Car access to New Forest beauty spot restored after Forestry Commission backs down
ACCESS to a popular area in the New Forest is to be restored after the Forestry Commission bowed to pressure from campaigners.
At the end of the summer a barrier was erected at the Denny Wood campsite between Lyndhurst and Beaulieu, preventing people in cars from getting to an area of hard-standing where the old sawmill once stood at the site between Lyndhurst and Beaulieu.
The Forestry Commission (FC) said it was necessary to put the gate there to stop the erosion of verges by inconsiderate parking, but it stopped many people, particularly the elderly and infirm, from being able to enjoy the wood during the winter months.
The issue prompted an outcry from users with many writing letters to the A&T.
Although the barrier will remain, the FC has now agreed to open another gate further down which will allow access to a large area of hard-standing so people can park there. Dragon’s teeth will be installed along the verges to protect them.
Graeme Browning-Martin, who started the campaign, congratulated the FC for its “quick response”, saying: “I thought they would be very unhelpful and nothing would be done. But in fact they have been excellent.
“They listened to our concerns and looked at a way we could still have access to the site without causing any damage. They have come up with a great solution and should be congratulated for their approach.
“Denny Wood is really a unique place as there are lots of birds there which, thanks to being fed during the summer by campers, are quite tame. So it is very popular with birdwatchers who like to park up there and take photos of the birds from their cars.
“You are almost guaranteed to see at least a couple of woodpeckers if you go there.
“What the FC have done means we will still be able to do that, and also people with less mobility will be able to drive their car nearer to where they want to have a walk, or be pushed in a wheelchair.”
Mr Browning-Martin (35), who works for the NHS, said he often goes to the site in the winter months with his two boys, Tobias (3) and Oliver (5).
“We go every weekend,” he said. “They love it there and have really missed going.”
Speaking about the success of his campaign, Mr Browning-Martin said: “It just shows what can happen if people get together. After I first posted about the gate on Facebook I got about 100 comments and lots of people also wrote to the FC.
“The FC say they hope to have the hard-standing available from the start of December and I would urge people to thank them in return for what they have done by not causing any damage to the verges there.”
The FC’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme contracts manager, Nick Wardlaw, said “The works at Denny Wood Campsite have emerged out of ongoing dialogue between a number of organisations – our partners, the parish council, Camping in the Forest and local residents who have all voiced their concern over the increased erosion by vehicles repeatedly parking on the Forest floor around the boundary of the campsite and eroding the soil along the edges of the access track towards the private houses beyond.
“In order to find a solution that would help prevent further erosion and allow the Forest to recover back to its natural condition, a barrier and a number of dragon’s teeth (chestnuts posts) were installed.
“We absolutely understand the need to assess and review the effectiveness of the verge protection work, and we've been gathering feedback from all parties. Next week further adjustments to access of the campsite will be made and this will ensure that during the months that the campsite is closed (October-March) a small parking area at Denny Wood campsite, on the existing hardstanding can be used during this period.”
Mr Wardlaw added: “We completely understand that it’s a popular spot to park and it’s certainly not our intention to stop people from using Denny Wood for walking, etc.
"We do understand that these changes may have caused some inconvenience, but we do hope that people can support improvements to the verges and appreciate how the work will help protect the New Forest’s precious habitats.”
For more information go to www.hlsnewforest.org.uk/projects/verge-restoration/