwise than in accordance with the development plan.

22.With regard to the material considerations in favour of the scheme, the Secretary of State gives substantial weight to the contribution the scheme would make to the Government’s commitment to mitigate climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and helping to improve the security of energy supply. He also gives moderate weight to the bio-diversity benefits of the proposed scheme and to the benefits to the local economy from long term farming security and farm diversification. However, against those considerations, the Secretary of State considers that, as a “major development”, the scheme fails to accord with the terms of the Framework, particularly paragraphs112 and115-116, and he gives substantial weight to that conflict. He also gives substantial weight to the loss of 3.9 ha of BMV land for the appeal scheme in view of the lack of compelling evidence to justify that loss; and moderate weight to the negative impact of the proposal on visual amenity with no weight to the potential reversibility of the proposal.
23.Overall, the Secretary of State considers that the benefits of the scheme are outweighed by the factors weighing against it and that there are no exceptional circumstances that would nevertheless justify the scheme. He therefore concludes that there are no material considerations in favour of the proposal of sufficient weight to justify determining the appeal other than in accordance with the development plan.

Graham Baker
NFA Planning

What’s in a name?

The Rose & Crown, Brockenhurst (photo: G.Baker)

The Rose and Crown may have its name changed to The Huntsman if owners, Marston, get their way.

Unfortunately the National Park’s conservation officer reported:

It has been established that the existing name dates from c.1900 [and the subsequent conclusion that] is not considered that the proposed name change will have a significant impact upon the character and appearance of the listed building as one of special architectural and historic interest …

Challenging this view, Graham Baker, our Planning Committee Chair, consulted Richard Reeves, a well respected local historian and NFA Council member. Richard’s findings on the origins of the pub’s name tell a very different story:

The name Rose and Crown has been in use since at least 1787 and was recorded in the Survey by Thomas Richardson of the Whitley Ridge and Lady Cross Walks of the Forest.

The next preceding record before this which I am aware of in for 1770 in the Forest Rental lists. Here it is recorded as the Three Crowns. The earliest reference of this name is the fuelwood list for 1725.
From 1725 the occupier was a member of the Collis family and they continued in occupation into the second half of the 19th century. They first appear in the Brockenhurst Parish Registers in 1718, John the first known landlord died in 1754, aged 63, and is buried in the Churchyard He was from a Worcestershire family of good standing.

Before the property came to be known as the Three Crowns it was called Rookley’s messuage, a name derived from Robert Rookley Head, Forester of the South Bailiwick, who died in about 1544. The 1670 Claim for Forest Rights by William Knapton (Lord of the Manor of Brockenhurst) records the property as Rockely’s messuage. Another corrupt version of the name, Brookley’s, is recorded in the sale by Philip Cray to Edward Morant in 1772. Cray was the Lord of the Manor of Brockenhurst, while Morant’s family went on to become Lords of the Manor.

In c.1604, the property was recorded as follows:

“One messuage and 1 close of meadow grounds adjoining to the same and compassed about with lanes on every side in the occupation of Tristram Elmes as tenant to Mr Knapton, Lord; acreage 6-1-0; annual value 3-6-8.”

Graham’s objection from the NFA to the proposal concludes:

The name is of special interest in the Village, [and] is intertwined with Village history and within the village only St Nicholas Church and Ash Cottage significantly pre-date it. [The ] NFA contends that the proposal to remove the lettering Rose and Crown from the front of the building will have a significant impact upon the character and appearance of the listed building as one of special architectural and historic interest. It is surprising that a new business venture should start by alienating the village and regular visitors, and NFA respectfully ask the applicant to withdraw and reconsider.

A mere name change may seem like a standard practice, a re-branding trotted out in the business model of a chain of interchangeable concerns. But, in the New Forest, our heritage is written in the names of our woodland inclosures, our villages, and even our humble pubs.

Thanks to Graham Baker and Richard Reeves for their work shared here.

