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Letter: What is the New Forest for?

SIR – Jon Bray (Letters, 19th March), regarding visitor rights, raises the interesting philosophical question: what is the New Forest for?

The Forest is not related to the Kinder Scout movement. The Peak District is nearly three times the size, with only a slightly larger population, about 800 years newer and created for entirely different reasons.

The New Forest was dragged kicking and screaming into the national park authorities after centuries of management.

The Forest has always had commoners – that is the uniqueness. It is a tiny scrap of land, just 20 miles by 10, if made rectangular. The problem is that there are about 35,000 residents with some 15-million within a couple of hours’ drive.

And now it seems to be nothing more than a profit opportunity by the national park authority and New Forest District Council, for everything from houses and more houses to bike races to illegal scrapyards.

So what is the New Forest for? This 900-year-old little patch of grass, gorse and woodland is the emblem of our commitment to the future.

We have no right to criticise any country on the planet for their land management if we cannot manage ours.

We may well have to restrict the 15-million who might want a day visit, we must exclude and oust illegal scrapyard dealers, we have to rigidly enforce speed limits if people are too stupid to understand their importance, and we sadly have to manage the delights of cycling.

Everything is connected to everything nowadays.

Being selfish, arrogant or greedy on our patch now tells our children and other nations what we really believe in.

Peter Padfield,


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