Solent News – October 2020

News relating to the Solent Area, edited from source material from the Solent Forum and members of the Solent Protection Society and its members.

Select from this list to jump to the appropriate section:

In all articles, clicking on underlined text will open the referenced article in a new browser window.

Local News

Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is running Restart and Recovery & Kickstarting Tourism Grants. These have been created specifically to help SMEs in the Solent LEP area to adapt and diversify in response to the impacts of coronavirus, with at least £157,000 ring-fenced to support the visitor economy.

Read the latest edition of Chichester Harbour Conservancy’s publication ‘Harbour Life’

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is launching four new itineraries from Portsmouth, on their ship Balmoral.  Passengers sail along the Seine, search for the Northern lights, visit the Canaries or Christmas markets in Germany.

Cowes Harbour Commission has confirmed that after over 20 years as CEO/Harbour Master, Captain Stuart McIntosh is planning to retire in 2021. The Board of Commissioners will split his combined role of Harbour Master and Chief Executive Officer. This move will see the progression of Deputy Harbour Master Marine Services, Ed Walker, to the role of Cowes Harbour Master with responsibility for the safety and security of the Trust Port.

Listen to a podcast on ‘Oysters in the Solent – cleaning up our waters’ by Dr. Joanne Preston.

A new Economic Recovery Plan sets out how the Solent LEP, working with other local partners, will bring forward actions and interventions to help our region respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Portsmouth Water is offering a grant scheme from 2020 to 2025 for environmental improvements. The biodiversity fund is to the value of £250,000 (£50,000 per annum over 5 years).

A £10 million investment is set to see Ryde Pier’s redundant tram line transformed into a dedicated cycle and pedestrian walkway. It comes following a successful bid to the government’s Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) by the Isle of Wight Council. The proposals include the regeneration of the town’s transport interchange with improvements for pedestrians and cyclists along the entire length of Ryde Esplanade to Appley.

Portsmouth University scientists who re-engineered the plastic-eating enzyme PETase have now created an enzyme ‘cocktail’ which can digest plastic up to six times faster.

Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose has received £250,000 of National Lottery funding to help it survive “financial peril” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Registration is now open for the National Oceanography Centre’s Marine Autonomy & Technology Showcase (MATS 2020), which will be held as a virtual event for the first time from 10 to 12 November.

The ‘winter season’ has officially started for the Bird Aware rangers and they we will be heading out for their first site visits around the Solent. In a new blog post meet this year’s three seasonal rangers.

Dorset Council are advertising two posts within Dorset Councils Urban Heath Partnership focussed on mitigating recreational effects from increased residential development on Poole Harbour SPA.

One year ago, the Help Our Kelp Partnership was formed with the aim of regenerating the much depleted West Sussex kelp forests.

Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust has been given a grant of £698,600 to continue to maintain their historically important buildings and boats, and keep open the doors of the International Boat Training College.

The Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership has been renamed ‘Coastal Partners’. The new web address is:https://coastalpartners.org.uk/. Their 2020 Annual Report is available here. They have also published the Langstone Alternative Alignment Options report.

Notice has been given by the Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth that small arms firings at Tipner Range have permanently ceased, the Danger Area in Portchester Lake and associated measures are now rescinded.

There has been a huge arrival of Brent geese from their arctic breeding grounds to Chichester Harbour.

Buckler’s Hard Yacht Harbour on the Beaulieu River has been nominated for Marina of the Year in The British Yachting Awards 2020, as the second phase of its £2m redevelopment is about to get underway.

Bird Aware Solent has been presented by the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) with a prestigious environmental award. They won their category for effective planning and a strategic vision in protecting local nature reserves, while also engaging with policymakers, local government, and housing developments.

Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth City Council and the Isle of Wight Council have jointly secured nearly £56 million from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund for new infrastructure to improve the way people travel around South East Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by foot, bicycle, or bus.

When evading predators and hunting prey, stealth is often key. Luckily our marine life has lots of cunning ways to hide in plain sight, from changing colour to self-decoration. Read a fascinating blog from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

Plans to build new homes on greenfield land at Newport Harbour have been reconsidered by the Isle of Wight Council.

