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Councillor Davod Harrison

New Forest Roads and Animal Accidents

Animal Accidents
Whilst I think it is right to consider anything that will help prevent the annual carnage, with animals being killed and injured on New Forest roads, I am sure that fencing in all or most of the roads isn’t the answer.

The most important reason that the New Forest remains largely unfenced is that it could only survive in its’ present state, with grasses and shrubbery grazed, if all the Commoner’s animals, ponies, cattle, donkeys and pigs have the ability to wonder where they please, keeping the vegetation in balance.

Without this, large areas of the forest would become densely covered in vegetation, completely changing the nature of the type of forest we have become accustomed to.

There is also the issue of deer.

It is known that deer can sometimes jump fences that are 12 feet high.
It is clear that we could never separate animals from traffic.
Indeed, having deer that get into a fenced off corridor with a road would likely increase the danger to the unwary motorist who thinks it is safe to drive to the speed limit.

Fencing would also restrict the ability of all sorts of other animals, including foxes, hedgehogs and badgers to move around the forest, breeding and finding suitable habitats for there food and shelter needs.

It must also be the case that fencing would destroy the visitor experience of our much loved National Park. It is a joy to motorists and cyclists to see the New Forest as you travel along it, whether passing through or on a leisure drive.

Looking at something through a fence is never the same experience as an unobstructed view of the landscape.

Another reason why fencing isn’t the answer is the cost.

I cannot estimate how much it would cost to install high quality fencing on most of the New Forest roads, but it would surely run into several millions of pounds and even then, it would need to be constantly maintained.
I cannot imagine that Hampshire County Council would find the money to fund this is.

Driver education will yield the best results.

New Forest roads are special. Animals have priority.
There is a very good chance an animal will run out into the road from behind a gorse bush.
Most accidents involve locals, so complacency has to be tackled with constant reminders.
I personally think that more use of temporary road signage showing accident statistics for the area, would work well.
For visitors driving into the forest, over a cattle grid, that rumble should serve notice that you drive differently when on forest roads, not “up to the speed limit”, but so that you can stop if an animal should run in front of you.


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