Kim Strawbridge, Site Manager of the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust gave the committee a presentation that covered the visitor access improvements.
The improvements included a car parking strategy to safeguard the SPA protected bird species and SAC heathland habitats from the adverse impacts and disturbance caused by people. The committee were reminded of the individual elements of the strategy:
· “gathering” visitors towards car parks
· Retaining and developing the formal carparks that are as close as possible to the points of entry
· Maintaining the current number of car parking spaces
· Establishing nodes as the starting point for promoted trails
· Development of cost effective design and build standards, and maintenance of surrounding vegetation to give confidence to car park users
· Enabling a flexible approach to visitor management.
The committee were shown images of the sites map, and photographs of visitor areas and signage.
Comments from the committee included:
· Appreciation for a clear and detailed presentation
· Query on additional signage on the site to aid visitors to find their way back out of the site; in response, the rationale for signage was explained to balance the need for directing visitors with keeping a minimal impact on the atheistic of the area. Visitors were encouraged to use a map and viewpoints to navigate the site;
· Hedge planting and ditches were being enhanced to project the site from unwanted vehicle access;
· Data on usage of the designated car park areas would be provided in update reports to the committee at future meetings when available.
RESOLVED that the Executive Committee notes the update on the visitor access improvement works.