The Solent is a part of the South Marine Plan, produced by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). This plan has now been in existence for two years and is invaluable in judging both marine licence applications and land based applications. We have established contacts with our local Marine Management Office and often with the individual case officer concerned. This position has improved over the last two years as the MMO has recognised the importance of organisations like the Solent Protection Society; we are neither an applicant nor a decision making body but an ‘other stakeholder’ and so our voice has to be strong to be heard.
We have participated in annual reviews of the plan as part of the MMOs’ monitoring exercise and have had some impact on how the MMO considers applications in the light of the Marine Plan.
One of our concerns during the past year has been related to the many applications for dredging in the Solent. There are specific policies in the Plan to encourage beneficial use of dredgings and we are keen to see this taken up to replenish our eroding salt marshes which are essential in many ways to the health of the Solent as well as protecting the foreshore. Applications prior to the Marine Plan have not had to consider this in depth and have generally opted to dispose of dredgings offshore. It has been a struggle to get these parts of the plan properly addressed, however we are encouraged that applicants are increasingly being asked to justify why beneficial use has not been properly considered.
As many will know there has been a trial going on at Lymington which provides a lot of information about techniques and there is ongoing research through Solent Forum and ABP Mer. We hope this will eventually result in replenishment, not dumping, being considered a priority.
For anyone interested in finding out more contact the secretary .