MCZ tranche 2 update

The RYA have published details of a DEFRA announcement of the next tranche of MCZs to be investigated. We agree with RYA that the decision to include the management measures in the consultation process is to be welcomed.

Sites at Bembvidge; Norris to Ryde ( Osborne Bay); Yarmouth to Cowes; and the Needles are all included in this tranche. Although not in the Solent, the proposed MCZ at Studland is of particular interest because it has already been the subject of research that may give a guide to the management measures that could be applied to the Solent MCZ sites.

The designations are due to be determined by 2015. Full details of the process, and the list of the 37 sites to be reviewed is included in the RYA announcement

Lymington Habitat Creation Lecture

On 20th February 2014 some 40 people gathered in the Lymington Community Centre to hear Colin Scott of ABPmer deliver an appraisal of the progress being made with coastal habitat creation work.  He summarised progress and issues in national context (drawing upon feedback from the ABPmer conference held in November 2013 as sponsored by the SPS).  He also drew attention to the following key developments in the Solent:

  • The Medmerry Realignment – this large-scale project next to Selsey has delivered local flood protection and provided compensation habitat to facilitate other flood defence works in the Solent. It was of huge benefit that it was completed before the recent severe storms because the damage and cost of restoration would have been huge without it.  It has responded well to these storms and is proving to be a cost-effective and valuable project already.
  • The West Wittering, Lepe and Lymington Regulated Tidal Exchanges – these projects  highlight the range of techniques that have been used for providing a controlled introduction of tidal waters onto hinterland habitats and, thus, allowing for longer-term adaptations to coastal change and sea level rise.
  • The Lymington Saltmarsh Recharges – two new projects by the Lymington Harbour Commission and Wightlink Ltd have been undertaken to delay the erosion of saltmarshes locally.  These are mitigation for possible development impacts.  Colin considered that they had performed very well and had been successful in achieving their goals.  He pointed out that they are actually relatively small in scale (i.e. volumes of sediment used) compared to comparable projects in Essex.  He expressed the hope that more, larger-scale projects would be attempted to protect marshes in the Solent in the future and recommended that long-term strategies for such work are developed.

To view Colin’s presentation slides click here.

A video showing the progress of the Whitelink marsh creation project can be seen below. It shows a time lapse of the build up of the marsh, quite against the trend of the area.

(A talk by Geoff Holmes from Lymington Harbour Commissioners given to stakeholders earlier in the year adds an interesting perspective on the importance of Habitat Creation. It can be viewed by clicking here)

Fishing Focus Winter 2013/14

Managing commercial fishing

Natural England, JNCC, MMO and IFCA have jointly produced a risk matrix which sets a timetable to introduce management measures to protect SAC’s and SPA’s

By the end of 2013 the MMO and IFCAs had nine byelaws in place protecting sites . They expect to confirm seven more by 31 March 2014 so that all the sites where commercial fishing activities were rated as high risk of damaging sensitive features will have management measures in place. All sites should have appropriate protection by December 2016.

As marine planning for the South continues, a range of information is being gathered on fishing to make sure the industry is fully represented. A revised version of the South Plans Analytical

Report (SPAR) will be published soon. Reports on fishing along the South coast of England  have also now been published by the MMO. They cover future trends in fishing, the potential for aquaculture and identifying essential fish habitats, and will ensure fishing is fully considered in the South marine plans.




Minister George Eustice says “ It is essential that the right management measures are designed and put in place for MCZs”. He recognises the value of the local advice received from IFCA.


IFCA are preparing to consult on the further round of MCZs at start of 2015.


Common Fisheries Policy

The reformation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Common Market Organisation (CMO) was successfully concluded in December 2013, with new regulations entering into force on 1 January 2014.

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EFF) aims to help the fishing industry to become more sustainable and to remain profitable. Through this scheme around £38 million is available in England and will, as a package, represent significant positive change to the way our fisheries are managed.

A number of the measures and processes contained within the reform are now in force. These include the new legal obligation to ensure that fishing rates are set at levels that restore and maintain populations of harvested species above levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), as well as provisions on regionalisation that enable member states to co-operate on the design of fisheries management measures.


