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A summit meeting took place last week to discuss the environmental challenges facing Chichester Harbour.

The meeting, which was hosted by the Chichester Harbour Trust at Bosham Sailing Club, was attended by senior representatives from Chichester Harbour Conservancy, the Chairman and CEO of Ofwat and Southern Water respectively, the Chair and regional director of the Environment Agency, two senior directors of Natural England, the Leader and Chief Executive of Chichester District Council and a representative from Gillian Keegan MP’s office. The meeting was chaired by Jonson Cox, Chair of Ofwat.

The Chichester Harbour SSSI has recently been downgraded by Natural England to “Unfavourable declining” condition. After a short walk along the shoreline to view the impact of the explosion of algal growth smothering mudflats, a socially distanced meeting enabled all parties to share their views and commitment to protect Chichester Harbour.

Mr Cox urged all agencies and local government to work together in order to address the impacts of water quality, compounded by climate change and new development on the ecology of this unique area. There was unanimous agreement that the issues facing the Harbour are now immediate and require short term action as well as long term investment particularly to address deteriorating water quality.

John Nelson, Chairman of the Chichester Harbour Trust, said after the meeting; “We were extremely grateful to Ofwat for facilitating this meeting and for the preparedness of such senior representatives of the key organisations to participate. There was a real sense of the need for action. It now requires strong leadership from local government and government agencies to put the measures in place.

John added, “I cannot stress enough the immediacy of the ecological decline we are witnessing so clearly and the need for urgent short term measures to save the Harbour. Now is the time for action."

Photo by Keith Sinclair, Gillian Keegan's office.

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