The redundant tramway on Ryde Pier looks set to be transformed into a dedicated cycle and pedestrian walkway as part of a multi-million pound package of active travel and public transport improvements.

Portsmouth has welcomed Galicia, Brittany Ferries’ brand-new ship serving routes to Spain and France. She will undertake berthing trials in port before her entry into service for passengers in December 2020.

Southern Water’s Unflushables team visited the Isle of Wight to help prevent blockages of wet wipes, fat, oil, grease and other nasties. The team knocked on 258 doors in total, and more than 130 manhole covers were lifted between two of its pumping stations at Main Road, Ryde. Material clogging up its pumping stations was also removed. Unblocktober is the world’s first month-long national campaign and awareness month to improve the health of our drains, sewers, watercourses and seas.

Lymington Harbour are seeking to appoint a Harbour Commissioner with current experience of commercial operations within the leisure marine and/or commercial marine industries.

On 8 October, RRS Discovery sailed from Southampton to the Iceland Basin and Rockall Trough, as part of a research expedition aimed at enhancing understanding of the role of this critical part of the ocean in the climate and weather in Europe and the Arctic.

The fifth and final of Britain’s next-generation patrol ships will make her debut in Portsmouth before the end of the month after successful trials. HMS Spey is undergoing fine-tuning and final tweaks following an intense ten-day workout around the Firth of Clyde and waters of western Scotland before preparing for a long-term mission thousands of miles from the UK.

Southampton is bidding to become UK City of Culture 2025.

The 59th Annual General Meeting of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is to be held online via Zoom, on Tuesday 10 November 2020 at 7pm – 9pm.

Southern IFCA members decided at their September Authority meeting to apply the Temporary Closure Byelaw to all native oyster beds in the Solent, Southampton Water, Portsmouth & Langstone Harbour for the 2020/2021 season. Chichester Harbour oyster beds will also not be opening for the 2020 dredging season.

National News

The Environment Agency has set out new information and methods to understand the possible impacts of a changing climate on deterioration of flood defence assets. 

The MMO is recruiting for a Head of Marine Conservation. Apply by taking this link.

Government has published UK sea fisheries annual statistics report 2019.

Running from 2016 – 2020, The USAR project aims to introduce a resource-efficient approach based on the potential for re-use of dredged sediments in a number of novel applications.

A webinar, to show how coastal resilience to flood and erosion hazard could be measured and applied within policy-making processes, using England as a case study, is being held on 28 October. Register at this link.

The ban on supplying plastic straws and stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds came into force in England on 1 October.

The government has a new Port Infrastructure Fund as part of the preparations for life outside the European Union. The scheme will enable ports in England, Scotland and Wales to bid funding for capital projects for infrastructure that will be used to accommodate new customs and border process in 2021.

Ecostructure are studying eco-sensitive designs on artificial coastal structures (harbours, seawalls, breakwaters) along the Irish Sea coast. Watch a video here.

The final report for the Pembrokeshire Coasts ‘Surveying the Waterway Environment for Pollution Threats Volunteer Project 2018-19’ can be viewed by taking the link.

Natural England has published its priorities for Nature recovery, for 2020 to 2025. One objective is to establish marine by-laws which protect and improve the environment in Marine Protected Areas by working with marine regulating authorities, and advising Defra on how to reach Good Environmental Status.

Cefas has new kit to detect microplastics. They are able to detect microplastics in marine samples using FTIR imaging microscopes as small as 5 micrometres.

Local leaders from all around the country have co-signed a letter calling on the Chancellor to invest £1bn in the maritime sector to kick-start a world-leading maritime decarbonisation programme, creating tens of thousands of new green jobs as part of a green industrial revolution.

The organisers of the Coastal Futures conference and Restoring Estuarine and Coastal Habitats (REACH) project have joined with World Wildlife Fund-UK to develop a major online conference. This will take place from January 19th to the 21st, 2021. There will be 12-15 sessions covering a wide range of major themes that relate to the way we are intending to restore and recover our coastal and marine environment. If you have any agenda suggestions please take this link to email the organisers.

Watch a video on how eco-engineering can improve biodiversity on concrete coastal protection structures.

