Recreational disturbance

Addressing the impact of development on the New Forest

The context

Increased development leads to a number of environmental and other impacts which need to be mitigated to minimise harm. One of these impacts is from recreation causing erosion and disturbance on the internationally protected New Forest Special Protection Area (SPA), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Ramsar sites.

While Eastleigh Borough Council does not border the New Forest National Park, technical research commissioned by Councils in and around the New Forest shows that residents of the Borough choose to visit the area from time to time. This risks contributing towards erosion of the habitats and disturbance of the species they support.

New development cannot be approved where it could harm the integrity of specific designated sites including Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). Mitigation is therefore required to avoid significant adverse effects on the protected sites and species and to enable planning permissions to be granted.

What we’re doing

This is an issue facing a number of Councils close to the New Forest. The Council is working in partnership with adjoining Councils and other organisations on a longer term strategic approach. Until this is delivered, the Council has an interim strategy for Eastleigh to address the impacts.

In March 2022, Cabinet approved an interim strategy based on providing Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) in the borough, contributions to measures within the New Forest National Park and monitoring. SANG are greenspaces that provide an attractive local alternative to some of the visits to the New Forest.

Following the approval of the interim strategy, the Council has further investigated the suitability of the proposed SANG site and reviewed the costs to deliver the strategy. In December 2022 Cabinet approved a revised interim charge of £2,220 per dwelling for the mitigation of recreation impacts on the New Forest using projects on Council-owned land. Work is now ongoing to implement the proposals in the interim strategy.

Read the Cabinet Report 8 December 2022

Read the New Forest interim strategy (Appendix 1 of the Cabinet report)

Read the Cabinet Report 24 March 2022