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Jeremy Clark delivered the Chairman’s report
“This has been another interesting and varied year for the Council. We pursued the now familiar agenda of concern about planning matters, both detailed and larger scale, legislative changes, of concern about the environment and in particular the salt marsh habitat of the Solent and of keeping ourselves informed through contact with other organisations.
“We were pleased to welcome three new Members of the Council during the year. Each brings specialist knowledge in some section of the activities of the Society and I hope they will find Membership of the Council to be interesting and at time a little challenging. I am sorry to report that our Vice-Chairman Prof Malcolm Forster has resigned due to the pressure of his international work. He served for a short time in 2007 as our Chairman and he will be missed by the Council.
“The most obvious result of the time spent on SPS matters this year has been our excellent new website. The former website whilst up-to date when it was new, represented a historical record of the work of the Society and as such looked back and not forward. The new site is entirely different in character, for whilst we still maintain a record of what the Society does and has done, we now have an excellent section of news that is relevant to the Solent. We are developing an on line forum that will enable Members and invited individuals to correspond with us and reflect their views on Solent matters in a fashion that will we hope both interest current and potential members and in due course help us to grow our membership
“The major burden for this development has been carried by Graham Rabbitts and we are very grateful to him. The professional development was carried out by a local studio in Southampton called Atelier and the relationship has been a productive one
“I do hope you have or will look at the Website at http://www.solentproteion.org
“To turn to the detail of this year’s work and to start with planning.
“The major emphasis has been on possible developments on the Island. These were the possibility of an Asphalt plant on the Medina, the redevelopment of the old Saro works adjacent to the Folly, the proposal for Hamlet Court in Cowes, and the largest scheme in the long term, being the redevelopment of the very large site surrounding the crane on the western bank of the Medina. In some cases we have made representations, in others it is, at this stage a matter of studying plans, visiting presentations and awaiting more detail
“The good news is that the Asphalt plant will not now go ahead, as we were concerned about the environmental consequences.
“On the mainland we objected to a proposed new house to the west of Beaulieu and we attended the planning Inspectors meeting. We were pleased to hear that the Inspector seemed concerned about the seascape and that the appeal was declined. We made representations about proposed alterations to a house on the coast at Keyhaven, which we felt were out of character.
“On a larger scale we looked at the possibility of a biomass plant in Southampton docks which is still unresolved, and a sulphur plant which is to go ahead.
“On the Hamble we made representations about the loss of a secondary channel and in the last few days have submitted a letter of objection concerning aspects of the Draft Eastleigh Local Plan which we felt were detrimental to the River and its environment
“To turn to our approach to the environment, during November we were one of the sponsors of the conference in London organised by ABPMer entitled “Coastal Habitat Creation. Are we delivering?” Two Council Members attended.
“The environmental issue with the highest profile continues to be Lymington Marshes and Boiler Marsh in particular. You may remember that at the conclusion of the planning Inquiry regarding the development of a new ferry terminal a section 106 agreement was enacted which will result in improvements to Boiler Marsh. The responsibility of ensuring that these works are satisfactorily concluded lies with the Local authority, and bodies such as SPS have no power in the matter. We were concerned at reports that we had heard about the first year’s work. We therefore wrote to New Forest Planning Authority and received a satisfactory response. We have heard unofficial reports to suggest that the second year’s work was considerably more effective and we await with interest the minutes and report of the Environmental Monitoring Panel which met during November
” Lymington is not just concerned with Boiler Marsh as the Harbour Authority with some support from the Crown Estate are pursuing a long term plan to protect the western side of the Harbour entrance which we watch with interest.
“In view of the interest in such matters in the Lymington Area we have arranged a meeting for 20th of February to be addressed by Mr Colin Scott of ABP Mer. The title is the same as the London conference being” Habitat Creation, Are We delivering?” and we are in conversations with the Harbour Commissioners to present this as a joint endeavour . It is not intended to be a meeting about Boiler Marsh but no doubt lessons learned there will be relevant.
“Concerning more general matters we have considered and in some cases written letters, about Cumulative effects under the Habitats Regulations, changes to the Bathing water directives, the beneficial use of dredgings, fly boarding, byelaws concerning trawling in areas of sea grass, the Keyhaven sea wall, and difficulties in the matter of the Langstone Harbour precept
“We presented an award to the Classic Boat Museum at Cowes and made a donation to the Association of Lighthouse Keepers at Hurst Castle to help them improve their presentation.?
“Members visited a number of conferences including the afore mentioned Habitat Creation conference, the Marine Ecology workshop and Marine Planning meetings. Members scaled the Calshot Tower to meet members of Coastwatch, attended the Southampton Maritime festival, visited Fawley Power Station, attended a CCATCH meeting at Priory Road in Southampton, the Langstone Harbour Forum and a number of meetings of the Solent Forum and its steering group
“I have referred to the planned meeting in Lymington on Habitat Creation, but this is just one of three public meetings which we are holding this winter. We have already been to the Island Sailing Club to hear Prof Robin McInnes speak about way to understand coastal change through art, and in January we will visit Southampton Solent University to hear about the changes to the Coastguards
“The speaker will be Geoff Matthews, a senior Coastguard and the RYA have agreed to help us at this event with the publicity to its members. The date is January 22nd and full details are of course on our excellent new website. As you may know the Lee-on-the-Solent Coast Guard station will close as part of the national reorganisation when the new National Marine Coordination Centre opens at Segensworth, so this is a matter of considerable interest to Solent sailors which is why we have organised the lecture by Coastguard in January
“Finally our Members’ day this year went to Hurst Castle and we intend to visit the new Mary Rose Museum in the summer
“I am sure this is not a full list of activities but I know that it covers the main points of our work this year, I am sure that next year will be no less interesting.”
Bill Pimlott delivered the Treasurers report on behalf of Colin Brown who was unable to attend.The major change was a saving in PR costs offset by an investment in the new website.
In accordance with the rules, one third of the Council were re-elected with acclamation
Extraordinary General meeting
There was also a brief EGM, the purpose of which was to approve a change of the structure of the Society to the new CIO (Charitable Incorporated Oranisation) status recently created by the Charities Commission. This is a simpler process than creating a company limited by guarantee. The matter of liability of Councillors has caused concern for some time, and the new simpler procedure has been welcomed by the Council.
The move has become necessary because we wish to provide a full discussion forum on our website, but needed to limit the exposure of the Society to publisher’s risks. The meeting was advised that when the forum is launched it will be carefully moderated, and this will take priority over speedy response.