Regulatory approaches to managing recreation
Where voluntary techniques are unlikely to
succeed or have already failed, it may be necessary to instigate
a regulatory approach to management for nature conservation.
Before looking to set up such controls, however, it is important
to determine what controls already exist, how effective they
are and what statutory powers are vested amongst existing bodies
in the area. A number of byelaws are already likely to exist
in mSAC areas but new ones can be costly to introduce and bring
with them the problem of enforcement, particularly on the water.
The results of a consultation exercise on bylaws was published
by DETR October 1998 and the findings are summarised below.
Bylaws give legal support to action on the
ground, offer a clear basis for enforcement and can highlight
broader aims and objectives. However, it can be difficult to
achieve and maintain local support for such measures and enforcement
can be difficult without appropriate funds. Byelaws should not,
therefore, be considered as the first course of action to deal
with difficulties or conflict resulting from recreational activities
and their use should be avoided where problems are minor or
occasional. However, if voluntary action or self regulation
is not practicable, or has not proved effective at site level,
byelaw management may be required.
An Inter-Departmental Working Party chaired
by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
was set up in 1994 to review the effectiveness of existing local
authority powers to make byelaws to regulate coastal recreational
activities. The following information is based on their findings
and recommendations. The working party reviewed five specific
principal powers of byelaws, including those designed to:
regulate the activities taking place on
the sea-shore and on promenades
licence pleasure boats for commercial purposes
regulate public bathing (primarily for
regulate speed, use and noise of pleasure
promote good rule and government in their
Following a discussion paper and subsequent
consultation, the working party concluded that there were significant
improvements which could be made to bylaw making powers and
made specific recommendations.
Throughout the review, the working party looked
at the three main aims of recreation management: public safety;
protecting amenity; and preventing environmental damage. For
the purpose of this study, the latter issue is of most concern.
Recommendations specific to the former may, however, be extremely
valuable for the wider management of the mSAC site.
When considering issues of environmental decline
or impact the working party acknowledged that "assessing
damage to the environment is difficult as only limited research
is available in this area." Site managers should bear this
factor in mind when considering byelaws as possible management
tools for their site.
The working party made 59 recommendations for
the use of bylaws in the management of recreation on the coast.
Many of these recommendations have relevance to management for
amenity, safety and nature conservation purposes and for a more
detailed review site managers and relevant authorities should
refer to the DETR document, Review of Byelaw Powers for the
Coast: Report of the Inter-Departmental Working Group, October
1998. The working party’s main recommendations on the future
use of bylaws included:
Local authority powers for making and enforcing
bylaws should be modernised and consolidated.
Any powers must include the ability to
provide exclusive bathing zones – i.e. areas where all types
of craft, powered and non-powered, can be excluded. However,
such zones should not force users of craft too far out to
In addition to specific powers, local authorities
should be given more general byelaw powers (with safeguards
to prevent indiscriminate use) to regulate activities affecting
the wider environment.
Any extension of, or amendment to, byelaw
powers should not conflict or overlap with powers held by
Point 3 above is of direct relevance to mSAC
area management and nature conservation issues. The discussion
paper highlighted a number of gaps in the coverage of existing
bylaw powers and many of these were with regard to protecting
the environment. The working party considered that where another
relevant authority did not have a specific power, local authorities
should have the power to regulate coastal recreation activities
in order to protect the wider environment. The working party
made four specific recommendations regarding byelaw protection
for the wider environment:
Local authorities should be given a general
power to regulate coastal recreation activities which are outside
the responsibility of other relevant authorities for the purpose
of protecting the wider environment.
The framing of such powers should, as far as
is practicable, take account of the need to regulate as yet
unforeseen or largely undeveloped forms of recreational activities.
Any such power should include appropriate safeguards
to prevent indiscriminate use, appropriate consultation, and
ensure that the power is used reasonably.
This power should not conflict with, overlap
or supersede existing powers held by other authorities.
Other aspects of the discussion that also have
implications for nature conservation include the control of
launch points. Earlier chapters of this study suggested that
environmental impacts can occur when a recreational participant
is accessing the water. The byelaw discussion paper highlighted
that the control of launching and landing points for craft is
one way of exercising a degree of control over watercraft users.
