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New Year, New Beginnings!

January 2023

With accelerating Climate Change, increasing seawater ingress across Hayling’s southern coast and continuing enforcement issues with the Sinah development, it would appear that ‘new beginnings’ nationally and locally remain an aspiration not a reality. December’s popular demonstrations locally against Southern Water expressed profound public anger and frustration that the company has, since 2010, not been forced by the Government to take all necessary measures to reduce its frequent raw sewage dumping into our harbours. The company appears to find it cheaper to pay fines than to improve its treatment facilities, and reduce damage to marine inland and harbour habitat. Southern Water’s promise to pipe only treated sewage into Havant Thicket’s new, enlarged, fresh water reservoir is met, by many, with cynicism.

There is worry too that Coastal Partners, the engineers responsible for creating a viable plan for Hayling’s coastline, will be unable to find the money for even the limited protection permitted by the Government’s Environment Agency. Autumn temperatures were relatively benign but heavy, persistent rainfall then strong winds put pressure on all our low-lying, old drainage systems: high waters and surf prevent Hayling’s land drainage flaps from opening. Islanders witnessed record seawater ingress the length of Hayling’s southern coast, and Eastoke’s primary flood defence, lorry-loads of shingle, was shifted with ease by wind and sea. Even the Billy Trail’s concave ‘sea wall’ and granite were broken up by the same November weather.

Residents struggle to comprehend why our County Council, responsible for the Trail, can see no public benefit in properly maintaining this vital public asset. Equally concerning is that, in the past, the Council permitted services to be laid beneath it; these actually blocked the drainage pipework below, adding to continual drainage issues and Trail flooding. Why was this allowed to happen? This Trail substantially contributes to residents’ and visitors’ health and well-being, Havant Borough Council’s tourism revenue, and is promoted by ‘Visit Hampshire’ as a useable continuation of the historic Shipwright’s Way. Without it the England Coast Path will founder because our eastern coast is heavily privatised and also lacks cycle or pedestrian pathways. Cycle Hayling has, for many years, urged that cycle paths be built down both east and west sides of the Island. Yet again, we experience both our Councils’ lack of joined-up thinking: each promotes Hayling’s unique qualities whilst failing to protect them even before ‘austerity’. Remember that developers’ Community Infrastructure Levy money from any site can be spent elsewhere in the borough, at the Council’s discretion.

The recurring accounts of Hayling’s fractured sewer pipes remind us of our infrastructure’s frailties. Southern Water’s promise of one major pipe’s renewal may not be enough for our old system. People moving onto Hayling are taken aback by queues of tankers emptying sewage because of one station’s breakdown. The system is inter-dependent so how will Sinah’s new pumping station fare or will the 195 new homes simply cause problems further along the system? Rook Farm’s development could contribute 295 more homes’ wastewater. Infrastructure must come before house-building.


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