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.

The Proposed English Coast Path (South)

Our 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 (as required by the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009) along the area bordering the Solent. It is part of the coastal path project which
covers the whole of England.

Click on the image to view full size.

In our last newsletter we set out progress on four of the six sections that border the Solent. This left Section 2 – Calshot to Gosport and Section 3 – Isle of Wight to be published for consultation in late 2019 and early 2020.

This report brings the developments up to date. Calshot to Gosport came out for consultation in July 2019 and the Solent Protection Society (SPS), submitted comments by the deadline of 11th September. 2019. Our comments are set out below.

In March 2020 the Isle of Wight section came out for consultation but left out the tricky section between East Cowes and Wootton which is due later this year. The final consultation date for the published section was delayed by Covid but SPS submitted detailed comments in June. These comments are also set out below.

This year we have included the progress map for the whole of England as well as the progress map for the Solent area which puts the Solent progress into context.

Our sections are 15 to 21 on the “All England” map and you will see that some sections have been partially approved. These are in the Calshot to Gosport, Gosport to Portsmouth and South Hayling to East Head sections. However these partial approvals are often very short stretches within the section, so approval by the Secretary of State is fragmented. Having said that, any approval is better than none if it means some of the proposed improvement works, which can be extensive, can get under way.

We believe that the experience Natural England has gained, as the progress of the path consultations has developed over the years, has improved both the information available in the documents and the degree of protection for the many Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) around the Solent coastline. That is not to say everyone will agree, either as a landowner or a conservationist, but generally we feel Natural England has found a fair balance. In some sections we have disagreed with the proposals and suggested alternatives to get a path closer to the coast, in others we have supported them. Our guidance has been to make the Solent shore as accessible as possible without unduly affecting the protected sites of which we are rightly proud.

The task of defining the Coastal Path is a mammoth one and the complexity of our Solent coast has meant a great deal of research and very detailed proposals for which Natural England is to be commended. Of course parts will be controversial but overall we hope it is successful and the new sections and various improvements will come to fruition in the not too distant future.

There remains the East Cowes to Wootton section on the Isle of Wight where there is presently no access to the shore line on a very significant part of the Solent. We hope Natural England and English Heritage and other land owners can find a suitable route through.

Our Comments

Calshot to Gosport:

Generally the Society supports the proposals and is pleased with the links that have been proposed to join up various sections of path and create a more continuous route. It would indeed be nice to find a seaward route past Fawley oil refinery and we would hope NE would keep such an option in mind should circumstances change. Similarly the small detours required on the eastern shore of Southampton Water at Netley and the Holiday Park are a pity. SPS would not favour the alternative routes proposed in various places but would support the proposed line.

SPS accepts that the best of the three options and has been chosen at the three estuary crossings. We support the decision to use the pink ferry at Warsash and the Hythe ferry and note and support the reserve position that Natural England reconsider the matter in the event that either of the ferries cease to operate.

Finally SPS supports the proposed S25A designations proposed throughout the route to exclude the public from the seaward coastal margin in these extensive and important protected areas. We would hope that adequate signage is proposed throughout the route to inform the public of the exclusions and that in critical areas fencing is proposed to physically restrict public and particularly access by dogs.

This will be important if the proposed Fawley Waterside development takes place which will put increased pressure on the path and its margins at the south west corner of the route, but we strongly support the path going on the seaward side of the proposed development.

Isle of Wight Wootton to East Cowes:

IOW-2-S017 and IOW-2-S018. Quarr Abbey Section. There is too long a section of the path between Kite Hill and Ryde where there is no view of the sea. We sympathise with Quarr Abbey as quiet contemplation and prayer is the reason for their being there. Quarr is an important and historical Abbey. However we think there is an important opportunity here to improve the view of the sea. If it is not possible to go along the foreshore, even with a winter exclusion using Quarr Road as the alternative, then perhaps a fenced route through Fishbourne Copse would be possible.

The path could then proceed past the heronry (with adequate conservation safeguards) to return up to Quarr Road to the west of the private properties.

Priory Woods. Map 2g. IOW-2-S089 to end of IOW-2-S092. We would strongly support the proposals through Priory Woods. The path at high level becomes very muddy and sticky in winter so a board walk is needed.

