PLANS to remove warning signs on a Forest road with the worst animal fatality rate have been slammed by the Commoners’ Defence Association.

The Hampshire County Council move, backed by the National Park Authority, to take down the large reflective warning signs at either end of the B3078 between Cadnam and Fordingbridge and replace them with smaller signs, was criticised at the Verderers’ Court.

Speaking on behalf of the Commoners’ Defence Association, Richard Deacon told members at the Verderers Court that they objected to the measure.

He said: “Notwithstanding the increased carnage on this particular road this year, the proposal will see the dismantling of these signs, together with the smaller yellow reflective repeater signs spaced out along the route, which warn of likely animal presence day and night.”

Mr Deacon said smaller signs with non-reflective information boards underneath were going to be used, which would update the weekly accident rate or the presence of new foals.

While he was not opposed to these, he said, they should be in addition and not instead of the traditional signs.

Mr Deacon added: “We ask the Verderers to defer all sign removal until a proper review by all parties involved, and we request they call a meeting with all the relevant bodies to review the worsening condition on this road.”

Replacing the signs is a measure to reduce animal accidents by a joint partnership between all the agencies in the New Forest.

Nigel Matthews, head of recreation management and learning at the New Forest National Park Authority, said: “Most animal accidents are caused by motorists who make local journeys, driving past the same signs on a regular basis.

“There is evidence that signs with changing messages, such as the latest figure of animal casualties or seasonal messages such as the presence of new foals, attract more attention and make drivers think more about livestock on the road.”

Mr Matthews pointed at animal accident data from the B3054 from Lymington to Dibden Purlieu that suggested the four changing signs, which replaced nine static signs, have if anything reduced the number of accidents.”