LATCHMORE REPORT   Section 1

       SECTION 1                                  SECTION 2                                          SECTION 3                                              SECTION 4

Introduction                               Submissions from:                                 NPA - Planning Position                          Links to websites

The Project                                 The Verderers of the New Forest         Environmental Impact Assessment        Scoping report letter

Timescale for the Works           Natural England                                    The other sides of the Debate

Funding                                      The Forestry Commission                     The run up to the Planning Decision

 

 

 

Introduction


Since 2011-12, the possibility of a major wetland restoration project for Latchmore Brook has been on our Parish radar. Over the ensuing many months a serious number of concerns and issues surrounding the project have been raised, not least by the Friends of Latchmore, whose unrelenting pressure resulted in the ordering of an Environmental Impact Assessment and the agreement by the Forestry Commission that they would voluntarily proceed to a full Planning Application once this had been completed.

At their meeting in September 2014 the Parish Council received a number of representations from residents concerned about perceived inadequacies in the published Scoping Report relating to the EIA.  These concerns were followed by emails from various residents.  While the Parish Council urged residents to raise these issues directly with the Forestry Commission and the National Park Authority, they at the same time sent a letter to the relevant bodies listing the main areas of concern that had been raised and joining their own concerns to the debate.  (Follow Link to Section 4 above).

On 6th October there will be a further public exhibition staged by Land Use Consultants, the firm appointed to carry out the EIA.  The first, held in Godshill, left many of us singularly unimpressed and it is to be hoped that this second presentation will more satisfactorily address the many issues of concern that exist.

Throughout the period the Parish Council have remained resolute in their determination to represent the Parish as a whole and not to be drawn into the white heat of debate on specific issues. With the publishing of the EIA forecast for late October it is likely that a formal Planning Application will be submitted to the NPA before the end of the year, so we have approached the involved statutory bodies - the Verderers, Natural England, the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Planning Authority - with a request that each submit a statement outlining their position relating to wetland restoration in general and Latchmore Brook in particular.  We have also looked at the other side of the debate and the impact of the work carried out by the Friends of Latchmore.

We are indebted to the Verderers  of the New Forest, Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority for their help and also for their permission to reproduce certain sections from their websites.  The reader will find many links to related websites and documents throughout this report.

Background to the project

The New Forest is divided into 584 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) units. Each one has been individually identified and assessed by Natural England, based on its habitat type, unique features, management regime and geographical location. In terms of wetland habitats, the New Forest supports one of only four significant sites of bog woodland in the UK, as well as one of the six best sites of riverine woodland. Together with other scarce wetland habitats, the Forest also contains the most extensive lowland valley mire systems in western Europe.

Latchmore Brook is a tributary of the River Avon. It rises in Picket Corner and Crow's Nest Bottom, draining west towards Ogdens (south of Frogham) where it becomes known as the Huckles Brook. The Brook extends through three forested inclosures: Islands Thorn Inclosure, Amberwood Inclosure and Alderhill Inclosure before entering the Open forest.

The site lies within the New Forest National Park within the catchment of the Latchmore Brook. The whole site also falls within the New Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA), Ramsar Site (all European Nature Conservation Designations) and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).   The SSSI units in the catchment are currently classed by Natural England (the Government’s Nature Conservation Agency) as being
'unfavourable recovering'. The Forestry Commission has a legal responsibility under the Wildlife and Countryside Act to restore and maintain SAC and SSSI designated land and features where the habitat or feature has been assessed by Natural England as being in an unfavourable recovering state.

SSSI habitat restoration work has been undertaken in the New Forest for over 15 years with funding from various sources, including the EU-funded Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme. One of the key objectives of this Scheme is wetland restoration, to change the remaining unfavourable SSSI units to favourable condition, thus safeguarding an area that is recognised as being of outstanding importance for nature conservation in both the UK and Europe due to the size, quality and complex mosaic of habitats.

The Project

The Forestry Commission is proposing to restore Latchmore Brook back to its natural meandering course. After the stream was artificially deepened and widened in the mid 19th and early 20th centuries, it lost its natural connectivity with its floodplain. This in turn is adversely affecting the ecology of the catchment. It is causing increased erosion within the mire systems, degradation of wet heath and grassland habitats, and limited seasonal flooding of the surrounding grassland and woodland habitats. This inconsistent interaction with the floodplain means that adjacent habitats are being negatively affected.

A variety of restoration works are currently under consideration and may include:

 

  •     recreating a shallow meandering water course and in-filling the stretches of artificial channel

  •     raising the bed of the main channel, tributaries and side drains

  •     installing debris dams in appropriate locations

  •     repairing nick points (key erosion points)

  •     repairing over-deepened drains to restore water levels and stabilise erosion

  •     removing artificial spoil banks

  •     undertaking tree felling, scrub and vegetation clearance to allow machine access and ordnance clearance

  •     replacing, maintaining or relocating some access structures (fords, culverts, bridges).


The final preferred restoration proposals will be informed by the findings of the EIA.

Timescale for the Works

If approved, it is intended that the restoration works will be undertaken in short stages (of up to 6 weeks) in the summer months over a four year period (2016 – 2019).    

 

         Year            Months                               Site                                                                      

 

        2016         August - September            Island Thorns (Picket Corner to Fritham Bridge)

                         September                           Thompson's Castle
                         September                           Latchmore Mire

 

       2017          August - September            Studley Wood

                         mid-August - September    Ogdens Mire

 

       2018          July - August                       Amberwood and Alderhill Inclosures

                         August - September             Sloden

 

       2019          mid-August - September      Watergreen Bottom

                         mid-August - September      Latchmore Shade

Funding

Most current major wetland restoration projects are funded through  the Verderers of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme, which is an agreement between the Verderers of the New Forest, Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority.   The New Forest HLS is England’s largest agri-environment scheme designed to restore and enhance the internationally-important habitats in the New Forest.  Worth £19m of European and UK money over 10 years, the New Forest HLS funds:

 

  •    The maintenance and restoration of internationally-important habitats for wildlife

  •    The historic practice of commoning, which maintains the unique New Forest landscape

  •    Work to identify and maintain historic sites improve their protection

  •    Improved access to and education about the area’s unique environment.   


The Latchmore Brook Wetland Restoration will be funded by the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Scheme and the Forestry Commission.