JNCC have published UK biodiversity indicators for 2020, take the link to view.

A three-year project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council aims to assess how tyre particles, as a form of marine litter, affect our seas and the species within them. Bringing together the Universities of Plymouth, Exeter and Newcastle, together with Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the research will aim to quantify tyre particle concentrations at their points of entry to the marine environment. It will then explore how far they can spread, and any harm they might cause, by measuring concentrations in the sediment, water and biota up to 15km from the shoreline.

The Swiss scooter pioneer Micro Mobility Systems is launching a sustainable children’s scooter line that uses recycled ocean plastic. The new Micro ECO kids’ scooters will be available in over 80 countries from January 2021.

The UK’s first sea-going electric ferry has set sail for the first time in Plymouth. The e-Voyager is the result of a project designed to reduce the environmental impact of maritime transport.

On 20 November, join experts for a webinar to share the latest scientific evidence on the relationships between blue spaces, health and wellbeing in Europe. The team will also highlight how the quality of blue spaces can be measured and improved to address health inequalities and environmental challenges, both now and in the future.

ABPmer was recently commissioned by Natural Resources Wales to understand the role marine habitats play in climate change mitigation. The study confirmed that marine habitats in Wales, such as saltmarshes and seagrass beds, can lock up huge amounts of carbon every year; the volume of carbon they can store is similar to those of terrestrial areas such as the Welsh woodlands and forests.

Consultations

In 2016 Solent Gateway Limited (SGL) was awarded a 35 year concession by the Ministry of Defence to manage, operate and develop Marchwood Port on the River Test.   SGL is consulting with the local community and stakeholders on its emerging plans for Marchwood Port from 10 September to 23 October 2020

Portsmouth City Council’s Planning Service has now prepared the draft Seafront Masterplan SPD for consultation.  The updated Seafront Masterplan SPD sets out a vision for Southsea seafront, providing planning guidance, identifying development opportunities, and highlighting elements of the seafront that should be enhanced and conserved. Deadline is 30 October.

Defra is seeking views on the updated marine monitoring programmes for the state of the UK’s seas for each of the UK Marine Strategy descriptors. The consultation document sets out the monitoring programmes it proposes to use to measure  progress towards Good Environmental Status across biodiversity, productivity, and pressures in UK seas; it notes the progress made since Part Two was originally published in 2014; and identifies the gaps and opportunities to address in the near future. Deadline is 17 November.

Havant Borough Council is reviewing the rules for dogs in designated public places and wants to hear from residents. A public consultation has been launched to seek resident’s views on plans to continue the current Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) for dogs on beaches and in parks and open spaces in the borough. Deadline is 27 November.

Participate in the South Marine Plans monitoring survey by 15 December,

Solent Marine License Applications

Visit: https://marinelicensing.marinemanagement.org.uk/mmofox5/fox/live/ to find the detail and status of a marine licence application and type in the case reference number.

Licence Applications Open for Public Consultation:·        None reported.

Other Marine Licence application variations, completions and requests in the last month in the Solent are shown below.

  • Minor Amendment to Layout of Town Quay Fishing Boat Pontoon Moorings.  Case reference:  MLA/2020/00292.
  • General enquiry – Construction, 14-20 Quayside Road, Southampton. Case reference: ENQ/2020/00121.

Wildlife Applications

None reported.

Southsea Seafront Enhancements

Detail from the Collaborative Enhancements Plan related to the Southsea Coastal Scheme. Click the image to view the detail.

Solent Protection Society have been engaged as a public stakeholder in several of the Solent’s coastal sea defence enhancement schemes as part of our watching brief over the preparations to confront the inevitable impact of climate change on the region.

Low lying Portsea Island lies at the heart of the City of Portsmouth and with significant historical building assets and a population in excess of 200,000, the engineering effort required to protect the city is immense. The work has been driven by the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership, recently rebranded as Coastal Partners , who have been managing an extensive programme of engagements with the wide variety of local stakeholder groups involved.

