This consultation is for Bird Aware Solent, which comprises the fifteen Solent local authorities (including the New Forest National Park Authority), and Natural England, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, and Chichester Harbour Conservancy. Bird Aware Solent is a partnership formed to reduce disturbance to birds spending the winter on the Solent coast.

The Solent is internationally important for its wildlife. Each winter it hosts over 90,000 waders and wildfowl within its 3 Special Protection Areas (SPAs). With proposed new housebuilding around the Solent SPAs, the impact of additional recreational visits to the coast is likely to be lead to increased disturbance to these birds, which may leave them unable to migrate to their summer breeding homes, and ultimately to a decline in their populations.

An interim strategy was put in place by the Solent Recreation Mitigation Partnership (SRMP) to provide interim mitigation for this. Funding comes from financial contributions made by housing developers for each new dwelling they build within 5.6 kilometres (3.5 miles) of the coastal SPAs. Work to date funded by the interim strategy includes a dedicated team of rangers working with members of the public along the Solent coastline, a number of public events and dedicated research and monitoring on a variety of topics.

A definitive strategy has now been proposed to fulfil the need to fund mitigation measures in the area in perpetuity. After much research, a strategic approach to mitigation has been devised between the local authorities encompassing the wider Solent region and the nature conservation organisations. This approach seeks to raise awareness of the importance of the birds and how small changes in behaviour can allow us all to keep enjoying the coastline whilst allowing the birds to continue thriving.

From Monday 17 July to Sunday the 17 September interested parties – from local residents to property developers and land owners – can have their say on the definitive strategy to mitigate the recreational impact of new housing around the three Special Protection Areas (SPAs) across the Solent.

To take part, simply access the consultation online at www.birdaware.org