Tens of thousands of birds come to the Solent coast for the winter and there are three Special Protection Areas (SPAs) to safeguard 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 shows that additional disturbance will affect the birds' survival unless mitigation measures are 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 Interim Solent Recreation Mitigation Strategy. The main one 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 £0.6 million 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 interim strategy is to be replaced by a definitive strategy later this year. Consultation on a draft of the definitive strategy will take place this summer, it will be available on this website and your comments would be welcomed.