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Shobley Encroachment: a statement from the New Forest Commoners Defense Association

We support the NFCDA in their battle against illegal encroachment on Common Land. This guest post was announced today at the New Forest Show by NFCDA Chair Andrew Parry-Norton.

This is a battle we have been fighting for nearly four years now. The owner of Forest Oaks, Ringwood, who also owns some 10 acres of common to the rear of his property, has enclosed an area of some 2/3-acre immediately adjoining his property. This land was formerly available to our depastured stock but they are no longer able to access it.

We had been in negotiation with the owner together with the Verderers and we were hopeful and confident that an agreement had been reached with the owner in early 2020 to resolve the issue that would mean the removal of the encroachment. Unfortunately the owner was not prepared to agree to the proposal put forward by the Verderers and was not concluded.

Since then despite several attempts from us to get the fence removed the owner has refused to comply with our requests or discuss the matter. We reluctantly issued court proceedings at the end of 2022; the owner is defending this case and the projected total costs for this case amount to approximately four hundred thousand pounds.

This sum of money clearly exceeds the financial assets of our organisation and although we have received one or two offers of financial support from local and national organizations, which is much appreciated, we need to raise a further large sum in order to continue fighting the case.

This is of fundamental importance not only to the Commoners of the New Forest but it could well affect over 100,000 acres of Commons throughout England and Wales.

Although we remain very grateful that the Verderers having supported us in this fight we are extremely disappointed that neither the NPA nor Natural England have contributed in any way to assisting us, either using their physical or financial resources.

Indeed we would welcome support from any Forest stakeholders, this is not a battle we can win on our own, not because we do not have a strong case but simply because of the potential level of resources we will need to administer this action.

We have therefore decided to start a Crowd Funding Page; the Official Launch will be at the New Forest Show at the end of this month and we do urge everybody who has a desire to see the forest remain as it is and available for grazing animals, to support this page in as generous a manner as they can afford.

This really could be the thin end of the wedge and may eventually result in the loss of many acres of common land both here and indeed throughout the country if we do not succeed.

We will post a link New Forest Commoners Defense Association‘s crowdfunding page when it becomes available.  (in the meantime, follow the link to their main website).

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