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Thursday, 17 February 2011

New Forest National Park Authority welcomes announcement that Forest consultation is halted

The New Forest National Park Authority today (17 February) welcomed the news that the Government’s consultation on the future management of the Forest estate has been halted.

Julian Johnson, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, had written to Ministers on Monday inviting them to the New Forest to learn more about the special nature of the area and hear local views on the consultation. Mr Johnson today said he hoped that meeting would still go ahead.

He said: ‘There has been a huge groundswell of concern from our residents and partners in the National Park and Authority members were clear that we had to engage Ministers directly in understanding the views of local people about the consultation. Today the voice of local people appears to have been heard.

‘I wrote to Ministers asking for close engagement in the New Forest and to highlight the strong local views and the importance of the Crown Lands. It is evident that the consultation focussed minds at the highest level on protecting the importance of the New Forest Crown Lands as an internationally important landscape, and we will play a full part in continuing these important discussions for the benefit of the Forest.

‘In my letter to Ministers I 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.

‘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.’

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