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Ban in The New Forest?


sharpy1071
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This has appeared in a local paper. There are 300 members apparently but also a lot of visitor flyer will be affected.

Clubs fear fresh restrictions on activities in the New Forest

clubs restrictions new forest
Beaulieu Model Flying Club said it has been told it can fly planes only during the winter

NEW Forest activity groups have raised fears about their operations being severely
affected by fresh restrictions under consideration to protect wildlife.

Among them is the district’s cycling club which has been riding locally for over 80 years and claims it has been told by Forestry England (FE) that it cannot use any of its 130 car parks next year for regular events.

The alleged ban comes as concern grows among other organisations over the implications of a requirement to protect wildlife habitats including those of ground-nesting birds.

The 300-strong Beaulieu Model Flying Club said had been told it will be able to fly planes only during the winter months – which a spokesperson branded “completely useless”.

He added: “We need fine weather and good visibility, none of which you get in the winter. We have always been very careful about not going near any wildlife.

“We have been told that other organisations will also face similar restrictions on using the heath and the New Forest.

“We feel the FE are being very high-handed in the way they are dealing with clubs like ours.”

It has been flying there for 50 years and pays a £1,000 annual licence.

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I seriously doubt ground nesting birds would be interested in that site.

A few years ago I was told I should not graze an area of rough grassland on my farm in the spring/ summer on the coast because of ground nesting birds.

I told them there was no hope of ground nesters in that area because the mass of local seagull's would have them, and if it were not grazed at that time it would soon be totally overgrown and of no use to the ground feeding Chough [ rare member of the crow ] Took more than a year for them to see sense.

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More than 30 years ago our club was "banned" from using a sheep field on the marshes (our club only used it on one day a week) because we would disturb the nesting birds. But the field we used was next to a main line railway line to London; adjacent to a level crossing with flashing lights and bells that flashed and rang every few minutes when a train passed. On the second side was a road with cars and trucks passing; all around the field were ditches that the local fishermen used every day, And pretty close-by on the other side of the flying patch was a small cherry orchard with an old fashioned gas-powered bird scarer that boomed out every few minutes - every day of the week in spring and early summer.

But obviously "Toy Planes" were what scared the birds and stopped them nesting!

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Sharpy,

Get in touch with the BMFA and ask about "grandfather rights" this is an important precedent in law which allows activities which have been practised for years to continue. We were advised that we could use this to continue slope soaring in certain places even where notices have been put up to prohibit such activities. I personally have been to and used these sites.

The argument that it scares off the birds has been proven to be false because of the number of flying sites where there are nesting birds and continue to be.

Andy.

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Our well used field is so intimidating to the red kites that colonised the adjacent wood nearly 20 years ago during a very busy period of mainly IC flying, that they regularly inspect new models in the air - flying with them and sometimes formating on them for fairly extended periods. The local buzzards are similarly relaxed although they don't spend so much time doing low level reconnaissance flights over the pits. Kestrels are regularly seen hunting the hedgerows around the site.

Hares and rabbits are often seen on the field - along with some rather obstinate deer who would rather make a hole in our pits netting than walk 2 yards further to the exit gap. Fox droppings and kills are evident at times so they enjoy a rich life around the field. There's plenty of evidence of nocturnal subterranean activity around the site with many small rodents, shrews and moles living around and beneath us.

I think it's fair to say that our model flying activities have little if any detrimental effect on the local fauna.

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Might be worth contacting the Chesham club and RSPB.

When Chesham wanted to buy their field, the RSPB initially objected. However, the club got planning permission anyway. Now the outfield is a haven for wildlife, and the club is the blue-eyed boy of the RSPB and local twitchers.

The BMFA office should know all about this, too!

--

Pete

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This seems to be a rapidly increasing trend around the country, with perceived threats to wildlife being taken as hard fact. In a country of over 66 million people, its reasonable that the wide range of leisure activities that the public enjoy are able to be enjoyed within a reasonable distance of where those people live. It also needs to be accepted that many of those activities require open space and sometimes certain natural features e.g. steep, open hills facing the prevailing winds for slope soaring.

In the case of the New Forest, what proportion is the area flown over by models as a proportion of that type of landscape in the New Forest as a whole? If the area flown over by models is the only habitat to a particular species, then given how long model flying has taken place there, one could reasonably argue that the presence of models is actually a benefit to that species.

One gets the impression that the RSPB would have the non-birdwatching population of this country locked up at home 24/7 if they got their way. They must be almost ecstatic at the moment!

