Natural England is the Government’s advisor on nature conservation and has specific statutory roles with regards to European sites such as the Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area (SPA). The visitor surveys were undertaken on behalf of the two local planning authorities as part of their Habitats Regulations Assessment of their Core Strategy and in particular their housing allocations. Natural England are encouraging all planning authorities whose strategies could increase recreational pressures on sensitive European sites such as those with ground nesting birds to undertake appropriate visitor surveys. One of Natural England’s key roles is to help Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) and owners of special sites understand how their work and plans could affect SPAs and to help them devise how any negative impacts can be ameliorated. This report was commissioned by Natural England to help the LPAs, owners and visitors to Ashdown Forest understand the existing and potential future impacts of visitors on the SPA birds and to encourage approaches and behaviour which ameliorates or even prevents those impacts.
The LPA will devise and implement the mitigation strategy in terms of Development Control and LDF policies. Natural England are working with the LPA, owners and managers of the SPA to develop a clear visitor management approach which includes elements of on-SPA mitigation. Natural England are involved in the national monitoring strategies for the SPA birds but we will also be working with the owners of the site, the LPA and others to encourage more detailed monitoring of the birds.