‘Now is the time for action’ as key players attend Chichester Harbour summit

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

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 11:45 am
John Nelson, Chair of the Chichester Harbour Trust (front centre) and Jonson Cox, Chair of Ofwat (front right) host representatives from the key environmental agencies in Bosham (Credit: Keith Sinclair)

The environmental welfare of the harbour, the inadequacy of sewerage infrastructure and the scale of proposed housebuilding in the district 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 with the major organisations involved to discuss the challenges facing the harbour.

In attendance were senior representatives from Chichester Harbour Conservancy, the chairman and CEO of Ofwat and Southern Water respectively, the chair and regional director of the Environment Agency, two senior directors from Natural England, both the leader and chief executive of Chichester District Council and a representative from MP Gillian Keegan’s office.

The meeting was chaired by Jonson Cox, chair of regulator Ofwat.

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.

Mr Cox 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; “We were extremely grateful to Ofwat for facilitating this meeting and for the preparedness of such senior representatives of the key organisations to participate. There was a real sense of the need for action. It now requires strong leadership from local government and government agencies to put the measures in place.”

He added: “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.”