Nodes Point. Map 2g. IOW-2-S093 to end of IOW-2-S097. Strong support again for this section with adequate steps due to the underlying ground.

Ferry Point. Map 2h. IOW-2-S113. Remove this section. We suggest the path should not pass in front of Ferry House to avoid trampling on developing shingle spit with interesting floral assemblage. Suggest short fenced path between the end of IOW-2-S112 and the start of IOW-2-S114. Information board sited at end of IOW-2-S112

Yar Quay Bridge. Map 2h. IOW-2-S125 and S126. We draw your attention to the current Planning Application P/00637/14 for nine houses to be built on IOW-2-S126. Suggest Coastal path to follow the current route to join the B3395 about 150 yards to the West unless a route past the housing can be agreed.

From the “Crab and Lobster carpark” to Bembridge Boarding Campus IOW-2-S150 to S158. This section is frequently closed due to cliff slumping. The option is either to roll back or take Howgate Road (suburban with no view of the sea) so roll back provision is important here.

IOW-7-S025-S112 Hampstead to Porchfield.
Maps 7b ,7c, 7d & 7e. It is clear that NE have tried hard to improve the Coastal Path around the highly sensitive waterside at Newtown and this is welcomed. The section at Western Haven will cut out a long and uninteresting inland section of track on the Hampstead trail and the proposed 7 month exclusion is appropriate for wildlife. As this is a new path we are not familiar with it and more fencing may be required both here and through the nature reserve to ensure there is no access, particularly for dogs, between the path and the water’s edge. Similarly the section through Walters Copse, past Clamerkin and through to Porchfield removes a long section of road walking.

The protections at S095 to S097 seem appropriate and essential but we have no direct knowledge of this section. We are generally pleased with the detailed work on the Isle of Wight path to identify the places for restrictions and signage.

IOW-7-S119-S122 MOD land and Burnt Wood 7f, 7g & Directions Map IOW 7B
We are less happy with this section. While the revision from Porchfeld to Thorness cuts out a section of road which is welcome it does nothing to improve access to the shoreline.

The approximately 1.5 mile section of coast from Newtown to Thorness is the second largest gap in the coastal path fronting the Solent after East Cowes to Fishbourne. The Solent on this stretch has beautiful views across to the New Forest and is an area of water with lots of recreational activity to observe.

We would strongly support the proposal put forward by NE under the option S119 –S125 to align the trail to Brickfields Farm via Shepherds Hill or north of it to return to Burnt Wood, fenced if necessary and following field boundaries. We would ask that this is revisited with the MOD to seek a permissive path which can be closed by the MOD where it leaves the Public Right of Way (PRoW) whenever necessary. A similar arrangement has been made for the ECP at Thorney Island in Chichester Harbour.

We would also support the proposal put forward by NE under the option S120 –S124 to align the trail through Burnt Wood, preferably in conjunction with the MOD land so that it is available when the permissive path is closed. We recognize that there are sensitivities in going through Burnt Wood rather than the cliff edge but would suggest that this option must be included in the proposals for the future. The route could be fenced back from the cliff edge with explanatory signage, a resited badger set could be provided if there was no way round it and the path could return to S123 if there was problem with erosion through to S124.

In the meantime there needs to be a link across the southern end of Burnt Wood from the Public Right of Way (PRoW) to the proposed route at S121 on the east side of Burnt Wood. This would also provide an alternative to the PRoW going through Elmsworth Farm. If the connection through Burnt Wood could be achieved rapidly then there would be no need for the path to the east of the wood.

IOW-8-S001-S014 Thorness to Gurnard Maps 8a & 8b This section of path has fine views of the Solent but does become almost impassable in winter due to the muddy clay conditions. The proposed surfacing works will be a big improvement. The roll back proposals are essential as the cliff is prone to frequent erosion. In at least one section of S011 steps will be required cut into the path.

Just before S014 we would ask that a spur is created and steps provided to the beach in lieu of the path reverting to the old route even though the path would not then go behind Marsh Cottage and would use the present permissive path.

IOW-9-S014 to S021 Spencers Wood. Map 9a
SPS supports the proposal to take the ECP down through Spencers Wood. Replacement steps will be required at S014 and new steps by the slipway to allow safer access to the beach at S022.