With our background in coastal engineering and marine sciences, the members of the SPS Council understand that on a rough 80:20 rule, the bulk of the work involved is coastal engineering. However at times some of the public stakeholders appear to expect the greater part of the focus to be on maintaining and enhancing the fabric of the historic assets. The Coastal Partners team have approached this stakeholder management task to good effect with notable effort and commendable patience. The decision whether to adopt a policy of managing natural re-alignment of the coastline or one of actively ‘holding the line’ is always going to court local controversy approaches’. However, when a hold the line policy is the only option, as in the case of Portsea Island, the need to literally raise the level of the sea defences inevitably leads to protests from groups who feel that the value of sea views and property is being compromised.

Coastal Partners have secured central government funding for the engineering side of the Southsea Coastal Scheme, with Historic England and Portsmouth City Council contributing to the funding and management of the more publicly visible assets. In parallel with the coastal engineering work, the city council’s Seafront Masterplan is available for public consultation until October 30.

Protesters line shoreline in Portsmouth to oppose Aquind cable plans

Story from the Portsmouth News, October 10th 2020

More than 150 people have lined the shoreline in Portsmouth to show plans for a massive electricity infrastructure project in the area will be met with stiff resistance.

Aquind aims that undersea cables will run ashore in Eastney as part of a £1.2bn project connecting the electricity grids of France and England. Fears that the project will damage wildlife habitats and hinder access to allotments led to more than 150 people showing their opposition with a static and socially distanced protest along the shoreline today.

According to one of the protest’s organisers, Linda Spence, residents were not properly consulted on the plans, which remain unclear.

Linda Spence, one of the organisers of the protest.

The Eastney resident, who helped set up the Facebook page Let’s Stop Aquind, has warned that residents who could become ‘militant’ if their concerns are not addressed. She said: ‘I don’t know if I will have an allotment after April.

‘I would be devastated if I lost it.

‘Some people have talked about occupying the site. I’m not saying the whole group would do that, but I would be willing to do that.’

An aerial drone shot of protestors who are angry about the Aquind interconnector plan

Picture: Solent Sky Services

A drone flew over the protest to help demonstrate the size of the resistance to the plans, with Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan – who attended the event – saying it was ‘humbling’ to see so many Portsmouth residents demonstrating their opposition.

He said: ‘Portsmouth’s green and open spaces are precious.

‘The developer’s plans do nothing to benefit our city, only cause disruption to our environment and to our daily lives.

‘Together we can, and we will, stop this.’

It comes as The News has revealed that Portsmouth City Council has earmarked £250,000 to fight the scheme.

Councillor Matthew Winnington, who represents the Eastney & Craneswater ward, is concerned that building work for the scheme will close Fort Cumberland Road, causing ‘huge disruption’ for residents.

Cllr Winnington said: ‘It’s a mess of a scheme, and it seems to have been done with next to no consultation.

‘It makes no sense for the cables to come ashore here – it’s being done purely for convenience for a massive company.’ Conservatives from Portsmouth City Council were also at the protest. The Planning Inspectorate is due to hold a public hearing on the project in December.

Proposed English Coastal Path (South) progress report

The English Coastal Path (South) is part of the proposal by Natural England (NE) to achieve as full a coastal path as possible along the area bordering the Solent. It is part of the coastal path project which covers the whole of England.

In our last newsletter we set out the method and format for defining the path and the full text of our consultation comments on the important Highcliffe to Calshot section. This report brings the developments up to date although these are running later than expected. Progress is being made however, with more sections out to consultation.

The identification map above is published again for ease of reference:

Three sections have now been published and the consultation period is now complete, although as far as we are aware, there has been no final decision on these sections from the Secretary of State:

  • Section 1 – Highcliffe to Calshot
  • Section 5 – Portsmouth to South Hayling
  • Section 7 – East Head to Shoreham

Section 4 – Gosport to Portsmouth has now been published with consultation comments due by 15th August 2019 together with Section 2 – Calshot to Gosport with comments due by 11th September 2019.

Solent Protection Society (SPS) has responded to the Gosport to Portsmouth section and our comments are set out below. We will also be responding to the Calshot to Gosport section.

Section 6 – South Hayling to East Head is now expected to be published in October 2019 and finally the Isle of Wight section in February 2020… we shall see!

