New Forest pony owners’ plea to drivers: #add3minutes to your journey for the winterPUBLISHED ON: 23 OCTOBER 2017
Nearly 100 free-roaming animals were killed or injured in the New Forest last year.
A quarter of these — 25 animals – were killed or injured on just four key routes in the evenings in the two months after the clocks go back. About three quarters of the accidents involved local drivers.
Now New Forest commoners, the families who own the animals that maintain the Forest, have teamed up with other organisations to focus efforts on reducing accidents this winter. They are asking locals to add just three minutes to their journeys and drive slowly across the Forest.
Commoner Jo Ivey, of the Shared Forest project, has seen three of her ponies hit in two years, two of which died. She said: ‘Last September I received the dreaded call to say that my best mare had been hit by a car at Hatchet Pond nearly Beaulieu. She was in foal and when I got to her she was covered in cuts and bruises and you could see where her head smashed the windscreen.
‘She survived but sadly lost the sight in one eye due to the swelling on her brain. Fortunately the foal survived too — we called him Lucky Jim and they are both thriving now. The woman driver was in shock and said “I’m so sorry”. The car was a write-off. I wish people would realise what a horrendous thing it is.’
The free-roaming animals are vital in maintaining the protected New Forest landscape — it’s their grazing which makes it one of the best places for nature in Britain and for people to enjoy. The ponies, donkeys, cattle, pigs and sheep are owned and cared for by people called commoners and every animal killed is a great loss to the Forest, and to its owner. The animals have right of way on New Forest roads. Drivers need to expect them to step out, day and night.
The #add3minutes campaign includes new temporary warning signs on key roads, the police mobile speed camera van out in the Forest, campaign messaging on bin lorries, social media activity and posters in local businesses. Also 10 of the Forest’s largest employers have signed up to the campaign to encourage awareness among their staff.
Nigel Matthews, of the New Forest National Park Authority, convenes the Animal Accident Reduction Group of local organisations. He said: ‘The majority of commuters are responsible, slow and careful drivers across the Forest. But it’s easy to get complacent and we know that you are three times more likely to kill or injure an animal in the Forest after the clocks go back than before.
‘So we’re appealing to local people who use these routes to please #add3minutes to their journeys in the darker nights and drive slowly for New Forest animals.’
The four main routes where accidents occur are:
- Lymington — Beaulieu — Dibden Purlieu
- Brockenhurst — Sway
- Burley — Picket Post
- Cadnam — Godshill.
Notes to photo editor
New Forest commoners join representatives of local organisations at Beaulieu Road Sale Yard to appeal to local drivers to slow down as the clocks go back.
Notes to editors
The organisations involved in the Animal Accident Reduction Group are:
The Commoners Defence Association and Shared Forest project; the Verderers; New Forest National Park Authority; Forestry Commission; New Forest District Council; Hampshire County Council; Hampshire Constabulary; New Forest Association; New Forest Trust; and British Deer Society.
The 10 local employers who have signed up to the Shared Forest business partnership project are:
- Brockenhurst College
- HH & DE Drew Ltd (New Milton Sand and Ballast)
- New Forest District Council
- New Forest National Park Authority
- Pennyfarthing Homes
- Ramboll UK
- G Farwell Ltd
- The A&T
- Beaulieu Enterprises
- SPG Mowers.
Our Past, Our Future
The Shared Forest project is part of the Our Past, Our Future a Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest which, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will undertake a range of projects to restore lost habitats, develop Forest skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. The partnership focuses on the enclosed lands which surround the Open Forest.
The five year scheme is being led by the New Forest National Park Authority working alongside several delivery and funding partners, including the New Forest Land Advice Service.
About the New Forest National Park Authority
Protect – Enjoy – Prosper
The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:
- Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park – Protect.
- Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities — Enjoy.
We also have a duty to:
- Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park — Prosper.
The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.
Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.
Matt Stroud, Communications Officer
Tel: 01590 646650