IOW-10. Generally Maps 10a to 10f
SPS supports the tidal River Medina being included in the coastal path and are pleased to see that all the land in the coastal margin between the path and the water’s edge at all states of the tide are to be excluded under a S25A direction as set out in 10.2.15.

IOW-10-S070 to S074. Whippingham. Map 10f.

While the reason for following a more inland route from Folly Works is understood, we wonder if a route from just north of the boardwalk and proposed kissing gate could follow the field boundaries to run North to join Saunders Way at S074 and so avoid road walking on Beatrice Avenue and be a more pleasant path and somewhat closer to the water’s edge.

The Isle of Wight coastal path from Gurnard looking across Thorness Bay

There is no access beyond the bay to Newtown in the distance. SPS have asked that this 1.5 mile section be reviewed to provide a permissive path through part of the MOD land similar to arrangements at Thorney Island.

Coastal Path South – General and Isle of Wight Consultation.

Report of progress 27 May 2020

Due to Covid 19 all consultation dates had been put on hold until further notice so we did not submit our comments on 13th May as planned. It has now been announced that all consultations should be submitted by 9th June 2020.

While Natural England (NE) have improved access in a number of areas with appropriate protections there is an important 1.5mile stretch from Newtown to Thorness Bay which could be improved, again with safeguards,( MOD land  and a wood of archaeological / environmental interest) There is also a section past Quarr which could be better and there is a small section at Bembridge which may be better routed slightly inland at the point.

Apart from the Newtown to Thorness section the other long and important gap on the Solent Shore is between East Cowes and Fishbourne but this is not yet out for consultation.

NE have issued further information on how they are dealing with the Coastal margin which is set out below. As far as we can see they now tend to restrict all public access in the coastal margin in any area that has a Marine Protection  designation of any sort including birds, which is a change from earlier sections of the path and welcomed, even though they do not say explicitly below. They have also produced a map of where they have got to all round the country which you may find interesting and which I have attached. Click on the map image above  if you want to look more closely.

Coastal margin

As part of this work a ‘coastal margin’ is being identified. The margin includes all land between the trail and the sea. It may also extend inland from the trail if:

  • it’s a type of coastal land identified in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act), such as beach, dune or cliff
  • there are existing access rights under section 15 of the CROW Act
  • Natural England and the landowner agree to follow a clear physical feature landward of the trail

In the coastal margin, you’ll usually have new rights to enjoy areas like beaches. Some areas will not have such rights because they’re:

  • excepted land, such as cropped land or buildings and their courtyards or gardens
  • not suitable for public access, such as a saltmarsh or mudflat

Other parts of the coastal margin may be steep, unstable and not safe to access. You must take care of your own safety and look out for local notices.

Solent Protection Society ‘Away Day’ 2019

This year our ‘Away Day’ to Eling Tide Mill took place on 7th October, a month later than usual in order to fit in with the availability of the Mill for a private visit.

Eling is in the centre of our region, close to Totton, at the head of Southampton Water. There has been a tide mill at Eling for over 900 years and the current Mill is over 200 years old, having been rebuilt c.1785 after storm damage in the 1770s. It is one of only two tide mills still operating in the UK. It was re-opened in 2018 as a fully operational flour mill after a restoration funded by a Heritage Lottery grant, to provide “The Eling Experience”. This includes the Mill itself, the visitor centre and a walk around Bartley Water (the mill pond). The Mill is a Grade II* listed building. The visitor centre includes a café and a museum. At the entrance to the Mill there is a small gift shop. Using the same method as millers from days gone by, freshly milled wholemeal flour is available for sale in the gift shop. The wheat, which is milled at Eling, comes from a local farm – Manor of Cadland – and carries the New Forest Marque.

The Mill is located on the seaward side of the causeway across Eling Creek. When the tide comes in, it pushes open one-way gates and fills up the millpond. When the tide turns and starts to ebb, it slowly uncovers the waterwheel, but the sea gates are closed, trapping the water in the millpond so the level in the millpond stays at the high tide level. When the tide has dropped to well below the waterwheel axle, the sluice gate can be raised. Water from the millpond strikes the lower blades of the waterwheel, spinning it round and allowing the milling to begin.

