The main objective of this Visitor Access Advisory Report (VAAR) is to safeguard protected bird species (Nightjar and Dartford Warbler) and heathland habitats from the adverse impacts and disturbance caused by people, particularly from dogs that are not on a lead.
The principles applied to the VAAR seek to achieve this through:
- ‘gathering’ visitors towards car parks that are away from sensitive locations and towards those that have less impact on protected habitats and species.
- retaining and developing the car parks that are as close as possible to the points of entry on to the heaths, near to main roads where the car parks are easy to find and easy to sign (e.g. car park name signs). This has the effect of reducing car movements across the heaths and the scattered informal parking that occurs as a result.
- maintaining the current number of car parking spaces across the heaths.
- establishing focal points (or “nodes”) as the starting point for promoted trails, to direct people away from sensitive areas at key times of the year and to create welcoming, attractive locations where visitors can engage with interpretation, messaging and wardens about the nature, value and significance of the Pebblebed Heaths and particularly about responsible dog walking.
- the development of cost-effective design and build standards that are appropriate to a countryside location within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This to include maintenance of surrounding vegetation to give confidence to car park users that they and their vehicles are secure when using the car parks.
- the partial, phased or seasonal closure of some car parks to enable a flexible approach to visitor management, if required.