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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,
(1) pursuant to her answer of 10 April, Official Report, column 281W, on the New Forest, what criteria will inform her decision on whether to call a public inquiry regarding the establishment of a national park in the New Forest;
(2) pursuant to her answer of 10 April, Official Report, column 281W, on the New Forest, what discretion she has in calling a public inquiry into the establishment of a New Forest National Park if statutory bodies and local authorities have objected; and if she will make a statement.
As set out in paragraph 2(2) of Schedule 1 to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, it is a statutory requirement to hold a local inquiry if an objection is duly made by a local authority and not withdrawn, Otherwise, if any representation or objection duly made, for example by a statutory body or a member of the public, is not withdrawn, the Secretary of State has the discretion either to cause a local inquiry to be held or to afford any person who has made a representation or objection the opportunity of being heard by a person appointed for the purpose. As well as whether or not to hold an inquiry, the Secretary of State has some discretion to determine its scope. An announcement will be made soon.