One of the most high-profile campaigns that the Society ever fought was its vigorous opposition at the beginning of this century to Associated British Ports’ planning application to develop land at Dibden Bay in Southampton Water in order to expand its port facilities. The Society gave evidence at the long-running Enquiry and was greatly relieved when the Inspectors recommended rejection of the application and this recommendation was accepted by the Government.
It appears that ABP has never given up hope that it might one day be able to carry out the plan which was rejected in 2002 and has recently published a consultation document entitled ‘ABP Southampton Port Master Plan 2016-2035 Consultation Draft’ .This wide-ranging paper running to some 50 odd pages raises the idea in a section of it that ABP, in order to remain competitive in the 21st Century and in order to advance the economic well-being of the Country , must look at developing its land frontage at Dibden Bay.
Ranging as it does over a period of 20 years , the consultation document gives no detail of what is proposed but merely outlines what ABP thinks the future holds for them and the Port of Southampton and how its needs might be met. The document invites comment on its content and Solent Protection Society has been alert in submitting some preliminary observations. In summary , SPS has informed ABP that since its principles remain as they were in 2002 , the Society would scrutinise any plans in the light of those principles and would be ready to object to any proposals which were in conflict with the grounds which it relied upon at the public enquiry in 2002 . Those grounds cover the well-recognised areas of interest for SPS including the adverse effects on the seascape , the local water wild-life and the leisure activities ,in particular boating in the area.
It may well be months if not years before ABP translate their ambitions into concrete proposals but SPS has put down its marker and will develop its arguments as the need arises. SPS will examine any proposals on their merits and be constructive in its representations and comments. It will seek to co-operate with other organisations and groups where there is common interest in the ABP proposals. It is easy to envisage that Dibden Bay and the plans for its future may be on the SPS Council agenda for many moons to come