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With a population of nearly 1.25 million, 42,000 businesses and £31 billion GVA, the Solent is a well-recognised and long-established functional economic area. It is anchored around the Isle of Wight, the two cities of Portsmouth and Southampton, the M27 corridor and the Solent waterway, and includes the outstanding New Forest National Park.

With three islands, three peninsulas, and 340 miles of coastline, the Solent economy is inextricably influenced by its coastal geography and gives it a unique economic and cultural identity. Overlaid on this outstanding physical geography and natural environment is a growing population, the most urbanised area of southern England outside London, and outstanding natural environmental and heritage assets, resulting in a complex and unique geography. This distinctive physical and socio-economic geography, and the role of the area as home to a number of nationally significant economic assets such as the Port of Southampton, the ExxonMobil Petro-chemical site at Fawley, and Her Majesty's Naval Base in Portsmouth, places unique demands on economic infrastructure, that are not felt elsewhere. It also presents an unrivalled opportunity to unlock the potential of this world class economy which resides within a world class environment. This, together with a longstanding clustering of businesses, innovation, research and educational strengths has cemented the Solent as an internationally recognised area for maritime and places it at the heart of the UK’s marine and maritime sector.

The Solent LEP geography includes the following Local Authority areas; Portsmouth City Council, Southampton City Council and Isle of Wight Council (all Unitary Councils); and New Forest District Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, Fareham Borough Council, Gosport Borough Council, Havant Borough Council; with Hampshire County Council, being the upper tier authority covering the District/Borough Council areas and a map of the area is provided below: