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Putting Chichester Harbour at the heart of the forthcoming election

Chichester Harbour is a spectacular national treasure, but it is facing an existential crisis from a combination of rising sea levels, water pollution and over development.


The Chichester Harbour Trust urges all local election candidates not only to put our precious environment at the heart of their campaigns but also to commit to the essential and substantial investment in infrastructure that is now woefully needed, through policy changes at the national level. Manifesto promises of fines, criminal charges and greater oversight are just part of the solution.


Chichester Harbour National Landscape plays a hugely important role in our region; from its benefits to wildlife, biodiversity and carbon capture, to the role it plays in our health and well-being. It is a significant contributor to the economy as a whole and the Chichester District itself benefits greatly from it.


Over recent years the Harbour has increasingly been put under intensive pressure from storm discharges and agricultural run-off, from overdevelopment and from a lack of adequate infrastructure - all of which are destroying the landscape, wildlife and habitats of the Harbour and have serious impacts on the local economy.


Over the last three years, the Chichester Harbour Trust has been leading the way in trying to protect our Harbour through the Chichester Harbour Action Summit. We have worked with Chichester Harbour Conservancy, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Ofwat, Southern Water and the Local Planning Authorities to develop an agreed Action Plan, but change cannot happen without proper commitment at Government level - particularly for substantial investment in infrastructure. It is essential that a new national planning policy is introduced to ensure housing demand is met without destroying the environment, water regulation is reformed to allow water companies to catch up on water treatment capacity investment (we are probably 15 to 20 years behind) and the Environment Agency is strengthened with increased powers and budget to enforce their purpose.


Nick Backhouse, Chairman of the Trust, said, “It is absolutely not enough - and too late - for mere manifesto promises of fines, prosecutions and greater oversight - what we need is bold investment; a costed commitment to substantial infrastructure investment over the term of the next Parliament and beyond”.


We urge all local communities to examine very carefully the credentials of the local Parliamentary candidates with regard to their stance on the Harbour and other key local issues before casting their vote. Chichester needs a powerful and committed advocate in Westminster.

Image credit: Paul Adams, Harbour Images

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