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The RSPB and probably Forest England and The council for the protection of Rural England are very obstinate and blinkered in their views . They have effectively halved a neigbouring clubs flying time saying that their activities will hamper ground feeding and nesting birds in a field running with sheep ! The restrictions apply through the winter months when the club can only fly at weekends ? Thats the days when the birds obviously go home to see their families . And what ground nesting birds nest in the winter and abandon them at weekends ? They are IMO an out dated organisation who should get some new blood in at the top . they should also try visiting some flying site when flying is in progress and see the many species that we see .

These organisations are I think run by people like many of our ministers and MPs who have attended university , been brainwashed into thinking that theirs is the only opinion that matters, never done a real job and damm the rest .

Edited By Engine Doctor on 20/12/2020 12:46:28

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I can't find the original report, but some years ago I read an account of a model flying club who were forced to relocate due to rare birds.

I think this happened somewhere in mainland Europe, possibly Germany? Some rare birds were discovered close to the flying site of this club and the local 'twitchers' got very excited. Clearly, the model flyers had to 'go', as obviously their presence must be harmful to the birds. Fortunately an alternative site was found, not too far away, for the model flyers, and they relocated there.

Some time later the rare birds were found to have moved on from the first site and taken up residence close to the new site of the model club! It turned out that it was the short grass of the runways that was actually attracting those particular birds...

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Dear Forum contributors:

Thank you all for your comments on this article, which appeared yesterday in the Lymington Times, the local paper for New Forest matters. The article was initiated by us, the Beaulieu Model Flying Committee, as part of an ongoing process of stepping up visibility of our issue. The picture was taken by me. Sadly, the reporter who wrote the story chose to ignore most of the information we provided, and changed some of the facts. However, stating it as a general attack on all recreations does show that we are not being singled out.

We have been negotiating with ForestryEngland for over a month now, and it has been very hard going. We have had numerous meetings, phone conversations and email exchanges and have raised all these issues repeatedly. We know we aren't affecting the nesting birds, and we even have the Forestry's own studies to show that. We only occupy 1% of the heath, and that in turn is only a small part of the New Forest. We have strived over many years to be good tenants, but that is being ignored. We don't have grandfather rights because we operate under yearly renewable licences. We have got the BMFA, the RSPB and the historic airfields trust to support us. We will need more support in the future if we are going to win this.

I am very grateful for all the interest shown and appreciate all the suggestions made above. We know what the real problem is: dogs off-lead. We are currently waiting for a specific modified proposal from the Forestry, but if it is as bad as we expect we will need all your help to lobby at higher levels. If anyone has specific suggestions on ways to do this then please let me know.

Richard Sharman, Chairman Beaulieu Model Flying Committee

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Concerning the future flying of model aircraft by the Beaulieu Model Flying Club on the Beaulieu Heath Airfield. The airfield apparently covers an area of approximately 79 acres, the model flying club uses about one acre. This one acre is baren tarmac. There is a short gravel track to the area, that is close to the Heath through road. Compared to this area, there are 50 plus car parks in the New Forest, that enable direct access into the New Forest along lanes and tracks, that go deep into wooded areas and very pleasant and lovely to walk along. So why oh why is there any doubt about giving permission to fly model aircraft in the sky above this area.

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It's all a power game.

The Forestry Commission and its now powerful 'child', Forestry England, are NOT against the model flyers. In recent years they have given us a special 'keyed' access to a largely unused vehicular gate during the nesting season so we have access whereas other do not Apparently (the BMFC plays its cards close to its chest) this may not happen in 2021.

The RSPB are not against us either. The supposed 'rare' birds are not rare at all, merely locally uncommon. They have become even less common for several reasons, none of which have anything to do with model planes.

'Power'? Yes. It's mainly Natural England, a fairly new outfit, throwing its weight about. Forestry England and the Forestry Commission (not highly regarded for its conservation activities, rather the opposite in fact), in its very own words wishes to make a 'bold statement' to please Natural England.

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Further:

The Beaulieu Model Flying Committee is not a club in the conventional sense.

It is, in effect, an unpaid 'agency' for the Forestry Commission that issues 'permits' to ANY member of the public who meets two requirements, current insurance and a current CAA drone certificate, and signs that he will obey the BMFC rules from then on. This gives the permit holder an exemption, at Beaulieu airfield only, from the 'no model flying in the New Forest' byelaw, which suddenly came into existence some (unknown to me) years ago.

It consists of model flyers but it is not elected, merely 'not objected to' as few want to be on it, so it is not strictly 'representative' of the flyers.

The Forestry Commission introduced the 'permits' many years ago PURELY to prevent 'grandfather rights' coming into existence.

Before then there were no rules and no costs, which people were happy with. We were 'given' Beaulieu (we flew there already and there were no rules or laws preventing it) as Stoney Cross airfield was being closed to us. Beware 'authorities' bearing gifts.

