Draft Thanet Local Plan - 2031 - Pre-Submission Publication, Regulation 19

Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Plan (SAMM) and the Thanet Coast Project

4.42 Recreational pressure at the European sites, particularly the SPA, has given cause for concern from Natural England and the Kent Wildlife Trust regarding the impact of disturbance to over-wintering birds. There is further concern regarding the impact of increased recreational pressure as a result of population increases.

4.43 Evidence suggests that any new housing development in Thanet has the potential to increase the recreational impacts on the SPA resulting from the increase in population. This may have an adverse impact on the species for which the SPA has been designated. The actual level of impact from individual developments may not be significant, however the in-combination effect of all housing developments proposed in the district cannot rule out a significant impact.

4.44 As a result of this impact the Council appointed specialist consultants to produce a Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Plan (SAMM) (2016) to address any potential impact. The Thanet Coast and Sandwich Bay SPA is used by a large number of migratory birds particularly over-wintering Turnstones and European Golden Plover. Much of the coast is accessible for walking and cycling and the large stretch of promenade along the coast bring the Turnstones very close to users and potential disturbance. Recent surveys have revealed a decline in their population eg a 50% drop in Turnstone numbers in 2013, subsequent years also show a decline in numbers. Evidence shows that recreational activity causes disturbance to birds, particularly dog walking. This type of recreational activity is most likely to increase with increased housing and it is this activity that the mitigation strategy seeks to address.

4.45 The zone of influence is the geographical area within which an impact on European sites interest can be identified and where potential impacts need to be avoided or mitigation provided. The whole of the District falls within a 6km radius of the SPA, therefore it is reasonable to include the whole of the District within a zone of influence and therefore to apply the mitigation approach set out in the SAMM strategy.

4.46 The mitigation package will include measures such as a wardening service to provide on-site presence throughout the SPA for the peak over wintering period - October and April. A co-ordination role will be required to manage the wardening and co-ordinate activities throughout the year such as education and awareness activities such as signage and interpretation. Other measures could include limited access management. Regular monitoring of birds and visitors will also be required. This list is not exhaustive and other appropriate activities may be put in place. The SAMM will be reviewed no later than 10 years or sooner if monitoring and surveys reveal issues which are not being addressed by the mitigation package. The mitigation package will be delivered by the Thanet Coast Project.

4.47 The Thanet Coast Project was established in 2001 and is tasked with much of the delivery of the North East Kent Marine Protected Area (NEKMPA) Action Plan and therefore delivery of the majority of the objectives of the Thanet Cliffs and Shore Biodiversity Opportunity Area (BOA) within Thanet. The main aims of the project are to:-

  • Raise awareness of the important marine and bird life, and how to avoid damaging them.
  • Work with local people to safeguard coastal wildlife and implement the Management Scheme Action Plan.
  • Encourage and run wildlife related events and make links with wildlife, green tourism, coastscape and the arts.
  • Be a focal point for enquiries and gathering information on coastal wildlife and environmental issues.
  • Keep everyone informed with progress through various means, including newsletters, articles and stakeholder workshops.

4.48 The Thanet Project has been very successful with the following activities and projects set up to deliver these objectives:-

  • 10 coastal codes of conduct formulated with stakeholders to alleviate the impacts of human activities on the European sites.
  • One scientific research code formulated by The North East Kent Scientific Coastal Advisory Group.
  • A twice yearly Thanet Coast newsletter.
  • Educational activities and resources for all ages.
  • Volunteering opportunities from volunteer wardens to participation in ecological research.

4.49 The SAMM has developed a tariff (revised 2017 in light of the new housing requirement of 17,140 units) that will apply to all new housing according to the number of dwellings built within the district. The tariff is inextricably linked to the housing requirement for the District for the plan period and will be reviewed if this requirement changes. The current tariff is set in table 8.

Table 8 - SAMM Tariff

Development type

Tariff per dwelling - including requirement for in-perpetuity funding

1 bedroom unit


2 bedroom unit


3 bedroom unit


4+ bedroom unit



Policy SP26 - Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Plan (SAMM)

All proposals for new residential development will be required to comply with the Strategic Access Management and Monitoring Plan (SAMM) in order to mitigate against the in-combination effects of new development, through the pathway of recreational pressure on the Thanet Coast SPA and Ramsar site. A financial contribution based on the current tariff in table 8 and any subsequent amendments, is required in-perpetuity towards an access management scheme. This will be collected via a S106 payment.

Developments for other uses that would increase recreational activity causing disturbance to qualifying species will be assessed on a case by case basis under the Habitat Regulations and may be required to make full or partial contributions towards the SAMM Plan if appropriate.