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Verderers Frown on Early Campsite Openings

Despite warnings from the Verderers, Forest Holidays have opened their New Forest campsites before the agreed upon date for the second year running. The current agreement states that campsites should not open before the Thursday before Easter Bank Holiday.

The full announcement from the Official Verderer in today’s Court is as follows:

“Forest Campsites:

Almost exactly one year ago we received an unequivocal assurance from the Deputy Surveyor that campsites in the Forest will open only on the agreed date, which is the Thursday before the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend. Last year, the campsites opened earlier than that date, without any notice or prior agreement with ourselves. Having received that assurance we were satisfied that this would not happen again. To our astonishment and considerable dismay the campsites once again have opened early, and we will be seeking a full explanation for this from the Deputy Surveyor when we meet in committee this morning.”

Forest Holidays, which was set up in May 2006, is a public private partnership between the Forestry Commission and The Camping and Caravanning Club. While last year’s “mistake” was perhaps more forgiveable in Forest Holiday’s first full year of operation in the New Forest, we can only guess what their excuse is this time. Perhaps they were thrown with last year’s Easter falling in March.

Studley Castle Update

In the March Verderers Court, the NFA made a presentment expressing dismay over the damage done to the Studley Castle Scheduled Ancient Monument by Forestry Commission Contractors. The NFA asked the Verderers to press the Forestry Commission to put better procedures in place to avoid future damage to the precious archaeological heritage of the Forest. In response, the Verderers have passed our concerns to the Deputy Surveyor, Mike Seddon.

As announced by the Official Verderer at today’s April 2009 court, “Mr Seddon agreed that this was a serious incident that was caused by lack of communication.” The Official Verderer continued, “Clearly procedures need to be tightened up; the Deputy Surveyor has agreed that this will be done.”

Verderers Help Secure Funding For Campsite Survey

At today’s Verderers Court the Official Verderer announced that the funding has been put into place for the the New Forest Campsite Baseline Survey. This survey was first suggested in a presentment from the NFA in last October’s court. Subsequently, the NFA pledged to provide half the funding (£9,000), and the Verderers would seek the remainder. The Verderers also noted contributions from Forest Holidays, the New Forest Commoners Defence Association, and the New Forest Trust. The New Forest National Park Authority have offered £3,500, and an additional £1,500 nominal contribution “in kind” assistance with digital mapping technology.

The Official Verderers went on to thank the NFA for putting up half the cash, and for providing all of the day to day project management.

Once completed it will be an integral tool for future detailed monitoring of the configuration and condition of the campsites. It will be key in insuring that future management of the campsites will comply with The survey will be of great use to the Verderers, Forest Holidays, the Forestry Commission, Natural England, and the National Park Authority in ensuring that the future maintenance of the campsites is done sensitively and appropriately and complies with the New Forest Acts.

The Association would like to thank the Verderers for their ongoing support for the survey.

Damage to Studley Castle

The NFA made a presentment today in the March Verderers Court, decrying the damage done by Forestry Commission contractors to Studley Casle, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, site of one of Edward III medieval hunting lodges. The Verderers were asked to pursue the Forestry Commission to put into place sound procedures to avoid future incidents which may further damage the Forest’s heritage and archaeology.

One member of the NFA council has likened the incident to “backing a lorry into Stonehenge”.

Apart from the damage to Studley Castle itself, the sheer level of mess and damage left behind by the contractors at this site in Isles Thorns Enclosure is appalling. The area is still a complete mess, and a hazard to all forest users.

Further info about Studley Castle.