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Forestry England Explores Other Revenue Sources

This article originally appeared in the 1st April, 2024 edition of the Lymington Tipster / NewMilton AdviceTouter and chances are they won’t cash-in regarding this reprint.

Lymington Tipster / NewMilton AdviceTouter speculator Wallis Hullaballou.

Central Government has put Forestry England in a terrible bind in their management of the New Forest.  The Minister’s Mandate for the Forest puts conservation of the natural and cultural heritage as chief objective, with both policy and legal obligations to preserve good quality habitat and restore declining areas.  Despite this, DEFRA only provides 12 % of their funding.   In an effort to cover flagging timber revenue, King’s House has proposed extending their honeypot ice cream van tender from five to seventeen of their 130 Car Parks with a modestly wider food and drink selection.  This has received push-back from village vendors, parish councillors, the CDA, Friends of the New Forest, and a dim view is expected from the Verderers who have standing to block the proposal.

John Ward, Chair of Friends of the New Forest has gone on record: “We’ve been concerned about FE’s proposals for food vans in their car parks, which would be inconsistent with obligations to their Site of Special Scientific Interest, and duties under both the Minister’s Mandate and S245 of the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 relating to National Park’s first Purpose: Conservation.  Additionally, food sales in Forest car parks can only increase adverse interactions between visitors and commoners’ stock.  With this in mind, we will fully support Forestry’s new plan to generate revenue while avoiding both danger to the public and animals, and those increased liabilities threatening Commoning.

Forestry England appear to have found such a solution, one which many authorities in similar positions have thought would revitalize their revenue.  On March 31st they announced a plan to open Casinos in an undisclosed number of car parks.

Deputy Surveyor for the New Forest, Craig “Le Chiffre” Harrison speaking in a hastily convened Easter Weekend Zoom Call with various Forest Stakeholders joining incongruously through Microsoft Teams (whilst this reporter listened in on a jerry-rigged iPhone taped to a Victrola), “Forestry England will be putting out a tender for a pilot scheme for licensed gambling restricted to the gravelled, hogginned or paved areas of car parks on the Crown Lands.  We are betting that this will both fulfil our requirements for revenue, and fund the many good works we do for Forest conservation, restoration, recreation and tourism.  Also, if anyone is in any doubt, that pun about betting was intentional.”

Balmer Lawn Cricket Pitch Converted to Craps Table

Greeting this announcement the way many greet indigestion, Official Verderer, Edward “Fast Eddie” Heron averred, “The Verderers were concerned that this plan would violate the stipulations in the New Forest Acts that prohibit FE from taking anything beyond timber from the Inclosures, but the plan to issue wooden gambling chips made on site cleverly skirts this legality.

Chief Exec of the New Forest National Park Authority, and person-too-polite-to-tell-you-you’ve-been-singing-off-key, Alison “All-In” Barnes, enthused “we welcome this boost to the local economy.  Although this is indifferent to our first two Purposes, 1 – Protect/Conserve and 2 – Understand/Enjoy, these are followed third by our Duty to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of the local communities; then fourth by the requirement to have our purposes furthered by others; then fifth by the intention to be honest, trustworthy and loyal;  sixth by that nagging feeling that we’re not sustainable because someone left the lights on; seventh our existential dread, and, finally by our deep seated need to please everyone even if it leaves us paralyzed and ineffective.”

Hawkhill Hold ‘Em Champion five years running, Forest polymath and international rally driver Richard “Double Down” Reeves explained unnecessarily, “Gambling here has a long history.  Several statues and also a temple altar of the gambling Goddess Fortuna, relics of Roman Britain including finds near the River Tyne, Bowes County Durham, and most recently Cockermouth Cumbria. Medieval Kings forbade gaming to most commoners, in the general sense….” Richard then proceeded to declaim the clauses from various Carta dating from 1190, as written in the specific legal Latin he’d autodidactified, until everyone on the call accepted both that he was exceptionally brilliant, and his withering disdain of their middle-class values.

Pony Powered Roulette wheel, design option 1.

 

Clive “The Cooler” Chatters, Natural England Verderer and man-so-amiable-when-destroying-your-argument-you-believe-he-agrees-with-you,  “We think it’s unethical to bet on whether conservation targets are met, although strangely enough the odds on the Government meeting its ’30×30′ goal to protect 30% of the UK by 2030 are 30 to 1,  the 25 Year Environment Plan goal to restore 75% of our SSSIs to favourable condition by 2042 is at 75 to 1, and meeting the climate change goal of Net Zero by 2050 is at 100 to 1.  If the accumulator comes in, at least I’ll be able to afford two seats on Elon’s rocket to Mars.”

Chair of the Croupiers and Dealers Association (formerly Commoners Defence), Anthony “Ace in the Hole” Parry-Norton, boomed convincingly, “It’s a delicate time, the slim upside of the end of the Basic Payment Scheme was losing its undue influence on stock numbers.  Pressure to depasture more stock just to cover the point spread on Drift predictions is unwelcome.  On the other hand, we are looking into whether the Commoning community would once again invoke the ancient right of Turbary, the right to the Turf.

Jen “The Favourite” Thomas, current Natural England ecologist (equivalent in old money = four Natural England ecologists) opined, “Many of the Forest’s SSSI Units are in Unfavourable-Declining Condition, but under this plan they may be re-evaluated.  The Going of the boggy areas has already been noted as Heavy (Good to Soft in some places), however we must watch out for the Mires going Good to Firm under climate change, which is why we back Wetland Restoration for the win.”

Pony Driven Roulette Wheel for Beaulieu Road Sales Yard, artist’s conception

Head Agister, and hat stand, Jonathan “Set Thorns Slim” Gerrelli, weighed in, “We’ll have to closely monitor the effect of the Casinos on the herds.  For instance, we won’t allow complimentary drinks being served to high rollers, particularly in the winter months, livestock may be drawn to the salt on margarita glasses.  Although studies have shown that it is unlikely that horses can count above six, given previous learned behaviour, we’ll be keeping the donkeys away from the blackjack tables, as I wouldn’t put card-counting past them.”

Anthony “Tony the Trowel” Pasmore, elected Verderer, LT columnist and man who knows where the boiling mounds are buried, predicted, “Of course there are concerns that this may attract an unsavoury element.  The Forest has always been able to take care of itself.  Bogs and acid soil have ways of helping problems, erm, disappear…”

John “Trifecta Trike Johnny” Ward, Chair of, only just during this article renamed, Friends and Partners of the New Forest, hedged diplomatically “Until a thorough Habitats Regulation Assessment has been done, we’ll have to keep a watching brief. We’ve already had word from bat specialists, (not even on this call, but that hearing, eh?) that fruit machine sounds may disturb the common pipistrelle.  Who knows what other issues will arise?  If this goes terribly wrong, we don’t want anyone shrugging it off as: What happens in Wilverley, stays in Wilverley.”

Next up:  Natural England in talks with National Park to downgrade “robust” areas of New Forest from Triple to Double “S” I.  Coming in time for Christmas: “ESCALADO: New Forest Point-to-Point edition”.
Finally, The New Forest Pony Breeding & Cattle Society has asked us to remind riders with spirited ponies, should they prance across the Forest this Spring, “Please gambol responsibly.”

Thanks and/or apologies to John Brandrick’s Mill Drawings web site and Brockenhurst Cricket Club, for playing fast and loose with their images.

