|Here we welcome a guest post from Dr Tony Hockley, Chairman of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, who gave this Presentment in this month’s Verderers Court.|
The September court heard several presentments on pressures and abuse of the New Forest. The CDA supports such concerns.
Commoners have long been involved in educational efforts. But education alone will not suffice for companies that see the Forest as a profit opportunity, or for those who care only for their own entertainment.
Enforcement action is a sad necessity. In 2005 the Forestry Commission prosecuted one of the kite-buggy riders using Wilverley Plain*. That sent a warning to others. Similar resolve is needed on other routine breaches of the byelaws.
I would highlight two current issues that typify the challenges that can only be resolved by the Forestry Commission:
- The Ordnance Survey, another public body, has started to facilitate mountain-bike trespass; allowing subscribers to its online mapping service to upload their routes for others to follow. The Forest is now covered with these unlawful routes.
- On 2nd December the Forest will face its first commercial event in the hours of darkness. It is sponsored by a headtorch company, and hosted by Foxlease. For £30 entrants are offered the thrill of a night-time incursion into Forest. The company says that the racer will have: “a wealth of wildlife to keep your mind occupied”. **
Both of these are abuses of the Forest that the Forestry Commission could and should stop. It seems that the tranquility of the Forest is being sold to anyone capable of making money from it whilst we all stand by. Our livestock and this special place deserve much better and we would urge to Court to do whatever it can to make this case.
|Dr Tony Hockley is a Practicing Commoner and Chairman of the New Forest Commoners Defence Association. This has been shared with his express permission, and represents the view of the CDA.
* Verderers Court minutes, January 2006 (item 2006/2082).