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The Cleaner Portsmouth Harbour

Brent Geese
HMNB Portsmouth

Conservation areaConservation area Portsmouth Harbour is seeing an ever-increasing number of vessels using it, but the cleanliness of its water has shown a steady improvement. Good news for those organisations actively involved in its nature conservation and recreational activities.

Commander Peter Chapman-Andrews, the Queen's Harbour Master, believes there has been a tremendous improvement in water quality over the past twenty years especially considering the growth in commercial and recreational activity during this period. However there is no room for complacency and constant vigilance is required by everyone involved in the harbour community. The Dockyard Port stretches three and a half miles from the harbour entrance, to Fareham, and is approximately two and at half miles at its widest point.

The Statutory Harbour Authority has a responsibility for the environmental health of this large expanse of water in partnership with Portsmouth City Council, Gosport and Fareham Boroughs and the Royal Navy. Working closely on all aspects of development which may affect conservation or the landscape, the harbour is designated as an area of Specific Marine Sensitivity. The vast majority of inter-tidal areas include Sites of Specific Scientific Interest such as wetland feeding areas of Brent geese.

Environmental Protection in the Harbour involves a tricky balancing act, juggling the needs of the environment against demands for commercial or economic growth. If no development is allowed or it is greatly restricted there is a danger of stifling the economic growth of the area, however if development were unregulated the ecology would suffer. Bait-digging for example, when carried out by individuals has no large scale effect on the environment. However digging with machinery has been assessed as hazardous to the environment and navigation, therefore the Department of the Environment has placed a temporary ban on commercial bait digging.

Oil pollution is always a danger in any busy harbour, all ports, harbours and terminals which have oil fuelling installations must now have an approved, comprehensive plan to deal with pollution ranging from a small spillage to a major disaster. Portsmouth, like any crowded harbour, expects the occasional spillage to happen but has the facilities to handle those situations. Although the number of vessels of all sizes has increased over the last twenty years the process of waste disposal has greatly improved leading to tremendous improvements in the cleanliness of the harbour as a whole.

HMNB Portsmouth