Consenting Guide

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) Assent or Consent:

Any coastal defence maintenance / repair works within, or adjacent to, the Chichester Harbour SSSI, SAC, SPA and Ramsar site would require a SSSI assent (if submitted by a statutory body) or a consent (if submitted by a landowner) application, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). The application would need to include a Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA), as required under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended)Note: SSSI Assent/Consent isn’t required if Planning Permission or a marine licence is granted.

Planning Permission from the Local Planning Authority (LPA):

Any coastal defence / repair works are likely to be exempt from requiring Planning Permission unless the works increase the height or spatial extent of the assets. This should always be confirmed with the LPA Planning Services Team. This falls under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. If there is a need for Planning Permission, then the Environment Act 2021 places a legal requirement that, from November 2023, all development must demonstrate a minimum 10% Biodiversity Net Gain. Irrespective of the requirement for planning permission, any work undertaken requires Natural England Assent / Consent, a Harbour Works Licence and a Flood Risk Activity Permit. Work undertaken without necessary permits constitutes unlawful activity.

Marine Licence from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO)

If coastal defence / repair works are undertaken by a Coastal Protection Authority, they are likely to be exempt from requiring a Marine Licence, unless the works increase the height or spatial extent of the assets. If the works are not undertaken by a Coastal Protection Authority, the landowner will need to apply for a self-service marine licence with a method statement pre-approved by Natural England. The landowner should check and confirm licencing requirements with the MMO, and can use their interactive assistance tool to support this:

Chichester Harbour Conservancy Harbour Works Licence:

Any coastal defence works would require a works licence, as a requirement of the Chichester Harbour Conservancy Act 1971.

Flood Risk Activities Permit: 

Works to the coastal defence assets are considered a regulated activity, requiring a permit from the Environment Agency, under the Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016.

Landowner permission:

Always needed.

To also note:

  • Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended), for Schedule 1 species (such as Cetti’s warbler, which are present at the Langstone Mill Pond), any activities likely to disturb them will require a specific licence via Natural England (administered by the British Trust for Ornithology). 

The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 (as amended) requires all public authorities to have regard to conserving biodiversity. There are other policy considerations, including the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and Havant Borough Local Plan. Local wildlife sites such as SINCs (which the Langstone Mill Pond is), are given some protection under this framework, but this protection doesn’t outweigh the higher designated status of the Harbour sites (SPA, SAC, Ramsar, SSSI).

Consenting advice specific to this site:

There is a legal requirement that any works avoid unacceptable damage to the designated sites. For any seawall repairs that ‘hold the line’ of the defence, the HRA would conclude that the works would have an adverse effect on the harbour designated sites, because they would prevent natural roll-back occurring and prevent the recovery of saltmarsh and the environmental, social, and economic benefits it provides. Therefore, such works can only be approved if it can be demonstrated that there are no alternative solutions that are less damaging to the intertidal habitats in the harbour and make a case that there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest due to there being a direct flood / erosion risk to homes and property. If there are alternative solutions that would not have an adverse effect on the protected sites within the harbour, then these should be taken forward. 

If there are no alternative solutions, then works may only be permitted if there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest, such as direct flood / erosion risk to homes and property, and compensatory saltmarsh habitat must be provided. 

At this location, maintenance repairs to the seawall will contribute to coastal squeeze and prevent natural roll back of intertidal habitat. This results in a loss of saltmarsh within Chichester Harbour, and adverse effects on the SAC and Ramsar designated habitat. Qualifying bird features of the SPA and Ramsar sites would also be indirectly affected through loss of feeding and roosting habitat, which could undermine the conservation objectives of these protected sites.

This would prevent Natural England, Chichester Harbour Conservancy, and the Environment Agency from being legally able to issue a SSSI assent/consent, Harbour Works Licence and Flood Risk Activity Permit for works as there are alternative solutions for maintaining a setback public right of way in this location that are less damaging to the harbour designated habitats and there is no flood risk to property from allowing roll back.