Problems with excessive Traffic and Hit & Run accidents in 2015

Presentment to Verderers Court 10th Feb 2016, by Richard Deacon (shared here with his kind permission)

Appleslade Bottom, Linwood –
Problems with excessive Traffic and Hit & Run accidents in 2015.

The Commoners living in the hamlet of Linwood, wish to draw the Verderers’ attention to recent unacceptable traffic movements, speed and accidents involving our cattle and ponies depastured on the Forest.

For an unclassified and narrow single track road, passing through the village, we have been subjected to extraordinary traffic volumes as commuters seek to avoid the ever growing congestion problems on the A31, particularly at and around Poulner Hill / Picket Post.

Over an eight month period we have routinely experienced excessive peak traffic flows in the early evenings, most notably on Thursday and Friday and whenever an accident occurs on the A31, between Cadnam and Ringwood. ‘Rat run’ activity, travelling east, is less intense but fraught with excessive speed, particularly when driving blind into the morning sun. In summer, peak west bound homeward traffic has reached 700 movements per hour and we have recorded 576 movements in an hour in the last month.

In an 8 month period and over an 800m length of this single track road at Appleslade Bottom, we have sustained 3 Hit & Run accidents, resulting in 2 ponies destroyed and a cow knocked clean off her feet. She survived the collision with a Mercedes car, but was left cast in the middle of the road with her legs upslope. She regained her footing with help from experienced passers by. The badly damaged car was driven off unexpectedly, but pulled up when a temporary traffic light turned red. The quick thinking lady witness to the accident, ran and pulled the driver out of the car. Veterinary bills arising have still to be settled by the offender.

The day old foal lost with a broken leg last May, had clearly been dragged along the road under a vehicle. No report was received either by the Police or the Verderers.

In the first week of January, a local taxi hit and broke the leg of a chestnut gelding sustaining sufficient damage to the vehicle to leave a headlight hanging out of its seating. This taxi left the scene, collected its passengers in the village, drove back past the scene of the accident, but only made a police report within the statutory 24 hours. Fortunately, I found the distressed animal still at the roadside, phoned my local agister who quickly arrived to do the necessary dispatch.

The incidents described clearly show a worsening of the situation in Linwood whose road has even been described by one traffic policeman with some amusement – ‘ Oh! you mean the A31 Bypass.’ There is no air of amusement amongst the Linwood residents, one of whom has surrendered, sold up and moved out of the village, citing this very issue.

We seek the Verderers intervention and help on the following issues:

For some eight years now I have endeavoured unsuccessfully, to provide appropriate signage on the Linwood Road. Despite my best efforts, there is still none between Moyles Court and Lyndhurst or Longcross. To put this in context, motorists diverting off the A31 and arriving at Godshill in similar numbers to Linwood are confronted by copious signage, a cattle grid, 30mph restriction and traffic calming measures / pinchpoints.

The time has come to put Linwood on the map, quite literally. 700 unfamiliar motorists an hour finding themselves diverted off the A31 have a need to know they are entering a village community and that livestock are likely to be on the road ahead!

It is my view that the village confines need to be delineated with suitable boundary markers such as have been erected at Breamore and Charlton All Saints on the A338. Safe, plastic wicket gate sized panels of rustic appearance need to be erected on opposing verges to identify the village limits. The usual yellow reflective signs, warning of the presence of ‘Animals on the road, Day and Night’ need to be deployed. A 30mph restriction within the village would be similarly appropriate.

Our local press reports this very week that 10,000 speeding motorists have been caught to date on Forest roads. Linwood too could use some of this enforcement. I have observed none to date. Recent repairs to road edges have made this rat run route safer and more attractive to speeding commuters.
Finally, It should be a punishable or even publishable offence for anyone involved in an accident with a depastured animal to leave the scene or the limits of the cattle gridded enclosure without first ensuring that a report of the incident has reached the Verderers Office. Reliance on the statutory 24 hour accident report to a local police station is hopelessly, too little, too late.