The photograph is an aerial view of Eling Creek facing East. In the centre is the artificial causeway which was once the main road from Southampton to Hythe and Beaulieu. The Mill is the red-roofed building on the causeway and the visitor centre is the white-roofed building to the left. The lake in the foreground is Bartley Water, the tidal pond which stores the water to drive the mill. In the distance, top right of photo is Goatee beach, which faces Southampton docks across the River Test.

For much of the mill’s life it was owned by Winchester College. A lease survives from the year 1418, when the College leased the mill to Thomas Mydlington, requiring him to maintain the mill and the causeway. The causeway was prone to collapse, for example it washed away in 1887. This problem continued up until 1940 when modern engineering calculations revealed the cause to be the design of the sluices. This was then corrected.

The tenancy of the mill included the right to collect tolls from vehicles using the causeway. Four-wheeled vehicles were charged 6d (2.5p) and two-wheeled vehicles 4d. These rates remained unchanged until 1970. In 1967, the toll collector was Tom Mackrell who had been one of the last people to operate the mill when it closed in 1946. Tom was toll collector and mill foreman, working for his brother Raymond, master miller of Eling Tide Mill. Having been out of action since then, the mill reopened in 1980.

This visit provided an opportunity to see two sides of your Society’s work – protection of ancient sites such as the Tide Mill, and mitigation of the effects of near-by large-scale industry such as the mountain of containers stored by Associated British Ports at the entrance to Eling Creek, top left of the photograph.

A blot on the landscape at Eling – ABP’s unsightly storage for empty shipping containers.

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.

Fawley New Town

View of the site from the west

In the Autumn 2018 issue of the Society’s Newsletter we reported on the proposal to build a new town at Fawley on Southampton Water. This article is an update of developments since then. This is perhaps the most important development on the shores of the Solent this century and as such it is receiving close scrutiny from The Solent Protection Society. The new small town would be built on the site of the Fawley Power Station, which was closed in 2013. This is a brown field site but it is surrounded by the New Forest National Park and a small part of the scheme would be on National Park land.

The developer, Fawley Waterside Ltd., applied to both New Forest District Council and to New Forest National Park in May 2019 for Outline Planning Approval. The two applications are being considered together. NFDC invited comments by 31 August. Full details of the Plans, responses by interested parties, and comments from official bodies including local authorities and government departments are to be found on the NFDC Planning department website: at the last count there were 406 documents. NFDC had originally hoped to make a determination by 31 August but need more time and have now agreed with the developers to an extension of the time to 15 January 2019. Even when NFDC have made their determination the scheme might need to be referred to the Secretary of State for a potential call-in.

Illustrative view of Fawley Waterside across Southampton Water

We, Solent Protection Society, submitted our response on 27 August. Of course we have concentrated on those aspects of the plan which directly affect the Solent, such as view from the sea, and possible effects of pollution of the sea and of the Solent air.  The full text of our response is reproduced here.

“Dear Sirs,

These comments are from the Solent Protection Society (SPS) which exists to protect the Solent and its tidal rivers and estuaries for future generations.  The comments are primarily directed at the element of the scheme within the control of NFDC however we have copied them to NFNP as that aspect of the scheme in the national park, while of less concern to SPS, is an integral part of the whole and does have some impact on the waterfront.

SPS is generally supportive of the planning policies laid down by both NFDC and NFNP, however, we are concerned that aspects of the proposals that front the waterside do not adequately meet some of those policies.

In particular:

