Red Shoot Camping Park Conservation and Environmental Report 2018
Management of habitats
We encourage wild birds and have increased our number of bird boxes from 6 to 8, our bat boxes from 2 to 4 and our insect houses from 2 to 4. We have our own private bird feeding station and regularly see the following species: Blue Tit, Great Tit, Cole Tit, Robin, Siskin, Gold Finch, Green Finch, Chaffinch, Wren, Sparrow, Woodpecker, Nut Hatch, Starling, Marsh Tit and occasionally a Sparrow Hawk visits! We have a Little Owl which nests in an old Oak tree on our boundary as well.
Insect attracting plants – we have increased our wild flower beds to an area of just over 20m² and have a wide variety of native flowers including Bluebell, Teasel, Foxglove, Valerian, Mullien, Herb Robert, Sneezewort, Ox-Eye Daisy, Heartsease, Selfheal, Meadow Clary, Ragged Robin, Meadow Buttercup, Red Champion and Field Scabious. Interestingly, we had to replant much of it this year after badgers dug it up, presumably looking for food! We have also started stocking packets of wild flower seeds in our onsite shop in an effort to encourage our visitors to plant wild flowers in their own gardens and have also planted several Buddleia shrubs to attract insects. We hope that these new measures will gain us the Wildflower Habitat badge! We have allowed natural growth of vegetation along fence lines and hedges to increase the number and diversity of insects. We routinely leave nettles to grow where appropriate and our sheep’s paddock, which is not used for camping, is left fallow when possible. Wood piles are left in our non-camping paddocks to provide a habitat for insects.
Honey Bee Pledge
This year we have signed up to the Honey Bee Pledge and have started looking at ways to increase the number of flowering plants that bees need all season round. As already mentioned, we have planted Buddleia shrubs and have increased our wild flower beds to over 20m². We try to include insect attracting flowers such as Biddens to our hanging baskets and have slowly been increasing the number of Lavender plants we have on site. Where possible we leave brambles in hedges to flower which offer a good supply of nectar to bees and other insects. We have also entered into a collaboration with a local bee keeper are hosting 2 of their hives on our park with a view to having some of our own in due course. We already sell their set and comb honey in our shop. In addition to this we now have 4 insect houses around our park to give shelter to over-wintering bees.
We produce our own compost or use peat-free if necessary. For feeding our summer bedding plants, which are all sourced from a local nursery, we use a nettle leaf plant food which we make ourselves, in conjunction with a commercial plant feed used sparingly. We no longer use Round-up opting for hand weeding or vinegar solution as an alternative.
We have recently embarked on the work required to gain the David Bellamy Hedgerow Habitat badge. We are in the process of making a plan of our borders and hedges so that we have a record of meterage and species contained within.
As previously mentioned, we are now allowing natural growth at the base of our hedges and are looking to fill gaps with appropriate varieties of hedging. We are continually maintaining our hedging both on the boundary and within the park. New hedges have been planted over the past 20 years and this is an ongoing project. We use native species when possible including Hornbeam, Hawthorn and Holly. We have laid parts of our hedges and they are trimmed yearly after the nesting and feeding season – during the winter.
Trees and woodland
We have no woodland on our park but a variety of mature native trees on our boundary. We generally manage these in-house as Nick used to be a forestry worker. All trees are reviewed every two years by a registered tree surgeon and pollarding takes place where necessary. We use all pollarded wood for our own personal firewood so have no need to purchase from an outside source. Over the past 10 years we have planted a variety of trees on the park including Sweet Chestnut and Cherry and continue to look for opportunities to plant more.
We reseed damaged pitches in the Spring and Autumn and aerate and roll in the Spring. During the winter, our small flock of sheep graze the camping park providing a good source of fertiliser.
We have no hard standing pitches currently as we believe this would have a negative impact on the aesthetic appeal of our site and is not in keeping with the natural environment we try to maintain. However, with ever increasing wet weather conditions and larger/heavier motorhomes visiting us in the shoulder seasons, we continue to be on the look-out for environmentally friendly options.
Ecological interpretation and activities
We have moved the position of our environmental noticeboard to a more prominent location.
This board has been updated and now not only introduces the David Bellamy Award scheme to our visitors but provides them with information about all the work we are carrying out to conserve our environment.
We also have National Trust information boards at reception and information for visitors about how best to enjoy the forest without disturbing its flora and fauna.
We have produced our own children’s eye spy booklet to encourage our younger visitors to engage in their environment.
We promote National Trust, Forestry Commission and Blashford Lakes activities on our Facebook page, website and also on our local activities blackboard situated at reception. Walking and cycling maps are available in our shop and we also sell New Forest bird spotting maps.
We keep a record of our energy and water use on spreadsheets. Being in a rural location and not on a 3 phase supply, we have been unable to invest in solar panels because we cannot feed back into the National Grid. This makes the initial cost of installation prohibitive to us at present. We use LPG gas as there is no mains supply. Since our last review we have replaced our remaining wooden doors with uPVC doors with self closers to minimise heat loss when doors are left open. We have also started a log of all our electrical appliances recording their energy efficiency so that we can replace them with more efficient models in time. Installation of six Velux windows in the roof of our facility block provides natural ventilation which now means that the need to run extractor fans is greatly reduced.