It is a nonsense that ‘Out of Hours’ accident notification is routed through an Edinburgh call receiver with no understanding of local terrain, place names and routes. Could the Verderers consideration be given to setting up local accident reporting stations. Reporting accuracy and response might improve the situation for injured stock and reduce the frequent ‘Nothing Found’ outcome. In dead mobile phone areas such as the whole of Linwood, a local volunteer reporting centre marked by a red equine silhouette posted on the roadside gate would suffice to serve the reporting needs of a passing motorist unfortunate enough to have hit an animal. I would be happy to volunteer such a service for the Linwood area.

Richard Deacon, Linwood resident and a practising commoner, retired civil engineer with considerable experience of highway and environmental engineering. Shared with permission to this NFA page. The NFA support initiatives to reduce animal accidents and make the roads of the Forest safe.

Fungi Forage Ban on New Forest SSSI and Code of Conduct

NFA Presentment to September 2015 Verderers Court — The NFA reveal the source of the 1.5kg limit, and the flawed logic that allowed the FC to incorrectly apply this as a daily allowance on the protected habitat of the SSSI. This followed up the July 2015 Presentment calling for an Epping Forest style ban on culinary fungi foraging on the New Forest SSSI. [Annotations have been added below as here in square brackets]
500g punnet of mushrooms,
1/3rd of the daily amount suggested in erroneous advice.

Fungi Forage –clarification and update

The NFA are seeking a very specific Epping Forest style ban on fungi foraging on the Crown Lands of the New Forest, the Site of Special Scientific Interest which is in the stewardship of the Forestry Commission.  Epping Forest Keepers are empowered to seize harvests from fungi foragers and in 2013 brought twenty successful prosecutions.  The NFA believe a similar regime would make it easier to deter commercial foragers who would no longer have recourse to pretend they are picking for personal use.

Wild Mushroom Picker’s Code of Conduct

We are also concerned about out-dated and erroneous advice which the Forestry Commission continues to distribute about personal foraging on the New Forest.  Their leaflets and website suggest that everyone may collect up to 1.5 kg of fungi per person / per day.  This has absolutely no basis in law.  It is derived from a misreading of The Wild Mushroom Picker’s Code of Conduct Published 3rd September 1998 by English Nature developed in conjunction with Forestry Commission, the National Trust, the Woodland Trust, the Association of British Fungus Groups and the British Mycological Society.

In the section on Collecting for the pot:

Only collect from plentiful populations and take no more than you want for your personal consumption. In line with codes in most other European countries. we recommend that you pick no more than 1.5 kg per visit or no more than half of the fruit bodies of any single species present. whichever is the lower amount.

On some SSSIs. most nature reserves and other protected areas it is unlikely that culinary collecting is allowed. Always consult the site owner or manager before collecting.

[This is the source of the 1.5kg “limit”, note a lower amount may be taken, but requires an almost super human ability to scan the unspecified area and instantly calculate half, also leading to the you take half the next person takes half of what’s left and so on until little remains.  However the subsequent advice suggests that culinary collecting is not allowed on SSSI or Nature Reserves, this advice is ignored in the Forestry Commission’s version.]

In the section on Advice for Landowners & Managers:

If the land is a National Nature Reserve. other nature reserve or protected area. or an [sic] SSSI. it will probably be appropriate to limit picking to scientific collecting.

On SSSIs. picking fungi may require consent in writing from the statutory nature conservation body. [Natural England]

Keep taking half,
quickly approach zero

Ignoring the tentative language and the Zeno’s paradox baiting “take half” suggestion.  The 1.5kg limit is “per visit” which in context seems to cover a foray, but has been misapplied to mean “per person per day”.  This ignores the guidelines for SSSI which deems personal culinary use inappropriate and requiring consent from Natural England.  The 1.5kg “allowance” applicable to unprotected habitats is irrelevant.

[The code provides no lower alternative amount for culinary collecting on protected areas, because the default is none.  This provides a loophole for those who selectively read the code.]

