Forum champions drive to clean up waters across the Solent as MPs meet with Southern Water boss to call for an end to harbour releases
A FORUM has been launched as part of a drive to clean up the Solent’s waters and harbours.
Officials worried by the region’s problems with water quality met to discuss how to tackle the issue.
The new forum aims to drive improvements in water quality in local harbours, which provide habitats for plants and wildlife as well as being used extensively by water sports enthusiasts.
Portsmouth and Havant MPs held the forum’s first meeting, which brought together local community representatives with officials from the Environment Agency.
They discussed Southern Water’s plans to phase out storm water releases and improve water quality in Langstone and Chichester Harbours.
During and after periods of heavy rainfall, the water company’s systems can release releases into local harbours causing concerns for the health of harbour users and the environment.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who chaired the meeting, said: ‘So many people across Portsmouth and the wider region want releases to end.
‘It will take effort and investment and it is only by this joined up approach we will be able to deliver all that is required.
‘We need frank conversations and to be focussed on the outcomes we all want to see. It won’t be easy but it must be done.’
MPs called on Southern Water to set out their plan to phase out releases to comply with the new legal obligations set out in the new Environment Act.
The forum also heard from Rebecca Pow, environment minister, as well as Southern Water CEO Ian McAulay, who said he was committed to reducing the frequency of releases.
Alan Mak, MP for Havant, said: ‘I’ve been working on this issue for several years, and having proposed the creation of the forum I’m pleased Southern Water are taking this issue seriously and working constructively to improve the health of our harbours and the wider Solent.
‘However, the forum’s MPs recognise there’s more work to do and we are working together to continue pressing Southern Water to improve water quality in our region.’
The MPs plan to follow up with another meeting of the new forum this autumn.