Our boilers are all condensing boilers run on LPG gas which has the lowest carbon emissions of all fossil fuels. They provide instantaneous hot water and are serviced yearly. All heating is on thermostats, is set at 21°C or below and is switched off or put on frost control when necessary. No air conditioning is used, we just open the windows and doors! All buildings are well insulated – The Byre, our holiday let converted from a disused farm building, has innovative external insulation in accordance with INCA guidelines and current building regulations and has a U.value of 0.3W/m²K. The office/reception/shop is a new build and also complies with building regulations and the shower block has good loft insulation which is 330mm thick. All windows are double glazed.
All lighting in the shower block is on motion sensors so is only on when necessary. Light fittings use low energy bulbs and light fittings in the office/reception use florescent tubes. Lighting in The Byre is LED. We have a switch off policy in our reception/shop/store.
Other energy using devices
All laundry is line-dried whenever possible and if not, hung in our shop store which is warm from the heat from freezers. All fridges and freezers are defrosted regularly to keep them running efficiently and are turned off in quiet times.
All staff movement around the park is on foot. We are members of the NTA New Forest Walker and Cyclist approved scheme and encourage our visitors to walk, cycle or use public transport when possible.
Since our last review, the local authority have removed our village recycling facilities which we battled to gain in the first instance. We now have our own private recycling station for glass, paper, cardboard, tin cans and plastic bottles which we advise our visitors to use with signs on our general waste skips directing them to the recycling station. This information is also part of their welcome and orientation to the park.
As a business we recycle glass, paper, cardboard, tin, plastic, polythene, ink cartridges, milk bottle tops, batteries and plastic bags. We re-use egg boxes by requesting that our visitors return them to the shop and we use cardboard packaging as holders for takeaway hot drinks. Plastic ice cream boxes are delivered to the local primary school to be re-used as storage for crayons etc. We double side print where possible and reuse all scrap paper by making it into note pads to be used in reception. We always have one printer with scrap paper to be used for in-house printing where it doesn’t matter what is on the back. The vast majority of our cleaning cloths are recycled lost property towels which we use, wash and re-use.
We purchase recycled products where possible including toilet paper, printer paper, takeaway coffee cups, refilled print cartridges and compostable plastic bags for our shop.
Our cleaning products are bought in bulk and decanted into smaller containers. We use refillable soap dispensers in the toilet block.
We keep a record of our water use by referring to our utility statements and work continually towards reducing our water usage. Our toilets are all dual flush, we have push button showers and self-closing sink taps both in the toilet block and the washing up sinks. Our urinals flush on a timer. A recent refurbishment of the ladies and gents facilities has included replacing all the taps with a low flow model to reduce water use.
All our plant watering is carried out with watering cans to reduce wastage and we have now installed several purpose built water butts.
Our sewage is processed through a treatment plant which is serviced yearly. We hold current relevant discharge consents and the treated wastewater is pumped into soakaways beneath the camping area. Waste from our Elsan chemical disposal unit is pumped out regularly and treated off-site by a third party.
As a small, rural business our purchasing power is very limited. Delivery costs are high and most companies have large minimum orders which are usually not appropriate for us. When economically viable we purchase locally and stock goods from at least 10 local suppliers as listed in the ‘support local economy’ section.
With regard to cleaning, all the products used have to be as environmentally friendly as possible or the bacteria in the sewage treatment plant would die. We use minimal bleach based cleaners.
We only sell Formaldehyde-free chemical toilet fluid in our onsite shop and offer an environmentally friendly washing-up liquid and washing powder option to our customers.
Minimising local impact
We are a family run park now training our children, who are the 4th generation of our family to live and work here. We have good links with the community within which we live and work. The park is low key and well screened with all buildings being low level and, as such, have minimal visual impact on the local surrounding. We operate a quiet after 10.30pm policy and our night lighting is low level – a bone of contention with some grading bodies who seem to like a ‘Blackpool Illuminations’ effect which we wholly disagree with. Obviously we bring large numbers of people to our village so we are always keen to reduce their impact and do so by carrying out regular litter picking of the immediate area around the park and reminding visitors of the importance of respecting boundary fencing and private property.
Supporting the local economy
In peak season we employ up to 13 full and part-time staff. Many of whom, although not all, are drawn from the local community.
We actively promote local businesses and attractions with information stations both at our reception and in our laundry room. We use local suppliers where possible – Hockey’s Farm Shop, Patterson’s Butchers, B&B Dairies, Lunns, New Forest Water, New Forest Ice Cream, Burley Fudge, Sydney Bunce, Caramarine, New Forest Bacon, New Forest Cider, New Forest Aromatics and Baskets In Bloom are examples of these. We have increased our range of New Forest Marque products since our last assessment and are always looking out for more local products to stock in our shop.
Supporting local and wider community
We offer discounted camping for Duke of Edinburgh schemes and school groups and have supported both of these activities for many years.
We offer work experience opportunities to local schools and have had students from Fordingbridge schools in past years.
Our support of local charities as well as national ones is ongoing. We let out the site at a reduced rate every year to an organisation which hosts a running event with proceeds going to Help for Heroes. We regularly donate free camping weekends to local schools for silent auction prizes and have collection boxes on our shop counter for a variety of charities.
We were successful in obtaining a grant from the British Heart Foundation to purchase a public access defibrillator for our community. As custodians of this equipment and resource, we provide CPR and defibrillator awareness training to our local and wider community at regular training sessions.