Chichester Harbour Trust



Itchenor Meadow – New Fruit Trees Planted

The Trust has owned a small area of meadow at Itchenor since 2008. The site is crossed by the Salterns Way Cycle Path and has been regularly mown in an attempt to encourage wild flowers. This has only been partially successful.

Now, in a new approach, a number of fruit trees have been planted and it is hoped that these will enhance the character of the site and improve the southerly vista from the adjacent Itchenor Memorial Hall.

Varieties include apple, pear, cherry and quince.







Repair to Damage at Fishbourne Meadow

Urgent action had to be taken last week to repair damage done by an inexpert mechanical digger driver at Fishbourne Meadow.

Employed by the local flood prevention group to clear blocked ditches, the digger went on to the environmentally sensitive meadow and badly damaged the surface both by churning it up with caterpillar tracks and depositing dredged material. Fencing and adjacent trees were also damaged.

Fishbourne Meadow is ecologically important, supporting a wide variety of wild flowers, including the rare Southern Marsh Orchid, and also forms part of the Fishbourne Roman Palace archaeological site. Fortunately the Water Vole colony at the west end of the site was not disturbed.

Last week, under the supervision of the Harbour Conservancy, the dredged material and other debris was carefully removed and the fencing replaced. With the coming spring it is hoped that the meadow regenerates quickly and that little lasting damage has been done.

8 Mar 2016


Old Park Wood – The one that got away…

A charity such as the Chichester Harbour Trust, with its aim of protecting the harbour landscape for the very long term, is bound to suffer setbacks among its various successes.

Over the last year we have been particularly disappointed that our effort to acquire the 100 acres of Old Park Wood on the east side of the Bosham peninsula has been unsuccessful.

Extending for nearly a kilometre along the coast of the main channel, the ancient oaks of Old Park Wood are a dominant feature of the landscape in that part of the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Once much of the land around the harbour was thickly wooded and Saxon settlers grazed their swine beneath the oaks. Later the trees along the shoreline provided the backdrop as Roman vessels passed on their way to Fishbourne Palace just a mile to the north, but now virtually all that remains of that ancient forest is the 100 acres of Old Park Wood – the last wood of any size on the shores of Chichester Harbour.

Rich in wildlife, it supports a wide variety of species, including a well-established heronry. It is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Last year, for the first time in three generations, Old Park Wood was offered for sale, seeking bids over £1.25 million. The Chichester Harbour Trust worked hard within the tight timescale set by the vendor and, with the generous help of local supporters and various grant-making trusts, was able to offer £1.325 million.

Despite there being no other comparable bids, the Trust’s offer was not accepted and instead the wood is being sold piecemeal in individual 3-acre plots.

Of course the wood is protected by its status as a SSSI within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. However, woodland requires proper management in order to thrive. The Trust, together with Natural England and the Harbour Conservancy, hopes very much that 30-odd individual owners will be able to look after Old Park Wood effectively and that this irreplaceable natural asset will not be allowed to deteriorate.

18 Jan 16







Bees (of one sort or another) at Maybush Copse


An unexpected appearance at Maybush Copse in the last few weeks has been a number of attractive specimens of Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera). These small orchids have delicate flowers that show a remarkably life-like similarity to bees (see picture).

Bees of another sort have also taken up residence in Maybush Copse recently. As part of the Conservancy’s Harbour Honey Bee Project a number of hives have been established at the Copse. There are already hives on Thorney Island and the project, which will run for at least three years and will establish a total of 20 hives around the harbour. Delicious Harbour Honey was sold through the Conservancy last year and it is hoped that it will be available again this summer. The Chichester Harbour Trust is delighted to be part of this project.

11 June 15

Tree work at Maybush Copse, Chidham

When the Trust bought the freehold of Maybush Copse in 2009 there was a blanket Tree Preservation Order in force covering all the trees on the site.

Since then, it has been agreed with Chichester District Council that such a blanket order is unnecessary and preservation orders have been applied to 16 specific oak trees instead.

One oak that was not included in the list of trees to be protected was a specimen on the northern boundary that, sadly, was leaning dangerously into the neighbouring farmer’s field. In the storms of last spring it fell even further.

Clearly it had once been a fine specimen and was over 100 years old but, having fallen, it was decided to remove it and replace it with a new oak close to the original location. The removal work has now been done and the new tree will be planted shortly.


