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Environment and Sustainability

Environment and Sustainability

CHC is committed to the sustainable management and conservation of the harbour, estuary, and local environment and continues to work with harbour users and statutory authorities to ensure that the balance between the use of the estuary and its environment is maintained.

As a Statutory Harbour Authority and Trust Port, Cowes Harbour Commission is required to have due regard to the environment in every aspect of the business and its activities. CHC’s jurisdiction extends from the Prince Consort north cardinal buoy in the Outer Harbour and down the Medina Estuary as far south as the Folly. CHC also has a number of responsibilities under specific legislation that relate to the marine and coastal environment within its jurisdiction.

Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) continues to work as a funding member of the Isle of Wight Estuaries Project, a partnership between CHC, Environment Agency, Isle of Wight Council, Natural England, and Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners. The partnership encourages the integrated and sustainable use of the Medina estuary and develops understanding of estuarine features and processes. It works together on projects that aim to balance the responsibility for the environment with the commercial and leisure demands on the harbour and estuary.

Sustainable Transport
CHC actively encourages the use of sustainable transport and promotes informed public estuary access. by its employees through its participation in the Cycle to Work Scheme and more widely through the promotion of the Medina Circular Walk and supporting the advancement of the Medina Greenway beside the eastern edge of the estuary. The route around the Medina is also part of the England Coast Path which was set up through the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and is due for completion in 2021.

Advanced Mooring Systems
As part of the Life Recreation ReMEDIES project, CHC has been invited to work with Natural England, the RYA and other partners to understand the effectiveness and practicality of Advanced Mooring Systems (AMS). These are moorings designed to reduce the negative impact of some types of moorings on important marine habitats such as seagrass. There is limited evidence to show whether these moorings are effective in all coastal environments as there is such a wide variation in natural conditions. The research carried out through the project will help regulators decide whether they should be recommended in specific locations.

For the purposes of the project, which will be progressed in 2021, the different moorings will be tested in a range of locations. Each mooring will be custom made to suit the local conditions and the size and weight of vessel using it.

There are three main systems to trial, and they have all been used successfully elsewhere. There is particular interest in testing the helical screw system as this is considered to be the least damaging to the environment. If the conditions are suitable then installing a mixture of the different types would help the project partners to understand any issues. The aim of the project is a complete review of the effectiveness of AMS, including practicality of installation and maintenance, uptake of use, cost, longevity and impact on marine habitats. These aspects will be monitored and evaluated throughout the project in order to improve them and / or encourage their use more widely.

For more information see The Green Blue’s Guide to Anchoring and Mooring or publications about the ReMEDIES project.

Isle of Wight UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
In 2019, the Isle of Wight was recognised as part of UNESCO’s worldwide network of Biosphere Reserves. The Isle of Wight Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 91,496 hectares, including the 38,000 hectares Isle of Wight proper and marine areas along its 92 km coastline. The Biosphere Reserve is home to 140,000 inhabitants, making it the second most populated island in northern Europe.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are unique areas of environmental significance in which communities strive to work hand in hand, innovatively and responsibly to protect and support the local environment and the world we all live in. The Isle of Wight follows in the footsteps of the North Devon and Isle of Man Biosphere Reserves as England’s third and the UK’s seventh Biosphere Reserve.

The Isle of Wight has a strong tradition of positive environmental action with numerous projects and initiatives promoting environmental education and awareness, increased community engagement, and healthier lifestyles and diets. The Island is also developing eco-tourism and working with universities and institutions to foster environmental innovation and attract new investment. It is also testing new measures for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Half of the Isle of Wight has been a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since 1963, and rare wildlife can be spotted on the Island, such as red squirrels, Glanville fritillaries (butterflies), and Ventnor wall lizards.



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