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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

New Forest National Park Authority Chairman requests Ministerial visit

The Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority has asked Ministers to visit the New Forest to discuss the consultation on the future management of England’s Forest Estate.

Julian Johnson, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘There has been a huge groundswell of concern from our residents and partners in the National Park and Authority members are clear that we must engage Ministers directly in understanding the views of local people about the consultation.  Whilst we will lodge our formal response before the current consultation closes in April, I have written to Ministers now to ask for close engagement in the New Forest and to highlight the strong local views emerging and the importance of the Crown Lands.

‘I have emphasised that Authority members are unanimous in their support of the long-standing New Forest Acts – which underpin the ancient commoning system that shapes the unique Forest landscape- and that we are firm in our view that they should not be undermined or overridden. To maintain their unique qualities, the whole of the New Forest Crown Lands must be maintained and managed as a single entity, and we therefore welcome the fact that the consultation recognises that the Forest should be considered as a special case – as a single unit ‘Heritage Forest’.  It is evident that the consultation is already focussing minds at the highest level on protecting the importance of the New Forest Crown Lands as an internationally important landscape, underpinned by a unique way of life and providing access and enjoyment for all.’

‘Managing the New Forest estate is an incredibly complex operation that requires funding from government and significant local knowledge and professional expertise; state ownership and management of Crown Lands of the New Forest is the model that has delivered these.  Members are looking for these skills, local expertise and resources that underpin this complex management system to be secured for the future.

The Authority has convened a panel of members to consider the finer details of the consultation and to help compile the Authority’s formal response. Members are also continuing to work closely with partner organisations to make sure the views of the Forest are conveyed and heard by Government.

A full report on the consultation will be presented to the Authority meeting on 24 March 2011 (one month ahead of the closing date for the twelve week consultation).

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