Camping holidays are experiencing a boom this year as Britons turn away from expensive holidays abroad. The UK has so much beautiful countryside to attract campers – but not all campsites will open this summer sadly. Campsites in the New Forest – a favourite UK holiday spot – have decided not to reopen.
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Camping in the Forest has said its 10 camping and caravan sites in the national park would remain closed.
Combined, the 10 sites provide a total of 3,000 pitches.
The company was established by the Forestry Commission and The Camping and Caravanning Club to manage camping on crown land on a commercial basis.
However, despite UK lockdown rules easing, Camping in the Forest is keeping the sites closed over hygiene concerns.
In a message to customers, Camping in the Forest said: “We are sorry to say our sites will remain closed for the rest of 2020.
“It was clear our forest campsites posed unique challenges, meaning we would be unable to meet our high hygiene standards and adhere to government guidance on new measures around the running of campsites.”
The news has proved a blow to authorities as well as holidaymakers and the local council is unhappy with the decision.
New Forest District Council said the loss of campers could cost the local economy £16million, reported the BBC.
New Forest West MP, Sir Desmond Swayne, said the decision was “outrageous”.
The closures have led many to fear campers will flood to the forest anyway in favour of wild camping.
Forestry England said in a statement: ”We feel for the staff, their families and holidaymakers affected by Camping in the Forests’ decision not to run a very short season in 2020, and we hope the company takes the time to quickly review and reconsider.
“We understand the economic environment post-lockdown is very tough and seasonal businesses are uncertain about their income.
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“We are also very aware of people’s concerns about the anti-social behaviour we are already seeing in our Forests and fears that closed campsites might increase this.”
A spokesperson told the BBC: “We are urgently talking to other forest organisations, landowners and local stakeholders to find ways to work together to limit wild camping and other anti-social use of the Forest.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also commented in the Commons on the closures today.
He said it was “disappointing to hear of the blanket approach” taken in the forest.
Hancock commented: ”On a campsite, people must be particularly careful of shared facilities and ensure that they are cleaned properly, but there is a way to open campsites safely and securely, and doing that in the New Forest, and elsewhere, will help people to enjoy summer safely.”
Cornwall Council is also concerned about a spike in wild camping.
Rob Nolan, Cabinet Member for Environment and Public Protection, said: “Our strong advice is for all visitors to book ahead with proper accommodation providers and campsites, not to arrive in Cornwall with no plan about where to stay.
“Wild camping can cause problems with litter, sanitation, trespass and may create conflict with landowners and residents.”
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