Work to Start at East Head

This is a good news story about cooperation between the voluntary sector and government agencies. Steps have been agreed which will be carried out to reduce the risk of a breach of the delicate part of the sand spit known as The Hinge at East Head, at the mouth of Chichester Harbour.

At a time when our coasts are being battered by severe weather, it is pleasing to see a positive story.


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!

IoW Coastal Access revisited

We have received an Access newsletter from DEFRA, in which DEFRA comments

This newsletter specifically refers to a further consultation on an order for the Isle of Wight under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.  It is to give a second opportunity for people to state (or re-state) their views on whether or not the Government should make an order.   The consultation particularly invites views on the degree of priority that should be accorded to the making of an order, and the implementation of any coastal access proposals for the Isle of Wight as against the rest of the coastal access programme, given limited funds for the overall programme.”

SPS Council will be considering the issue at the next meeting in February.

“Kahu – a textbook salvage operation”

Andrew Healy, Counter Pollution and Salvage Officer at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said:

“This was a model multi-agency response to a complex pollution incident. There was very minimal impact on the local environment as a result of this incident.”

We reported the fire that led to the superyacht sinking in the River Medina last week.

Read the full story as published by the Island Post

A friend of SPS happened to be in Cowes as the operation was taking place

Photo: Maggie Hastie
Photo: Maggie Hastie


Can coastal consents be simplified?

There is a sense of déjà vu about the Concordat Letter recently issued by DEFRA.

In 1998 John Reid became Secretary of State for Transport. In the marine sector he set up a seminar in which various interests set out the issues about which they had a concern. Associated British Ports, the Environment Agency and English Nature (now Natural England) agreed that the problem plaguing all was complexity of the consents process. These three organisations are not natural allies, but their clear and unequivocal identification of a fundamental     problem registered with the civil servants.  As a direct result of that meeting, Dept for Transport and the Dept for the Environment eventually produced the “Marine Consents Unit” (MCU) . Beyond doubt this demonstrated that the Civil Service will listen.

MCU was a genuine recognition by government of the need to reduce bureaucratic overhead. Later, the MCU was subsumed into the Marine Maritime Organisation (MMO) created by the Marine and Coastal Access Act.

The new Concordat is an attempt to take that process further. As such, it must be welcomed. But it has to be understood that vested bureaucratic interests are involved. Progress will be slow. It took 5 years from the presentation to John Reid until the Marine Consents Unit was created. We can only encourage all parties to strive and bring into practice the ideals declared in the Concordat.

It is all too easy for some single issue groups opposed to any kind of development to hope that projects will fail because they become enmeshed in bureaucratic complexity, but if we  are to progress we must seek sustainable development. We must also recognise that sustainable development is meaningless unless there is development.

City Deal takes a £400 million step forward

The Daily Echo reports that a £400 million deal to redevelop Portsmouth and Southampton is due to be finalised any day now.

Inevitably, investment on this scale will transform city skylines. It seems likely that the long awaited Royal Pier redevelopment would be one of the priority projects. If that improves traffic flow in that part of Southampton, and allows greater public access to the waterfront, then it is to be welcomed.But SPS  will try to make sure that such developments do not detract from the amenity value of the Solent.

Art and science meet in Cowes

“Art as a Tool for Understanding Coastal Change” was the title of an excellent talk given to members of the Island Sailing Club and Solent Protection Society held in Cowes on Thursday 7th November.

The event, organised by SPS was hosted by Island Sailing Club who also laid on an excellent Supper before the talk.. Robin McInnes, who gave the talk, is a geologist and coastal scientist who has lived and worked on the Isle of Wight for most of his life. He gained a BSc Honours Degree in Geology at the University of Southampton and a PhD in Coastal Management at Portsmouth University. He was awarded an OBE for ‘Services to the coast’  in 2006. His passion for the subject as well as his deep understanding of coastal issues permeated the talk.

Solent Protection Society meeting at Island Sailing club
Bill Pimlott thanking Robin McInnes

The event was introduced by Bill Pimlott, a past commodore of Island Sailing Club as well as a Council member of Solent Protection Society.    A small contingent had travelled to Cowes on the Red Jet.

Altogether a fascinating and sociable evening.


