New Forest camping firm urged to rethink 2020 sites closure decision

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New Forest campsites
Holmsley campsite is among those staying shut in the New Forest for the rest of the year

PLANS to keep major New Forest campsites closed, despite the government giving the go-ahead for holidays, will affect businesses and lead to unlawful wild camping, locals have warned.

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Independent operating company Camping in the Forest announced last Thursday that it will not be reopening its sites this year at Hollands Wood, Setthorns, Holmsley, Ocknell, Long Beech, Ashurst, Denny Wood, Roundhill and Matley Wood.

But it has been urged by local businesses and Forestry England to reconsider, amid fears of losing visitors’ trade and campers staying illegally.

Concerns about the impact on firms which are already struggling due to the impact of coronavirus were raised by Cllr Hilary Brand, a café owner and the district councillor for Lyndhurst.

She said: “The whole of our high street is very concerned about the campsites not opening. We will not survive as businesses if holiday makers cannot come to the Forest – not just our high street, but all Forest high streets.

“We have all taken great care to make our shops and cafes safe places. I believe that the campsites can easily be made safe, especially the ones without facilities.

“The view to not open them is very short-sighted, not only for our economy but it could mean people camping where they should not and causing hazards and danger.”

Forestry England also called for a rethink, with a spokesperson telling the A&T: “We feel for the staff, their families and holidaymakers affected by Camping in the Forest’s decision not to run a very short season in 2020 and we hope the company takes the time to quickly review and reconsider.”

“We understand the economic environment post-lockdown is very tough and seasonal businesses are uncertain about their income.

“We are also very aware of people’s concerns about the anti-social behaviour we are already seeing in our forests and fears that closed campsites might increase this.”

She added: “We are urgently talking to other Forest organisations, landowners and local stakeholders to find ways to work together to limit wild camping and other anti-social use of the Forest.”

A Brockenhurst resident, who did not want to be named, called the decision “total lunacy”.

He told the A&T: “The businesses and local shops which have been so badly hit by Covid-19 and have directly supported Forestry England, for example, by stopping selling disposable barbecues, now receive a real slap in the face as visitors and their resulting trade will be effected.

“A minority of visitors will come regardless as we’ve seen. They’ll continue to camp illegally, light bonfires, use the Forest as a toilet, leave piles of rubbish, and park where they like in ever increasing numbers as the summer builds.”

Camping in the Forest said in a statement: “After careful review it was clear that our Forest campsites posed unique challenges, meaning that we would be unable to meet our high hygiene standards and adhere to government guidance on new measures around the running of campsites.

“We appreciate the inconvenience and disappointment this brings but trust you will be understanding of the situation this year.”

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Further to my previous comment. Why did the council allow a private company, to take over the running of the sites anyway. They must be making a very nice profit, ( as the prices have shot up since ) that should be going into council coffers. It would be interesting to see, if any councillors, past or present, have an interest in the company.

  2. If I’m correct in thinking some of the sites don’t have showers or toilets so all the campers, caravans and Motorhomers have to be self contained. So what do camping in the forest have to do to follow the COVID rules and regs. Nearly all other sites are open and have made adjustments at little or no cost.
    Camping in the forest have shut all sites in England and Scotland.

    • Agree setthorns don’t have any toilets or showers so what’s the reason for them not opening.it’s open all yr any other time but not going to open until April and close in Sep 2021 what’s that all about .

  3. I think this is a good idea as the time has come to stay in and let the twats spread it elsewhere not do here in our forest

  4. Can Corona virus be spread by air conditioning units? No one will travel by air, it’s off to the new forest just like Bournemouth, over run, no toilets, litter, crowding. Stat at home.

  5. The licence to operate these campsites should be taken away from Camping In The Forest immediately. If they are not willing to support the local community they have no right to operate the business. I have no doubt that there are lots of other companies that have the acumen to open at least some of the sites and give the local economy an injection of capital that it so badly needs.

  6. Most people that stay on camp sites care about there local area where there staying at and usually bring in a lot of money to the local community I take afence to that we are like the idots that are on the beaches close to each other I would say the forest sites are more safe than most as there is no club house so you each have your own area’s never closer than 40feet if not more they could make it so there’s no contact with warden as booking with a desernated space and map could all be done on line prior to arrival so everyone is safe so keeping them closed seems silly I’m sure local business and the wardens do not want that like someone else said I think people will just park on the nearby street so even less income for local authorities

  7. Agree setthorns don’t have any toilets or showers so what’s the reason for them not opening.it’s open all yr any other time but not going to open until April and close in Sep 2021 what’s that all about .

  8. That is a very unfortunate decision that should be reconsidered. Aside from it’s affect on businesses, camping offers one of the lowest covid related risk options for people having a break. If there are extra costs associated with cleaning then I am sure people would understand and support this. I don’t imagine anyone saying people should just ‘stay at home’ lives in a tower block with young children. There has been a lot of social and psychological harm for many people during covid and restricting camping when all other (more expensive) holiday options are being opened up seems misguided at best. The Forest is for everybody, not just those of us fortunate enough to be able to afford to live in it.

  9. This is a nasty spiteful way of opting out of any responsibility and cornering all the business for themselves.

    This line is from their website “If you would like to switch your 2020 Camping in the Forest booking to a Camping and Caravanning Club Site, please contact us”. I missed copying their phone number…..sorry!
    And there you have it in a nutshell!

  10. Re facilities we use forest sites regularly Matley Wood facilities none not even a warden based on the site. Longbeech again no facilities, Aldridge Hill again no facilities. Setthorns no facilities only electricity to some pitches. Granted all the above have a CDP point and fresh water. So I ask if the above can manage for the whole camping season why not reduce the pitch price run a short season offering very basic facilities rather than allowing people to camp unsupervised leaving rubbish for the ponies to pick up and eat possibly killing them, let alone the possibility of wild fires caused by BBQS brought in and human waste lying around for animals and other people to attempt to avoid.

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