The Lymington Habitat Creation Lecture

A lecture in Lymington by Colin Scott of ABPMer

Thursday 20th Feb 7:30 pm

Fuller/ MClellan Room, Lymington Community Centre, Cannon Street, SO41 9BQ 

Colin Scott Lymington 1

•             20 years ago the practice of coastal habitat creation was a relatively novel concept and undertaken at a small-scale if at all;

•             Today practices such as the landward ‘managed realignment’ of sea defences is a mature and well understood coastal management practice;

•             In the UK alone, over 60 managed realignment projects have been completed through a variety of different approaches; 

•             With each new project, lessons have been learned which have increased our confidence in the effectiveness and value of this approach;

•             As a result we have moved from the small-scale trial initiatives of the early 1990s to much more ambitious landscape-scale projects in recent years (e.g. the Medmerry scheme at Selsey);

•             There are many reasons to undertaking such work such as: improving flood protection, lowering defence maintenance costs; reducing intertidal erosion and achieving a more sustainable coastal morphology;

•             However, implementing these schemes is complex and costly especially at a large scale.  There are many, major challenges associated with them and these were highlighted at the SPS–sponsored conference in November 2013;

•             As a result of these challenges, more novel approaches and more partnership-based working may be needed to help realise such projects in the future;

•             Also, we will need to place more emphasis on protecting the coastal habitats that we have through practices such as saltmarsh recharge.  The two new recharge projects in Lymington provide valuable lessons about how that might be achieved.  

The event is open to all, including non-members. Prior reservation is essential, and to book please click here or or email us at 

Colin is an Associate consultant with ABP Marine Environmental Research.  He has 20 years’ experience of working on marine Environmental Impact Assessment and ecological monitoring projects.  A large part of his work involves designing, assessing and monitoring managed realignment projects and he also places great emphasis on communicating the lessons being learned from these and other coastal habitat creation projects.   Over the last 10 years, he has been involved with the RSPB’s Wallasea Island Wild Coast realignment project which is set to become the largest and most ambitious coastal wetland restoration project in Europe.  He advised Wightlink on their recharge work at Boiler marsh and is also responsible for the assessment and monitoring work that accompanies that project.  

Habitat Creation Conference presentation downloads available

The presentations given at the ABP Mer Conference in November (and the formal proceedings) are now available for download via Linked In. The conference report is available from the Resources section of this website (go to Proceedings where SPS is a sponsor or participant)

The conference, for which Solent Protection Society was one of the sponsors was titled “Habitat Creation: Are we Delivering?”. It was aimed at environmental professionals and reviewed a number of recent and current habitat creation projects. A full report of the conference has already been published as a blog item .
Solent Protection Society has arranged a follow up meeting to be held in Lymington on 20th February.There has been growing concern about the rapid erosion of saltmarsh in the West Solent, compounded by the alleged effect of the new larger ferries. Several compensatory projects have been undertaken in the area, and ABP Mer have been involved in several of them. So it is singularly appropriate that Colin Scott from ABP Mer will be delivering this, the third in the SPS series of Winter lectures.

For more information, and to book, click here


Habitat Creation – Are we delivering – feedback

What a good day it was! We were delighted to have been a sponsor.

The conference programme was balanced and sought to draw out, the experience, the problems, and the way forward. You can read the conference report by clicking here. All the conference presentations are available by clicking here.

Our hope is that our intervention in the discussion will lead to a serious re-appraisal of the beneficial use of dredged material arising from the major dredge of Southampton Water being undertaken by ABP. As things stand, some 3 million cubic metres of materials will be wasted by being dumped at the Nab. That cannot the best solution!

Extreme Weather

At midnight on the morning of Wednesday 18th December, the pressure over Iceland dropped to 947 millibars, an incredibly low figure. Tonight it is forecast to be 948 millibars as the depression approaches Shetland


The depression is so big that its effects spread across the whole country, so even at Hurst Castle on the Solent, the wind is gusting to 50 kts! *see below)

20131219Hurst Actual

There seems to be little doubt that extremes of weather are more frequent. Fortunately the tides are not quite on springs, but even so the  tide curve at the Bramble is showing some signs of a small tidal surge.

All of this data can be accessed from our Solent Now page. It is a compact place where you can keep right up to date with weather and shipping in the Solent.