Natural England have admitted the code “could [be] expressed more clearly and emphatically to avoid any misinterpretation.”  Both of the Fungi specialist organizations originally consulted for the code have withdrawn support.  The ABFG (now the Fungus Conservation Trust) characterise it as “ill conceived and unhelpful”.  The BMS have dropped it from their website, and now state that “a complete ban on [culinary] collection (except for scientific and educational purposes, which would require permission) should exist in the New Forest.”  All of the original consultees acknowledge that the rise in popularity of personal foraging and the uncontrolled growth of commercial picking require a clearer, stricter code.  This is in the process of being developed, in the meantime, the Forestry Commission need to stop promoting their erroneous interpretation.

Enforcement

The Deputy Surveyor has said it’s unrealistic to enforce a total ban.  Traffic enforcement doesn’t catch every motorist who speeds, but that doesn’t stop us having speed limits.  The NFA accept the limitations on enforcement, but suggest a blanket ban will assist enforcement by removing the need to prove commercial intent and weigh amounts against the discredited allowance.  Whether the FC would target everyone is up to them.  In practical terms this may only affect foragers who are overdoing it to the extent that they come to the notice of the Keepers regardless of commercial or personal use.  Having a ban in place will allow enforcement to evolve.

[To be fair Epping Forest have 9 Keepers who cover less than a tenth of the area.]

The NFA ask for the Verderer’s support in continuing to call for the blanket ban on culinary fungi forage on the Crown Lands.  We also ask for your support for our request that the Forestry Commission remove inappropriate advice including the erroneous daily allowance from all literature and websites pertaining to fungi collection from the New Forest SSSI.

We need to send the message that the Crown Lands of the New Forest are a protected habitat and landscape.  Foragers who claim to be environmentalists should respect that the Forest is different.  The rules here should favour this habitat, not commercial greed or personal entitlement.

Brian Tarnoff, New Forest Association (Chair, Habitat and Landscape Committee)

NFA Call to Ban Fungi Picking on the Crown Lands of the New Forest

Commercial picking on the New Forest is an unacceptable theft from the amenity of the autumn display, and damaging to the habitat. Commercial pickers harvest indiscriminately, taking every bit of fungi they find, and trampling everything in their way, leaving none for others or for nature. It has taken foraging to an unsustainable level.

The NFA demand an Epping Forest style ban on the Crown Lands of the New Forest, a habitat protected by law, with special designations including SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest). Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981′ Section 13 any unauthorised removal of Fungi from SSSI is an offence and any removal of rare species is an offence. All commercial foraging of mushrooms / fungi, from the wild on any land, may be viewed as theft under The Theft Act 1968 Section 4 (3). which allows the activity for personal not any commercial use.

The Epping Forest byelaws do not specifically mention fungi, yet their policy and enforcement target its removal derived from an all inclusive prohibition. Their keepers are empowered to challenge pickers, seize and destroy harvests, and in some instances prosecutions are brought. A total ban would be much easier for the Forestry Commission keepers to enforce. They wouldn’t have to prove commercial intent, or weigh amounts to an arbitrary allowance, they could challenge anyone engaged in the activity. Whether, in practice, the FC targets everyone, is up to them. The message it sends is that the commercial pickers will not have recourse to pretend they’re just harmless gatherers for personal use.

We have asked the Forestry Commission for a policy of enforcement of a ban based on the model of Epping Forest. We have asked the National Park Authority and the Verderers of the New Forest to work with Natural England and rural Policing initiatives to help the FC devise ways to implement the ban suited to the management of the New Forest.

Foraging for fungi is no more acceptable on a SSSI and a National Park than carting away bushels of bluebells, or collecting butterflies or bird’s eggs. With an increasing population, and trends in cooking shows encouraging foraging, it is unclear how sustainable this activity would be in the future. It’s up to us to be responsible now and say that it’s inappropriate on the New Forest. We’re not entitled to simply take from nature in perpetuity and not be mindful of the consequences.

