Filming on Crown Land is managed by the Forestry England.

Forestry England manage the Crown Land, and the car parks within it, and are England’s largest land manager looking after over 1,500 forests. Their permission is required for any filming projects prior to them taking place.

What is crown land?

Much of the New Forest’s areas of heathland and forest, are ‘Crown Land’. This is defined as ‘land in which there is a Crown interest or a Duchy interest’. Other land is managed by public or private landowners.

The New Forest is one of the largest tracts of semi natural vegetation in the country, and as such is one of their most important wildlife sites.

In addition to its status as a National Park, the New Forest is subject to two separate European-level conservation designations due to its international importance for biodiversity - it is both a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC).

In addition, the New Forest is also a Ramsar site due is valley mires and wet heaths that support a diverse range of plants and animals which are of outstanding scientific interest.

What effect does this have on filming?

These special qualities mean that by law any events or group activities planned to take place on the New Forest MUST have formal permission from Forestry England as the landowner before taking place.

Forestry England are legally required to assess each activity using a Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) to ensure that the proposed activity will not cause any significant harm or impact on the protected habitats and wildlife. If the HRA requirements cannot be met or sufficiently mitigated against then it will not be possible for the activity to be permitted.

As a competent authority, Forestry England must follow the necessary legislation relating to nature conservation and European wildlife sites before granting any permission.

This HRA follows principles of both EU and UK case law and refers as appropriate to the Habitats Regulations Assessment - Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Planning Inspectorate subscribe to the same principles.

Where an activity is ‘likely to have a significant effect’, it can only be adopted if the competent authority can ascertain (following an appropriate assessment) that it ‘will not adversely affect the integrity of the European site’. It means that the absence of harm must be demonstrated before a project can be consented.

Click here to view a map of the crown land in the New Forest

Why filming is restricted on Crown Land

Any individual or organisation wishing to film on the New Forest Crown Lands must first seek permission from Forestry England. Various mitigation measures will be taken into consideration when assessing your application which will be specific to each filming enquiry.

The risk levels will be higher during the spring and summer months with the emphasis on protecting ground nesting birds.

Drone filming on crown land

Permission to operate a drone on New Forest Crown lands may only be granted by Forestry England for the purposes of filming, operational and scientific/research. Applications for permission will be reviewed and may be issued with constraints and limitations on use if appropriate.

These considerations include:

  • Avoidance of the ground nesting bird nesting season (1 February – 31 August)
  • Issues associated with the New Forest being a highly designated area with sensitive wildlife habitats
  • High concentrations of people
  • Presence of forest animals, including ponies and cattle

Find out more:

Filming on roads

Filming on roads within the New Forest Crown Lands also requires permission. The in-combination factor needs to be considered regarding the impact on use of verges, car parks and visitor pressures.

Additionally, the free-roaming animals must also be factored into the risks associated with the filming.

Pony Drifts, where livestock are moving quickly and unpredictably across Forest areas and roads, run from August to November and careful consideration needs to be given to permissions during this time.

Before applying to Forestry England for a filming permit

Please note that fires are not permitted; no guns or weapons of any kind or set-building will be allowed. Filming is restricted to daylight hours only.

You should consider the impact your filming activity will have on the forest and its wildlife. To help protect the forest you need to take the following into account:

  • The numbers of participants, spectators, and vehicles. What potential affect might they have on tracks and on the wildlife?
  • Ensure your proposed activity is compatible with environmental aspects of the forest.
  • Confirm you have adequate resources for marshalling, car parking, toilets, emergency cover, etc.
  • Remove litter and any of your signs or instructions immediately after the visit.
  • Ensure that your activity is not on routes along or across public footpaths and/or bridleways.

To apply for a permit and find out more about costs involved please visit the Forestry England website via the link below. Alternatively view the privately owned filming locations on our database.

Student filming

No student filming is allowed on the New Forest crown land.

However, Forestry England do provide alternative locations suited for students to film, these woodlands are Holt Pound and Abbotts Wood (part of Alice Holt Forest nr. Farnham, Surrey).

If you'd like to use one of these Forestry England filming locations, please visit the Forestry England website for further details on these locations.