UPDATE:
As of 12 pm today, the book on these proposals changed with odds thoroughly against.  It appears everyone, including our jackpot chasing author, was bluffing.  We hope that any one mentioned will not view us with snake eyes, and we can call it even.If you fancy a punt on previous year’s silliness, a 2018 report on leaked plans for the Recreation Management Strategy. and this 2019 article detailing an unusual rewilding proposal from Chris Packham.

 

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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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PSPOs for the Dog Control in the Forest (and what the Kennel Club say about PSPOs)

New Forest District Council has sent two draft Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) , which we broadly support, for public consultation. The first to ban the lighting of fires and use of BBQs (principally on the Crown Lands), and the second to ban the feeding and petting of ponies, horses, mules, and donkeys in the open areas of the New Forest. The consultation runs for nearly 8 weeks from Monday 6th December 2022 to Friday 27th January 2023.

In this fifth in the series on PSPO’s we give our recommendations For a Draft Dog Control PSPO, how they stack up against existing guidance, and What the Kennel Club Says About PSPOs.

Kennel Club and PSPO:
When PSPOs were first introduced to replace Dog Control Orders in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, the Kennel Club were supportive of their use for irresponsible dog owners under the previous Dog Control Orders, but worried chiefly about the impact on responsible dog walkers, and unhappy with how some councils brought them forward.  2015 DEFRA guidance added dog law and welfare experts to the list of PSPO consultees which already included the Kennel Club.  In their 2016 report on PSPOs “Out Of Order – The Impact Of Access Restrictions On Dogs And Their Owners” the Kennel Club cite instances of councils imposing orders without deeming consultation necessary, a council erecting restriction signage before the consultation had finished, and councils either not including exemptions for registered blind people and assistance dogs or not providing suitable alternative space where their needs could be met.

In 2018 they trumpeted a victory over legal challenge of overly broad language in Richmond dog’s PSPO.

The parts of the order which were successfully challenged and which were quashed included that a person could be found guilty of an offence if their dog ‘causes an annoyance to another person or animal’ or ‘causes damage to any Council structure, equipment, tree, turf or other Council property’, which could include damage to grass from urination.[*]

While the language is indeed questionable, there seems no evidence that anyone was ever charged with “lawn damage”.  The judge ruled that the annoyance provision added nothing to the provision on keeping a dog under control, and that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate a need for the prohibition on causing damage as defined in the order. The restriction limiting dog numbers per walker was upheld at 4, although 18 professional dog walkers may be licensed for 6, and residents may walk up to 6 under a permit system.  Currently 12 of the 18 available Richmond licenses are in use.

Many of the Kennel Club’s initial reservations seem to have now been addressed.  Councils uniformly carry out consultation on PSPOs and include exemptions, some go as far as carrying out Equality Impact Assessments to show that no group is unduly disadvantaged by the order.  Their chief concerns continue to be any blanket restrictions that require full time use of leads, restrictions to areas insufficient for needs of local walkers, lack of suitable alternatives and possible displacement to less appropriate areas by those avoiding the restrictions.

 

Our Recommendations:
In creating our recommendations for a Dog Control Public Space Protection Order for the New Forest we reviewed over 50 PSPOs enacted throughout the country, Kennel Club guidance for their members subject to PSPO rules, and most importantly the New Forest Dog Walkers Code, voluntary guidance approved and partially authored by the stakeholders in the New Forest Dog Forum, including the local New Forest Dog Owners Group (NFDOG).

These are our suggestions for rules that may be enforced through a PSPO:

  • Lead “by direction” — this mirrors existing Forestry byelaw which says if an authorised officer (i.e. Forest Ranger, etc) asks someone to put their dog on lead, they should.
  • Leads required in ground nesting bird season in those areas where FC have put “red zone” signs close to curlew and other specific territories.
  • Leads required on portions of the proposed England Coast Path that are adjacent to fields with livestock, or adjacent to important coastal habitats.
  • Out of control dogs worrying/chasing/attacking livestock.
  • Persistent dog fouling of car parks and paths.
  • Leaving bagged faeces (Littering).

We’ll consider these each in turn as to how they stack up against the Dog Forum and Kennel Club guidance, and other PSPOs throughout the UK.

 

Lead “by direction”

Kennel Club Guidance:
Dogs on lead by direction
‘Dogs on lead by direction’ orders require owners to put their dogs on a lead when instructed to by an authorised officer. Enforcement officers could include parks police or a dog control officer. These measures allow responsible dog owners to exercise their dogs off lead without restriction – providing that their dogs are under control – whilst giving local authorities the power to restrict dogs not under control.
New Forest Dog Walkers Code:

  • Carry a lead for each dog in your care.
  • Keep dogs on leads in and around car parks and alongside roads.
  • Always keep all dogs under effective control; if you cannot reliably and quickly call your dog back to you and away from people or other dogs, please keep it on a lead.

This is one of the most standard PSPO restrictions, and existed previously under many Dog Control Orders.  It also echoes Forestry Commission byelaw 5.xiv. “No person shall in or on the lands of the Commissioners: … on being requested by an officer of the Commissioners, fail to keep the dog on a leash;” [†]  The Kennel Club support these orders as they allow responsible dog owners who keep their dogs under control to exercise off lead.

 

Leads required in ground nesting bird season in those areas where FC have put “red zone” signs close to curlew and other specific territories.

Kennel Club Guidance:

Dogs on lead
Orders which require owners to put their dogs on leads in certain areas often do so for the safety of dogs, their owners, and other nearby members of the public. These measures may apply to car parks, pavements near the road, and picnic areas. We can support reasonable ‘dogs on lead’ orders when used in a proportionate and evidence-based way.

Blanket ‘dogs on lead’ restrictions can prevent dog owners and their dogs from getting their appropriate daily exercise, including ‘regular opportunities to walk and run’ – which in most cases, will be off the lead while still under control.

Kennel Club on Displacement and Wildlife[ ]:

Another common unintended consequence is displacement onto inappropriate land, typically land where livestock or sensitive wildlife is present, resulting in new conflict being created.

Thanet Dog Control PSPO:

6. Failing to protect wildlife

A person in charge of a dog shall be guilty of an offence if, at any time, within the administrative area of the Authority, they fail to protect wildlife by allowing dog(s) and humans to interfere with, trap or attempt to trap or snare, chase or disturb any wildlife on council owned or controlled land.

New Forest Dog Walkers Code:

  • Keep your dog to the main tracks when birds are nesting on the ground (usually March – July).

Again this suggestion is echoed in Forestry Commission byelaws 5. “No person shall in or on the lands of the Commissioners: xii. permit any animal in his charge to be out of control; xiv. permit a dog for which he is responsible to disturb, worry or chase any bird or animal…;” [§] Some existing Dog Control PSPOs directly include a failure to protect wildlife offence (i.e. Thanet). The Kennel Club raises concerns with restrictions or exclusions which lead to displacement to more sensitive areas, arguably an understatement that the New Forest SSSI is such an area.  It is doubtful that the Kennel Club would shirk seasonal restrictions to a small portion of this protected habitat as they clearly recognize the need to keep walkers to more appropriate access areas.

 

Leads required on portions of the proposed England Coast Path that are adjacent to fields with livestock, or adjacent to important coastal habitats
The incredibly delicate and high value of the New Forest’s coastal habitats have unfortunately shown many of the shortcomings in the England Coast Path as defined by legislation.  Because of this, the Highcliffe to Calshot stretch of the path has still not been approved by the Secretary of State. (Our ongoing discussion of these wider Coast Path issues may be found here.)