  1. We consider that the size and scale of the buildings fronting the water, being much further forward than the former power station could be over dominant, with no landscape mitigation and will be unacceptable when viewed from Southampton Water. They do not sufficiently ‘scale down in density towards the water front’ as set out in policy ii a).
  2. We consider that the light pollution from these building will be to the detriment of the marine environment and have a far greater impact than the existing power station.
  3. We would expect to see the waterfront buildings set  further back with extensive tree planting in front to mitigate the impact and enhance the coastal margin, the coastal path and the proposed ‘Solent Promenade’.
  4. We would remind NFDC and NFNP that there is a real risk of storm water overflows from the proposed sewerage system and we would expect to see this fully mitigated with complete separation of storm and foul water and full storage capacity for foul water to prevent any storm discharge of foul water into Southampton Water or the Western Solent. Petrol interceptors to all roads and parking areas should be provided before discharge of storm water. Such storage capacity should not rely on Southern Water.
  5. We would expect to see regular monitoring reports on water quality adjoining outfalls and in the salt marshes as a legal condition of any approval with adequate penalties for any breach of EA standards and that this applies both during demolition and construction as well as in the future once the development is complete.
  6. We would expect any approval to condition by legal agreement any dredging activity and to ensure that there was beneficial use of dredging to replenish the salt marshes.
  7. While not of direct concern to SPS we note that the infrastructure of roads in particular will be seriously impacted by the size of this development and that more extensive works than those proposed will be needed if it is not to cause serious congestion and further pollution to the north.
  8. We would expect the scheme to include mitigation of climate change and for a substantial proportion of the development to be to Passive House standards.
  9. The proposal is likely to substantially increase the footfall on the coastal path and we would expect to see moneys from planning obligations directed to ensuring that the coastal margin and the many protected areas in the vicinity falling as spreading room, whether or not there is a Section 26 notice, are adequately protected by fencing to restrict both pedestrian and dog access in particular.
  10. We note the National Grid building on the waterfront is to remain which is a pity as it will assume a greater prominence and has no merit in the landscape. Planting in front of this would be of assistance in mitigating the impact.
  11. We have not been able to find a specific reference to the ‘view from the sea’ which is critical from the busy shipping lane of Southampton Water. It may be in the documents somewhere but we would expect to see a photomontage of the view from Southampton Water superimposed on the existing buildings and including the National Grid building and the landscape to the south. Only then will it be possible to really judge the scale and mass of the proposals.”

The Principal Development Management Officer of NFDC, Mr Ian Rayner, has written to Deloitte, the agent of Fawley Waterside Ltd, to set out the latest position of the Local Planning Authority on their application proposals, and has published his letter on the NFDC website. It is 12 pages long so we will not reproduce it here, but pick out the points which may be of most interest to SPS members:-

He says:

  1. we do need to have a clear understanding of the scheme’s viability”.
  2. “The south-east corner of block 11 extends very close to the harbour entrance and ought to have a greater setback.”
  3. “In my view, 3 of the landmark buildings are of particular concern. The 98 metre high tower would be a very significant building. It seems that the driver for the height of this landmark building is to provide a structure that is visible from both ends of the Solent. I don’t believe this should be the overriding driver for determining the height of this building. The key objective should be to design a landmark building of a scale that is appropriate to the new townscape and to its location on the edge of the National Park, which I think could be equally achieved by a lower building.”
  4. “The 49 metre high landmark building in the site’s north-west corner is set fairly close to the taller 98 metre high landmark building. We need to see clearer images of how this tower would work in proximity to the larger tower, but together I do feel that these 2 landmark buildings would present too dominant an edge to this part of the development.”
  5. “The 56 metre high crystal tower has been designed to reflect the glass end of the existing power station building. However, it has been confirmed that it would not be viable to rebuild the existing structure and that the proposed new building would therefore need to be built with new materials… I think this building, as proposed, is inappropriate.”
  6. “In the light of the Environment Agency’s response, we would ask you to clarify the detail behind the foul drainage proposals, and to confirm what discharge consents are being utilised for these works.”
  7. “As set out in Natural England’s response, you need to better demonstrate how nutrient neutrality will be secured. This a critical matter, and unless you can demonstrate that nutrient neutrality will be achieved, it will not be possible to grant planning permission.”
  8. “In their consultation response, our Environmental Health team have asked that you provide additional information in order to clarify the development’s potential impact on air quality, as well as to ensure that future occupants have an appropriate quality living environment. I would ask that you respond to the specific questions that have been raised.”
  9. Our Environmental Health team have also posed a number of questions relating to noise and lighting (aside from the noise concerns raised earlier in this letter). Again, I would ask that you provide additional information to address the concerns that have been raised.”

We believe that, if approved, this project is likely to take about 10 years to complete. We intend to keep members up to date by reporting on progress in future SPS newsletters and on the SPS website.

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.

Local Planning Authorities – Development policy for new homes

The local planning authorities bordering the Solent are publishing development policies designed to meet government set targets for the construction of new homes for the years ahead. At first sight this seems an unlikely topic for the Solent Protection Society to dwell upon but it is of relevance to anyone interested in the future of the region.

