The 246 km of coastline we manage is protected for its ecological importance and internationally recognised for the species it supports. Large areas of our coastline include nationally significant heritage and archaeological assets and we manage our coastline to support the natural and historic environment.
Protecting coastal communities from the risks of flooding and erosion can have a significant impact on the natural environment. To mitigate any impact during coastal management, significant care is taken to prevent damage and identify opportunities.
Our team of environmental officers carry out activities to enhance the natural environment.
- Undertaking specialist habitat and species surveys to understand and monitor our natural coastal environment. This includes bird, bat, reptile and vegetation surveys. Data from these surveys is used to assess the significance of any coastal area, prior to planning and designing works or setting policies. It is also used to monitor the impact of our activities during and after works. For example, we undertook behavioural bird surveys of a small and locally important colony of Purple Sandpipers as part of the Southsea Coastal Scheme. The study ensured our works would have minimal impact on this species.
- We input to the development of coastal management policies and the design of new coastal defences to ensure they have the lowest level of impact on the natural environment. In some instances, it is impossible to build new coastal defences without having a negative impact and in these cases, we look for solutions to enhance other parts of the coastline. For example, we removed an old quay structure from within Langstone harbour to provide new mudflat habitat for feeding birds, to mitigate unavoidable habitat loss elsewhere.
- We undertake environmental impact, habitat regulations and water framework directive assessments. Information is pulled together and used to apply for planning permissions, marine licences and all other consents.
- We work closely with the Environment Agency to deliver the Solent and South Downs Regional Habitat Compensation Programme. We're planning the creation of significant areas of saltmarsh habitat, to offset historic and future losses of this valuable habitat across our region.
- We have been working with universities and experts across the UK to design and test new and innovative environmental enhancement initiatives that will change the way coastal defences are delivered. Sometimes referred to as ‘greening the grey’ or ‘blue-green infrastructure’. For example, some of our sea walls have been textured to allow vegetation to grow on the wall, as an alternative to having plain concrete walls, devoid of life.