Posted on 23 Apr 2008
The SPS and LRA have a shared objective to protect the Lymington River and its adjacent habitats.
Many causes of habitat and saltmarsh loss have been suggested but the contribution of large ferries operating in rivers and estuaries has not been recognised by some authorities.
The LRA presents a hypothesis, supported by evidence that links the increase in the erosion of the Lymington river banks, its tributaries and estuary to the arrival of the C-class ferries in1973. The proposed larger, more powerful ferries will only accelerate this process.
In addition to their importance as a habitat, the saltmarsh and mudflats provide the first line of sea defence to the harbour and recently completed sea wall between Keyhaven and Lymington. They also contribute a unique amenity to Lymington and its surroundings.
This area, which currently has unfavourable and declining condition status, is an SAC site under the EU Habitats Directive. The UK and its authorities have a legal obligation to restore it to favourable conservation status. Adopting a policy of managed retreat for the saltmarshes does not comply with the Directive.
The means exist to restore this internationally important site to favourable status. If nothing is done, NFDC, MFA and NE, among others, will be in breach of their obligations.
The LRA believes that a holistic approach to this coastline should be adopted. We urge our elected representatives to seek a sustainable way forward that combines benefits for the habitats, for coastal defence, for local amenities, for river users and for a future Lymington/Yarmouth ferry service.
LRA supports NFDCs proposal for saltmarsh regeneration for the Hurst Castle and Lymington River Estuary SSSI. We consider that the authorities, particularly the LHC, should ensure that the new ferries do not damage the river by carrying out their duty, under the Port Marine Safety Code clause 1.2.7, to exercise their functions with regard to nature conservation and other related environmental considerations.