The display of fungi in the New Forest is as essential a part of the experience of Autumn in this protected habitat as the pannage pigs, and should remain for all to see and enjoy.

 
All images courtesy of Brian Tarnoff.

NFA lead five walks as part of the New Forest National Park Authority’s 2015 Walking Festival

The NFA will lead the following walks as part of the NPA’s third walking festival:

Monday 19th October – Rights of Common
Tuesday 20th October – Boats, Trains and Buses
Friday 23rd October – Solent 50 birds
Wednesday 28th October – Pylewell Estate
Friday 30th October – Avon Valley Villages

Details will appear on http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/info/20175/walking_festival and on this site shortly.

We Won! We Won!

At the New Forest National Park Authority Development Control meeting this morning the application for old peoples’ flats on the Redmayne site at Brockenhurst was unanimously refused. Also unanimously refused was the well meaning but dangerous proposal for mixed housing and a car park in the small gap between the Ashurst Village and West Totton against which the NFA has rigorously campaigned.

It may seem odd to crow “We Won!” over a car park and old peoples flats.  The car park however would have wiped out Ashurst allotments, grazing land, and other green space, it is significantly distant from the village centre, it’s sole remaining purpose would be to alleviate the twice daily school run congestion on a residential road with its own adequate parking.

The old peoples flat opposition is somewhat more complex.  It relates to developers seeking to score money out of retirees from outside the area whilst not creating enough housing stock for starting local families, and young commoners.  This seems slightly mean until you realize how few new properties may be developed within the appropriately tightly controlled confines of the National Park.

For the NFA Planning Committee’s responses to the Planning Authority see the links below:

30 March 2015 Application: 15/00138 Redmayne Engg Co., Station Approach, Brockenhurst, SO42 7TW 24 retirement apartments; car parking; air source heat pumps and sub station; landscaping     NFA Response

Objection

2nd May 2015 Application 15/00179 LAND AT FOXHILLS, ASHURST 11 NEW DWELLINGS (6 AFFORDABLE), Outbuildings; Associated Access, Landscaping and Drainage; Park and Stride facility    

19th April 2015 Application 15/00179 LAND AT FOXHILLS, ASHURST 11 NEW DWELLINGS (6 AFFORDABLE), Outbuildings; Associated Access, Landscaping and Drainage; Park and Stride facility

NFA Planning committee – Minerals & Waste Pound Bottom – Latest Position

The site is heading towards closure and the NFNPA would be unlikely to receive favourably any application to extend operations in any way. Further it is believed the operating company, SCS, have determined to exit from this type of work. Closure involves filling the remaining holes with waste and capping with top soil to restore the original contours and restoring land to original condition – heathland or grassland. There is no planning date for completion and the recent downturn in the construction industry and recycling improvements have reduced the demand for landfill. Both NFNPA and NFA would prefer to see the site closed sooner rather than later to end HGV movements in the north of the Forest. NFA would consider compromises to contour and vegetation cover to achieve earlier closure.
At a 2013 appeal hearing to an activity on the site, (NB not the full closure of the site), the Inspector stated:

“Because I have allowed the appeal to facilitate the final cessation of landfill operations in this location a time-limited permission is both necessary and reasonable. ……. The appellant confirmed at the Hearing that the end to landfill operations and restoration is anticipated by 2018-2020. The NPA sought an end date of 2016, but this appears unrealistic given the EA permit and current progress on the landfill operations. Accordingly, I have imposed a condition requiring the use of the land for stockpiling to cease by 31 December 2019 with restoration completed by 31 December 2020, because this provides for a balance between the environmental harm and the needs of the business.”

NFNPA Enforcement, who undertake regular site visits, have informed NFA in April 2015 that they do not have any different information other than the potential end date of 2020.

The information contained in this summary is believed to be accurate but no guarantee can be given.

— Graham Baker, Chair, Planning Committee

2015 Annual General Meeting: Saturday 18 April 2015

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