SPS members were amused by a framed presentation chart in the ISC club room.SPS at  Island SC NOv 2013

The caption at the bottom reads “sponsored by the United Kingdom Hydrographic  Office. Not to be used for Navigation”

SPS attend Marine Plan Workshop

Marine Plan Consultation

The meeting, organised by Solent Forum at the behest of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), was held in Portsmouth on the 8th October

Two members of the SPS council attended this workshop which was run for the Marine Management Organisation by Solent Forum. It was the second workshop in a series being held during the development of the South Inshore and South Offshore Marine Plans and the main reason for the day was for the MMO team to gain the maximum amount of information on all aspects of the area from the delegates.   Mike Clark, chairman of Solent Forum,  was in the Chair and the MMO team was led by Paul Gilliland.

The governing documents behind the Marine Plan are

the latter being the more relevant.

The South Marine Plans area covers the coast from Dartmouth to Dover and out as far as the median line with France.   Although the Marine and Coastal Access Act envisages both inshore and offshore plans, the MMO have produced the East Inshore and Offshore Marine Plans within the same document.  Considering the short distance from shore to mid-Channel, it is likely that they will do the same for the South Marine Plans.

Delegates had been asked to read the South Plans Analytical Report (SPAR) document, , and to identify gaps in the MMO’s knowledge.  SPAR is currently out for consultation until November 1st  so there is time to respond individually   The SPS team were surprised at the apparent lack of local knowledge in certain areas, and it was evident that much of the MMO data came from desktop studies of local authority documents and statistics.

The focus of the day was on economic and social issues.  There were delegates from EA, NE, Wildlife Trusts etc. but the day was not aimed at them and one must assume that EA and NE had given their evidence interdepartmentally.

Additional data  about the area can be sourced via the MMO Portal

Some points made by the MMO
  • The Marine Plan would deal only with larger scale issues, such as gravel extraction and IFCA fishing areas, as well as general policy issues. The MMO would not get involved in Local Authority issues such as eroding sea walls and kite surfing.  They are looking for robust evidence at appropriate resolution (or scale). The Marine Plan will work within the existing legal framework of IMO, UN, EU and other appropriate legislation, international or UK.  Due to the multi faceted elements which make up a Marine Plan, any Marine Plan has to be signed off by all Government Departments, not just Defra.
  • The Marine Plans would stand for 20 years and would be updated every three years.  This would involve a constant update rather than starting from scratch every three years.  They would be informed by the SMPs but would not conform to any of SMP timeframes.
  • There was mention of a Coastal Concord between EA, MMO and LAs to assist in coastal governance and to deal with coastal issues.  This is an attempt to give a “single answer to a single question”, and to short circuit the often time-consuming log jam caused by lack of coordination between LA, EA, NE etc when answering enquiries from the public regarding the coastal and intertidal area.
  • We were told that there was no legal requirement for the MMO to involve stakeholders.

Each subject area had a map on which they had marked known objects eg. Pipelines, military areas, bird reserves, gravel extraction, fishing etc.  We were invited to comment on yellow sticky notelets.  Some of the maps were rather blank to start with but attracted many sticky notelets!

The main SPS concerns were
  • Our main area of concern was the integration  between terrestrial and marine governance in such a complex area.As the day continued it became  clear that the Solent region had need of a  more sophisticated and close relationship between terrestrial and marine governance than in less complex areas and open coastline.  We suggested that MMO should consider a Solent Marine Plan nested within the South Marine Plan.
  • Lack of data and general knowledge of the area:  It will be interesting to find out just how much general knowledge of the area they have got from this series of workshops.
  • Recreation:   All recreation was shown on one map which included dog walkers, kayakers, water colourists and yachtsmen etc.
  • Yachting: In the Solent the yachting/yacht building/services fraternity is of considerable size and is a significant economic factor. Perhaps this should be regarded both as an industry and as a recreation in the Solent area.   The racing and cruising areas and routes were taken from the RYA report on the subject, and we are suggesting to the RYA that they should provide a more comprehensive map of both racing and cruising areas.
  • Port Master Plans:  Only one of six Port Master Plans includes a recreation plan.  Recreation is becoming an important part of port planning.

SPS will watch this process, trying to make sure that we get a marine plan which clarifies and simplifies.   We do not want to end up with another layer of bureaucracy and associated frustration in an already complex area. Whether this is delivered through a Solent Marine Plan nested in the main one, or not, is irrelevant as long as we get something helpful and workable at the end of the day.