‘Now is the time for action’ on harbour
MP urged to confront senior government colleagues
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.”