AN independent review into deer control in Epping Forest has been given the green light by the City of London Corporation.

The corporation approved a plan to consult the public on how to control the forest’s deer population at a meeting of its Epping Forest Management Committee last week.

Philip Woodhouse, chairman of the corporation’s Epping Forest management committee, said: “Deer are a familiar part of the wildlife in Epping Forest and its buffer lands.

“But as a Special Area of Conservation we also have a duty to protect the forest and its ecological diversity.

“This includes rare plant species and ancient and veteran trees. 

"When deer numbers are low, they have minimal impact but as numbers rise, they can have a severely damaging effect on plants, trees and the life chances of other animals.

“There are also safety issues. Because of the mix of woodland, rural and urban spaces, deer can conflict with humans. 

“Deer pose a real threat to life when they collide with vehicles in the forest. 

“We have in place a mandatory speed limit of 40mph but we are still seeing over 100 deer-vehicle collisions a year.

“An independent review calling on the latest research and study data about deer management will give the public confidence that we are acting in the very best interests of the Forest and the safety of its users.”

The independent review will consider the need to preserve sustainable deer populations, protect the Forest’s ecology, maintain public safety and protect farm crops.

Findings of the review in the spring will be considered by the proposed new Epping Forest Consultative Committee, which is due to be set up in the summer of 2017.

The move comes after the corporation ended its contract with the Capreolus Club for hunting Fallow and Muntjac deer in forest buffer lands last month.

More than 3,500 people signed a petition to bring an end to practice in 2016.

Petition organiser Paul Morris, from Loughton, welcomed the decision to gauge public opinion on deer control.

He said: “I think it is about time this was done.

“We have run three campaigns against hunting deer in the forest and the Corporation has been on the wrong side of public opinion each time.

“It is a positive step that they are now seeking a public consultation but it will end up as a positive if it leads to them giving it back to the hunters.

“I am pretty sure the public consultation will come back the same way it did during the campaign, so I think maybe they are now offering an olive branch by asking people for their views on the forest.”