Coffey tours pioneering saltmarsh restoration trial in Chichester Harbour

Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for the Environment, visited the shores of Chichester Harbour earlier this week to learn about an innovative saltmarsh restoration trial. photo

The Secretary of State was accompanied by staff from Chichester Harbour Conservancy, the Environment Agency and the Solent Seascapes Project. 

Already a passionate advocate of the benefits of saltmarsh, she was able to draw on the knowledge of experts to find out about the technicalities of the trial as well as the wider issues affecting saltmarsh restoration within the area.

The trial came about as a result of the 2021 Natural England condition review, which found that the saltmarsh within the Chichester Harbour has declined by 58% since 1946. 

The reasons for this loss and degradation include “coastal squeeze”, where hard structures and sea defences prevent the natural movement of sediment in the harbour and cause erosion of the saltmarsh.  Climate change and sea-level rise pose additional threats.

Chichester Harbour Conservancy is leading a partnership initiative, Chichester Harbour Protection and Recovery of Nature (CHaPRoN), emcompassing the saltmarsh restoration trial at West Itchenor. 

The trial has pioneered a technique for using sediment dredged from within the harbour to raise the elevation of an area of shoreline sufficiently to allow saltmarsh plant species to colonise.