Chichester Harbour Conservancy is profoundly disappointed by the government’s regrettable decision to scrap nutrient neutrality legislation. The rules were part of the Habitats Regulations and required developers to mitigate against pollution added to the harbour through wastewater from new homes or run-off from building sites. Removing these protections is bad news for water quality and the precious habitats of Chichester Harbour.
The harbour is already under immense pressure from housing development; last week the Planning Inspector approved 198 new houses in Chidham, on the border of the AONB. Despite Chichester Harbour Conservancy fighting against the development at appeal, concerns for the health of the harbour and the need for a clear wildlife corridor were dismissed in favour of the development.
Chichester Harbour is one of the most important sites for wildlife in the UK. Already threatened, its protected habitats were assessed to be in an ‘unfavourable declining’ condition in 2021.
Matt Briers, CEO of Chichester Harbour Conservancy said:“We are witnessing unmitigated urbanisation across the boundary of Chichester Harbour. Nature is in crisis and the condition of the harbour is declining. The government’s promise of future grant funding is no compensation for the loss of protective legislation. The erosion of our strongest environmental legislative protections, in conjunction with unchecked development on our boundaries leaves the harbour in a more vulnerable position than ever.”
Applications for a further 572 dwellings across Bosham, Southbourne and Birdham are currently in the planning process, all of which will have an impact upon the condition of the harbour. The absence of an agreed local plan is leading to speculative development, resulting in a greater threat to the wildlife and unique habitats of Chichester Harbour.
Matt Briers added:“Prioritising the protection of nature in planning decision making is vital If we are to be successful in protecting and restoring the natural environment of Chichester Harbour.”