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Hayling Environment Forum

The September ‘Hayling Environment Forum’ organized and chaired by Alan Mak MP heard presentations made by Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership (ESCP) “on its coastal erosion & protection strategy”, and by Southern Water (SW) and the Environment Agency (EA) “on Langstone Harbour stormwater discharges”, was an opportunity for Havant Borough Council (HBC), Hampshire CC., Natural England, Langstone Harbour Board (LHB) and resident stakeholders’ representatives to share concerns and discuss possible outcomes regarding these vital elements of Hayling’s future. Agenda Item 4 was to “Agree actions and next steps”. So what was discussed and what are the outcomes?

HIRA has already widely reported ESCP’s and EA’s determinations regarding our sea defences in the face of rising sea levels, wetter winters, increasing storms and about 30% of Hayling’s defences being in poor to very poor conditions with the mid-western and some eastern coastlines being critical. Private landowners’ must be responsible for any defence on their own sections. ESCP reported: very limited funds currently available but if all parties present agreed, by August 2021 there could be a funding plan. It was openly noted that this is an issue of aspiration, ‘place-shaping’ (HBC has a Place-Shaping Committee) and collaboration.

ESCP reminded all that the Billy Trail is HCC owned and a permissive route only and its constant erosion needs monitoring. HIRA’s Robert Woodward, a passionate advocate of the Trail’s huge social and economic benefit to all, shared photographic evidence of its deterioration. Cllr. Humby cited the huge annual social bill sustained by HCC as evidence that there are no available funds for Hayling’s Billy Trail. We also learned that a cable company updated its network by cutting through the Trail’s existing drainage. Why did HCC not prevent this or require remedial action by the cable company? Ironically HCC’s inaction has drastically affected a valuable resource for those seeking a healthier life at no cost to anyone.

Forum members agreed to “support and contribute to [ESCP’s wider] strategy” addressing some of the concerns raised. Alan Mak agreed to support ESCP’s October funding bid to the EA for a Hayling Flood Erosion Risk Management Strategy.

The EA stressed that the Bathing Water Directive will remain after BREXIT but that its reduced south beach sampling reflects Hayling’s Blue Flag water quality. SW stated its storm discharges protect homes from flooding. Stakeholders complained that: storm water discharges contribute to pollution generally; water sports continue throughout the year and around the coast therefore sampling must surely take place immediately following discharges and taking account of tidal flow. At time of writing, HIRA notes: at least 20 storm discharges since 19-08-19 reported via LHB; SW issued 2 emails stating discharges may be affecting water quality and 2 stating there is no risk. Further that "during or after heavy rain the general rule is to think twice before entering bathing and recreational waters".

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