A NATIONAL campaign to halt the spread of bovine TB could change the face of the New Forest by halting the movement of cattle.

Under proposals drawn up by the Government, animal owners will have to get their cows tested by vets every time they are moved on or off the open forest.

In some cases the tests will need to be carried out every day, which could force Commoners to abandon their ancient way of life.

Now the Verderers, the organisation in charge of Forest stock, are urging the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to introduce a licensing system instead.

The Forest is famous for its ponies but also has 3,500 cows owned by 140 Commoners.

Many of those living next door to common land turn their cattle out every day in the winter – and all the animals will have to be tested each time they leave their home if the DEFRA proposals are approved.

The threat to the Forest was revealed at the Court of Verderers in Lyndhurst.