TOUGH new rules are set to be imposed in a bid to combat the problems being caused by pop-up campsites in the New Forest.

The Lymington-based National Park Authority (NPA) is determined to reduce the damage done to the environment by temporary facilities on farms and other sites.

Proposals include an annual fee to offset the impact of campers on protected habitats and stricter rules relating to the disposal of waste water.

Under the plans providers running larger pop-up sites with 50 or more pitches will lose their permitted development rights, which means they will have to obtain planning permission to continue.

The number of temporary campsites started to increase after the government allowed them to operate for 28 days a year without official consent.

When coronavirus struck the limit was raised to 56 days to help the outdoor hospitality sector survive the crisis.

But the extension, coupled with a rapid rise in visitor numbers, sparked fears that campers could disturb habitats.

Members attending the latest online meeting of the NPA said measures were needed to safeguard the Forest.

The district has ten pop-up sites, four of which have 50 or more pitches.

Speaking after the meeting an NPA spokesperson said: "With an ever-increasing demand for touring pitches, there is concern about the future environmental impacts of these temporary campsites.

"These are mainly around the disturbance of protected habitats and the safe disposal of waste water.

"At the meeting members agreed to publish guidance and a mitigation framework to help existing smaller campsites meet the requirements of the habitat regulations. This is likely to involve sites paying an appropriate habitat mitigation contribution each year.

"It was further agreed that from June next year larger and new campsites would need to apply for planning permission."

Steve Avery, the NPA's director of strategy and planning, said the authority would work closely with campsite owners to help them meet the requirements of the habitat regulations.

He added: "The proposed withdrawal of permitted development rights for larger and all new campsites will be the subject of a future public consultation later this year."

Leo Randall, chairman of the NPA's planning committee, said the area was already well served by existing camping and caravan sites.

He added: "We believe our proposals strike an appropriate balance between the need to protect the Forest environment while recognising the important role of tourism in the local economy."