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MP hears about coastal challenges in the New Forest National Park

MP hears about coastal challenges in the New Forest National Park


The Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne MP visited Keyhaven and Hurst Castle to hear more about the challenges facing the coastal environment and communities of the New Forest National Park.

The MP for New Forest West was hosted by the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) and partners involved in planning a long-term sustainable future for the coast between Hurst Spit and Lymington.

Rising sea levels as a result of climate change will not only increase risk of flood and erosion of property, infrastructure and low-lying land, but will also have an impact on the surrounding protected landscape, habitats, the species they support, heritage assets such as Hurst Castle and recreational activities.

At Hurst Castle Sir Desmond saw the section of a wall on the east wing which collapsed in 2021 after the sea exposed and undercut its foundations.

David Hedges, Head of Estate Management at English Heritage, explained how the castle’s location poses considerable conservation challenges. Major works have been carried out to repair existing damage, while partners are working to identify the best solution to protect the castle from further erosion.

NPA planning and conservation staff discussed the Local Listing project which helps protect the buildings and assets important to the local and cultural heritage of the National Park. They also shared their experience of particular impacts of permitted development on sensitive rural areas of the New Forest.

At Keyhaven Sir Desmond met with Simeon Morgan of Aubrey Farm. The NPA is supporting local farmers and landowners with advice and grants to encourage sustainable farming practices and Simeon is a member of the Local Assessment Panel for the National Park’s Farming in Protected Landscapes programme.

Keith Metcalf of Milford Conservation Volunteers and Wings Wildlife Heritage showed the MP some local bird life and talked about opportunities to extend important wildlife habitats for coastal species and access around the Lymington Keyhaven nature reserve and two kingfishers also made an appearance right on cue.

Sir Desmond heard how NPA rangers work to educate the public about responsible recreation, while the Authority’s New to Nature Intern Joshua Dawes spoke about the wide range of roles and experience he is gathering on his year-long placement.

Sir Desmond Swayne said: ‘The New Forest National Park faces a number of complex and wide-ranging issues – such as those I’ve heard about today – but there’s clearly positive local partnership in action to develop future options to manage these. There are opportunities to make a real impact for the benefit of communities by working together to secure the future of the New Forest’s important landscapes, habitats and heritage.’

Caption (l to r): New Forest National Park Authority Chair Prof Gavin Parker, Chief Exec Alison Barnes, Sir Desmond Swayne MP and David Hedges, Head of Estate Management at English Heritage, discuss coastal issues at Hurst Castle, Lymington.

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