The England Coast Path proposal creates potential new access to previously undisturbed areas. Although the proposals already include some stretches that Natural England say require leads, they have ignored their own guidance regarding livestock, and ignored potential damage to our most sensitive coastal habitats.  We think the most comprehensive solution would be to require dogs to be put on leads for all sections adjacent to fields with livestock or areas of habitat conservation value.  This would protect Forest stock on back up grazing, and areas for breeding or over wintering bird populations that are key elements of the New Forest’s legal conservation designations.

While the Kennel Club guidance does not go as far as this very specific instance, it is reasonable to apply their notes in reference to protecting livestock (see below) and avoiding displacement to such protected areas (see above).

New Forest Dog Walkers Code:

  • Throughout the year, avoid disturbing coastal birds by exercising your dogs away from them.

None of our proposals about the use of leads are blanket applications of the sort the Kennel Club would say unduly restrict exercise.  However, how well they fit all the PSPO criteria may need further discussion.

 

Out of control dogs worrying/chasing/attacking livestock.

Kennel Club Guidance:
Displacement occurs when restrictive measures result in dog walkers moving to other pieces of land, resulting in the creation of new conflicts. For example, a local authority may introduce measures excluding dogs from a particular area – like a local park or playing fields – which could subsequently result in dog walkers finding an alternative yet unsuitable location, such as a field with grazing livestock. It is important that councils consider the suitability of alternative sites when imposing restrictions in order to prevent displacement from occurring.New Forest Dog Walkers Code:

  • Do not allow your dog to chase or attack livestock, deer or any other wildlife.
  • Keep your distance from grazing animals, especially mothers and their young.
  • Keep well away from any work taking place such as forestry and pony round-ups, and observe warning signage.

While most existing codes of conduct find these behaviours unacceptable, the law, in the main, applies to the rights of the landowner to protect their livestock.  A notion complicated on the common, open access lands of the New Forest.  Ironically, NFDC’s evidence for their PSPO to stop the public from feeding and petting Forest livestock, included a report by Dr. Jo Ivey that showed a third of 2018 incidents reported to Verderers were of dogs attacking livestock[◊].

 

Persistent dog fouling of car parks and paths.

Kennel Club Guidance:
Dog fouling measures promote responsible dog ownership by requiring that dog owners pick up after their dogs wherever they are, which could include fields and woods in the wider countryside. Following these orders are vital. In areas where farm animal graze, for example, dog fouling measures should be strictly followed in order to reduce the risk of passing Neospora and Sarcocystosis to cattle and sheep respectively.Having the ‘means to pick up’ means that dog owners, when directed by an authorised officer of the council, must be able to produce a waste bag or other suitable means for removing dog faeces and transporting it to a bin. Responsible dog owners will usually have dog waste bags or other devices to clear up after their pets, so following this order shouldn’t be a problem.
New Forest Dog Walkers Code:

  • Pick up after your dog; put bagged dog poo in a dog waste bin or litter bin, or take it home.

The Kennel Club expresses unequivocal support for failure to pick up, despite previous concerns expressed in their 2016 document, they now accept “means to pick up” orders.  Although we would naturally want to advance a more stringent version of the order, for protection of habitat and livestock, our suggestion follows the guidance for PSPOs which unfortunately excludes these factors, but is concerned with persistent nuisance in the public space, which, at the very least includes paths and car parks.  We may find other stakeholders amenable to a wider version of this, but this minimum start point is a way forward that would be difficult to oppose.


Leaving bagged faeces (Littering).
For some incomprehensible reason there is a subset of dog walkers who fully accept and follow the guidance to pick up and bag their dog’s faeces, but are blithe to the obvious requirement to dispose of the bags responsibly.  Whether you’d rationalize it as unintentional littering, or left in a spot they mean to return to so as not to bear the burden throughout their walk, it is unacceptable laziness.  Leaving the bags behind alone is a hazard for wildlife and livestock on the Forest, leaving poo bagged creates a toxic timebomb, a petri dish for growth of the bacterial nasties in the poo.  Whether this should be part of a Littering or Dog Control PSPO, it merits a circle in Dante, and in some quarters already has campaigns targeting just this behaviour.

What Have We Left Out?
Many existing Dog Control PSPOs have limitations on the numbers of dogs per walker, usually between four and six (inclusive, for the pedants shouting “five”).  We would support such a limitation, if Forest stakeholders would agree.  The question may be difficult to address fairly: some owners seem to be unable to adequately control one dog off lead, where others may be able to marshal eight effectively.  The expected argument being : should some be disadvantaged by the weaker links?

Oddly enough, the Kennel Club’s current guidance doesn’t address this at all, nor their earlier 2016 assessment, which mentions per walker numbers in passing as one of the features of the DCOs preceding PSPO.  The Kennel Club did praise a change to  Wyre Forest’s Dog Control PSPO which increased their limit from three to six, characterizing the original as an unfair blanket restriction. [**]  Though the notion was under discussion in the formulation of the New Forest Dog Walkers Code, no agreed restriction survived the final draft.  The Professional Dog Walkers’ Charter [] includes a maximum of six dogs per walker.  We were unable to endorse this charter primarily as it does not address the commercial use of the Crown Lands done outside the standard permission system, but also because we felt that six is not a realistic number for one person to adequately control off lead dogs on the Forest.

For both the dog fouling and leads requirements some PSPOs also include a stipulation to show that walkers are in possession of the equipment necessary to follow restrictions; for instance, specifying having the “means to pick up”, as their lack is tantamount to an intention to ignore the responsibility imposed by the order.  However, including a power for authorised persons under the order to ask members of the public to produce their leads and poo bags as proof of compliance, may not square with the more education based and light touch enforcement which seems to be the current intention.  These may only bear inclusion if requested by all Forest stakeholders, the authorities tasked with enforcement and New Forest District Council.

Hopefully, the other measures we propose, if given consideration and support, might advance the cause of responsible dog ownership in the New Forest, without recourse to more extensive rules.  We look forward to discussion with other Forest groups, we believe these proposals would be a good starting point.  Together we can offer New Forest District Council a sound way forward to a Dog Control PSPO.

In This Series —

Previously:
NFDC Cabinet Advances Prohibitions on Forest Pony Feeding and Barbecues to Consultation

Public Spaces Protection Orders And The New Forest

Dog Public Space Protection Order: A Statement to NFDC Council Cabinet

Protect Heathlands by Restricting Sky Lanterns and Fireworks Along With Barbecues — A Presentment to the Verderers about the Wildfires PSPO

Coming:

 

ENDNOTES:

[*] Richmond Dog control order was partially quashed:
https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media-centre/2018/april/victory-for-dog-owners-in-uks-first-successful-pspo-legal-challenge/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/13/dogs-can-urinate-lampposts-court-rules/

https://www.richmond.gov.uk/services/parks_and_open_spaces/pspos_and_byelaws

https://www.lag.org.uk/article/205493/challenging-public-spaces-protection-orders

[†] From the Forestry Commission Byelaws:


Acts Prohibited on the Lands of the Commissioners

  1. No person shall in or on the lands of the Commissioners:-

xii. permit any animal in his charge to be out of control;

xiv. permit a dog for which he is responsible to disturb, worry or chase any bird or animal or,  on being requested by an officer of the Commissioners, fail to keep the dog on a leash;

https://www.forestryengland.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Forestry%20Commission_Byelaws.pdf

[ ] Out of Order, 2016, pg 12.

