Commoner’s corner

Exploring rural property issues and developments in the New Forest, Kerry’s Commoner’s Corner, is a new feature for rural news.

Kerry Dovey, an associate in our rural property team, who is based in our Lymington office and advises our New Forest clients on the nuances of farming and rural property within the New Forest perambulations, has been a commoner all her life and runs a herd of New Forest Ponies within the Forest which she manages from her commoner’s holding in Beaulieu, so she is well placed to offer advice on the peculiarities of rural land within the Forest.

New Forest #Add3Minutes campaign

In November, my best New Forest brood mare was hit by a car whilst depastured on the forest. Whilst this is a risk that all commoners face when turning their ponies, cattle or donkeys on the Forest, it is still upsetting losing an animal in this way.

This incident occurred only a week before a new campaign to slow drivers down was launched in the Forest (#add3minutes). The campaign’s message is that if drivers reduce their speed to 30mph it will only add three minutes to their journey, and New Forest animals will be considerably safer.

Whilst other farmers may run the risk of a cast cow or a sheep stuck in a hedge, unlike New Forest farmers, there is littke risk to their livestock being hit by a car. However, without animals grazing the New Forest, which they have done for centuries, our largest National Park would not look as it does today.

Committed to helping reducing animal deaths on New Forest roads, Moore Blatch LLP has signed up as a corporate member to the Shared Forest project. We have made a pledge to encourage all our employees who use Forest roads to remember that the Forest animals have right of way, and to drive with caution.

For more information on Shared Forest please see

Commoner’s Holding

After putting the sadness of November behind me, December was a positive month having completed the build of our own Commoner’s Holding in Beaulieu.

Commoners Holdings are a scheme supported by the National Park to address the shortage of suitable properties in the New Forest to carry on the tradition of commoning.

The scheme allows the building of a restricted size dwelling on greenbelt land and outbuildings, where ordinarily you would not be permitted to build.

There are restrictions surrounding occupation, similar to an Agricultural Condition (which is secured by a section 106 agreement), and there is a transfer and farm business tenancy leaseback arrangement, thereby ensuring the land can only be used for agricultural purposes.

Filming with BBC Countryfile

In January, I spent a very wet and cold day with BBC Countryfile filming New Forest Ponies demonstrating their ability to maintain their condition in the harshness of January which they do by eating a diverse range of green matter from gorse to holly.

DEFRA visit

With continued Brexit uncertainties the pressures of farming in the New Forest, much alike nationwide agricultural production, continues to be a hot topic.

At the end of January, I had the opportunity to discuss with DEFRA ministers what benefit New Forest Commoners make to sustain the ecology of the Forest and why subsidies are vital to maintain grazing livestock on the forest.

We all wait to see the outcome of the DEFRA visit and whether it was money well spent.