Visitors to New Forest face fines of up to £1,000 for petting ponies

New Forest District Council has approved the new measures. Credit: PA

Visitors to the New Forest could face fines of up to £1,000 for petting ponies and other animals.

New Forest District Council has approved the new measures, which are aimed at reducing anti-social behaviour in the Hampshire beauty spot.

The new rules banning the petting and feeding of animals is designed to protect them and stop them from becoming too aggressive.

The new measures will come into force on July 1. Credit: ITV News Meridian

One member of the public who responded to a survey on the proposals was supportive of the change.

They said: "Ponies and donkeys that have been fed by members of the public (are) becoming more aggressive in seeking food from people because they become conditioned to expect feeding."

Visitors also face a £1,000 fine for lighting campfires and barbecues.

The new rules are designed to protect the ponies. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The new regulations are part of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), which come into force on 1 July 2023.

Breaking them could lead to a fixed penalty notice of £100, or a criminal prosecution, which could bring about the maximum £1000 fine.

A spokesman for the local authority said: "Although the vast majority of people enjoying the forest do so with due regard to the New Forest Code, by making these PSPOs, the council expect a reduction in anti-social behaviour associated with wildfires and barbecues on the forest, and the feeding and petting of Forest animals, all of which are detrimental to the local community.

"Formal enforcement will be used proportionately, and there will be information issued about these new restrictions and clear signage will be in place."