SPS is supportive of better access to the Solent shoreline. Our main concern is with the safeguarding of the many protected areas and sanctuaries for birds, wildlife and environmental habitat along our shores and the control of access to “spreading room”, that is the area between the path and the water.

Calshot to Gosport

The proposed route from Calshot to Gosport uses the Hythe ferry together with the ferry at the mouth of the Hamble river. This avoids the large Southampton docks industrial area though we feel it is a pity some of the western shore north of Hythe has been omitted. Along the River Hamble the north side of the river is difficult to access, the south side is more accessible, thus using the ferry is a sensible solution. SPS has asked what will happen if, in the future, the ferries cease to run and Natural England have stated that a review will be held by a new team in that event. The path on the eastern shore of Southampton Water diverts inland a little in a few places but the beach is still available where it is above high water. The path cannot officially transit the beach as part of its route.

Gosport to Portsmouth

Portchester Castle from Port Solent

The Gosport to Portsmouth route makes the best of a job made difficult by the large tracts of MOD land for which no access can be granted. There are a few miles of dreary inland road walking, but the stretch from Fareham Creek via Portchester Castle to Port Solent, is well worth exploring. South of the Naval Dockyard, the route follows the established Millennium Promenade, a fine route which explores the rich history of the old harbour waterfront. SPS is aware of a concern regarding access to the Camber Docks raised when the Land Rover/BAR development (now ‘Ineos Team UK’) was built in Old Portsmouth.

There is a long established public right of access to walk the perimeter of the Camber Docks which includes access to the memorial to the lost crew of the ‘Wilhelmina J’. We note that the preferred route clearly shows this, but we raised a concern that the draft wording could be interpreted by the current tenants on the site to prevent public access to the dockside for extended periods, rather than the brief interruptions for which the documented diversion is intended. We believe that most members of the public would wish to simply wait for a few minutes while a boat is craned in or out, resuming their walk once the activity is complete.

More detailed information on each section can be found be clicking this link.

The section maps are detailed and the text gives explanations about the various decisions taken along the proposed route. The full environmental appraisals are also available for each section.

Eastney – Fraser Range development proposal

Solent Protection Society takes a close interest in the conservation of the natural heritage and historic assets of the Solent shoreline. In particular, we are concerned with safeguarding the views towards that shoreline by users of the Solent, a viewpoint not always given priority in planning applications.

The fortifications at the eastern end of Southsea seafront are of significant historical value, with Fort Cumberland a particular highlight, considered the most impressive piece of eighteenth century defensive architecture remaining in England. The context within which the fort is situated, on the low shingle spit at the entrance to Langstone Harbour, should be protected with any development in the vicinity suitably moderated.

SPS has objected to a plan to redevelop the former Fraser Range for housing, a site immediately to the south west of Fort Cumberland in this image from Google Earth. The existing buildings on the Fraser Range site date from more recent occupation of the land by the Ministry of Defence and while we note that there have been valid objections raised by others on grounds of twentieth century archaeological significance, our objection to this proposal is based on the adverse impact on the views towards Fort Cumberland from the sea.

The plans show five significant buildings immediately fronting the sea, two of which (Building 2 and Building 5) are redevelopment of existing structures, while Buildings 3, 4 and 6 are completely new developments.

Building 2 and Building 5 are existing two storey structures with flat roofing which includes small covered service access structures. We do not consider that these existing roof structures provide a precedent for the addition of a full third storey that the developer has added to each of these buildings.

While the increased height of Buildings 2 and 5 alone represents an unacceptable impact on the view from the sea, the new structures, Buildings 3, 4 and 6, are significantly more damaging to the skyline. All three of the buildings are new, and buildings 4 and 6 are drawn at a full five storeys in height, dwarfing the two redeveloped buildings and obliterating the view of Fort Cumberland from the south west.

Given the potential for future development of the south east corner of Portsea Island as an important destination for cultural tourism within the city, in our response to the planning application we have urged Portsmouth City Council to reject this development and safeguard the heritage context of the Eastney spit.

This is a particularly pertinent example of Solent Protection Society’s commitments both to the preservation of the Solent area’s cultural heritage and the maintenance of the view of the Solent shoreline from the sea.

