A GOVERNMENT scheme to halt the spread of bovine TB by stopping the movement of cattle may be scrapped in the New Forest if negotiations are successful.
Under proposals drawn up by the Government, animal owners will have to get their cows tested by vets every time they are moved on or off the open forest.
Now the local branch of the National Farmers Union (NFU) is lobbying the Government to ensure commoning is not jeopardised by the new regulations.
Fears that the measures could damage commoning have been raised by the Verderers, the Commoners’ Defence Association and the New Forest National Farmers Union (NFU), who have lobbied the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories (AHLVA) for a rethink.
They want to replace the proposed scheme with a licensing system.
The forest is famous for its ponies but also has 3,500 cows owned by a total of 140 commoners.
Clerk to the Verderers Sue Westwood said the focus should be on keeping BTB out of the forest rather than constant testing.
She said: “Because of the way commoners work in the forest, testing would be ludicrous.
“This is not an area where TB has been a big problem. We are more concerned about it being brought in.
“The NFU are looking at what is reasonable within the area.”
New Forest NFU group secretary Sam Dovey is a commoner and a member of the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society.
She said the NFU would be working closely with AHVLA and forest organisations to try to formulate a robust control plan to protect commoning tradition while keeping the New Forest free of bovine TB.