[§] Ibid., Forestry Commission Byelaws

[◊] The Portfolio holder responded to our suggestion of a Dog Control PSPO “It was felt there was not enough evidence at the current time to take this matter forward.  However, it could be considered in the future.  This approach had been accepted by partner organisations.”  One of the evidence documents, cited to support the feeding ponies PSPO, a report by Dr. Jo Ivey collating incidents in 2018 made to either Camping in the Forest staff or to the Verderers Office showed Dogs worrying livestock made up 8% of the CITF incidents, and 33% of Verderers incidents. This included:

  • Camper set dog on a pony: dog got kicked.
  • Shetland foal missing from Lyndhurst Racecourse was discovered 48 hours later in Bartley after having been chased and mauled by dogs, bites to face and body, one ear completely bitten off the other hanging off and was later removed by vet.
  • Foal attacked by dog resulting in foal suffering a broken leg. Foal dispatched by Agister and dog owner told to report incident to the police.
  • {Redacted} other dogs worrying stock, chasing ponies and jumping around cattle laid down. Walker became aggressive after being asked to get his dogs under control.
  • Commoner had a young calf chased by a lurcher. The calf was exhausted and would have been killed by the dog had he not been there the see the dog off. The dog was being walked by a {Redacted} dog walker.
  • Commoner out to remove cow believed involved in incident on 19/7 was unable to get to the cow as she was being circled by two large husky type dogs, owner arrived 15 minutes later and called off the dogs.
  • Dog v donkey. Both animals died.

[**] https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media-centre/2021/march/the-kennel-club-welcomes-wyre-forest-district-council-s-decision/

Praise by KC for Wyre Forest increasing number of dogs per walker from 3 to 6, 31 March 2021:

“The maximum number of dogs a person can walk in a controlled manner depends on a number of factors relating to the dog walker and the dogs being walked as well as the location or time of the walk and therefore we don’t believe introducing blanket limits on the number of dogs walked is the best solution. Furthermore, placing a limit on the number of dogs a person can walk risks penalising responsible dog owners simply due to the number of dogs they own, rather than their ability to keep their dogs under control.

“The Kennel Club would recommend local authorities instead use “dogs on lead by direction” orders and targeted measures such as acceptable behaviour contracts and community protection orders to address people who don’t have control of the dogs they are walking.”

[] https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/app/uploads/2020/03/New-Forest-Professional-Dog-Walkers-Charter.pdf

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Public Spaces Protection Orders And The New Forest

New Forest District Council has sent two draft Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) , which we broadly support, for public consultation.  The first to ban the lighting of fires and use of BBQs (principally on the Crown Lands), and the second to ban the feeding and petting of ponies, horses, mules, and donkeys in the open areas of the New Forest.  The consultation runs for nearly 8 weeks from  Monday 6th December 2022 to Friday 27th January 2023.

In this second in the series on PSPO’s we explain what they can (and can’t) do for the New Forest.

What are PSPO’s and what can they do for the Forest?

Public Spaces Protection Orders prohibit anti-social behaviours or require certain restrictions on activities within a given public space.  This allows councils to individually target public nuisances in their area.  Typically targets include alcohol consumption, use of “legal” highs, lighting fires or BBQs.  More unusual orders involve intentional feeding of gulls, busking, flying drones, dangerous cycling/skateboarding, and releasing balloons.  The most common type of PSPO across all councils are for dog control; primarily dog fouling, but also conditional lead requirements and exclusion zones (usually sports ground and children’s play areas).

This may sound like councils are given free reign to attack any bugbear of the local populace, however the council must produce evidence that the target behaviour is detrimental to those in the locality, is persistent, is unreasonable, and justifies restrictions imposed under the order.  Guidance suggests that councils look for other ways to address each issue, in some instances existing laws or voluntary codes of conduct or other initiatives may achieve sufficient compliance with rules.  PSPOs should be used responsibly and proportionately in response to issues that cause anti-social behaviour and where necessary to protect the public.

As a minimum, each PSPO must set out:

  • what the detrimental activities are
  • what is being prohibited and/or required, including any exemptions
  • the area covered
  • the consequences for breach
  • the period for which it has effect.

Consequences are usually the imposition of fixed penalty notices (varying between £50-150, frequently £100).  A PSPO can last for up to three years, after which it must be reviewed. If the review supports an extension and other requirements are satisfied, it may be extended for up to a further three years. There is no limit on the number of times an Order may be reviewed and renewed.  PSPOs may be subject to legal challenge, poorly worded or shoddily evidenced orders have been successfully challenged.[i]

To give an example of how a PSPO may work in practice:  a 2015 PSPO from North East Derbyshire District Council reportedly banned golf equipment from an area of a park.  As noted, each PSPO only operates within a defined public space within a council area.  The area was “the open park areas at and surrounding the Hut and BMX track” in Mickley.   Evidently the public nuisance was caused by golfers practicing in an area unsafe for users of the adjacent BMX track.  The PSPO was not extended beyond its first three year term, so ostensibly the temporary ban effectively reduced, eliminated, or changed the target behaviour.

While more perennial behaviours may not be so easily altered, the built in three year maximum forces a review before any extension.  A 2015 PSPO which rightfully targeted hooliganism in Salford Quays: jumping from bridges, throwing wheelie bins or animals into the water, interfering with lifesaving equipment, also included a widely derided ban on “foul and abusive language”.   Free speech advocates challenged this, and this clause was dropped from subsequent versions, without recourse to a judicial review.

PSPOs and The Forest

PSPOs were established within the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.  Although the powers have existed for eight years, the two NFDC orders going forward to consultation are the first that this District Council have proposed.  It is apparent that they have wisely waited to benefit from the experiences of implementations elsewhere in the country, and to gather supporting evidence for their proposals.

Over the past few years the Park Authority, Forestry England, Verderers, Recreation Management Strategy and other key Forest groups have discussed with NFDC the possibility that PSPOs might address a range of issues on the Crown Lands including:

  • Parking on verges
  • Wild camping
  • Wild fires and BBQs
  • Out of control dogs
  • Feeding and petting of animals
  • Cycling off the permitted network

However, some of these don’t easily fit PSPO criteria.  Parking on verges is primarily an environmental issue for its material damage to the SSSI.   Establishing that it is necessary to protect the public is limited to instances where verge parking blocks gateways for emergency vehicles.  Both wild camping and off network cycling have a similarly tenuous case under PSPO criteria, and are already addressed under existing byelaws.

Verge Restoration Before / After

The two issues, wildfires and BBQs, and the feeding and petting of livestock, NFDC have now moved forward fit the criteria.   Wildfires are an obvious danger to the public, the subsequent devastation may also be viewed as detrimental to public enjoyment.  Feeding and/or petting of Forest livestock for all of its ill effects on the animals and their owners, also causes behaviours in the animals that make them a danger to the public.   When inappropriately fed, semi-feral animals or those protecting their young may become aggressive, and some animals will loiter more frequently and dangerously near roads.  These problems are well evidenced as may be seen in the documents available in the consultation.

When we suggested that the Council should also move forward with a dog control PSPO, they demurred “It was felt there was not enough evidence at the current time to take this matter forward.  However, it could be considered in the future.”  Ironically one of the evidence documents, cited to support the feeding ponies PSPO, detailing incidents in 2018, showed “Dogs worrying livestock” made up 33% of incidents reported to the Verderers.  So while that issue is off the table for now, the upside is that all Forest stakeholders, including dog owners, have an opportunity to help craft an order consistent with the already agreed upon code of conduct.

Education and Enforcement

PSPOs confer a duty on the authority to provide adequate signage to indicate where they are in effect.  Signage in the Forest has always been a tug of war between positive education and minimizing urban clutter in our idyllic landscape.  No doubt this will be another tricky series of discussions.  One of the reasons we’d hoped to add a Dog Control PSPO to this round of consultation was to save the effort and expense of reinventing that inevitable wheel.

