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The New Forest National Park

A national and protected park under threat

New Forest National Park Campaign

Located in southern England, the New Forest National Park has been voted the number one National Park in Europe and the 10th best National Park in the world.


Remarkably, over 50% of the National Park is designated for its importance for nature. The New Forest is also an international ecological “jewel in the crown” for flora, fauna and fungi, hosting an estimated 2,700 species of fungi and 15,000 species of insect (two-thirds of the UK total).



New Forest wetlands are a particularly important habitat for wildlife and biodiversity.


Significant public funds have recently been invested in pioneering stream restoration work to improve the biodiversity and natural capital of rivers, streams, bogs, and valley mires in the park.

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The Problem

In July 2022, we published data attained by the Environment Agency in response to a Freedom of Information Request by River Action.

The data shows that in 2021 raw sewage was discharged into the two principal river catchments of the New Forest – the Lymington River and Beaulieu River – on MORE THAN 250 occasions and a total period of just under 1,900 hours. (A summary of the data can be seen here)

The most frequent sewage discharges over this period in the National Park have occurred at:

  • Brockenhurst Wastewater Treatment Works on the Lymington River and
  • Lyndhurst Wastewater Treatment Works on the Beaulieu River

Accounting for well over 50% of total discharges.

The discharge pipe is located close to the actual source of the river and causes concern about the discharges into the Beaulieu River at Lyndhurst (551 hours of discharge in 2021 alone).

Following stream restoration work, high flow conditions see discharged pollutants spilling onto adjacent grazing lawns a short distance downstream. These lawns are popular locations for grazing livestock and recreational users to congregate, raising concerns about health risks.


  • Water quality – build-up of high levels of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, is choking rivers with algal blooms.
  • Biodiversity and habitats – algal blooms reduce oxygen levels – suffocating fish, plants and invertebrates. The algal blooms block out the light that plants need for photosynthesis and impact the functioning, health and resilience of freshwater ecosystems.
  • People and livelihoods – bacteria found in sewage and animal slurry can cause sickness.

What River Action is doing

In line with River Action’s proactive approach, we have called on Southern Water to meet and discuss the impact of their pollution in the New Forest National Park, and details of the measures to remedy the unacceptable situation. We want Southern Water to take responsibility and hold themselves accountable.

Read the full letter

We are now in conversation with Southern Water – beginning discussions on developing and unlocking practical and positive solutions to their sewage problem.

We are also working alongside, empowering and supporting local community groups to monitor sewage pollution and find solutions.

Watch this space for more news on our progress in rescuing the waterways in the New Forest National Park.

Join our campaign to rescue the New Forest National Park

Your support is what matters. We need to collaborate and all play our part to put pressure on the government and businesses for change to happen. To save our rivers

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Write to your local MP

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Watch this space for more developments

…a huge thank you from River Action!