Don’t Destroy Chichester Harbour: Wildlife policies ‘need to be significantly stronger’

Significantly stronger policies are needed in the Chichester Harbour Local Plan to protect wildlife, according to experts.

The inclusion of strategic wildlife corridors has been broadly welcomed but Chichester Harbour Conservancy says not enough thought has gone into it.

Birds flying over Chichester Harbour. Picture: Kate Shemilt C120061-3

Birds flying over Chichester Harbour. Picture: Kate Shemilt C120061-3

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Richard Austin, manager of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, said the absence of discussion between the authors of the Local Plan and the statutory joint advisory committee for the AONB was extremely disappointing.

Referring particularly to the West of City Corridors, he said: “It is so important the council listens to the conservancy because we are the guardians of the land and are here to protect it.

“With the wildlife corridors, what they have come up with just is not enough.

“Above all else, Chichester Harbour Conservancy is concerned that Chichester District Council has not adequately discharged its landscape duties under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act of 2000.

“Major developments are proposed directly outside the AONB boundary at Apuldram and Bosham, with potential for further major developments, pending the provision of maps, at Fishbourne, Chidham and Hambrook and Southbourne.

“The conservancy raises a high-level objection to the overall Local Plan because there is insufficient evidence that Chichester District Council has considered the potential cumulative effects that these developments will have on the AONB.

“Whilst the general concept of wildlife corridors is supported, this policy could be significantly stronger. The conservancy would positively welcome discussions with the LPA and the SDNPA to improve the policy.”

Richard pointed out the network of corridors presented was primarily on a north-south axis, with no east-west links to each other, and there was no coverage for the southern parts of the Bosham and Chidham peninsulas.

This view is supported by CPRE Sussex, which has called for a commitment to review wildlife corridors and for the results of this review to be built into the plan.

Kia Trainor, director, said: “Generally, we welcome the inclusion of strategic wildlife corridors within the plan in what is an important area for wildlife biodiversity, including both native and migrating species.

“We believe there may be other important wildlife corridors that need to be considered, particularly east-west across the Manhood Peninsular.

“We would request further research into this aspect, or at least an acknowledgement that further corridors may need to be incorporated in due course.

“We support the views expressed by the Chichester Harbour Conservancy that the suggested corridors need to be extended further south and strengthened and with an east-west corridor.”

Richard Craven, Chichester Harbour Conservancy director Harbour Master, said Chichester District Council should be more ambitious.

“I support a number of things they are trying to do but they need to be more ambitious. I really hope they will scale up their plans,” he added.

“We want to try to have something more coherent that would work better in practice.

“The wildlife corridors don’t take into account the intervisibility between the Downs and the Harbour, so we want to build that in as part of the criteria. That is not to say there can’t be any development but the criteria should be a lot higher to protect the view.”

The conservancy recommends developing the corridors so they are broader and go further, making them much more powerful as the basis for ecological networks and of greater benefit to a wider range of species.

Mr Austin said the proposed west of Chichester to Fishbourne wildlife corridor should be extended to the Chichester Marina and Birdham Pool Local Wildlife Sites on the east of the Fishbourne Channel, and to Old Park Wood SSSI.

He also recommends extending the proposed Chidham/east of Nutbourne wildlife corridor south to Cobnor.

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