This summer, residents and visitors are being encouraged to make sure they know about new measures in the New Forest. The district council has introduced two new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), supported by Forestry England, the New Forest National Park Authority and the Verderers of the New Forest.
The use of BBQs and fires in the Forest, and feeding and petting ponies or donkeys are all banned, with those failing to comply liable to a fixed penalty fine or prosecution.
Their introduction follows repeated fire damage to the Forest caused by campfires and BBQs, and the growing risk of wildfires due to increasingly hotter and drier conditions.
The PSPO bans the lighting of fires of any type including BBQs and any outdoor cooking facilities or equipment. It also makes it an offence to place, throw or drop items likely to cause a fire such as lit cigarettes.
Concern over the safety of the public and Forest animals, following injuries to the people and animal deaths resulting from being fed human food, created the need to better manage public interactions with these free-roaming animals.
The PSPO relating to this activity bans feeding and petting ponies or donkeys on the Forest.
Teams from Forestry England, the New Forest National Park Authority and the Verderers of the New Forest will be patrolling and engaging with the public to explain more about the new rules.
Signs and information will be in place across the Forest. Along with other key things to know about visiting the area, the new rules will also be highlighted in the New Forest Code, widely publicised across the area and shared by local tourism businesses with many visitors before and during their stay.
The new orders apply from 1 July and where necessary can be enforced by issuing fixed penalty notices of £100, a sum which can rise to £1,000 following a successful prosecution.
Cllr Dan Poole, New Forest District Council’s portfolio holder for community, safety and wellbeing, said, “Most people enjoying the Forest do so with great care and regard for the New Forest Code.
“By making these PSPOs, we expect a reduction in the rare but damaging cases of anti-social behaviour associated with wildfires and barbecues on the Forest, and the feeding and petting of Forest animals.”
More information on the Public Space Protection Orders can be found online.