New Forest National Park Association will press ahead with four schemes approved by Department for Transport, but must hand back £1.5m.

The New Forest National Park Association admits it is disappointed with the Department for Transport’s decision to reject £1.5m of cycling improvements but will move ahead as planned with four other schemes.

The NFNPA was awarded £3.6m for cycling schemes, and the DfT have already approved £2m worth of proposals, but the remaining £1.5m must now be returned to the government department.

As reported earlier, alternative plans were made after a cycle hire scheme was deemed inappropriate, but improvement schemes near Rhinefield and the Moors Valley Country Park were rejected.

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, chairman of the NFNPA, said in a statement: “We’re very pleased that four of the six alternative cycling projects have been approved by the DfT and that over £2m of the cycle funding will be spent locally.

“We’re obviously disappointed that two of the projects were not given the go-ahead but we respect the DfT’s decision.

“We believe the revised programme of cycling projects will encourage more people to choose the bicycle rather than the car as a mode of transport.

“That in itself will help improve people’s health and reduce congestion and carbon emissions, helping to protect the fragile and internationally-important landscapes of the National Park.”

The four projects approved by the DfT are:
– £140,000 for “smoother” gravel surfaces on 15 miles (25km) of existing off-road cycle tracks
– £185,000 for a 1.2-mile (2km) off-road cycle route from Marchwood to Eling
– £168,000 for 1.8 miles (3km) of bridleway improvements in Fawley, Minstead and Emery Down
– £30,000 for 0.3-mile (0.5km) off-road cycle track at Ringwood, part of the Castleman Way cycle route

Source: BBC