Gosport MP 'reassured' over future of Haslar's crumbling sea defences after crunch talks

A CROSS-agency meeting on the state of the Haslar sea wall has 'reassured' a town MP on the future integrity of the critical harbour defence.

By Toby Paine
Monday, 7th February 2022, 4:45 pm

The talks arranged by Caroline Dinenage MP gathered Gosport Borough Council, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and retired naval officer Chris Donnithorne together to discuss the risks associated with the sea wall.

It came after a report by Mr Donnithorne, which claimed the crumbling harbour defences could eventually jeopardise naval operations if action wasn’t taken to fix its eroding structure.

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View of Haslar Sea Wall from Southsea on Thursday 13 January 2022 Picture: Habibur Rahman

Haslar stretches along the south coast of the Gosport peninsula covering the southern flank of Fort Blockhouse and making up the western side of the Portsmouth Harbour entrance.

It has been feared that erosion to Haslar could lead to rapid silting, subsequently raising the sea bed, making the harbour inaccessible to large vessels such as cruise ships and aircraft carriers.

But Ms Dinenage, the Conservative MP for Goport, said she was feeling 'reassured' following the crunch talks.

She added: ‘The Gosport sea wall is the vital barrier which helps protect the integrity of Portsmouth Harbour, Portsmouth Naval Base, the commercial port and hundreds of homes and businesses which surround the harbour depend upon it being kept in good condition.

‘I was reassured by the commitment to ensure the sea wall is properly maintained by all of the above organisations and will continue to follow this issue closely.’

The Ministry of Defence, which owns the wall, said that the meeting was productive but didn’t state what measures were taken to protect the harbour.

An MoD spokesman said: ‘The meeting was productive in understanding the integrity of the sea wall and the ongoing commitment by all parties in attendance to safeguarding the sea defence.’

However, Chris Donnithorne - who produced a detailed report in December that delved into the risks the wall presents to Naval operations and Portsmouth’s cruise economy - said he remained concerned.

When asked about the meeting, he said: ‘At one stage, sorry to say that I detected a degree of complacency.

‘Obviously, they are sincere in their summary when they said that the harbour entrance is secure, I think it’s still at risk.

‘The Ministry of Defence has decided in their wisdom that they’re going to carry out a detailed study of their part of the wall.

‘There appears to be a mindset that if you do some repairs it will last forever because you’ve done them properly.

‘I’m trying to bring up the fact that this is continuing, there’s no such thing in these circumstances as a once-only fix-it job, I don't comprehend the mindset involved here.’

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