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- For a quick introduction to our work, watch the short video below. It was made in 2012 and, as a result of our campaign, it was agreed that planning permission was required and an Environmental Impact Assessment of the Latchmore project was undertaken. In July 2016 the Forestry Commission submitted a planning application to the New Forest National Park Authority for the “restoration” of Latchmore Brook. The NFNPA received over 300 objections to the proposals and on 15 November 2016 the planning committee refused to grant planning permission – the reasons for their decision are here. It has been announced that there will not be an appeal against the decision.
The Friends of Latchmore is an action group formed to protect the delightful environment of the Latchmore Brook – a very beautiful, popular and biodiverse valley on the northwest side of the New Forest – in the light of proposed and potentially very damaging “restoration” works by the Forestry Commission.
The original proposed scheme involved importing up to 10, 000 tons of gravel to fill in the existing stream bed and relocate it to an alternative course just a few yards away. In 2016, the scheme involved the whole catchment and approximately 96,000 tons of imported material for infilling. We believe that any benefits that this work might deliver are trivial, but that the risks it poses are serious. The Forestry Commission claim that it is a “deep and eroding drain”, which is quite obviously untrue, and that it is “disconnected from its flood plain”. In fact it overtops its banks frequently, as photos on this site demonstrate.
After over a year of campaigning and legal challenges by solicitors acting for Friends of Latchmore, the Forestry Commission finally admitted that planning permission was required, and in 2014 agreed that an Environmental Impact Assessment would be carried out. However, the scope and quality of this assessment is uncertain. This site describes the concerns of the Friends of Latchmore, and gives evidence of the damage caused by similar work around the New Forest (see the photos and reports on other pages).
The main concerns of the Friends of Latchmore are:
- Latchmore Brook – the proposed works will radically alter this iconic landscape for ever.
- Highest Level Protection – this area has been given the highest level of environmental Protection (SSSI, SPA, SAC, RAMSAR) yet;
- No research – in 2012 no specific environmental impact assessment had been made in advance of the work.
- Imported Gravel – 10,000 tons of imported gravel (now, in 2016, approximately 96,000 tons) will be trucked in to fill the existing stream, causing damage to Forest roads, verges, and the floodplain which is the highest quality SSSI.
- Risks– the future impact of this major construction work is unknown. The least it will cause is a major increase in the boggy ground at this popular recreation area; at worst, the washing out of the imported gravel onto the floodplain and beyond.
- Wildlife – wildlife will be disturbed and habitat lost unnecessarily.
- Birds – Rare and protected birds will have nesting sites disturbed or removed.
- Waterlife – fish and protected dragonflies will have their habitat disturbed or destroyed.
- Archaeology – archaeological sites inside the works area will be at risk.
Following the Public Meeting on 22 February 2012 a letter was sent to the Official Verderer (the Chair of the HLS Board responsible for carrying out this project) on 25 February. This letter (available here) requests that work on the project be suspended, and lists our fifteen concerns about the project and asks 24 questions about it that have not yet been satisfactorily answered.