Chichester Harbour Conservancy was established by the Chichester Harbour Conservancy Act in 1971. Its duty is to "conserve, maintain and improve" the Harbour and the Amenity Area for recreation, leisure, nature conservation and natural beauty. These aims create a wide range of activities and responsibilities making the harbour and its surrounding area a unique harbour and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Chichester Harbour Conservancy has responsibility as the statutory harbour authority. This means that it is responsible for the safety of navigation, the regulation of moorings, works and dredging, enforcement of harbour byelaws and the collection of dues and charges.
Chichester Harbour Conservancy also acts as the Joint Advisory Committee for the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This means that as well as a being statutory harbour authority, we manage the AONB on behalf of the four constituent local authorities. These are West Sussex County Council, Hampshire County Council, Havant Borough Council and Chichester District Council.
We work with landowners, particularly in nature conservation, biodiversity, public access and landscape improvements. We undertake projects to conserve and enhance the area's natural beauty while helping visitors to learn about and value the environmental importance of this area. Chichester Harbour Conservancy fulfils a consultee role in planning applications for Havant and Chichester District.
The Conservancy consists of 15 members appointed by West Sussex and Hampshire County Councils, Chichester District and Havant Borough Councils and the Conservancy's Advisory Committee.
The Advisory Committee includes representatives of harbour and AONB users, such as sailing, fishing, nature conservation, residents, farmers and commercial interests. The Conservancy is required to consult the Advisory Committee on all matters substantially affecting the amenity area and the maintenance, management and improvement of the harbour. Committee contacts
Chichester Harbour Conservancy is led by Richard Craven, the Director and Harbour Master who oversees management across all functions of the Conservancy. He reports directly to the Conservancy Board and is advised by the Advisory Committee. He also manages the Senior Management Team.
Recreation and leisure: The sheltered waters of the harbour are ideal for racing and day sailing and its channels offer secure moorings for cruising vessels. Over 10,000 craft use the harbour and there are some 5,500 moorings and 14 sailing clubs with over 11,000 members. Other popular activities include angling, birdwatching, walking, wildfowling, painting and photography.
Landscape: The landscape of Chichester Harbour was formally recognised as being of national importance in 1964 when it was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Nature Conservation: The harbour is of national and international importance for nature conservation. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a wetland of international importance, a Special Protection Area for wild birds and a candidate Special Area of Conservation. The Harbour is of particular significance for wintering wildfowl and waders of which 6 species reach numbers which are internationally important.
Economic: The Harbour and its surroundings are commercially important for:
• Farming - the farmland is of particularly high quality and agriculture is the main land use.
• Fishing - the Harbour has had an oyster fishery for centuries and local fishermen continue to earn their livings from and within the harbour.
• Boatyards - local businesses which build, repair and maintain vessels and provide moorings, chandlery and other services.
• Tourism - the recreational value of the Harbour is a vital factor in the local tourism industry.
The challenges of managing an area of such importance with so many potential conflicts are clear. The Conservancy bases its management of the Harbour and the AONB on four principles:
1. Sustainable stewardship
2. The integration of land and water
3. Positive rather than reactive management
4. A balance between the various interests
The Conservancy's income is from four main sources:
1. Harbour Dues - which are paid by all craft using the Harbour.
2. Mooring Charges - which are paid by those who hire Conservancy moorings or mooring sites.
3. A precept on the two County Councils.
4. Gifts and Grants - bodies such the Friends of Chichester Harbour give grants for specific projects. Defra currently funds the core AONB staff and some associated projects.
Harbour Dues paid by yachtsmen meet the cost of running the harbour, maintaining the navigation marks, controlling works and dredging and enforcing the byelaws.
Mooring charges meet the cost of maintaining and administering Conservancy moorings and mooring sites and contribute to the cost of running the Harbour.
Other income pays for environmental work such as tree planting, recording and surveying wildlife, footpath maintenance and providing information about the area.