Hayling Island Coastal Defences video

Major rock armouring defences have been constructed at Eaststoke on Hayling Island. Works include a new rock armour revetment together with three new rock groynes and approximately 35,000 tonnes of beach recharge.There is a useful website covering the project. Click here to see it. The way the armouring is concealed beneath the beach is fascinating.

The Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership have published an interesting time lapse video of the construction. Click here to view it.

Habitat Creation Conference Report

With more than 60 habitat creation sites in place (and more in the pipeline), the UK is leading the field in this activity in Europe. That was only one of the messages from an excellent conference held in London that was organised by ABP Mer. SPS was one of the sponsors because this meeting was a logical follow on from the Saltmarsh conference that we organised some 5 years ago.

Several projects were reviewed and the general conclusions were:-

  • ·         Managed setback of flood defences had generally been cost effective in protecting property.
  • ·         Habitat creation for compensation (such as at Medmerry) takes time to deliver results, but usually does so given sufficient time
  • ·         Expected gains in habitat had generally been realised after about 3-5 years.
  • ·         Target setting tended to be qualitative but provided sensible benchmarks against which delivery would be measured.
  • ·         Engagement with the local community was an important ingredient in success.
  • ·         Land acquisition on the required scale can be tricky.
  • ·         In a period of austerity funding is in short supply.
  • ·         Monitoring of success needs to be designed to match expected timescales of Species population of the site if high costs are to be avoided.

Most of the projects reviewed were either led by the Environment Agency or were attached to specific capital projects. All involved set back to create wetland habitat. However there was consideration in later presentations of recharge schemes and the possibility of more aggressive set forward salt marsh creation projects.

One surprising presentation revealed how little is known about the way in which plants colonise newly created marsh. The limited research  that has been done is indicating that small changes in site design may result in major gains in the speed and scope of colonisation. Larger scale trials are needed.

The mood of the speakers and in subsequent discussions was positive. While some problems were identified, solutions were usually proposed.

In looking forward, DEFRA confirmed that it was trying to address regulatory barriers. (we have already commented on the proposed consents Concordat). It would also appear that Agencies such as Natural England are developing a more pragmatic and flexible approach to the provision of compensation. However, comparison with progress in Europe yet again demonstrated that the UK implementation of EU environmental legislation is more thorough than occurs in countries such as Germany.

While projects that have gone ahead appear to have been successful, some areas where habitat losses are occurring have not been addressed. One such area is the loss of salt marsh in the Solent This was raised in discussion both by Lymington Harbour Commissioners, and by us (Solent Protection Society).

Despite the availability of large quantities of dredged material from the Capital projects to deepen the approaches to both Southampton and Portsmouth, no recharge or habitat creation projects have been proposed. In the Southampton case, the consent process has taken more than six years so there has been plenty of opportunity to develop ideas. We are aware that some of the material may be unsuitable for conventional recharge, but that cannot be true of it all. Whether the problem is

  • ·         lack of imagination,
  • ·         fear of adverse impact on the Solent SAC (with consequent risk of judicial review),
  • ·         ‘silo’ mentality between agencies,

               or other extraneous factors, the fact remains that Solent Saltmarsh is disappearing quickly. Within a few years the protection in front of Lymington and other places such as Keyhaven will be lost. There has to be a case for bold action, and maybe some experimentation. Protection of Saltmarsh has both ecological and human benefit.

Perhaps the resource and effort that has been put into Medmerry has deflected attention from the important matter of trying to protect what we still have.

 It is exciting to report that at the end of the conference a proposal was made by ABP Mer that interested parties, including the main dredging contractor, and SPS, should meet in the New Year to see if anything can be done to address the problem.

Time prevented some other related issues from being raised. Only the briefest reference was made to Biodiversity Offsetting, a new concept emerging from the recently formed Natural Capital committee. Also mentioned only in passing was the issue of ‘habitat banking’. In general a developer cannot claim compensation arising from a habitat creation project completed prior to the project requiring compensation. This motivates developers to purchase potential compensation sites and keep them in the worst environmental condition until needed. That is a perverse incentive. Little or no progress has been made on this problem with respect to private sector developers. But it would appear that the Medmerry project is in fact habitat banking to offset public works in the Solent area. Perhaps that could be explored at a future conference.

Overall, this meeting was a considerable success.