Enforcement will be through fixed penalty notices issued by authorised personnel, representatives of the council or another nominated authority.  From the minutes of the NFDC Cabinet meeting:

It was reported that there had been discussion with the National Park Authority, Verderers and Forestry England and it had been accepted in principle that they would play a lead role in the enforcement of the PSPO activities, should they be introduced.

So it is likely, but still to be determined, that this will fall to the Rangers of both the National Park and Forestry England, potentially other staff.  There will be training and resource issues for any of the organizations that come forward.

At the November 2nd Cabinet meeting, in response to a query whether the PSPO should include the touching and petting of ponies, supposing the feeding was the strongest factor for behavioural change, Council Leader Edward Heron, after defending the inclusion of all these actions, characterized a balanced view for enforcement:

The idea is not to be lurking in the bushes with your book of tickets to leap out. The answer is, the ability is there if you are in one of the car parks, if you are talking about one of the Forestry England Rangers or one of the National Park Rangers talking to people. And there is someone walking into a herd of ponies and petting and stroking them.  And they tell them not to, and explain why.  And then asked them more firmly not to, and explain why, and the fact that they are perhaps taking their children in and risking them doing this. Yes. At some point, should they consider it appropriate and proportionate to do so, I want them to have the option to issue this penalty. Again. I really hope.  I don’t think anyone wants this to be a place where we’re out issuing penalties. Everyone wants this to be a place where everyone can enjoy the Forest, whether they live here, work here, visit here in a way that’s responsible, in a way that preserves it, in a way that keeps them all safe.

Public Spaces Protection Orders are not going to be an all singing, all dancing solution to the ills of the Forest.   However, they will be a tool, which used sensibly may raise the profile of the issues they address, give bite to those education messages and promise consequences for those who feel all too entitled to ignore them.

In This Series —

Previously:
NFDC Cabinet Advances Prohibitions on Forest Pony Feeding and Barbecues to Consultation

Subsequently:

Dog Public Spaces Protection Order: A Statement to NFDC Council Cabinet

Protect Heathlands by Restricting Sky Lanterns and Fireworks Along With Barbecues — A Presentment to the Verderers about the Wildfires PSPO

Coming:

PSPOs for the Dog Control in the Forest: Our Recommendations For a Draft Dog Control PSPO, how they stack up against existing guidance, and What the Kennel Club Says About PSPOs

ENDNOTES

[i] Richmond Dog control order was partially quashed:
https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media-centre/2018/april/victory-for-dog-owners-in-uks-first-successful-pspo-legal-challenge/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/13/dogs-can-urinate-lampposts-court-rules/

https://www.lag.org.uk/article/205493/challenging-public-spaces-protection-orders

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Guest Post: Cycling: Improving the Off-road Network And Reduce Highly Charged Debate

Furthering positive discussion of recreation in the New Forest, we feature this guest statement by Richard Taylor, given as a Presentment to the November 2022 Verderers Court on behalf of the New Forest Cycle Working Group.

Good morning – my name is Richard Taylor, and I’m here to make a presentment as the chair of the New Forest Cycle Working Group.

In the recent discussions in the Verderers Court around cycling in the New Forest the voice of the cycling community has not been heard and we would like to try and correct this.

The Cycle working Group is an independent group and has been established for many years.  Its aim is to promote, and contribute to the delivery of, cycling-related objectives in many local strategic plans, and to promote opportunities to improve cycle infrastructure.  Our membership includes local cycle groups, local cycle businesses, national cycling organisations, sustainable transport groups, local councils at all levels, Forestry England and the New Forest National Park Authority.

We aim to encourage responsible cycling in the New Forest to minimise conflict with the special qualities of the National Park and other people, and to improve usability and connectivity of the cycle network.

Excerpt of the New Forest Off Road Cycle Network (Blue + Red Sustrans Routes) from OpenCycleMap

Improvements to the connectivity and waymarking of the off-road gravel cycle network have been promised for many years. These objectives are outlined in strategic action 14 of the Recreation Management Strategy which has been agreed by all partner organisations.  We fully support the vision for the cycle network as presented by Richard Burke of Forestry England.

We are delighted to hear support from the Verderers for the cycle network and we fully agree that improvements and revisions to the network must include,

preservation of the tranquil and undisturbed areas, links to the car parks, the interests of nature conservation and protection of the fragile environment together with the interest of the commoners … as well as the interests of those who wish to use the Forest for recreation.’

However, with all this agreement on the objectives for cycling in the Forest, progress to achieving this has been non-existent, to the huge frustration of the cycling community, and cyclists continue to be demonised.

The vast majority of cyclists on the off-road network want to cycle responsibly respecting the special qualities of the New Forest.  The health and wellbeing benefits of cycling are well documented and increased use of carbon free transport is universally accepted as a good thing.  However, the network as it currently exists is not fit for purpose, it is poorly connected, and badly waymarked.  Mapping could be improved for both physical and online maps, and it needs to be clear to existing and new cyclists which maps should be used.  The CWG are there to try and help this process in any way we can.  We have provided feedback on what connections on the network would be most valuable to cyclists and we have engaged fully with the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan process currently underway.

We would ask the Verderers to engage positively with all other stakeholders in the process of improving the off-road network.  We all need to reduce the highly charged tabloid nature of the current debate and concentrate on producing solutions that work.  We want to help with this process in any way that we can.  We can provide feedback and information from the cycling community and help promote responsible cycling practices.  Surely essential elements in this process.

The recent BBC panorama ‘Road Rage – Cars v Bikes’ showed how easy it is to whip up feelings on all sides of the argument around cycling.  However, this serves little point other than to keep social media busy and sell papers.  Please can all parties involved engage positively to find practical solutions which work.

Thank you.

We share this statement by kind permission of both Richard Taylor and the New Forest Cycle Working Group. Mr. Taylor is also a Minstead Parish Councillor since 2010 and currently serves as a parish quadrant appointee member of the National Park Authority for whom his responsibilities include RMS Advisory Group Chair, and NPA representative on the New Forest Local Access Forum.

 

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New Forest Campsites Management

Friends of The New Forest have been concerned and critical about many aspects of the process being undertaken by Forestry England to tender for the management of New Forest campsites. The New Forest Agricultural Show Society have been successful in their bid to take on the running of the sites.

At the 16th November 2022 meeting of the Court of Verderers, John Ward, The FoNF chairman, made the following presentment to the Court on behalf of the Association.

MANAGEMENT of NEW FOREST CAMPSITES

For some considerable time our Association has been concerned about the running of Forestry Commission campsites within the New Forest, both in terms of their location and harmful impacts of some campsites contrary to the SAC management plan to which an operator should pay heed, and to various issues regarding their general management.

We also have an ongoing dispute with the headquarters of Forestry England regarding the legal basis on which campsites are run, including the requirement for Verderers’ consent and whether a contract to do so should be a personal licence and not a registerable lease.

Against this background we have hoped that the re-tendering process for appointing a new organisation to manage the New Forest campsites may be an opportunity for a much needed fresh start.

We note that the New Forest Show Society operating as ‘Camping in the New Forest’ is the prospective new manager and that they have applied for the consent of the Verderers.

We have also noted that in their application CINF recognise that for too long there has been damage to the local environment, a lack of respect for the working of the Forest and poor investment in facilities, and that they state:

“Our plan will be to run the sites profitably but with the environment, education, and community at the heart of every decision”.
and that,
“ We will be setting up an advisory group to provide guidance on key decisions and to help guide future aspirations ensuring we respect the New Forest, the livestock and the Commoners.”

