Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a landscape of national and international importance.
Chichester Harbour Conservancy employs around 25 permanent staff, with a similar number of people on casual or seasonal contracts. Activity in the Harbour is largely recreational with around 9,000 vessels over 3 metres in length, 3,200 swinging moorings, 2,000 berths in 6 marinas, and 14 sailing clubs. It is a busy and vibrant Harbour.
The Emsworth Jetty is a private structure and is owned by Chichester Harbour Conservancy. The jetty was installed for vessels to safely access the shore to pick up goods, water and passengers. It is also used as a short stay for visitors to the town, and to charge batteries for electric vessels, including the Emsworth Water Taxi. As well as for leisure vessels, it is important for tourism by providing a tidal access point for Solar Heritage, a 50-passenger catamaran tour boat.
However, over the years we have seen a steady increase in the use of this jetty by the public for fishing, crabbing, swimming and sunbathing. This is most notable during hot weather, when the number of people simultaneously using jetty can become somewhat dangerous.
Unfortunately, with this popularity of use has also come an increase in the level of anti-social behaviour and marine crime to vessels moored nearby or using the jetty. We have recorded accounts of vandalism, and staff have also been threatened while carrying out their duties. The Conservancy’s employees have the right to work and carry out their duties in an environment free from violence, threatening or abusive behaviour.
Furthermore, some Harbour users have given up their moorings, and day visitors are going to other parts of the Harbour, or other destinations, as a direct consequence of the anti-social behaviour.
The Conservancy has a legal responsibility, under the Health and Safety at Work Act, to manage the access on the jetty.
Last year, due to the levels of anti-social behaviour, the staff that managed the Solar Heritage were concerned for their own safety, and that of their passengers. The Conservancy successfully trialled a temporary locked gate during August/September, which curtailed the anti-social behaviour. We received positive feedback from passengers, vessel owners, and other Harbour users as they were once again able to safely use the jetty for its intended purpose. After this trial, the Conservancy was satisfied that a permanent solution should be sought, and consequently a planning application was submitted to Havant Borough Council in 2023.
The Conservancy understands the strength of public feeling about Emsworth jetty. The decision to seek permission to install the gate was not taken lightly, but it is the Conservancy’s responsibility to ensure safety on the jetty. The ability to limit access when required is an important measure to safeguard that.
Thank you for your understanding.