Sunday, October 26, 2014

New Forest National Park Management Plan seek your thoughts for future care

New Forest National Park logoInformal consultation: 20 October to 19 December 2014

Organisations in the New Forest are asking people for their thoughts on how efforts should be focused to care for the New Forest up to 2020.

Many of the organisations responsible for looking after the New Forest have come together to draft a Management Plan update, suggesting a series of priority actions for the Forest between 2015 and 2020.

The New Forest National Park Management Plan contains a broad strategic and aspirational approach designed to guide the long-term management of the National Park.

First published in 2010 following widespread public consultation, the long-term vision and objectives remain relevant today, but it is time to update the actions in the plan, looking ahead over the next five years. It is on this draft of updated actions that views are sought.

New Forest National Park Authority Chairman Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre said: ‘The actions in this draft update cover a wide range of topics, but the underlying theme is the conservation of the special qualities of the New Forest. It is important that we all work together to look after this special place, and I am pleased that this update is very much a joint venture involving many of the Forest organisations.’

Call for views

An initial draft of the update can be viewed at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/ManagementPlan and comments are invited as part of the ‘Call for Views’ - a period of informal consultation from today (20 October) to 19 December 2014.

Please download a comments sheet from the web page above and send your responses to:

Policy Team, National Park Authority, Lymington Town Hall, Avenue Road, Lymington, SO41 9ZG; or email policy@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

Drop-in sessions

The National Park Authority is also holding a series of drop-in sessions for people to discuss the draft update. The sessions are between 2pm and 8pm as follows:

  • 4 November: Bramshaw Village Hall
  • 10 November: Sway Village Hall
  • 12 November: Godshill Village Hall
  • 17 November: Lyndhurst Community Centre.

This will be followed by revisions to the update and a further period of formal public consultation during February and March 2015.

The draft update has been produced jointly by the Forestry Commission, New Forest District Council, Hampshire County Council, National Park Authority, Natural England, Environment Agency, Wiltshire Council and Test Valley Borough Council.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Efford Mill Lymington halves annual energy costs

The owners of a New Forest watermill first recorded in the Domesday Book have cut their energy bills in half by undertaking a range of energy saving improvements.

Efford Mill, near Lymington, has been fitted with a variety of green features to slash the costs of running the medieval and Georgian property, from high-tech power systems to common sense measures such as insulation.

Efford Mill in Lymington has drastically reduced their energy costs.
Back row (left to right): Simon Rogers, Fiona Rogers, Jeremy Rogers.
Front row (left to right): Tom Rogers, Hattie Rogers, Patricia Barrie
The mill, owned by Fiona and Jeremy Rogers, is throwing open its doors to the public over the weekend of 4 and 5 October as part of Green Open Doors, an open house event run by the New Forest National Park Authority to inspire people to save energy around the home.

Fiona and Jeremy moved into Efford Mill in 1964 and spent years painstakingly restoring the mill to house four generations of their family, from 10 year old Tom Rogers to his 94 year old great granny Patricia Barrie.

By 2006 the property was largely restored, but its energy costs had soared to over £5,000 a year.

In an effort to reduce their bills and live more sustainably, the family set about transforming their home with environmentally friendly measures. These include solar panels controlled from a former World War Two bunker and a ground source heat pump buried in the bed of the river that snakes through their back garden.

Energy saving at Efford Mill is not restricted to high-tech energy systems; the family have also installed more common features including double glazing, water butts and wood burning stoves.

The public can see the mill’s eco-features and ask the owners about the pros and cons of sustainable living throughout the Green Open Doors weekend.

This includes discussing the relatively high set up costs of eco-technology for the home, with solar panels costing the Rogers family £8,000 and their ground source heat pump setting them back £16,000.

Fiona said: ‘Our set up costs were quite high for our main energy saving features, but we are taking a long term view. The solar panels will pay for themselves in eight years and the heat pump in 15 years, plus the panels now earn us a feed in tariff payment of around £800 a year.

‘We are quite happy about that, because we are aiming for the lowest carbon footprint possible, and we are certainly not paying anything like the gas and oil bills that we would have had. We feel strongly that sustainability is the only logical way forward.

‘As a family we feel that living an environmentally friendly lifestyle makes sense.  We have nine grandchildren and we are concerned about the future for them and all their generation.  We try not to fly if we can travel by train instead, and we don’t take holidays abroad any more, but we don’t claim to be saints, and we freely admit that everything’s a compromise.’

Green Open Doors is a free event, organised by the New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest Transition, which sees 11 properties opening their doors throughout the weekend of 4 and 5 October.

Find out about the participating properties, and which energy saving features their owners can advise on, at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/greenopendoors.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

New Forest tradition of pannage is producing pork to rival any in the world

Pig at Balmer Lawn in the New Forest Hampshire UK
A pig at Balmer Lawn, Brockenhurst. Credit: Luke Parkinson.
The ancient New Forest tradition of pannage is producing pork to rival any in the world, thanks to the pigs’ free roaming lifestyle and diet of acorns.

The claim comes from top chef James Golding, chef director at The Pig Hotel Group, who says that meat from pigs turned out by New Forest commoners to roam freely in the Forest is proving a hit with his guests.

The Pig Hotel in Brockenhurst, and some pannage practising commoners, are members of the New Forest Marque, a quality assurance scheme supported by the New Forest National Park Authority that promotes authentic New Forest fare of the highest quality, while encouraging people to shop locally.

A practising commoner is someone who makes use of common rights attached to their property. The right to turn out pigs during the autumn to feed is called ‘pannage’ or ‘mast’.  Over 300 pigs were turned out in 2013 and they play a crucial role in the New Forest by eating acorns that are poisonous to ponies and cattle.

James Golding said: ‘I believe the superior flavour of pannage pork is due to a combination of its acorn-rich diet and the free roaming life of the pigs. I always say that a happy pig is a tasty pig!

‘We have seen that customers ‘in the know’ actively search out eateries in the area that are serving pannage pork. It’s a bit like every seasonal food; it’s not around all year and should be enjoyed when it’s available and at its best.

‘Using pannage pork at The Pig shows our passion for local produce. With the help of the New Forest Marque we now source 80 per cent of our produce from within a 25 mile radius.’

New Forest Marque member Jamie Burgess, of P.R. Burgess and Sons, has followed in the footsteps of generations of his family to practise the common right of pannage.

Jamie said: ‘I usually turn out around 50 pigs onto the Forest and one of the main reasons I do it is because pannage pork is so popular - the meat tastes great, and we get orders from all over the region.

‘We find the pork to be superior to regular pork because the pigs are out eating acorns and beechnuts, giving it a great, unique taste and texture. Foodies with a real passion for good meat are particular fans of it, and if demand continues to increase we will definitely be looking to expand.’

Pannage pork is available from P.R. Burgess and Sons at Swallowfields Farm in Bramshaw. Contact Jamie Burgess on 07795 082358 for details.

For more information on the The Pig Hotel Group visit www.thepighotel.co.uk.

To find out more about New Forest Marque produce and the benefits of buying locally visit www.newforestmarque.co.uk.