It's has public access, as does the entire Forest

Edited By Roger Jones 3 on 26/12/2020 13:31:45

Edited By Roger Jones 3 on 26/12/2020 13:36:50

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Well, thanks for the comments "Roger", you've expressed them before, perhaps I can clarify some points.....

The Beaulieu Model Flying Committee IS a regular BMFA club, which gives its members certain advantages such as public indemnity for its officers. It was designated as the only body the Forestry would talk to, and originally acted as an intermediary between the Forestry and the local flying clubs. Gradually over time the local clubs lost interest and their members applied for individual permits directly. Today the committee handles only individual permits. It has run a website for many years which is now being replaced by an entirely new website on the BMFA site, where you can apply for a permit. Any reasonable flyer who has the right insurance, and CAA qualifications, and abides by the Regulations is welcome to come and fly there. And lots do, we normally issue of the order of 300 permits a year. Occasional newsletters are published (over 50 in the last 10 years) to keep permit holders informed. A number of actions have been performed over the years to make the flying site more usable, under guidance from the Forestry, and interactions with the Forestry Recreation Permissions department have been very friendly for many years. However, we don't have "grandfather"rights, and the public right of access is very restrictive under current by-laws.

The BMFC is not obliged to, but does always, open its Annual General Meeting to all interested permit holders, and does seek the approval of the meeting for its officers to continue. It is thus as representative of the model community as conditions allow. We always seek new members, but experience shows that few are willing to take on an unrewarded responsibility. This year is the first year that the meeting has been held offline and documented electronically. We hope next year we will return to normal.

The current issue with the Forestry is indeed, very serious. The Senior Ecologist of the Forestry has reported alarming losses in habitat and species numbers, which would be serious for any area classified as an SSSI, if we are to believe the report. Since, fortuitously, this is also the year that the Forestry has to submit its HRA (Habitats Resource Assessment) to NaturalEngland for approval under the numerous laws which govern SSSIs, SPAs, and SCAs, the pro-conservation advocates are taking the opportunity to "improve" the state of conservation. Were they not to do this, or fail to get approval, there could be serious legal consequences. So we want them to get approval.

However, the consultants hired to prepare the Forestry's plan, have diagnosed (we think incorrectly) that the increased pressure on the habitats of the heath containing the airfield are such that all should be restricted. Rambling, cycling, riding and other licensed activities are being pressed to desist. And that includes model flying. The BMFC is fighting this hard, as we have proof, if such it can be called, that model flying does NOT deter bird behaviour (quite the reverse actually), and that our "disturbance" is so limited that it can hardly be significant. We are arguing that it is unlicensed activities (such as dogs roaming off lead) that is doing whatever damage is being reported. This discussion is ongoing and there is some sign that we are being heard. We hope to be able to report progress soon, but in the meantime we have secured permission to continue (which is a big step forward since we were originally faced with a ban from 31st December this year with very little warning.

The best way that other modellers can help us is by sending us information about similar events elsewhere. We already have senior BMFA people advising us, and advice from the RSPB, the Historic Airfields trust and others. Where we lack information is specific cases where "model flying vs. bird protection" has been tested. We have the evidence of the Chesham club, which is very detailed and effective, but few others. If you can help, please feel free to contact me (directly via the web site linked to above is probably best).

Richard Sharman, Chairman Beaulieu Model Flying Committee

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Posted by Richard Sharman on 28/12/2020 16:46:29:

Well, thanks for the comments "Roger", you've expressed them before, perhaps I can clarify some points.....

The Beaulieu Model Flying Committee IS a regular BMFA club, which gives its members certain advantages such as public indemnity for its officers. It was designated as the only body the Forestry would talk to, and originally acted as an intermediary between the Forestry and the local flying clubs. Gradually over time the local clubs lost interest and their members applied for individual permits directly. Today the committee handles only individual permits. It has run a website for many years which is now being replaced by an entirely new website on the BMFA site, where you can apply for a permit. Any reasonable flyer who has the right insurance, and CAA qualifications, and abides by the Regulations is welcome to come and fly there. And lots do, we normally issue of the order of 300 permits a year. Occasional newsletters are published (over 50 in the last 10 years) to keep permit holders informed. A number of actions have been performed over the years to make the flying site more usable, under guidance from the Forestry, and interactions with the Forestry Recreation Permissions department have been very friendly for many years. However, we don't have "grandfather"rights, and the public right of access is very restrictive under current by-laws.

