CHC is working to further develop its relationship with the Isle of Wight Estuaries Partnership and move to a more project-based approach. To do this, we will be refocussing the work of our Estuaries Officer into a number of key project areas for the next 12 to 18 months. The key project areas are as follows:
Environment and water quality
The issue of water quality and high levels of nitrates in coastal waters is the focus of a large amount of work nationally and throughout the Solent. Different aspects of the problem are being addressed by different organisations with most of the work being led by the Environment Agency, a partner in the Estuaries Project. CHC will continue to assist the Environment Agency in encouraging greater understanding of the issue and the long-term nature of the problem.
The ReMEDIES project is being led by Natural England and involves the trialling of advanced mooring systems to assess the impact on seagrass beds. The project will include trial sites off the coast of Dorset, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall and the Solent. CHC has supported the project through the funding application phase and will now help to identify suitable areas within its jurisdiction in which to trial one or two replacement moorings.
The Estuaries Officer will also develop a project to help protect and stabilise saltmarsh in the Medina. The annual saltmarsh monitoring took place in June and noted there is further loss of saltmarsh area since 2019. Saltmarsh is extremely important for biodiversity and because it binds pollutants like nutrients and carbon, effectively removing them from the surrounding environment. The Estuaries Project is currently working with the Environment Agency and Natural England on a funding bid to develop a project that will identify what options are available to restore the saltmarsh and prevent further loss. This will include initial trials of small-scale sediment trapping and bank stabilisation.
CHC will also continue to support the management of a high-water wader roost site on the southern edge of its jurisdiction.
Sustainable dredging and Water Injection Dredging trial
Based on the extensive data and sediment studies carried out in recent years, CHC has produced a consultation document on Water Injection Dredging (WID) and other sustainable dredging techniques. The consultation document and options have been discussed with the main dredging stakeholders in the Medina, with input from dredging contractors and independent experts. The discussion was well informed, engaged and generally positive about small scale trials for two new methods of dredging. This has led to in principle agreement to continue partnership working and the development of a robust monitoring plan and potentially a controlled trial dredging campaign.
There is increased awareness and incidence of coastal flooding associated with climate change and sea level rise. CHC was involved with the development of the Isle of Wight Council’s West Wight Coastal Flood and Erosion Risk Management Strategy, which includes coastal defence issues around Cowes and Gurnard.
CHC will continue to work with the Isle of Wight Council (IWC) and other partners to progress the work on coastal defence and help to promote local stakeholder engagement with the issues.
The Environment Agency, working in partnership with the IWC, recently secured £500,000 in Government funding to increase flood protection to property and public areas in East Cowes. The series of measures include a 350m long temporary flood barrier, pumps and individual property flood resilience measures such as flood-proof doors, self-sealing airbricks and waterproofing of brickwork.
Boating – environmental awareness raising
The Green Blue was relaunched last year and has several new initiatives and resource sets to help yachtsmen and yachtswomen reduce their impact on the environment. CHC will continue to work with The Green Blue team by promoting its initiatives and CHC’s facilities, such as the sewage pump out at Shepards Marina. Information is published in the Cowes Harbour Handbook and links and video clips will be added to the CHC website.
CHC is also part of a new Solent-wide partnership, which was developed to encourage positive action for boating and water quality. The outputs from the partnership’s meetings will be promoted to help raise awareness and understanding of the issues.