CINF recognise that a key aspect of working together would be a full review of Hollands Wood, Denny Wood and Longbeech campsites.

We welcome the opportunity the Forest now has to move forward with a new 10 year period for the management of the campsites by a new licensed operator based within the Forest, and we would hope to play a full and supportive part within the proposed Advisory Group.

We are, therefore, supportive in principle of CINF running the New Forest campsites subject to more information and confirmation of the points that I have outlined.
and
We support the required consent being given by the Court of Verderers


At the same meeting Richard Reeves, who is a member of the FoNF Council but was speaking for himself, made the following presentment.

HOLLANDS WOOD, DENNY WOOD and LONGBEECH CAMPSITES

I hereby object to any lease or similar agreement which provides for the continued operation of Hollands Wood, Denny Wood and Longbeech Campsites (these being those identified as causing serious damage to the Forest habitats in which they are situated and have been flagged as priorities for closure under the 2001 SAC Management Plan.  Both the Verderers and Forestry Commission were signatories to this plan, yet, 21 years later, nothing has been done.

Forestry England (and their predecessors) have had plenty of time to get their house in order but have failed to move forward, instead preferring to kick the issue into the long grass.  Many false and misleading statements have been made in support of keeping the status quo, tellingly by those with their own narrow self-interest at heart.

The suggestion that the potential new tenants would somehow be able to avoid causing further damage is ludicrous, while the argument that the impact of such damage could be offset by an organisation’s good works in other fields is nothing more than whitewashing.  It is akin to claiming to love and care for a child, while selling their organs.

The actions of Forestry England in attempting to find a new tenant for these three sites are hypocritical in the extreme, and hardly demonstrate a safe pair of hands.  Still, I hope and trust the Verderers will side with the New Forest.

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Protect Heathlands by Restricting Sky Lanterns and Fireworks Along With Barbecues

We believe the susceptibility of our heathlands to wildfires is the crux of the proposed public spaces protection order that seeks to ban barbecues on the Crown Lands.  The order ought to be expanded to restrict sky lanterns and fireworks, which would be just as likely to ignite a devastating blaze.

Our Trustee / Council member, Brian Tarnoff made this recommendation in a Presentment to the Verderers Court 16th November 2022.

NFDC Public Spaces Protection Orders and Heathland Fires
We broadly support both of the two PSPOs focussed on the Crown Lands, aimed at preventing wildfires, and banning the inappropriate feeding and petting of Forest Livestock.

The Dorset Open Land PSPO [*] which came into force on 1st July 2022 included prohibition on:

a. placing, throwing or dropping items likely to cause a fire,
b. lighting fires, barbeques (including disposable barbeques), Chinese lanterns or fireworks,
c. using items which either (i) cause a naked flame or (ii) pose a risk of fire

The NFDC draft uses much the same language, but excludes restrictions on fireworks and sky lanterns.   All other extant PSPOs targeting wildfires on moorlands, coastal and heathland habitat have the same restrictions as Dorset. [†]

Over 190 councils in England have committed to banning sky lanterns, many have included this ban in their PSPOs.  Both Hampshire County Council and New Forest District Council have banned sky lanterns from events they permit on their own land.  (The National Park says they have banned sky lanterns on their web page on wildfires, but it is unclear if they have any practical way at their disposal to enforce this ban.)

NFDC may balk at inclusion by insisting that they need more direct evidence of the threat from sky lanterns and fireworks to progress the PSPO.  Clearly more than ten other authorities were able to meet the legal requirement for those prohibitions in their PSPOs.  It may be difficult to find specific remains of either fire source in the aftermath of a 200 hectare heathland fire, and if anything we’d rather not have further evidence beyond what a sensible risk analysis from the Fire Service might supply.  There is ample evidence that our heathlands will be susceptible to wildfires, we should guard against every probable source.

Sky lanterns and Fireworks ought to be added to the PSPO:

  • Consistent with best practice as shown in other PSPOs.
  • Consistent with rules of the authority on our Western border, where crossborder incidents have and may occur.
  • Balance of probability that the risk of wildfires to the public outweighs the negligible loss of enjoyment in the public space of these activities.
  • The increasing risk of summer wildfires as the effects of climate change continue.

We hope that the Verderers will consider this in their response to the consultation.

New Forest District Council has sent two draft Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) , which we broadly support, for public consultation. The first to ban the lighting of fires and use of BBQs (principally on the Crown Lands), and the second to ban the feeding and petting of ponies, horses, mules, and donkeys in the open areas of the New Forest. The consultation runs for nearly 8 weeks from Monday 6th December 2022 to Friday 27th January 2023.

In This Series on PSPOs:–

Previously:
NFDC Cabinet Advances Prohibitions on Forest Pony Feeding and Barbecues to Consultation

Public Spaces Protection Orders And The New Forest : What are PSPO’s and what can they do for the Forest?

Dog Public Space Protection Order: A Statement to NFDC Council Cabinet

Coming:

PSPOs for the Dog Control in the Forest: Our Recommendations For a Draft Dog Control PSPO, how they stack up against existing guidance, and What the Kennel Club Says About PSPOs

ENDNOTES

[*] The Dorset Open Land Anti-social Behaviour Related Public Spaces Protection Order 2022  https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/w/public-space-protection-orders-for-anti-social-behaviour

Dorset’s BBQ and campfire/wildfire policy and sky lantern and balloon release Equality Impact Assessment

https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/w/bbq-and-campfire/wildfire-policy-and-sky-lantern-and-balloon-release-equality-impact-assessment-eqia-

[†] Other moorland, heathland and coastal habitat wildfire PSPO’s, all with the same restrictions as Dorset’s:

Dorset County Barnsley
Oldham Tameside
Kirklees City of Bradford
High Peak Borough Council Bolton Council
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council
Calderdale West Yorkshire Newark and Sherwood District Council

 

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NFDC Cabinet Advances Prohibitions on Forest Pony Feeding and Barbecues to Consultation

New Forest District Council has sent two draft Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) for the Forest to address fires, barbecues, pony feeding and petting to public consultation which will run from Monday 6th December 2022 to Friday 27th January 2023.

In the first of a series on PSPO’s we discuss these two orders, our broad support, and initial suggestions.

At the 2nd November New Forest District Council Cabinet meeting, members approved two draft Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) for public consultation.  The first to ban the lighting of fires and use of BBQs (principally on the Crown Lands), and the second to ban the feeding and petting of ponies, horses, mules, and donkeys in the open areas of the New Forest.  We broadly support both of these PSPO’s, and hope that the addition of these restrictions will make a significant difference with these issues. Years of positive messaging have not always succeeded.  These PSPO’s allow fixed penalties notices of £100 to be issued, giving more bite to the byelaws and guidance already in place.

PSPO’s are meant prohibit anti-social behaviours or require certain restrictions on activities within a public space.  Their framework was established in the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.  Each PSPO must undergo public consultation, pertains to specified public space within a defined area, lasts for 3 years before review and repeated consultation.  The Act requires that the target behaviour is detrimental to those in the locality, is persistent, is unreasonable, and justifies restrictions imposed under the order.  Guidance specifies PSPOs should be used responsibly and proportionately in response to issues that cause anti-social behaviour and where necessary to protect the public.

