Chandelier in Northwood House
Some 32 officials attended the meeting, including local authorities, government agencies and some local leisure organisations and charities. What follows is just a brief account of proceedings. Links to slide presentations are given under each title. (Note these links to the SF website only remain for 6 months}
1: Solent Forum update (Karen McHugh)
A short review of progress, covering the work groups such as water quality, bird disturbance, the CCATCH project (which is looking at local consequences of sea level rise over the next 50 years), and the developing relationship with MMO.
The work on flood defence commissioned and paid for by HCC is coming to an end. But the work on Marine Planning and consideration of cumulative effects means that the link with MMO is strengthening.
The next SF steering group meeting is on 24 October
2: IoW SPA supplementary planning document (Peter Griffiths)
By his own admission, this was really a planner discovering the Habitats Regulations for the first time. . But in the end the presentation illustrated well the soft boundaries of European designations and the need to take account of adjacent sites.
Of particular interest was a formulaic approach to calculating compensation values in urban development. This will be out for consultation soon. loW members of Council may need to keep track of this. There was also reference to a Community Infrastructure Levy that was not totally clear
A novel discovery was the use of ‘recreate’ as a verb e.g. “The public often go to the coast to recreate”
3: Medina Valley Employment & Water Access Study (ollie Boulter & Chris Mills)
Report back on the first stage of a study to determine the current and future uses of waterfront sites on the Medina. SPS should keep in touch with this project. The next phase of the project will look at potential future demand before moving on to spatial planning considerations.
4: Southampton Water channel dredge (Sue Simmonite ABP)
A useful update. All consents are in place. The main contract is about to be let.
Because the dredge will cause 2 mm less HW and 2mm more LW, there will be a calculated loss of inter tidal area. Mike Clark, of Geodata (the chairman) was bemused by this calculation. Apparently Natural England had required compensation for this loss. So ABP have acquired low grade farm land at Cobnor point in Chichester Harbour and turned it into a new managed retreat site that will be flooded very shortly. (This is nothing to do with the Medmerry project)
In discussion,SPS indicated its dissatisfaction with the total absence any beneficial use of the 4 million tonnes of spoil that will be generated. While being aware of the effort that had been made by ABP, the lack of imagination and boldness by government agencies and local authorities was criticised
5:Cowes Outer Harbour Breakwarer Project(Stuart McIntosh CHC)
Another useful update.Stuart claimed he could trump the 10 years it has taken ABP to proceed with its dredge. The breakwater was first proposed in 1861.
Funds are nearly in place (though there may be an appeal for naming sponsors). The works are out to tender on a design and build basis.
The apparent open aspect to the North East was explained by
- the need to keep clear of zostera (eelgrass) beds
- the protection offered by the shoal water to the North of the existing breakwater.
The new eastern channel will be dredged to 3m and is expected to be largely self scouring.
6:The path to Assessing Cumulative Effects (Daniel Hallam MMO)
The focus on cumulative effects has largely been driven by SPS. This presentation showed that concern is fully justified. It is plain that little or no progress has been made on this issue since January.
Worse, there seems to the an expectation that science will provide the magic bullet.
In discussion, SPS quoted Richard Feynman who (roughly) said “scientists are used to living with doubt and uncertainty. But not a lot of people know that”. Science can only inform a choice. Moreover science cannot address the administrative issues relating to multiple projects with different timescales.This last point was vigorously supported by ABP who stated that industry cannot wait another 2 years while MMO sets out its policy. Guidance is urgently needed by industry now.
It is evident we will hear more on this topic. For more see Current Issues-> Cumulative Effects
7: Hot Topics
This part of the meeting allows member to briefly introduce new topics.
- SPS introduced the new website and winter programme,
- IFCA advised that new bylaws relating to towed gear and hand collection in eelgrass beds. There- was a worrying lack of understanding of the Precautionary Approach.It does NOT require proof that there will be no damage. That is impossible.
Useful conversations with the Langstone Harbourmaster and the representative of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight wildlife trust.
The formal minutes of the meeting prepared by Solent Forum can be seen by clicking here