SHOULD there be a tourist tax in Purbeck – the “Purbeck Pound”? 

This is the controversial question asked in a report by environmental group Planet Purbeck to nearly 7,000 respondents. 

Residents in the area are sharply divided over the major nature recovery programmes taking place in the area, the “unprecedented” survey has found. 

There are hopes from some that Purbeck will become the “nature capital of England” with benefits for business and lifestyle.  

Dorset Echo: SwanageSwanage (Image: Daily Echo)

But others fear it could become an overcrowded “theme park” overrun by litter-tossing tourists who will drive residents out of the housing market. 

The split opinions were discovered in a survey carried out by community group Planet Purbeck for the Wild Purbeck Partnership (WPP). 

Information from the survey was gathered over several months via social media, face-to-face interviews and questionnaires. 

Planet Purbeck’s mission was to raise awareness of the nature recovery schemes, which members said were not well known. 

The group has compiled an in-depth report of the survey - available on its website - covering topics such as Purbeck’s hopes and fears for the future, changes to farming practices, implications for climate change, potential solutions to problems and what the WPP can do to sway the doubters. 

Dorset Echo: Train over Corfe CastleTrain over Corfe Castle (Image: Andrew Wright)

Planet Purbeck’s Rob Waitt said: “We wanted to give our community a voice to ensure these changes to our countryside and coast deliver tangible benefits to local residents. 

“It’s a question of balance. People do want greater access to a healthy, nature-rich environment with clean rivers and seas but they want assurances this will not come at the cost of lower local food production, harm to farmers and more pressure from tourism.” 

Responses have been split. One example said: “We have a huge opportunity for positive change - more abundant wildlife will support more rural employment and increased profit for businesses.”  

But another said: “Purbeck is home to many who have lived, respected and worked here, not just a second homeowners’ Nature Park.” 

Report co-author Luke M Luke said: “Diverse viewpoints are a strength, guiding us towards more informed decisions to benefit everyone in Purbeck. 

“Carrying out such a massive survey was a big challenge but we are proud to have given local residents an opportunity to have their say. Getting reactions from nearly 7,000 surpassed all expectations. 

“We hope we have established Planet Purbeck as a credible representative of our community to ensure people are at the forefront all Wild Purbeck Partnership projects.”