RR10 League race faces uncertain future amid fears over New Forest ground-nesting birds
A RUNNING meet hosted in the New Forest for the last 38 years is facing an uncertain future amid fears of disturbance to ground-nesting birds.
The RR10 League comprises 14 local running clubs who complete a five-mile course at Wiverley Inclosure every Wednesday evening during the spring and summer.
But this year Forestry England (FE) has told them an assessment must be carried out before they are given permission to run, to ensure wildlife is not disturbed.
The separate Brockenhurst parkrun, a popular weekly fixture that before lockdown used the Forest in the winter, may also have to make new arrangements after being blocked for the month of April next year.
The RR10 organisers said it was unlikely its event will start as planned this month, and that alternative locations have been arranged.
Malcolm Price, chair of the RR10, said: “We have been running in the New Forest for 38 years and we want to stay there. We are hopeful we can come to some arrangement with the FE for the run to continue.
“We are happy to have an assessment but we have no idea what the financial implications are. We would have to pay for it and the cost could be very high.”
“We are not the only organisation being affected by this. The Wessex Cancer Trust normally hold a sponsored walk through the Forest which raises around £40,000. “
Alternative venues found by the RR10 include Itchen Park and Manor Farm, both in Southampton. It will also be held at Broadlands, Romsey, but organisers have had to pay a fee.
The news comes as it was revealed that local parkruns are also in danger of not going ahead. There are 726 parkruns in the UK which meet every Saturday morning at 9am for a 5k run.
But the organisation’s head office has announced that if not enough of their members find a venue, they may all be cancelled after restrictions end on 21st June.
Brockenhurst parkrun, which has 200 members, uses the Forest in the winter and the village’s college grounds in the summer – for which it is currently applying to use again this year.
Organisers said they were initially told by FE that they must have a ground-nesting bird assessment in February to enable them to run in the Forest.
The FE has said this is now not necessary although running will still not be allowed in April next year.
Organiser Mick Anglim said: “We are very pleased to accept FE’s revised position that the use of Wilverley in February and March will not be at risk from bird surveys.”
Speaking about the RR10, the FE said that a new habitat regulations assessment (HRA) agreed with Natural England comes into force in July.
A spokesperson said: “We advised the RR10 last year that the new HRA would affect them as their events take place during the key ground-nesting bird season.
“Given this, Natural England have advised the organisers to apply for a specific assessment of their event.
“They will then make a decision on whether their event can take place and any mitigation measures that need to be put in place.”
Of the Brockenhurst parkrun, the spokesman confirmed events could not take place in the Forest in April.