NEW Forest car parks will remain open during the second lockdown, Forestry England has confirmed.
This is in contrast to its approach during the first lockdown in March when it padlocked all gated parking areas, leading to residents leaving their cars outside and on verges.
A spokesperson for the government group said that while a small number of car parks are closed for maintenance or protection due to potential flooding and damage in bad weather, no additional closures were planned in relation to the lockdown.
They urged, however, that those using the car parks follow government guidance during the four-week lockdown, which came into effect yesterday (Thursday).
“There is clear guidance to the public about how to protect the New Forest during this time and we would urge people to help us achieve this. Ensuring the Forest is a safe place to exercise and protecting the very special nature, and landscape we have here, requires all of us to respect and look after it. Spending time or exercising in the New Forest should be done locally whenever possible.”
They added: “We are sure many people will be keen to get out and about, however, we ask that they remain aware that they may need to be prepared to turn around if the car park looks too busy or is full, and find an alternative official car park.”
FE also reminded those heading into the Forest not to park on grass verges or block gates: “The verges are not the edges of the Forest they are part of the New Forest. Sustained parking on verges erodes this precious landscape, destroys rare plants, and significantly reduces the amount of grazing for ponies and livestock that roam the Forest.”
Only three public toilets remain open at FE parking areas – Bolderwood, Blackwater and Wilverley. Those at Anderwood, Hatchet Pond and Whitefield Moor are closed because social distancing requirements there cannot be met.
“We urge people to consider the lack of facilities before they arrive and plan their visits accordingly and appropriately,” The FE spokesperson said.