Portsmouth Cathedral – ‘Soup of Souls’ art installation

For those with an interest in the maritime history of Portsmouth and the Solent, the current exhibition in Portsmouth’s ‘Cathedral of the Sea’ is well worth a visit. Described by one of our Council members as ‘without doubt, the most moving art installation’ he has ever seen, the work by Pete Codling, artist in residence at Portsmouth Cathedral, is remarkable. Eight massive charcoal drawings hang in the nave, each of the eight panels addressing a separate point in local maritime history. The panels cover loss of life in local waters from the sinking of the Mary Rose to the loss of the SS Mendi and more recently the loss of the crew of the Wilhemina J.

Please take this link to view a fifteen minute documentary film in which the artist describes the work and shows details from it. We understand that the exhibition is being retained in situ until June given overwhelming public response.

Southsea Seafront consultation closes on the 27 August

The Southsea Coastal Scheme have had well over a thousand survey responses so far – but still want more.

You can view the consultation materials here. There is scheme visualisation on YouTube here with audio description. If you visited their events and want to jump straight to the survey, you can find it here.

Once the feedback has been analysed, a cross-party working group at Portsmouth City Council will review the evidence and make a decision on which options to take forward. The Southsea Coastal Scheme will hold further public exhibitions in early November, before seeking planning permission towards the end of this year. Residents will again be able to give feedback to the council at this stage.

The consultation closes at 11.59pm on Monday 27 August 2018.

Portsmouth welcomes ‘Victoria of Wight’

The new Wightlink ferry for the Portsmouth-Fishbourne route arrived in Portsmouth Harbour today having left the shipyard in Turkey on Monday July 16. She’s been towed through the Mediterranean and north across the Bay of Biscay by the specialist offshore support vessel Amber II. ‘Victoria of Wight‘ can carry up to 178 cars and more than 1,000 passengers. Powered by ‘hybrid energy’ from a combination of batteries and conventional engines.

 

 

Consultation program for Southsea Coastal Scheme

The Southsea Coastal Scheme is responsible for delivering new flood defences along 4.5km of seafront, from Old Portsmouth to Eastney. Their aim is to create new defences that protect te heritage of the seafront whilst reducing the risk of flooding to over 8000 homes and businesses in Southsea for the next century. The work will transform the seafront for future generations alongside protecting the heritage that is so important to the people of Portsmouth.

The Southsea Coastal Scheme team are going to be out and about across the city in July holding a new series of consultation events on our emerging designs. These will be held at a number of locations around Portsmouth and Southsea during July 2018.  For details please take this link.

 

City of Portsmouth – Flood Defences

Proposals for new sea defences for the island city of Portsmouth are gaining increasing visibility among local residents, with two seemingly opposing views both now being publicly debated.  This work is in response to the Environment Agency Flood Risk Assessment, which predicts the sea level rising by up to 1.2 metres within the next one hundred years.  The “Old Portsmouth and GunWharf” Neighbourhood Forum meeting last night was treated to presentations by the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership and Portsmouth University School of Architecture lead Walter Mendeth on their respective proposals for improved flood defences for Portsea Island.  It was clear from the reaction of more than one hundred residents present that this essential program of work on the North Solent shore will attract high profile and high quality debate in coming years.  The SECP spokesman gave a comprehensive presentation on the process being followed by the organisations concerned, essential for the securing of appropriate central government funding of a ‘Hold the Line’ approach, while Walter Mendeth offered a more visionary, but as yet un-costed solution to this significant requirement for Portsmouth.

 

Solent Protection Society are watching these proposals with keen interest and would support a collaborative approach to the evolving design. While the ‘Hold the Line’ approach provides the essential backbone to a program of work which will attract the essential government funding, the lateral thinking introduced by the broad academic team which made up the ‘Elephant Cage’ project will inject an element of flair into the upcoming design stages which could give the final outcome the global appeal which it surely deserves.

Recognising the importance of Portsmouth as the United Kingdom’s only island city puts it on the same level as a small but historically significant island cities built worldwide from which significant maritime history has evolved. Placing Portsmouth on the same level as Venice may appear to be stretching the point, but we believe that it is critical that the plans for the city’s sea defences pay due regard to its heritage.