Page last updated at 12:13 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 13:13 UK

Residents welcome 'new' park plan

By Eleanor Williams
BBC News, Dibden

Meeting at the Applemore Leisure Centre
The changes were announced at a meeting on Wednesday

Campaigners and residents have welcomed plans by the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) to revise its much criticised draft management plan.

About 170 people attended a public meeting in Dibden on Wednesday night.

Chief executive Barrie Foley said plans to ban dogs from some car parks and impose stricter planning regulations on horse keepers had been dropped.

The plan had sparked demonstrations and petitions but many people said the changes being made were "positive".

The first draft of the plans published last year included banning horse owners from putting up shelters for their animals, feeding them and putting rugs on them without planning permission.

It also included banning dogs from certain car parks in a bid to protect wildlife and reduce fouling.

We feel a sense of relief that they are listening to us
Julie Nairn, New Forest resident

Residents, horse keepers, dog owners and businesses protested, saying it would restrict how they live, work and enjoy the forest.

Mr Foley said the concept of road tolls and dividing the park into three zones had also been scrapped.

Under the revised plan, which was unveiled at a public meeting at the Applemore Leisure Centre on Wednesday, the authority proposed bringing horse-keeping policies in line with those of New Forest District Council.

NFNPA chief executive Barrie Foley
Mr Foley admitted original communication went "badly"

Meanwhile the controversial rule of only allowing one horse per hectare would also be removed.

Tina Cant, from the Forest Uprising campaign group, said: "I think we can definitely say we are a lot happier.

"What we're looking to achieve, and we seem to be hearing the right thing so far, is that all of the measures will always be adjusted according to the needs [of the horse]."

Brian Tarnoff, from the New Forest Association, said: "We're happy to see Barrie Foley is supporting the forest and addressing issues people have raised.

"A lot of the issues were already there to start with, they were just written down by the NPA.

"They [the park authority] miscommunicated how they were being applied."

'Dictatorial tone'

Sue Baillie, from campaign group One Voice, said the change was "very positive".

"It's great to see that Barrie Foley has taken on board what people have said," she said.

"I just hope it carries on forward from here and I expect to see some substantial changes in the plan and not just that it has been reworded."

Sue Baillie
Sue Baillie said the changes to the plan were positive

Julie Nairn, who lives near Ower on the edge of the New Forest, said they were relieved to be listened to.

"There had been a very dictatorial tone when they formed," she said. "That tone has softened."

Interim chief executive Mr Foley replaced Lindsay Cornish, who resigned as chief executive in June after what she said were "ill-informed and libellous" comments about her.

Mr Foley said at the meeting: "What we've seen here is that the consultation process was working.

"I want to make sure we've listened to everybody.

"The [original] communication did go very badly, we included issues that were very emotionally charged and didn't recognise the negative feedback that they would have.

Speaking later to BBC News, Mr Foley said: "We're not going to be in a position where we have dog-free car parks.

"It's connecting with people and making them understand the cause and effect.

"Responsible dog ownership is key, responsible horse ownership is key and education is key."

The revised plans will be published and put out to consultation next month.

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