Tens of thousands of birds come to the Solent coast for the winter and three Special Protection Areas (SPAs) have been designated for them. New housing around the Solent will lead to more people visiting the coast for leisure, with the potential to cause more disturbance to the birds. Research between 2009-2011 showed that additional disturbance will affect the birds’ survival unless mitigation measures were put in place. Bird Aware Solent is a tool being used to lessen potential impacts from increased local housing development. The initiative is run by the Solent Recreation Mitigation Partnership made up of 19 organisations, and funded by contributions from all new residential dwellings within 5.6km of the SPAs.
The planned mitigation measures are set out in the Solent Recreation Mitigation Strategy (available below) which was endorsed by the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire on 5th December 2017. The main measure is a team of rangers to help coastal visitors and communities understand the importance of the different bird species and the impact of disturbance. Additional work is taking place to encourage responsible dog walking and visits to less sensitive parts of the coast. This work is particularly important as research shows that around 40% of bird disturbance occurs as a result of interactions with dogs. The Bird Aware Solent team have also secured £1.3m from the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership in the form of Local Growth Deal funding which has been spent on creating or enhancing alternative local greenspaces for some people who would of otherwise visited the coast.
The Strategy replaces the Interim Strategy and consultation on a draft of it took place over summer 2017. The comments received were considered and modifications were made to the Strategy. A report related to the consultation is available below.