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Analysis examines UK's beach capacity

In view of recent overcrowding following the easing of lockdown, Esri UK has explored how many people could hypothetically fit on some of the country’s most popular beaches using social distancing guidelines.

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Bournemouth beach has space for an estimated 78,628 socially-distanced visitors
Bournemouth beach has space for an estimated 78,628 socially-distanced visitors

Spatial analysis of 10 of the UK’s most popular beaches by geographic information system (GIS) software and location intelligence specialist, Esri UK, has revealed how many people could hypothetically fit on the sand, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.

 

Scenes in Bournemouth

 

The analysis follows scenes in Bournemouth, last month, where 500,000 people, reportedly, descended onto the beach. At the specified two metres apart, Esri UK’s analysis found that only an estimated 78,628 people could fit.

 

The method used placed one person inside a 2-metre diameter circle but with an additional 2 metres of space between each circle, to represent a hypothetical estimation of beach capacity, allowing some space for people to move around.

 

Other beaches surveyed included Brighton (61,723 capacity), Newquay (23,777), Barafundle (3,246) and Luskentyre (24,243).

“Spatial analysis can help give local authorities and other organisations a rapid indication of capacity, for a range of different spaces in these unprecedented times”

The figures are released ahead of pubs, restaurants and other hospitality and leisure businesses reopening this weekend in England, when it is expected that many popular destinations like beaches and parks will become extremely busy again.

 

“We wanted to examine how many people could hypothetically fit on a beach ahead of the main UK holiday season,” said Sam Bark, cartographer at Esri UK. “Spatial analysis can help give local authorities and other organisations a rapid indication of capacity, for a range of different spaces in these unprecedented times, not just beaches, such as green space or even indoors.

Barafundle beach has space for an estimated 3,246 socially-distanced visitors
Barafundle beach has space for an estimated 3,246 socially-distanced visitors
Durdle Door beach has space for an estimated 3,137 socially-distanced visitors
Durdle Door beach has space for an estimated 3,137 socially-distanced visitors

He continued: “Obviously the figures come with a few caveats, as most beach goers are in groups of more than one and people don’t remain static.”

 

Beach capacity statistics, ranked by beach size

(beach area (m2) followed by number of 2m diameter circles with 2m gaps in-between)

 

Perranporth, Cornwall: 1,115,445; 80,503

Bournemouth, Dorset: 1,089,463; 78,628

Brighton, East Sussex: 855,231; 61,723

Portobello, Edinburgh: 499,895; 36,078

Whitley Bay, North Tyneside: 399,715; 28,848

Luskentyre, Isle of Harris: 335,911; 24,243

Newquay, Cornwall: 329,451; 23,777

Weymouth, Dorset: 254,246; 18,349

Barafundle, Pembrokeshire: 44,973; 3,246

Durdle Door, Dorset: 43,472; 3,137

 

Esri UK carried out the spatial analysis using its ArcGIS software. First it calculated the area of dry sand on each beach, using the MasterMap Topography Layer from Ordnance Survey (OS), using average high tides.

 

Esri UK then calculated how many 2 metre circles could fit on each beach with 2 metre spacing between each circle.

 

Analysis carried out by the GIS specialist also revealed that most pavements around the UK (70 per cent) are less than three metres wide, making it difficult for pedestrians to social distance at the specified two metres apart.

 

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