3 Nov 14

Bosham Trippet Wall completed

On 15th October the people of Bosham gathered to celebrate the completion of a new sea wall along the Trippet path adjacent to the road from the village to the head of the creek.

For some years it had been known that the gabions (rocks in wire cages) that protected the path were breaking up. This meant that not only was the flood defence being degraded but also the local farmer who uses his tractor to clear seaweed from the road, was unable to do this without damaging the gabions still further. The accumulation of rotting seaweed was obstructing the road and creating a ‘Bosham Pong’ that blighted the eastern end of the village.

Local residents raised the funds, together with West Sussex County Council and the Environment Agency, to build a replacement wall.

At the completion celebration Cllr Louise Goldsmith, Leader of West Sussex County Council, praised the initiative of Bosham residents and said that this project was a fine example of a ‘bottom up’ project where all the energy and much of the funding had come from the local community. Peter Newman, Chairman of the Bosham Association, thanked the many local people and organisations that had contributed to the funding for the new build.

The Chichester Harbour Trust was very pleased to make a grant towards this initiative and also assisted by acting as ‘banker’ to the project.

Nore Barn Woods, Emsworth


The Chichester Harbour Trust was very pleased to make a grant of £1,000 to the Friends of Nore Barn Woods for the strengthening of the shoreline south of the woods.


The bank and coastal footpath in the area had been progressively eroded for some years and in 2012 the Friends of Nore Barn Woods constructed an earth bank to protect a number of the oak trees on the water’s edge. However, that bank proved inadequate in the face of the storms of last winter and last month, after a successful fundraising campaign, the group installed a more robust wall of interlocking concrete blocks.


The new wall is now complete and will provide protection for the trees of Nore Barn Woods and the coastal footpath that is enjoyed by large numbers of local people.


The Chichester Harbour Trust was happy to be able to contribute to this very worthwhile project.



8th Oct 2014

The following article appeared in the Chichester Observer on 3 July 2014:

Save ‘stunningly beautiful’ AONB
Chris Shimwell

The threat of climate change to Chichester Harbour has been highlighted as a group makes plans to protect the area.
The Chichester Harbour Trust has launched an ambitious new project that will see footpaths moved back from the shoreline to avert the risk of rising sea levels and protect the harbour for future generations. The Trust’s chairman John Nelson described the harbour as ‘stunningly beautiful’, adding the 50th anniversary of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was seen as a good milestone from which to look ahead to the next 50 years.
‘I’m personally passionate about the harbour’, he said. ‘I think it’s one of the great natural landscape sites in the south east’.
 He said signs of the impact of climate change could be seen as sea levels rose in the harbour. ‘I think in the past two or three years it’s becoming more and more evident’, he said.
The scheme has been backed by the Chichester Harbour Conservancy, which Mr Nelson said was ‘very positive’ about the plans. The important issues for the Trust are access to the area, which in turn drives tourism, and the protection of wildlife and the ecology of the AONB.
Mr Nelson described the harbour as ‘quite a significant driver for the local economy’. The Harbour Trust owns ten sites, amounting to 250 acres, in the AONB. The Trust has said that managed realignment of the coastline and habitat creation can now be looked at as long-term solutions to rising sea levels. The project is not expected to be an instant fix – it is specifically designed to look at long-term issues in the next five decades.
The Trust is seeking to acquire more coastal areas in the AONB, with the specific intention of managing footpaths to ensure their long-term viability. Where it is not possible to purchase the land, the Trust hopes to work with the Conservancy to develop relationships with landowners, persuading them to take necessary steps to safeguard the footpaths. The project was launched at a reception on Friday by the Trust, with Mr Nelson saying it was well received by supporters and stakeholders around the harbour. He described the project as ‘long-term thinking’.
 ‘The reason the Trust is in this position to help is that we’re an individual charity funded privately so that we don’t rely on any capital coming from government sources’, he said.
 In his position as chairman of Lloyds of London, Mr Nelson said he was aware of climate change’s global impact. ‘I see this right around the world. Globally, 13 or 14 of the warmest years have been in this – the 21st – century. Sea temperatures are rising slowly, but they are rising’, he said.
He praised the preservation of the harbour over the past 50 years, comparing it favourably to other harbours in the area. The project hopes by continuing the preservation work in the harbour, its ecology and wildlife can be protected, in turn encouraging people to visit. This in turn can continue to give a welcome boost to the local economy through tourism.



