Ecological Planning & Research
June 2016 - Recreation along the River Severn
Visitor Surveys used to identify Conflict Areas with Birds
EPR is pleased to publish a comprehensive research report on baseline levels and patterns of recreation along a 22km stretch of the Severn Estuary in Stroud District, Gloucestershire. The Severn Estuary is designated in part for its internationally important bird populations, which are thought to be sensitive to the effects of recreational pressure.
We have been working closely with Stroud District Council (SDC), Natural England and other stakeholders over the past six months on this project, carried out to support the evidence base for Delivery Policy ES6 of the Adopted Stroud District Local Plan 2015. A detailed desktop research and consultation exercise was followed by a series of face-to-face visitor questionnaire surveys over winter 2015/16 at nine strategic locations within the survey area, involving 211 groups and 348 people over 135 hours of survey in total. Results were analysed and presented with the aid of specialist GIS software.
This study enabled us to gather a robust baseline dataset on current levels and patterns of recreation along the Severn Estuary within the survey area. Other key outputs of the research include the identification of key ‘hotspots’ where recreational activity is most likely to come into conflict with sensitive areas for birds, and the calculation of a 7.7km core catchment zone within which the majority of Stroud residents visiting the Estuary reside. This data will be used to design evidence-based avoidance and mitigation measures, targeted at the areas where they are needed the most. Next steps will involve the production of an Interim Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy, similar to that already developed by EPR and SDC for Rodborough Common SAC.
EPR has a strong tradition of working with local authorities, planning consultants and developers on strategic level planning issues, putting the collection of robust data and evidence at the heart of what we do. We have a team that specialises in the assessment of recreational pressure and its effects, and the development of targeted and proportionate solutions that facilitate the planning process.