Chichester Harbour is one of the most important biological and geological sites in Britain.
Quite apart from being classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is the county’s jewel – its seaward gateway to West Sussex.
So how heartening to hear prospective parliamentary candidates in the forthcoming general election speak strongly in its defence.
At the hustings in Chichester Cathedral last week, four candidates from the parties represented in the last Parliament, were quizzed vigorously on this and other subjects by a lively and articulate audience.
But the protection of the Harbour is a critical issue for generations to come and decisions taken now will have ramifications for many hundreds of years.
Make no mistake, the threats posed by Chichester District Council’s evolving Local Plan are greater to the Harbour’s long-term sustainability than any attack on it in history.
The Plan’s objective is to control and shape development in the district, ensuring much-needed housing is provided in the area during the next 15 years – a difficult task given that so much of the land lies in the National Park.
But Chichester can do better than this pitifully inadequate document.
We look to whoever becomes the next MP for this wonderful constituency to do everything in their power to ensure the Plan is robustly reshaped to protect the Harbour.
It is also vital that they revitalise the arguments to government to secure the long-promised improvements to the A27; resecure the future of the city centre and the town high streets across the constituency; ensure that new housing embraces environmental designs that make it not only carbon-neutral to heat but utterly affordable to the young people who are desperately seeking homes; while at the same time embracing an enterprise and entrepreneurial culture through tax and incentive.
Impossible? Not at all. Just an incredibly tough agenda that will require an MP of extraordinary ability, commitment – and leadership.
We know that on December 12 the people of Chichester will choose wisely in securing both their national ambitions as well as those so vital to our local community.
For our part, we will hold the successful candidate to the undertakings they have given to the people in the Cathedral last week.