The BMFC is not obliged to, but does always, open its Annual General Meeting to all interested permit holders, and does seek the approval of the meeting for its officers to continue. It is thus as representative of the model community as conditions allow. We always seek new members, but experience shows that few are willing to take on an unrewarded responsibility. This year is the first year that the meeting has been held offline and documented electronically. We hope next year we will return to normal.

The current issue with the Forestry is indeed, very serious. The Senior Ecologist of the Forestry has reported alarming losses in habitat and species numbers, which would be serious for any area classified as an SSSI, if we are to believe the report. Since, fortuitously, this is also the year that the Forestry has to submit its HRA (Habitats Resource Assessment) to NaturalEngland for approval under the numerous laws which govern SSSIs, SPAs, and SCAs, the pro-conservation advocates are taking the opportunity to "improve" the state of conservation. Were they not to do this, or fail to get approval, there could be serious legal consequences. So we want them to get approval.

However, the consultants hired to prepare the Forestry's plan, have diagnosed (we think incorrectly) that the increased pressure on the habitats of the heath containing the airfield are such that all should be restricted. Rambling, cycling, riding and other licensed activities are being pressed to desist. And that includes model flying. The BMFC is fighting this hard, as we have proof, if such it can be called, that model flying does NOT deter bird behaviour (quite the reverse actually), and that our "disturbance" is so limited that it can hardly be significant. We are arguing that it is unlicensed activities (such as dogs roaming off lead) that is doing whatever damage is being reported. This discussion is ongoing and there is some sign that we are being heard. We hope to be able to report progress soon, but in the meantime we have secured permission to continue (which is a big step forward since we were originally faced with a ban from 31st December this year with very little warning.

The best way that other modellers can help us is by sending us information about similar events elsewhere. We already have senior BMFA people advising us, and advice from the RSPB, the Historic Airfields trust and others. Where we lack information is specific cases where "model flying vs. bird protection" has been tested. We have the evidence of the Chesham club, which is very detailed and effective, but few others. If you can help, please feel free to contact me (directly via the web site linked to above is probably best).

Richard Sharman, Chairman Beaulieu Model Flying Committee

 

Richard,

as your post begins by addressing me I will reply. I commented "not a club In the conventional sense but in effect an agency".

This is true. The BMFC neither rents nor owns any premises, nor a flying field. It, on behalf of the permit holders, obtains an exemption from ONE byelaw in ONE specific location. Thus it is a 'voice' for the permit holders, no more than that.

The heath is open to any member of the public and the BMFC has no powers over it as would over any owned or rented premises or field. The BMFC also has no powers of discretion as who gets a permit or not provided the person who wants to buy a permit meets the the two requirements and also signifies that he will obey its rules, whether he thinks all of them sensible or not.

The latter cannot be 'tested' before purchase, obviously, as the BMFC's rules only apply to him AFTER he has so signified.

Also the fact remains that the BMFC is NOT elected. It is merely 'not objected to'.

PS: As for the rest of your post I am mostly fine with it, with a couple of minor exceptions  Though I do not think this forum  is the place to discuss them as they are hardly RCM&E's  business though not 'secret'.

Edited By Roger Jones 3 on 29/12/2020 09:35:18

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  • 1 year later...

As we are ( long term ) aiming to relocate to the New Forest, as a model flyer of many years I started to research model flying in/around the New Forest. I was unsurprised at all the old arguments against model flying over the country’s uncultivated/common land trotted out by the usual suspects, with ground nesting birds their Ace in the Hole.

As a countryman I have seen the reduction in the population of our ground nesting birds since the end of the Second World War, changes in agricultural practices are largely to blame, but our uncultivated areas such as the New Forest are a different matter. Increased public access, especially with poorly controlled dogs will be responsible for example for the decimation of our Curlew population., add to that the increase in the number of foxes ( never known to refuse dietary supplementation with discarded take-aways ) and finally the t.v. naturalists favourite - the Badger, omnivorous, never known to turn down a nest full of eggs or nestlings via hedgehogs and lambs ( live or dead ) to carrion, and they REALLY go for Lapwing nests - a farm can’t have Badgers AND Lapwings, and the ( protected ) Badgers always win.
With all the above, a few models, a few hours every few days are a minor distraction. Sloping on the Long Mynd I have had Buzzards and Red Kites formating on my aged Impala ( and a Police Helicopter! ) our electric field is shared by several Sky Larks and both Buzzards and Red Kites intermittently visit our power field overlooking the Severn - nothing seems to worry them and they eventually get bored and stooge off looking for edible pickings. 
In other words, except in extreme circumstances, responsible model flyers and our native wild birds whether nesting on the ground or in trees appear to co-exist quite happily.

Edited by Old Geezer
Needed to expand on Badger predation.
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