New Forest Permissions - frequently asked questions

Updated 19th May 2021

Why do I need a permission to hold an event on the New Forest?
The special qualities of the New Forest mean that by law any events or activities wanting to take place here require the formal permission of the landowner – us (Forestry England) – before taking place.

The New Forest is one of Western Europe’s most unique landscapes with an extensive and complex mosaic of different habitats. These support a wide range of rare wildlife, flora and fauna with many of the species found here being some of the last left in the UK and Europe. 

The landscape here has the highest possible legal protection and conservation designations. Much of it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), a Special Protection Area (SPA) for birds, and a Ramsar site. 
 
Are there restrictions on where and when I can hold an organised event in the New Forest?
Yes. We are legally required to assess any proposed activity using a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) to ensure that it will not impact on the protected habitats and wildlife. This includes looking at certain areas and times of the year that are most sensitive to wildlife, where Forestry management is taking place, and busy recreational areas and seasons.

If the HRA requirements cannot be met or sufficiently mitigated against then it will not be possible for the activity to be permitted. Where possible we will try our best to help you find a suitable alternative location away from the New Forest.

Can I advertise my event before I have your permission?
It’s not advisable to promote your activity or event before the land manager’s permission has been granted, as we may not be able to approve your application and it will invalidate your Public Liability Insurance.

Are there restrictions on the number of people that can take part in the event I’m organising?
Permitted numbers for events will depend on a variety of factors including the nature of the activity, the time of year, and the routes/locations. Permits will include restrictions on numbers and have specific guidance to make sure that the natural environment is respected by all participants.

Will I have to meet any other specific requirements if my event is permitted?
Each permission granted will include specific requirements for event organisers to comply with. Depending on the nature of the activity this may cover factors like participant numbers, routes, duration and parking arrangements. Permit holders may also be required to have measures in place to monitor the ongoing impact of their activities and agreed actions in place to mitigate these. 

Can I run an event anywhere on the Crown lands of the New Forest?
No. Any locations and routes would first need to be approved, to ensure no damage will be caused to sensitive wildlife habitats and features of historic interest.

If the event involves large numbers of people, consideration also has to be given to their welfare needs, for example toilet facilities and safe access to the area for the emergency services, should anything happen. Our staff know the Forest well and we can work with event organisers to assess if we have a suitable location and ensures there are no clashes with any other events taking place.

Is there a charge for permits?
Charges vary, depending on the scale and nature of the activity. Fees help to cover the costs of administration and support we give to organisers during and after their activity. We are a non-profit making organisation and money raised from permission fees go towards helping us to look after the unique environment in which the event is held.

What happens if my event is not permitted in the New Forest?
We’ll try our best to find a solution, as we have many other woods and forests across England that could be used. We can give you guidance on finding a suitable location that’s a much less sensitive site.