Development at the southern edge of Milford taken on the road from Hurst Spit.

Of particular importance to the Society, is the consequential impact of new development on our shores, estuaries and river banks? Certainly some, such as that at Fawley, will, but this replaces an already heavily developed shoreline. In other cases development may be some way from the coast but will be clearly visible from the water. We have taken up with various planning authorities around the Solent the potential damage caused to the seascape by proposed new building development and are pleased to see that some authorities are exercising control on this point within their latest development plans. Can we hope that all authorities will follow this lead?

The wider Solent must maintain its attraction as a place to live and work as well as continuing as a successful destination for holiday makers and yachtsmen. To this end development plans should have particular regard to the visual impact of new buildings on the approaches to the towns and villages surrounding the Solent.

Secondly, dare we make the point that the number of new homes proposed is going to increase demand for more school places as well as hospital beds and medical practices. Can the existing facilities cope? If not where are the additional buildings to be put?

These are matters for the authorities to consider. From Solent Protection’s position we will continue to monitor the proposals and endeavour to ensure that that the Solent and its environment are protected for future generations.

Fawley Waterside and Calshot development plans

A major development is being planned on the site of the Fawley Power Station by a new company, Fawley Waterside Ltd. The company has ambitious plans to create a new small model town, with echoes of Poundbury, the prettiest New Forest Villages, and Old Lymington, with about 1500 homes. There will be a marina accessible from the Solent 24/7. They also plan to build an Hotel, a Yacht Club, shops and restaurants and marine industries, with the objective of creating more than 2000 jobs in the new community.

Proposed site plan for Fawley Waterside and Calshot Village

Work has already started on demolition of the old power station structures and the iconic chimney, which can be seen from most of the Solent, is to be removed. In its place, Fawley Waterside propose to construct a glass tower 100m high, subject to grant of approval for an outline planning application yet to be submitted. We will bring you details of this application when available.

Artist impression of the ‘canal side’ development and glass tower

The same development company are also planning to build 30 new homes in nearby Calshot village. Both projects are described in brochures published by Fawley Waterside Ltd., all of which can be accessed and downloaded by selecting this link. The link will take you to an index page for all documents published by the developer. Their recently published Calshot Village Exhibition brochure provides a high level summary of both projects.

Solent Protection Society is keeping a very close eye on these projects: we aim to influence the plans to help to achieve a development of which the Solent community can be proud and which enhances our environment.

Solent Protection Society submits evidence to the Landscape Review

In November 2018 the Government called for evidence to be submitted to the independent review of England’s National Parks (NPs) and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). This is a brief summary of some of the key points SPS has made. The full submission can be found on the SPS website by selecting this link.

The Solent  Protection Society is primarily concerned with the shoreline and the view from the sea as it affects the National Parks, AONBs and the tidal river estuaries that make up the Solent from the Needles to Selsey Bill. We are concerned with the economic, social, leisure and environmental well-being of the Solent not just its appearance. Many of these aspects are interdependent and sometimes in conflict. The New Forest National Park and the AONBs on the north shore of the Isle of Wight and  in Chichester Harbour play a crucial role in safeguarding this special place and seascape.

The AONBs, however, hold less clout in the planning system than the National Park and in our view need strengthening to offset the pressure from development, particularly housing targets. The view from the sea is often not appreciated as much as it should be, particularly when this may be the only view that is easily gained of a densely wooded AONB, such as the north east shore of the Isle of Wight .

We have a concern that incremental enlargement of small scale houses and chalets or new builds which individually my not be great but cumulatively start to change the landscape is not sufficiently appreciated or controlled by local planning authorities. The effect on the AONB should have a greater priority in considering such applications.

In addition we would like to see the introduction of smaller area AONBs associated  with river valleys when viewed from the river or the opposite bank before such areas of important natural landscape are lost such as on the Hamble or the western shore of Southampton Water.

Finally Marine Plans in particular deliberately overlap land based plans and have a number of policies that have to be taken into account when considering changes to the landscape.  The difficulty with Marine Plans is deciding what weight to give to each policy in a particular circumstance. SPS considers that where NPs and  AONBs are concerned the protection of the landscape and seascape should be of a higher weighting and this needs to be endorsed by land based planning authorities and the Marine Management Organization.