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Residents of Hyde and the surrounding villages* can find out how the Forestry Commission and its partners are proposing to restore Latchmore Brook to its natural course, by attending a public exhibition on Tuesday 6 October.
Independent environmental planning consultants LUC and the Forestry Commission will be hosting the public exhibition at Hyde Church Community Centre, to provide local people with the chance to see the latest proposals with the team and provide feedback on the plans to restore Latchmore Brook.
Latchmore Brook was artificially deepened and widened in the mid-19th century and early 20th
century, as it was believed it would improve grazing for cattle and ponies, and extend the area where trees could grow inside the Inclosures. This action however has disturbed the natural balance of the stream with the floodplain and consequently affected the wetland ecology. It has been identified by Natural England, the Government’s conservation agency, as being in an ‘unfavourable condition’ – so the proposed works will help address this issue and protect the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for future generations.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Latchmore wetland restoration is currently being finalised by LUC and will be submitted to the New Forest National Park Authority as part of the planning application later this year. The team have carried out extensive surveys and research to better understand the local environment and inform the EIA.
Bruce Rothnie, Deputy Surveyor, at Forestry Commission, said:
“The New Forest, of which the Latchmore Brook is an integral part, is one of the UK’s most important sites for wildlife and is widely recognised as being exceptionally important for nature conservation throughout Europe. However, Natural England has identified that the Latchmore Brook in particular is under threat as a result of past drainage work. It’s our moral and legal responsibility to maintain and restore habitats such as this by reinstating the natural processes wherever possible. We can prevent further damage and create an ecosystem that is more robust, and also help to protect the Forest’s unique biodiversity.
“This will be our second public exhibition where we will set out the details of the proposed scheme to restore Latchmore Brook to its natural course and protect the wetland in the New Forest for many years to come. While we have consulted with many key stakeholders to create our restoration plans – Natural England, New Forest National Park Authority (NPA), Commoners Defence Association, New Forest Access Forum, New Forest Association, Verderers and Agisters – it is important for local people to tell us what they think of our proposals and talk to the consultants who are undertaking the EIA. The feedback we get will help us shape and finalise our plans.”
The public exhibition will take place on Tuesday 6 October between 4pm to 8.30pm at Hyde Church Community Centre, near Fordingbridge, SP6 2QJ. Forestry Commission and LUC staff will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the key issues.
The Latchmore Brook Wetland Restoration is being funded by the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Scheme and may include a variety of restoration works, such as infilling the straightened drains and re-directing the natural water flows back into the original meandering stream channels to ensure that the levels in the restored stream beds are shallow enough to prevent further erosion.
For further information on the proposed restoration, and the opportunity to provide feedback, please visit the New Forest HLS website: www.hlsnewforest.org.uk.
* Residents of Hyde, Ellingham, Harbridge & Ibsley, Godshill, Bramshaw, Woodgreen and Minstead Parish Councils.
Notes to editors:
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. It supports woodland owners with grants; tree felling licences, regulation and advice; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Government on forestry policy. It manages more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) of national forest land for public benefits such as sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development. For more information, visit www.forestry.gov.uk. More detail about Latchmore can be found at www.hlsnewforest.org.uk/hls/info/100/latchmore.
Pippa Hanson/Toby Barker Tel. 01242 577277