Letter from the Chairman Sept 2009

September 2009

It is usual at this time of year for a full newsletter to go to members with the AGM papers. This year the AGM is slightly earlier than usual on October 26th and there are so many current matters that a full newsletter has been delayed until later in the autumn. I hope this report will provide an update of Council business and explain some of the matters under consideration.

The Government has initiated several pieces of legislation with their attendant consultation periods. Firstly and most far reaching is the Marine and Coastal Access Bill, which has passed through the Committee stage and awaits the Report stage reading in the House of Commons   A national office for the Marine Management Organisation is to be established on Tyneside. The Solent is part of the South Coast region administered from Dover. The SPS has written suggesting that because of the unique mix of commercial interests, recreational sailing, and particularly the high proportion of the coastline that is privately owned, the Solent should be considered for a pilot study.

Legislation is also at the consultative stage for proposed legislation on Coastal Policy to determine how coastal communities can adapt to coastal change. There is also consultation on another policy setting out the planning frameworks to ensure continuing economic and social viability of coastal communities. Consultation has recently finished to an amendment to the Habitats Directive that will be of concern to the likes of the Lymington Ferry Operation in causing Regulators to pay closer attention to the effects arising from new plans or projects on adjacent European Protected Sites.

At a local level ABP has just published its Master Plan for the Port of Southampton for the next 20 years. The development of Dibden Bay is portrayed as being essential to the Port and to the national economy.  ABP are seeking public response and SPS members can find details through the ABP website. The Council will be responding shortly.

We have been learning more about the work to prepare a new Shoreline Management Plan for the north Solent shore. This will have relevance to problems arising from changing sea levels and consideration of developments in this area.

The Council has continued to review planning applications, large and small, and in particular members have attended meetings about the Local Development Framework and new Core Strategies for Local Authority areas. Our particular interest has been to ensure that the view from the water is considered a relevant factor in making planning decisions. A particular problem concerns the Isle of Wight where the proposed core plan considers the view from the Solent important around Ryde but not in other areas. We have made representations.

At a local level we have recently made observations concerning the proposed East Cowes breakwater and marina, and about No Mans Land Fort, as we are concerned that the application for this listed building may be heard with unreasonable haste and inadequate information.

In respect to Lymington Ferries we have heard that the application in the High Court by the Lymington River Association will not be heard until December. In the meantime we understand that Natural England is moving towards an agreement with Wightlink to use dredging spoils to rebuild mudflats and that the latest bathymetric surveys show little change resulting from the new ferries. The position remains very difficult.

As you see, the members of the Council continue to work on a variety of subjects. As Chairman, the greatest challenge I face, is understanding and keeping up with sheer scale of proposals and threats facing the Solent. All appears calm, the tides come and go as usual but this is in fact a time of continuous government review. The items I have mentioned are just a few of the matters we are considering. Finally any Association is only as good and as effective as its members. We need to hear your views and concerns and of course we rely on you to recruit new members from amongst your friends and family.

Jeremy Clark SPS Council Chairman