THE Commoners’ Defence Association has a new leader in the saddle.
Charlotte Lines has been appointed acting chair until a permanent successor can be found to Tony Hockley who stood down after three years leading the group.
She lives in Totton and is well known for involvement in the Beaulieu Road Sales, especially the pre-sales foal shows.
Saying she was “extremely honoured” to be chosen by fellow commoners, Charlotte told the A&T: “In these extraordinary times the association is having to deal with many challenges,” she said.
“We are working harder than ever to safeguard the cultural heritage and internationally important habitats of the New Forest, both of which have commoning at their core.
“Increased recreational pressure, encroachment of Forest land, road traffic accidents,
and the future support for the New Forest are just a few of the issues we continue to work on.
“I would like to thank Tony Hockley for the contribution he has made to the association during his time as chair and look forward to working with him, the CDA committee and our partners over the coming months. I will work hard to ensure the voices of our members continue to be heard.
Dr Hockley said: “I am very pleased and relieved that Charlotte offered to take over. Charlotte, like most of the 700 commoners, has a proper job and it shows real commitment to take on this unpaid role. I will do whatever I can to help her.”
Looking to future, he added: “The next few years will see huge change.
“At present the New Forest receives around £5m a year from the EU Common Agricultural Policy, including significant direct support for the vocational system of grazing.
“For all its flaws, this brought cattle commoning back from the brink of collapse in the 1990s.
“The continuous history of grazing over centuries makes the New Forest a very special place, of global importance. The decisions of the next few years will possibly decide its survival for decades to come.
“It could be much better than today, but it could also be very much worse given the modern challenges of keeping livestock alongside keeping a home and a job.”