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New Forest National Park authority wants views on crackdown of pop-up campsites

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VIEWS are being sought on a potential crackdown on controversial pop-up campsites in the New Forest amid a surge in visitors to the area.

The national park authority has proposed all temporary campsites with more than 50 pitches – as well as all new temporary sites established since 1st March 2020 – be required to apply for planning permission to help protect the environment.

However, the idea has been criticised; at a recent NPA meeting campsite operators Teddy Powell and Rebecca Nicholson both lodged objections and said the plans would unfairly hit "exemplary" sites and could increase wild camping in the Forest.

Would the plans unfairly hit "exemplary" sites?
Would the plans unfairly hit "exemplary" sites?

A public consultation on the plan launched on Tuesday, and NPA planning committee chairman Gordon Bailey defended the proposals.

"The New Forest is already one of the most visited national parks in England and has the highest proportion of land designated as internationally important for nature conservation in the country, so it is vital we protect the very thing that people come here to enjoy," he said.

"These new rules will not affect smaller temporary campsites which have been operating for a number of years. However, we are concerned about the impact of larger sites and any new sites, and it is proposed that these should require planning permission in the future."

The number of pop-up campsites in the Forest has increased in recent years after the government allowed them to operate for 28 days a year without planning permission. When the pandemic hit, that was raised to 56 days to help the outdoor hospitality sector recover.

But that extension, alongside rapidly increasing visitor numbers, prompted concerns among NPA members over how the sites and their users may impact protected habitats.

The NPA says the scheme would help protect the environment
The NPA says the scheme would help protect the environment

The move would involve introducing restrictions through the adoption of an Article 4 Direction, which can be used by local planning authorities to protect the amenity of an area.

The authority believes using the direction within the national park is justified and points to it having more than three times the number of camping and touring caravan bed spaces per square kilometre than the average of all other English national parks as evidence.

Currently there are 12 known temporary campsites operating, with pitch numbers ranging from 12 to 90, it adds.

The consultation on the Article 4 Direction runs to 7th November; the plans can be viewed at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk or at the NPA offices at Lymington Town Hall.

Responses can be sent to the policy manager at the HQ or by email to policy@newforestnpa.gov.uk, quoting ‘Article 4 Direction – temporary campsites’.

If the direction is confirmed it will come into effect on 30th September 2022. Before then, the NPA will produce updated guidance and policies to help inform future planning applications for new and larger campsites.

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