Petting and feeding the Forest’s semi-feral ponies will alter their behaviour, making them more aggressive, apt to bite or kick if subsequently denied human food, and tempting them to spend more time on roads where they are more vulnerable to accidents.  This makes them a danger to the public and themselves.  Their natural diet is grazing the Forest, altering this can lead to digestive problems, and even death from choke or colic.  Misguided, well meaning leaving of carrots, apples, grass cuttings has led to deadly consequences.

At the Cabinet Meeting, Commoners Defence Association Chair Charlotte Lines welcomed the PSPO targeting inappropriate interactions with Forest ponies. “The continued petting and feeding of our legally depastured animals is ever increasing.  Whilst education and signage has its place, and helps to a degree, it’s not been enough in recent years, and now is the time to implement stronger measures.  The Public Space Protection Order will be vital in ensuring the Forest and our animals are protected so that they can continue to provide the essential service of grazing which is needed to maintain and enhance the landscape and the ecological diversity we see today.”

The NFDC documents referred to our Byelaw Watch surveys within their evidence base for this PSPO.  During six weeks in autumn 2021, the survey reported 150 instances of livestock being fed by the public.  This year, between 25th July 2022 – 31st August 2022,  a Forest wide survey including more than 98 observers, reported 187 instances of livestock being fed and/or petted.  Another 66 instances were recorded in our static snapshot survey of Nine popular car parks on August 29th Bank Holiday Monday 10:00 am – 2:30 pm.

We will be refining our response to the upcoming consultation, but for now we’d note that NFDC might take a page from other councils which alongside similar measures for fires and barbecues, have also banned or restricted fireworks.   Over 190 councils in England have committed to banning sky lanterns, many have included this ban in their PSPO’s.  The National Park says they have banned sky lanterns on their web page on wild fires, but it is unclear if they have any practical way at their disposal to enforce this ban.

The 2018 moorlands fire near Stalybridge destroyed 4,500 acres, killed many farm animals, necessitated evacuation of 150 residents. Troops assisted 15 fire services.  The smoke affected air quality across the north west of England.  The Environment Agency estimated the cost from moorland damage at:

  • 26,281 tonnes of carbon dioxide were released, valued at £1.68 million
  • 15,400 tonnes of carbon sequestration capacity was lost, valued at £3.6 million (capacity to take in and store carbon as peat)
  • 1.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (equivalent) is stored in the moor valued at £121 million
  • 7810 tourist visitors per year were lost, valued at £205,000

Afterwards many local authorities in that area (including Tameside, Oldham and High Peak Borough) introduced PSPO’s prohibiting activities carrying a significant risk of causing wildfires: lighting a barbecue, building or lighting any kind of fire, and lighting fireworks or launching sky lanterns carrying an open flame.

The summer 2020 Wareham Forest Fire impacted approx. 220 hectares of heath and woodland, and saw firefighters from all 50 of Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service stations involved in the major incident that lasted over two weeks.  The number of incidents in Dorset relating to BBQs between 2016 and 2020:

2016 –

4

2017 –

3

2018 –

16

2019 –

18

2020 –

74

The Dorset Open Land Anti-social Behaviour Related Public Spaces Protection Order 2022 came into force on 1st July 2022 which included prohibition on:

a. placing, throwing or dropping items likely to cause a fire,
b. lighting fires, barbeques (including disposable barbeques), Chinese lanterns or fireworks,
c. using items which either (i) cause a naked flame or (ii) pose a risk of fire

The language for the NFDC PSPO is almost the same, excepting the exclusion of sky lanterns and fireworks.  With drier hotter summers expected, we should look to prospective threats.  We will join others in encouraging NFDC to include these prohibitions explicitly.

Coming In This Series:

What are Public Space Protection Orders and what can they do for the Forest?

Dog Public Space Protection Order: A Statement to NFDC Council Cabinet

Protect Heathlands by Restricting Sky Lanterns and Fireworks Along With Barbecues — A Presentment to the Verderers about the Wildfires PSPO

PSPOs for the Dog Control in the Forest: Our Recommendations For a Draft Dog Control PSPO, how they stack up against existing guidance, and What the Kennel Club Says About PSPOs

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Dog Public Space Protection Order: A Statement to NFDC Council Cabinet

We add our suggestions for a possible Dog Public Spaces Protection Orders to our broad support for the two already proposed New Forest District Council PSPOs.  This statement was given by our Trustee / Council member, Brian Tarnoff in the Public Participation section of the NFDC Cabinet meeting on 2nd November 2022.  Here we include the Endnotes separately shared with Cabinet Members.

Dog PSPO

We commend the council for considering Public Spaces Protection Orders to bring forward measures to address inappropriate interaction with Forest livestock, and banning the use of barbecues and open flames on the Crown Lands.  However, positive control of dogs is a priority widely suggested by the National Park, Forestry England[i] and the Verderers [ii].

East Hampshire District Council successfully brought out a PSPO for controls on dogs in November 2021. [iii]  Similar rules for the New Forest could be mandated which would be entirely consistent with the New Forest National Park’s Dog Walking Code [iv] which is supported by all stakeholders in the New Forest Dogs Forum, including New Forest Dog Owners Group.

Such an order may include:

  • Leads to be mandatory:
    • When their use is requested by any staff of the relevant land managers, including rangers, keepers, agisters, etc. [consistent with FE byelaw 5.xiv.]
    • In areas designated by the land managers of the Crown Lands, adjacent commons or reserves, primarily during ground nesting bird season, but for any other reasonable management purpose intended to reduce disturbance to wildlife or commoner’s stock.
    • Along all stretches of the England Coast Path[v] that are directly adjacent or include within their coastal margin either fields containing livestock, or sites of importance to nature conservation (including SSSI, and/or any areas exempted from coastal margin by Natural England).
  • Out of control dogs worrying/chasing/attacking livestock.
  • Persistent dog fouling of car parks and paths.
  • Littering, including leaving bagged faeces.

The district council should not treat this as a political hot potato.   There is nothing here not already agreed to by the key stakeholders.  While it is possible to roll out PSPO’s separately, you would address an arguably more prevalent set of issues in a more timely fashion, and save on time / expense / effort of separate consultations.

I myself am a dog owner who enjoys the privilege of exercising our dogs under close control on the Forest.  I also represent Friends of the New Forest, a conservation organization, on the New Forest Dogs Forum (as well as the Recreation Management Strategy Advisory Group).  As a responsible dog owner I would like to see measures rolled out that would further positive education.  The Forest is an important remaining bastion for wildlife, and a working forest for commoning. By introducing consequences we may get the attention of those who take our Forest for granted.

New Forest District Council has sent two draft Public Spaces Protection Orders (PSPO) , which we broadly support, for public consultation. The first to ban the lighting of fires and use of BBQs (principally on the Crown Lands), and the second to ban the feeding and petting of ponies, horses, mules, and donkeys in the open areas of the New Forest. The consultation runs for nearly 8 weeks from Monday 6th December 2022 to Friday 27th January 2023.

In This Series on PSPOs:–

Previously:
NFDC Cabinet Advances Prohibitions on Forest Pony Feeding and Barbecues to Consultation

Public Spaces Protection Orders And The New Forest : What are PSPO’s and what can they do for the Forest?

