Local MP Alan Mak convenes first Hayling Island Environment Forum

Local MP Alan Mak has convened a new forum that brings together key stakeholders and community representatives to discuss important environmental issues affecting Hayling Island and the surrounding area.

The first Hayling Island Environment Forum focussed on Langstone Harbour’s water quality and the prevention work by local authorities to manage coastal erosion.

Mr Mak has been in close communication with both Southern Water and the Environment Agency to improve the communication surrounding releases into Langstone Harbour. Southern Water releases take place during and after heavy rainfall to prevent flooding, and while the releases are permitted by the Environment Agency, Mr Mak is working to ensure that beach users have a fuller picture of when they take place.

Currently Southern Water is piloting a Beachbuoy service that notifies users of releases into the harbour, but at the meeting the company restated its commitment to automating the system to make it “real-time” giving 24/7 information.  You can sign up for Beachbuoy by visiting www.southernwater.co.uk/beachbuoy

The meeting also heard that rubbish thrown into the Harbour by boat users, agricultural run-off and waste produced by sea birds contributes to smells and waste in and around the Harbour which also need to be addressed.

Mr Mak’s meeting also secured agreement from key local groups to contribute to the creation of a new Coastal Management Strategy to better plan local flood protection and defence work in the future.

Mr Mak said: “I created the Hayling Island Environment Forum to bring together all the key stakeholders to focus on preserving and improving Hayling’s much-loved coast and environment. We had a robust discussion that focussed on the impact of releases into Langstone Harbour and the other factors that affect water quality such as littering. We have come out of the meeting with some concrete actions that will improve the local environment for those using the sea for swimming, wind-surfing, sailing and other activities, and a commitment from local community groups to help develop a new strategy for coastal protection.”

“I’m committed to improving our environment, and I think that my forum can be an important vehicle to bring together stakeholders and the community to facilitate work to make Hayling Island and better place to live, work or visit. I look forward to organising more of these meetings in the future on a range of environmental issues.”

Attending the meeting were representatives from Southern Water, Portsmouth Water, Havant Borough Council, Environment Agency, Natural England, Hampshire County Council, Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership, Langstone Harbour Board and Chichester Harbour Board. Community representatives were present from the Hayling Island Residents Association, North East Hayling Residents Association, Surfers Against Sewage, Save Our Island and local Hayling councillors.

During the meeting Southern Water presented on the need for independent testing at Langstone Harbour to further understand some of the environmental concerns.

Tom Gallagher, Southern Water’s Bathing Water Manager, said: “I am grateful to Alan Mak for organising the Environment Forum – it was a useful opportunity to explain how our releases into Langstone Harbour protect homes from flooding, the way they are governed by the Environment Agency and how we record and monitor release data.

“It was clear that the next step is for the local councils to conduct water quality testing and report the results on their websites, as is done in neighbouring Chichester Harbour. This would give a true picture of water quality and highlight if any further investigations or investment is required.”

Hayling resident and local community representative Dave Parham said: “Our MP’s new Environment Forum is a good platform to bring everyone together to share information, tackle local issues and come up with solutions that we can all get behind. There are also additional infrastructure issues that need to be addressed, including a transport assessment.”