For example, some local authorities operate schemes requiring
third party insurance as a condition for using local authority
controlled launch points. This, however, can only be applied
to powered craft and so cannot effectively work as a management
tool for the wider recreational community.
The use of personal watercraft was also raised
in the document. However, the working party found that most
concern was placed on the potential dangers posed to other users
of the sea, noise nuisance and the difficulties of enforcing
existing controls. These aspects relate in most part to amenity
issues and do not therefore have specific relation to nature
conservation issues. In relation to the management of this particular
type of activity, a specific guide for local and harbour authorities
for the management of personal watercraft has been developed.
The use and management of personal watercraft
often presents many problems for local and harbour authorities.
This is due in general to the wide and often divergent views
on the use of personal watercraft around our coasts. In response
to this a consortium of groups with interests in this particular
recreational activity have collaborated to produce a guide for
the effective management of this activity in close inshore waters,
a Practical Guide to the Management of Personal Watercraft (1998)
This guide does offer some useful information for the management
of this activity. It is, however, only targeted at busy beaches
and harbours and does not therefore deal with personal watercraft
issues arising on the undeveloped and remote coast, particularly
areas of high nature conservation importance.
If regulatory controls are not supported by
the end user it is likely that they will require enforcement
measures to ensure that they are adhered to. Such measures can
take the form of policing of the site by relevant authorities.
However, this is often a very expensive method of control both
financially and in terms of time required to monitor and maintain
regulatory measures. A programme of education and interpretation
to gain the support of the end user for regulatory controls
is a much more cost-effective management tool.
Prior to the development or discussion of new
regulatory management techniques for site areas relevant authorities,
site managers and recreational users must reach some agreement
on the methods, implementation, funding and policing of such
in Policing and Enforcement, Langstone Harbour, UK
One third of the
harbour is protected by the Farlington Marsh local nature reserve
and an area of mud flats and islands owned by the RSPB. The
2,000 hectares of the harbour have been notified as SSSI on
account of the importance of the intertidal zone, its plant
life and the birds that it attracts. The harbour is used for
sailing, board sailing, fishing, pleasure boating and water-skiing.
A water-ski zone
has been defined for use between March and October within which
a ten knot speed limit does not apply. With the scheme operated
on a voluntary basis, many water skiers ignored the boundaries
of the restriction and entered the reserve. By agreement with
the Langstone harbour Board, the Langstone Harbour Water Skiers
Association is now responsible for policing the zone. All skiers
must obtain a licence and become members of the association
and display the licence on the bow of ski boats.
The scheme ensures
that all skiers are aware of the bylaw e.g. the limits to the
zone, speed restrictions, direction and time of skiing within
the zone and the position of the nature reserve. The scheme
has ensured that transgressors of the rules are easily identified.
Practical Management Techniques
In addition to managing recreational impacts
on marine features it may also be possible to reduce the potential
for certain impacts by sensitive modification of habitats. This
may take the form of bank stabilisation measures, provision
of additional refuges for wildlife and habitat restoration.
Integrated Management: A Suite of Management Methods
Often a number of different management methods
can work together to provide effective site management. This
is particularly the case for techniques such as voluntary zoning,
regulatory byelaws and education and interpretation. Often education
can be used to support other practical methods of nature conservation
at site level. When used together, the different management
techniques can effectively support one another and provide added
Lleyn, North Wales
The British Association
for Shooting and Conservation has developed an award winning
demonstration site at Lleyn Ystumyllyn SSSI in North Wales to
show how nature conservation, shooting and farming interests
can co-exist. The BASC’s long-term aim is to develop integrated
management strategies both nationally and at estuary and wetland
level, in which the location and positioning of shot and unshot
land would be agreed to the mutual advantage of all user and
The BASC issues
a series of codes of practice which are distributed to its member
clubs. These cover legal and safety requirements, identifying
the prey species, details of close seasons, a code of shooting
etiquette and advises against shooting out-of-range birds. There
is also a conservation code covering habitat and wildfowl conservation,
the establishment of reserves and refuges and their management.