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The Solent Disturbance & Mitigation Project Phase II – On-site visitor survey results from the Solent region.

Fearnley, H., Clarke, R. T. and Liley, D., 2010. The Solent Disturbance & Mitigation Project Phase II – On-site visitor survey results from the Solent region. Project Report. Wareham, England: Footprint Ecology / Solent Forum.

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Solent_Disturbance_&_Mitigation_project_-_On-site_Visitor_Survey_Final_Report.pdf - Published Version


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This report sets out the results of the on-site visitor survey component of the Solent Disturbance and Mitigation project. The work was commissioned by the Solent Forum in response to concerns over the impact of recreational pressure on features of the Solent SPA, SAC and Ramsar Sites. Of particular concern are the cumulative impacts of recreational use arising from potential new housing developments in the Chichester District and South Hampshire. The visitor surveys were conducted during the winter 2009/2010 to assess the level and type of visitor use at selected locations along the Solent coastline. Overall it is likely that the number of visitors interviewed and counted during the survey period was lower than would be normally be expected given the especially cold 2009/2010 winter. With that in mind, there is the potential that the monitoring could provide an underestimate of the absolute number visitors to the region. However, the interviews were designed to elicit generic and site specific details from visitors and although fewer individuals may have been recorded or interviewed because of the weather we can assume that the general winter visitation pattern remained similar and the results very useful in understanding who, where, when and why people use the coast. Counts of people and interviews were conducted at 20 locations around the Solent coastline (including the north shore of the Isle of Wight). A total of 16 hours of surveys were carried out at each location, split equally between weekend (8 hours) and a weekday (8 hours). A total of 784 interviews were conducted, accounting for 1,322 people and 550 dogs. The average group size was 1.7 people. There were differences in visitor numbers between survey locations, with the highest visitor numbers recorded at Emsworth (1088 visitors were recorded using the site over 16 hours) while Lymington (Boldre/Pylewell) was the least busy (33 visitors counted over 16 hours). Visitor numbers per day were typically highest on weekend compared to weekdays. Holiday makers accounted for 6% of the total number of visitors recorded (80 visitors). Visitors were undertook a wide range of activities, with walking (without a dog) and dog walking the two most frequently recorded activities (44% and 42% of interviews). Across all sites and activities, visits were typically short, with 89% lasting less than two hours. The main modes of transport used to reach sites were by car and on foot, with the proportion of people arriving by each mode varying between sites. Across all sites (and taking the data for non-holiday makers only), 51% of interviewees arrived by car and a further 46% arrived on foot. Home postcodes were used to identify the distance between interviewee’s home and the location where interviewed. Half of all visitors arriving on foot lived within 0.7km, while half of all visitors arriving by car lived more than 4km away. Only 9% of foot visitors lived more than 2km away compared to 80% of all car visitors. Linear regressions using housing numbers within different distance bands of a location as a predictor of visitor numbers for each location show a positive relationship between the number of houses within 1km, 3km and 5km and number of visitors entering each survey location. Car park capacity at the access points did not provide a good indication of the frequency of visitors arriving by car to each location. The relationship is more complex, future modelling of visitor rates travelling to locations by car should include potential road related parking (related to length of nearby roads around access points) in addition to official and off road car parking capacity around the access points. 2 Route data were also collected for each interview, with lines drawn directly on maps during the survey. These route data were analysed to determine which activities take place below Mean High Water Mark (MHWM) and how far different groups go out into the intertidal. Across all the interviews, 7% of the mapped routes did not go within 25m of MHWM and were therefore visitors who did not actually make it to the beach (in some locations the survey point was set inland, for example near to parking locations etc.). A further 78% were entirely within the band between 25m above and 25m below MHWM, indicating routes that remained at the top of the beach, on the seawall or similar. It was 14% of the mapped routes that went below 50m from MHWM, and these included a range of activities, for example bait diggers, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists and people out on a family outing. The implications of the results for further modelling and in relation to the disturbance of birds on the European Sites are discussed.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:18234
Deposited By: Professor Ralph Clarke
Deposited On:28 Jun 2011 15:49
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 13:39


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