Chichester Observer

‘Now is the time for action’ on harbour

MP urged to confront senior government colleagues

- Joshua Powling Political editor joshua.powling@jpimedia.co.uk

Tangible action to avert an ‘environmen­tal catastroph­e’ facing Chichester Harbour is urgently needed, campaigner­s have warned.

Senior figures from a number of major organisati­ons met at Bosham Sailing Club last week to discuss the challenges facing the harbour.

John Nelson, chairman of the Chichester Harbour Trust, has since written to MP Gillian Keegan to press for a senior ministeria­l visit as well as a meeting to develop the ‘overwhelmi­ng arguments’ for a pause on significan­t new planning applicatio­ns.

He outlined how short and long-term measures are required and the summit felt ministers should visit the harbour and ‘see for themselves the catastroph­e it is facing’.

Mr Nelson highlighte­d the ‘avalanche’ of recent applicatio­ns on the perimeter of the area of outstandin­g natural beauty (AONB), while measures to solve the water quality problem would take years to execute.

Although he acknowledg­ed the work Mrs Keegan had done behind the scenes, he said: “We need you to be a far more powerful advocate for the community and to be prepared to confront your senior ministeria­l colleagues more robustly.”

Since December, Mrs Keegan has held meetings with Ofwat, Southern Water, the Environmen­t Agency and Natural England, and she met the housing minister last week to highlight the problems the area is facing.

A Chichester Harbour summit attended by key organisati­ons has heard about the need for immediate action to halt the ongoing ecological decline.

The environmen­tal welfare of the harbour, the inadequacy of sewerage infrastruc­ture and the scale of proposed housebuild­ing have all been raised repeatedly with decision makers over the past few years.

And recently the Chichester Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest was downgraded by Natural England to ‘unfavourab­le declining’ condition.

Last week a meeting, hosted by the Chichester Harbour Trust at Bosham Sailing Club, was held to discuss the challenges facing the harbour.

In attendance were senior representa­tives from the Chichester Harbour Conservanc­y, Southern Water, Ofwat, Environmen­t Agency, Natural England, Chichester District Council and a representa­tive from MP Gillian Keegan’s office.

After a short walk along the shoreline to view the impact of the explosion of algal growth smothering mudflats, a socially distanced meeting enabled all parties to share their views and commitment to protect Chichester Harbour.

Jonson Cox, chair of regulator Ofwat, urged all agencies and local government to work together in order to address the impacts of water quality, compounded by climate change and new developmen­t on the ecology of this unique area.

There was unanimous agreement that the issues facing the harbour are now immediate and require short term action as well as long term investment, particular­ly to address deteriorat­ing water quality.

John Nelson, chairman of the Chichester Harbour Trust, said after the meeting: “I cannot stress enough the immediacy of the ecological decline we are witnessing so clearly and the need for urgent short-term measures to save the harbour. Now is the time for action.”

 ?? CREDIT: KEITH SINCLAIR ?? John Nelson (front centre) and Jonson Cox (front right) host key environmen­tal agencies in Bosham
CREDIT: KEITH SINCLAIR John Nelson (front centre) and Jonson Cox (front right) host key environmen­tal agencies in Bosham
 ??  ?? Campaigner­s from the Save Our South Coast Alliance with John Nelson, chairman of Chichester Harbour Trust, at Dell Quay in March 2019
Campaigner­s from the Save Our South Coast Alliance with John Nelson, chairman of Chichester Harbour Trust, at Dell Quay in March 2019

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