New Forest stream restoration plan shelved

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Current condition of Latchmore BrookImage source, Verderers of the New Forest
Image caption,
The Forestry Commission said the area risked falling into further decline

Controversial plans to restore wetlands in the New Forest have been shelved after they were refused by planners.

The Forestry Commission scheme at Latchmore Brook aimed to recreate the meanders of a stream which had been diverted by Victorian engineers.

But campaigners claimed the work would cause "irreparable damage".

The commission said the scheme's sponsor, the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) Scheme, had decided not to challenge the planning decision.

It said the HLS board had opted instead to focus funding on monitoring the brook, near Hyde, and on other projects within the forest.

A spokeswoman said the Forestry Commission was now revising its work programme.

She said: "We will continue to monitor Latchmore Brook, to measure changes during the remaining period of the HLS agreement because it's vital that will build knowledge of the changes at the site and use that to inform future management.

"We understand and respect the decision taken by the HLS Board not to appeal the decision and to focus their future funding on a range of projects that will build on the success of completed conservation and restoration work across the New Forest."

New Forest National Park Authority refused planning permission for the scheme in November, amid strong local opposition, despite it having the backing of the Environment Agency, Natural England and Historic England.

Residents argued the 96,000 tonnes of gravel needed for the restoration would spell "ecological disaster" for the area.

Following the refusal, the Forestry Commission said the "threatened area" now risked "falling into further decline".

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