Protect Heathlands by Restricting Sky Lanterns and Fireworks Along With Barbecues – A Presentment to Verderers November 2022

Coming:

PSPOs for the Dog Control in the Forest: Our Recommendations For a Draft Dog Control PSPO, how they stack up against existing guidance, and What the Kennel Club Says About PSPOs

 


ENDNOTES:

[i] From the Forestry Commission Byelaws:

Acts Prohibited on the Lands of the Commissioners

  1. No person shall in or on the lands of the Commissioners:-
    xii. permit any animal in his charge to be out of control;
    xiv. permit a dog for which he is responsible to disturb, worry or chase any bird or animal or, on being requested by an officer of the Commissioners, fail to keep the dog on a leash;

https://www.forestryengland.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Forestry%20Commission_Byelaws.pdf

[ii] Verderers Minutes Jan 2021 page 12:

DOGS-ON-LEADS
As with many other issues which are damaging to the Forest, enforcing a dogs-on-leads policy would be extremely difficult. Byelaws are an unwieldy and expensive means of enforcing the law and an alternative is badly needed in the Forest. The Official Verderer suggested it would be best to wait for a legally enforceable solution to verge parking to be identified, as a similar solution may be possible to try to reduce the impact of other undesirable activities on the Forest – out of control dogs being one. Meanwhile, the Deputy Surveyor said he will investigate Public Spaces Protection Orders again to see if there is any way they can be used.

https://www.verderers.org.uk/app/uploads/2021/02/Verderers-Court-Minutes-January-2021.pdf

 

[iii] East Hampshire District Council’s PSPO :

  • requires dog owners in the borough to clean up after their dogs and dispose of the waste responsibly.
  • exclusion of dogs from enclosed children’s play areas.
  • an offence not to put a dog on a lead when instructed to by an officer authorised by the council for that purpose.
  • enables officers to issue fixed penalty notices if a dog owner is not adhering to these rules.

https://www.easthants.gov.uk/dogs-east-hampshire

https://www.easthants.gov.uk/public-space-protection-order-dogs-pdf-5-mb

 

[iv] New Forest National Park’s Dog Walking Code:

Stay safe and respect the environment:

  • Carry a lead for each dog in your care.
  • All dogs must wear collars with ID tags with the owner’s name and address.
  • Park only in designated car parks, not on a verge or in a gateway.
  • Keep dogs on leads in and around car parks and alongside roads.
  • Do not allow your dog to chase or attack livestock, deer or any other wildlife.
  • Keep your distance from grazing animals, especially mothers and their young.
  • Release your dog if threatened or chased by cattle, ponies or other animals to get to safety separately.
  • Dogs must always be under effective control when on a public right of way (for example through farmland); keep them on the path and do not allow them to stray onto adjacent land.
  • Keep your dog to the main tracks when birds are nesting on the ground (usually March – July).
  • Throughout the year, avoid disturbing coastal birds by exercising your dogs away from them.
  • Keep well away from any work taking place such as forestry and pony round-ups, and observe warning signage.
  • Pick up after your dog; put bagged dog poo in a dog waste bin or litter bin, or take it home.

Be considerate to other forest users

  • Always keep all dogs under effective control; if you cannot reliably and quickly call your dog back to you and away from people or other dogs, please keep it on a lead.
  • Keep your dog from jumping up at or approaching other people, especially children, horse riders and cyclists and prevent excessive barking.
  • Keep dogs away from picnics.
  • Show respect for other dogs (especially those displaying yellow as this indicates they need space); if an approaching dog is on a lead, put yours on a lead too.
  • Consider moving aside to let other walkers, cyclists and horse riders past.

https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/things-to-do/walking/dog-walking/dog-walking-code/

 

[v] England Coast Path – Issues relating to Access For Dog Walkers:

There are key issues surrounding the England Coast Path for the Coast of the New Forest.  The scheme inadvertently creates a combination of factors which would allow new, unwelcome access by dogs to protected habitats, and fields used for livestock, including back up land for commoners animals.  This is due to the way in which “spreading room” referred to as “coastal margin” is defined, the way the Ordnance Survey intends to show the land as access land, and Natural England’s uneven guidance and proposals for the New Forest route.

As defined Coastal Margin creates Access Land for the entire seaward side of the Route to the Waters edge.  Where the route is relatively close to the water, this is less of a problem.  However coastal habitats which need to be avoided send the Route inland, and are therefore automatically included in Coastal Margin. This was not defined in Primary Legislation, but as a statutory instrument.  It was not mooted within the consultation on 2009 Act, presumably bringing forward the spreading limitations of the CROW Act 2000.  The 2010 order was discussed for 20 minutes by 17 MPs in Delegated Legislation Committee, and in Lords Grand Committee in 3 hour meeting with 5 other items.  The order has no provisos for the scenario where Coastal Land is Excluded by Natural England, leaving its definition impracticable.

Highcliffe to Calshot route potentially creates @3,500 acres of access land on protected habitats.  This includes an Area of Special Protection which even the landowner may not enter without Natural England permission (Needs Ore Point, Gull Island and Warren Shore east of Gravelly House are given special levels of legal protection being subject to an Area of Special Protection order in accordance with Section 3 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)). This order makes it an offence to enter this area and to disturb birds. Entry, except by permit, is prevented to Warren Shore and Needs Ore (1 March-31 July) and to Gull Island (at all times of year).

Natural England have the power to Exclude such areas of the coast from Coastal Margin.  However, the Ordnance Survey have decided to publish the route, and to display all potential access land under a “Magenta Wash”, regardless of whether the land has been excepted or excluded.  They’ve suggested that their printed maps will include a very small print caveat that their “depiction of access does not imply or express warranty as to its accuracy or completeness”.  Given that their data is used by both their own and 3rd Party mapping apps, which will not show this caveat, this policy is useless, and undermining to positive control and messaging about the route.  It is estimated that 75% of the New Forest’s coastal margin will be excepted or excluded land, but would be shown as access land.

Natural England’s proposals for the Highcliffe to Calshot are inconsistent with their own guidance on dog controls.  Only 2 stretches have Dogs on Lead Restrictions for habitat protection, for the rest of the route dogs are only required to be under close control off lead.  The lack of livestock based restrictions ignores NE Coastal Access Scheme Guidance:  2.4.6 “under Part 1 of CROW, a person with a dog must keep it on a short lead in the vicinity of livestock”  And Excepted Land status of  “land covered by pens in use for the temporary detention of livestock” has not been applied consistently along the route.  Unfortunately the Natural England guidance for the Coastal Path says that the route be made to the “least restrictive option”, which places the needs of walkers above conservation.   This invention in the guidance is not mandated in legislation, and within a National Park flies in the face of the Sandford Principle which is enshrined in law.

For the entirety of the New Forest portions of the England Coast Path dogs should be on lead for all sections adjacent to:

  • Protected Habitat (whether or not Excluded)
  • Land in use for Livestock Management
  • Coastal Margin leading to either

Potential Impact on Features of Nature Conservation Importance of increased public access to the coast

  • Damaging levels of trampling on vegetated shingle habitats, and adjacent saltmarsh, with erosion of woodland ground flora.
  • Increased levels of disturbance would have adverse impacts on breeding waders and other ground nesting birds including nesting Ringed plover, Redshank, Lapwing and Avocet.
  • Avocet and other waders and wildfowl nesting on lagoons inland of the coast would be vulnerable to disturbance, in particular from dogs.
  • Impacts on nesting Ringed plover would have an adverse effect on the Solent and Southampton Water SPA & Ramsar Site for which this is a qualifying species.
  • Wildfowl & waders feeding and breeding on grazing marshes, lagoons and improved grassland fields inland of the coast would be very vulnerable to disturbance from public access.
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Byelaw Watch Report 2022

The FoNF 2022 Byelaw Watch Report has been published.

With grateful thanks to the volunteers who contributed to this with their ‘eyes in the Forest’
And those who compiled the results

Click 2022 BYELAW WATCH to read the full report.

 

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