Letter: Where there’s a will, there are ways to save the New Forest
SIR – There have been many letters and articles about Holmsley bridge. I worked 40 years on major projects and now I live under the bridge, more or less. The vibration monitoring equipment is in my garden. I wish I could write a heap of articles about it.
But all the articles and letters really boil down to one point. For 900 years the Forest was used (and abused) by humans – but as a resource for trees and wildlife.
For the last 50, since motorways and fast cars, the Forest has been used as a resource – entirely for humans, as simply as an outer London suburb.
The notional ‘national park’ has a fast-growing population, housing and ever busier roads.
The new bridge reflects this. It is two metres higher, has a several-metre wider span and is on foundations 10 metres deeper. It is a bridge for a major road crossing, built hard up against the original. Hence the engineering problems.
In the A&T (14th January), a councillor was understandably concerned about a major traffic accident. The thing is, if all traffic everywhere in the Forest had a slow speed limit, rigidly enforced, a major accident would be unlikely.
If there were fewer houses in this notional national park, there would be less traffic. And so on.
These are not difficult if the will is there. Speeding must be the easiest of all problems to solve; every country I worked in had an answer. In democratic Switzerland the fine was deducted from your bank account as you drove. That simple.
Equally, housing – a blanket ban on any new dwelling in the Forest for, say, the next 50 years. If the will is there.
The letters and articles say one thing: the developers and demanders of 21st century life are in control. Speed, roads, traffic, housing, bridges.
The new ‘M1’ Holmsley bridge will be emblematic of the future of the Forest. The bridge and the grief it is giving is what we have asked for.
Maybe a time for all of to rethink our relationship with the Forest, with what is important in life? And petition and vote accordingly.
Meantime, for three months the absence of traffic is wonderful!
The birds and wildlife and I appreciate it.