AFTER four years of fighting against the Forestry Commission's wetland restoration project, a campaign group is celebrating the decision for an independent review.

The Friends of Latchmore launched the campaign against infilling the brook at Ogdens near Fordingbridge in 2012.

Ecologists, veterinary surgeons, Biologists and New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne have all called for a review of the works, claiming projects will "damage" the ecosystem and its wildlife.

Now the campaign group say it is "pleased" with decision that bosses at the Forestry Commission and Natural England have agreed to a full and independent review of the wetland restoration proposals throughout the New Forest National Park, including Latchmore Brook.

The decision follows internal investigations into the details of the Latchmore catchment plans, where new information suggested that the evidence supporting the current planning application is inadequate.

Experts are to be appointed to carry out the review, expected to begin at the end of the year.

The agreement will consider past restorations and reports on their success and failure.

It will also reconsider whether some of the proposals represent good value for money with sustainable outcomes, and whether they are appropriate to the conditions in each catchment area.

And pressure from parish councils, naturalists, the Friends of Latchmore and the Sir Desmond has cast doubt over the merits of several of the more recent projects, in other parts of the Forest, which involve infilling streams with clay and stone.

It is believed the Forestry Commission will withdraw the Latchmore planning application ahead of the review outcome.

Friends of Latchmore spokesman Ailsa Farrand said: “ We are absolutely delighted with the announcement. Friends of Latchmore and very many other individuals and organisations have worked tirelessly for years to achieve this important step of stopping and reviewing properly the impact of these often hugely damaging stream in fillings.

"At last common sense has prevailed. Withdrawing the Planning Application for Latchmore Brook will prevent the need for expensive and divisive legal action and a battle to protect our Forest that would have done no-one any good.

"We expect the review to show that many proposed areas for Higher Level Stewardship expenditure are unsuitable and that geological and wildlife areas would have been badly damaged or destroyed due to the inadequacy of analysis in the early planning stages.

"We look forward to contributing to the inquiry and towards a future of mutual understanding and shared interest in the management of the New Forest and its beautiful wild areas.”

A joint statement from the Forestry Commission and Natural England said: "Natural England and the Forestry Commission will be undertaking a joint assessment of the evidence that supports wetland restoration in the New Forest with a view to learning lessons for future projects, both locally and nationally.”