New planning guidance and regulations for temporary campsites in the National Park are to be introduced to help protect the New Forest’s wildlife and habitats.
In recent years the New Forest has seen an increase in the number of temporary or ‘pop-up’ campsites. These have benefitted from permitted development rights whereby they can operate without planning permission for 28 days a calendar year. This was extended by Government last year and again this year to 56 days to help the outdoor hospitality sector recover from the pandemic.
However, with an ever-increasing demand for touring pitches, there is concern about the future environmental impacts of these temporary campsites within the National Park. These are mainly around the disturbance of protected habitats, and the safe disposal of waste water and effluent and the need to demonstrate compliance with the Habitat Regulations (which is a condition of all national permitted development rights).
The New Forest is already one of the most visited National Parks in England and has the highest proportion of designated land of international value for nature conservation in the country.
At today’s Full National Park Authority Meeting (25 March 2021), Members agreed to publish guidance and a mitigation framework to help existing smaller campsites meet the requirements of the Habitat Regulations. This is likely to involve sites paying an appropriate habitat mitigation contribution each year, and ensuring proper arrangements are in place for the safe disposal of waste water and effluent.
It was further agreed that from June next year (2022) all larger and new campsites would need to apply for planning permission, supported by new policy/guidance against which future planning applications would be assessed.
Leo Randall, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority’s Planning Committee said: ‘The New Forest National Park has more than three times the number of camping and touring caravan bed spaces per square kilometre than the average of all other English national parks. Given that this small geographical area is already well served by existing camping and caravan sites, we believe our proposals strike an appropriate balance between the need to protect the New Forest environment while recognising the important role of tourism in the local economy.’
Steve Avery, Director of Strategy and Planning at the New Forest National Park Authority added: ‘We shall be liaising closely with campsite owners over the next few weeks as we work up the details of the guidance and mitigation framework to help them meet the requirements of the Habitat Regulations. The proposed withdrawal of permitted development rights for larger and all new campsites will be the subject of a future public consultation later this year.’