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Calls for New Forest-wide barbecue ban to include campsites

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OPEN fires should be banned at all New Forest campsites to send a consistent message to visitors, a leading commoner has warned.

Andrew Parry Norton, who runs the Commoners Larder with his wife Sarah, told the Verderers' Court he had recently spotted three large fires within Hollands Wood campsite.

He said this was despite Forestry England having introduced a high-profile ban on fires on Crown lands throughout the Forest to prevent major blazes.

Should barbecues be banned from Forest campsites?
Should barbecues be banned from Forest campsites?

When he spotted the flames, near Brockenhurst, he was told by a warden at the campsite, run by Camping in the Forest, that visitors were permitted to do this.

Mr Parry Norton declared: “Would the verderers agree with me that this is a severe fire risk and it also sets a very bad example to other visitors who come to the Forest?”

A spokesperson for Camping in the Forest told the A&T that campfires and fire pits were banned on its campsites and only barbecue specifically designed for cooking food were allowed.

They added: “It’s important to remember that campers need a way to prepare their meals and that on our campsites they are doing so in a managed environment following well-established practices, such as ensuring they are raised off the forest floor sufficiently to prevent damage.

“Cooking food on barbecues is also a part of the camping experience and we recognise this needs to be done safely and responsibly.”

Forestry England has even removed all barbecues that were previously available to the public in a number of car parks including at Wilverley Inclosure.

A spokesperson for Forestry England noted disposable barbecues are forbidden in campsites where wardens educate visitors on the New Forest Code which bans fires elsewhere.

She said: “More widely, we have taken a series of measures across the Forest to reduce fire risks. We carry out joint patrols with our partners to ensure as many people as possible are aware of, and observe the ban.

"This will continue throughout the summer and include patrols with volunteers from the local fire service to help raise the visibility of these messages.”

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