Healthy harbours by 2030: Partners pledge to act together

A shared vision for healthy harbours by 2030 in Sussex and Hampshire was agreed at a meeting hosted by Southern Water recently.

Senior leaders from 18 national and local organisations agreed that putting Chichester, Langstone and Pagham harbours at the heart of decision making, investment and action is key to ensuring future generations can enjoy the health and wellbeing, environmental and economic benefits of vibrant harbours.

A newly formed steering group will ensure the commitment to collaborate turns into action. A charter to spell out clearly what continuous and significant progress will achieve this vision is to be developed.

The commitment to improve water quality and protect the precious natural habitats of the three harbours builds on the wealth of action and investment agencies around the summit table are already delivering. 

First brought together by Southern Water in May, the recent meeting, independently chaired by Professor Sir Dieter Helm, an international expert on the sustainable use of natural capital, established just how much action is already being taken by individual organisations.

An assessment of the current ecological status of the harbours and factors contributing to their environmental decline will be available later this year, This natural capital baseline will bring together evidence from a wide range of sources and provide a shared evidence base to inform decision making that supports projects providing the biggest benefit to arrest and reverse the decline in the harbours’ habitats.

Another meeting is due to be held before the end of the year.

Professor Sir Dieter Helm CBE, the Summit's Independent Chairman, said: "This is an incredibly exciting project. We are all agreed the status quo is unsustainable. It is fantastic so many different parties are willing to come together to focus on the harbours and ensure they are better when we hand them on to the next generation than they were when we inherited them.

 “We have heard how much is already happening. Now we need to work in co-operation, break out of our siloes and map out the priority projects so that the funding and action comes together to secure the best environmental outcomes for the harbours and the local residents of today and into the future.”

Ian McAulay, Southern Water’s CEO, said: Ian McAulay, Southern Water’s CEO, said: “We are achieving something substantial here. It’s one of the most exciting projects of my career. We know collective action is needed to improve the harbours’ water quality and natural habitats and it’s encouraging to see so many partners coming together with that purpose.

“The natural capital baseline we are funding for this group is progressing well and will be ready later this year. It will be leading edge and the primary source of accurate evidence of flows and polluting loads from all sources which are entering watercourses. By measuring those we will be able to take effective action to reduce these and manage catchments for the purpose of improving water quality. .  

“For our part, in a conventional infrastructure approach, we are investing a total of £75 million in the area by 2025 to improve our service to customers and protect the local environment. These plans will directly contribute towards improving the health of these harbours. 

“We are building new storm tanks at Budd’s Farm water treatment works and investing £36 million at Peel Common to increase our storm storage capacity and ensure the network can cope with population growth in the area”

We will significantly increase our contribution to catchment management and nature based solutions. Restoring degraded land; increasing wetlands; encouraging regeneration of sea grass and kelp offer sustainable solutions that improve water quality and the natural environment. Combining these with conventional infrastructure investment means we can reduce concrete, steel, power and chemical usage and help deliver better water quality in a lower carbon future”

Sue Beale, Kent and Sussex manager for Natural England, said:

“The summit provided an opportunity to work with partners to conserve, enhance and manage the natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations. Partnerships are key for nature’s recovery.

 “Through collaboration we can focus resources and expertise towards ensuring the protection and preservation of the natural habitats found in the Chichester, Langstone and Pagham harbours.”

Colette Heggie, Solent and South Downs environment, planning and engagement manager for the Environment Agency, said:

“With our shared ambition to protect the environment and communities, the summit was a chance for us to continue working with the water industry and other bodies.

“The Environment Agency always encourages investment from the water industry and other stakeholders to protect the environment.”



Professor Sir Dieter Helm CBE is Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Economics at New College, Oxford. He was Independent Chair of the Natural Capital Committee, providing advice to the government on the sustainable use of natural capital, until the end of the second term of the Committee in November 2020.  In the New Year 2021 Honours List, Dieter was awarded a knighthood for services to the environment, energy and utilities policy.

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The Summit was hosted by Southern Water and attended by representatives of:

  • Arun and Rivers Trust
  • Chichester District Council
  • Chichester Harbour Conservancy
  • Coastal Partners
  • Environment Agency
  • Hampshire County Council
  • Havant Borough Council
  • Langstone Harbour Board
  • Natural England
  • NFU
  • RSPB
  • Seaward Properties
  • Solent Forum
  • South Downs National Park Authority
  • Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA)
  • Sussex Wildlife Trust
  • West Sussex County Council