Sinah Lane: Deputation Mike Owens

Mike Owens – DMC Deputation 29th Oct 2020

Both harbours surrounding Hayling provide the borough’s residents with significant amenity for recreation and wellbeing. They are both recognised as ecologically important Special Protection Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. It has been said that Chichester and Langstone Harbours are the same “single body of water” for the purposes of nitrate mitigation, but this has yet to be publicly proven.

Water sampling demonstrates Chichester Harbour is relatively clean; It defies common sense to locate a nitrate offset scheme in a clean harbour to benefit a harbour for which raw and treated sewage will continue to be dumped in perpetuity and in increasing volumes. Chichester Harbour water quality is regularly tested; Langstone Harbour is not routinely tested at all, how can it’s contribution to the Solent’s nitrate problem be demonstrated without comprehensive empirical measurement?

Wastewater from our homes is 3% human waste. Langstone Harbour is regularly polluted by Southern Water’s “stormwater”, a mix of rain and wastewater through outfalls averaging a whopping 2m in diameter. Typically, each year there are 150-200 discharges containing faecal matter into the harbour. Outfalls have discharged sewage for over 500 hours in the last 10 months alone. The Langstone shellfish economy has been decimated by faecal pollution. Independent tests demonstrate the borough’s only Blue Flag beach is regularly and seriously contaminated during the bathing season. Several nearby bathing waters are similarly contaminated inevitably affecting the borough’s tourism economy HBC claims is worth £190M.

Southern Water’s Budds Farm plant serves 410,000 toilet users; more development generates more toilet users and more concrete forces more rainfall into the drains exacerbating harbour discharges. Who actually knows Budds Farm processing capacity? Has anyone asked? Southern water’s legendary commitment to non-resilient sewage system design and lack of investment has led to several significant pollution events in our harbours in the last 12 months alone! The majority of these have been caused by non-redundant pumps. On the Sinah site zero redundant pumping provision for grey and foul water is unacceptable. Also, SUDs are not maintenance free; it is still unclear who would be responsible for its management.

Deep in the subsoil are the “locked-in” remnants of fertilizers from historic farming. In order to support the geese refuges’, mono-cropping will be required; it’s acknowledged more nitrate-based fertilizers will be required for this crop. Tide-locking will force up historic nitrates which will spill into the SUDs combining with mono-crop fertilizer nitrates which will ultimately permeate the harbour.

The proposed SUDs arrangement will inevitably be regularly overwhelmed by rainfall. With a high water table, clay based subsoil and significant tide-locking any heavy rainfall will cause spills to the north of the site; it will pollute the harbour via the ancient ditch network and the nearby salt marsh. For the unfamiliar, Sinah Lake is a part of Langstone Harbour and not a self contained body of water as its name suggests.

Erosion and flooding will be exacerbated by climate change. According to the NPPF this development must be free from flooding for its lifetime (80-100 years). The land here already frequently floods; today’s sea-level rise estimates is 1.4 metres, double the last estimate. Estimates will continue to escalate at an alarming rate. Yet parts of this site is only a few metres above the high tide mark.

So, this development is premature.

Circumventing nitrate neutrality regulations with a truly experimental credit scheme with unproven scientific credentials is complete madness! The outcome of this experiment will not be known for decade. We could unwittingly be creating an unsustainable and damaging legacy for future generations that simply cannot be undone. The Warblington Farm credit scheme requires more homework.

The site will be threatened from increasing and significant coastal flooding and erosion within its 100 year lifetime. The coastal strategy, not due until 2022 may choose to leave the west coast unprotected which would be ecologically disastrous.

The proposed SUDs arrangement is particularly precarious and will inevitably lead to overflow into surrounding drainage arrangements subsequently causing nitrate pollution of a protected harbour.

This development, if approved, will inevitably be considered a precedent for subsequent multiple developments.

What is missing here is a holistic approach. It is fundamentally myopic to consider just one development in isolation within the context of SUDs, sewage provision, nitrate pollution, A3023 capacity and general infrastructure. Adequate infrastructure provision citizens rely on must be diligently and comprehensively considered for the island as a whole; and must be installed BEFORE any development commences unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Approval must be refused pending further information.

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