Commoner slates restoration work at forest streams

First published in New Forest News by , Head of News

A COMMONER has told Verderers she is “appalled” at the state of “restored” streams in the forest.

The streams at Amberslade and Buckherd Bottom, tributaries of Linford Brook, have been undergoing restoration as part of the Higher Level Stewardship scheme funded by the EU.

The scheme is worth £16million over ten years, with the Verderers, the Forestry Commission and the New Forest National Park Authority joining forces to decide how best to spend it.

But the restoration of streams has proved controversial.

Now commoner Margaret Bunyard has presented her case to the Verderers’ Court.

She said: “I have revisited both Amberslade and Buckherd Bottom in the last week, and am appalled to see the condition they are in.

“Before restoration, Amberslade was deemed to be in favourable condition.

“In 2006/7 a section around the footbridge was in-filled with heather bales and imported clay and gravel.

“This in-fill was washed away in the first winter, and what had been a minor ‘nick-point’ became a major source of erosion immediately downstream from the starting point of the works. I understand that there are plans for snagging to take place, but since the entire in-fill has gone it is clear that any works will need to be far more than snagging.

“Indeed, I understand that the term ‘snagging’ is no longer considered appropriate to describe the remedial work that has been necessary for so many restored streams.”

She added: “The situation at Buckherd Bottom is, if anything, even worse.

“Here the initial works in 2011 had failed by the end of the first winter, leaving heather bales exposed and displaced, with string loose and dangerous to stock.

“The works were redone in August and September 2013. A huge stack of heather bales and quantities of imported clay and gravel were used to once more in-fill the stream. Within a month of finishing, the imported materials were starting to wash away. They continued to do so throughout the winter, leaving stretches of imported clay exposed in the heavily eroded sides of the stream.”

And she told the court: “Wildlife habitats, grazing and appearance have been disturbed at both sites – twice at Buckherd Bottom – with no discernible compensatory benefits.

“These ‘restorations’ have both been a shocking waste of money. Other sites have suffered a similar fate. I understand that both this winter and last have seen particularly heavy rainfall.

“However, the erosion at both sites started well before the winter storms.”

Deputy surveyor of the Forestry Commission, Mike Seddon, will be making a statement at the next Verderers' Court on March 19 in response to Mrs Bunyard’s claims.

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