THE most powerful politicians in Hampshire have issued a stinging response to plans for the future of the New Forest.

In the latest blow to hit controversial blueprints for the National Park, Hampshire County Council’s Cabinet has said aspects of the plans would “impact on the economic viability” of the area.

And councillors have underlined their stance that they would not even consider introducing road charging – an idea mooted in New Forest National Park Authority (NPA)’s far-reaching documents.

Cabinet leader Ken Thornber called the NPA “unelected, unrepresentative, unaccountable and a government Quango.”

He added: “It (the plan) has alienated many, many people.

“There is a misunderstanding of the way of life in the forest.”

The proposals, which were unveiled in August, include moves to create “dog-free car parks” and to tighten restrictions on keeping horses for recreational use.

They also mention road-use charges as one of a number of ways of reducing the impact of heavy traffic.

Campaigners have staged a series of high-profile meetings protesting against the plans, while forest MPs Desmond Swayne and Julian Lewis have even called for the NPA to be axed altogether.

Outlining Hampshire County Council’s official response to the proposals, the authority’s director of environment, Alison Quant, said: “The National Park Authority does not appear to have enough knowledge of the area to make the judgements that it is.

“They are very new and have not learnt the complexities and nuances of the National Park.”

NPA bosses have called for reasoned debate on the plans and have vowed to take all opinions in to account when they re-examine the document later this year.

Public consultation on the plans runs out on November 14.