A YEAR-long survey has been started to see if New Park, Brockenhurst - home of the annual New Forest Show - is suitable as a campsite.

The Forestry Commission wants to transfer 980 pitches to New Park from existing sites nearby.

The organisation says Hollands Wood and smaller sites at nearby Denny Wood and Longbeech are in the heart of ancient woodland and part of a proposed special area for conservation.

But before the commission goes any further with the transfer idea, it wants to ensure the new campsite will not damage any rare habitats at New Park.

Officers plan to spend 12 months measuring every feature of the proposed site, from its landscape and wildlife to water and air quality.

Forestry Commission spokesman Mike Seddon said: "The environmental impact assessment will look at all the effects a New Park campsite might have on the area.

"Effects on nearby businesses and communities will also be assessed. This will include the likely impact on the area's traditional culture, existing land use, noise and traffic levels."

He said the commission would be pleased to hear from anyone who felt there were other aspects which should be included in the survey.

Mr Seddon said the proposed New Park plan would mean better facilities for holidaymakers.

But concern has already been expressed by New Forest Show organisers, who could find themselves short of space for their annual tally of nearly 100,000 visitors who travel by car.

The chairman of New Forest Agricultural Show Society, Christopher Gwyn-Evans, said: "Whe-ther the requirements of the show can be accommodated at New Park along with about 1,000 serviced campsite pitches remains to be seen.

"The degree of impact can only be assessed when we have been shown at least the outline proposals."