Chichester Harbour Trust – Chairman stands down after 11 successful years


After over a decade at the helm of the Chichester Harbour Trust Sir Jeremy Thomas is standing down as Chairman of the Trustees. It was Sir Jeremy who, in 2002, persuaded the Conservancy that the harbour – already valued as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ – would benefit from an independent charitable trust that could raise additional funds to acquire land around the harbour to protect its natural beauty and valuable wildlife habitats.


Under Sir Jeremy’s guidance, the charity has accumulated sites around the harbour at the rate of more than one a year and now looks after 11 areas of land totalling over 230 acres. The sites have come to the Trust in a variety of ways. Some have been purchased, some have been leased and some have been donated. All are important for the contribution they make to the beauty of the landscape and the wildlife habitats of Chichester Harbour.


As well as acquiring land, the Trust has been successful in agreeing the principle of a rural ‘buffer zone’ in the charity’s care to the north-east of the harbour in the event of any large-scale development there, and this was formalised in a joint statement of understanding with West Sussex County Council in 2009.


In promoting its work over the last 10 years the Trust, working closely with the Chichester Harbour Conservancy, has helped to increase public awareness of the value of the harbour’s natural beauty and just how vulnerable it is to the pressures of an increasing population. The Trust continues to emphasise how important it is to protect the area for future generations.


Sir Jeremy is being succeeded as chairman of the 15-strong board of trustees by John Nelson, a long-standing resident of Bosham, who has been a trustee of the charity since 2010.

June 2013

Maybush Copse open to the public

After over 2 years of preparation Maybush Copse, Chidham was opened to the public on Easter Saturday.

Watched by Sir Jeremy Thomas, Chairman of the Chichester Harbour Trust, Councillor Tim Knight, Chairman of the Harbour Conservancy, representatives of the local Parish Councils and over 50 members of the local community, Stephen Johnson, the Chairman of Maybush Copse Friends, unlocked the gate and admitted the first visitor.

Extensive work has been done to transform the 8-acre site from a disused brickworks, caravan park and municipal rubbish dump to the nature reserve and woodland it is now becoming. Thousands of new trees have been planted; a membrane and topsoil has been laid over open areas where a mix of grass and wild flowers has been sown.

The seeded areas remain fenced off for the time being to allow the grass to become established. However new footpaths leading to benches with spectacular views down the harbour have been opened and a new permissive footpath across adjacent farmland connect the Copse to the existing public footpath network.

10 April 12

Photo: Stephen Johnson admits the first visitor (photo right)



Sandy Point Lagoon purchase completed

 The Trust is delighted to have completed the purchase of the 18-acre lagoon that lies behind Sandy Point on the Hampshire side of the harbour entrance.

This protected area of water – draining to glistening mud and sand at low water – lies immediately adjacent to the wader roost at Black Point. This is one of the most important roosts in the wider Solent area with bird numbers regularly reaching 20,000.

At low water the lagoon provides a rich feeding ground for a wide variety of birds and when the tide is high the calm water offers an attractive contrast with the often turbulent activity on the other side of Sandy Point.

The lagoon is enjoyed at times by junior sailrs from Hayling Island Sailing Club but for the most part the birds have the area to themselves, enriching this attractive corner of Chichester Harbour.

29 Mar 12


Fishbourne Meadow leased to the Trust

Nine acres of ecologically important meadow at Fishbourne have been leased to the Trust by West Sussex County Council.

The land, at Manor Farm, Fishbourne, has been managed by the Conservancy for over 20 years but as a significant gesture of goodwill the Council has now agreed to lease the site to the Trust.

This is the first step towards establishing the all-important “Buffer Zone” agreed in 2009 to protect the harbour from the impact of possible large-scale housing development near Stockbridge, where the boundary of the protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty runs uncomfortably close to the water.

The area consists of a stream and 3 fields of wet grassland crossed by public footpaths, and some of it is a Scheduled Ancient Monument being part of the Fishbourne Roman Palace site.

Careful management by the Conservancy, including regular grazing, has led to a profusion of wild flowers. The rare Southern Marsh Orchid has increased from a mere five recorded plants in 1991 to a record 500 this year. A wide variety of songbirds inhabit the site and there is a thriving colony of Water Voles.

The site will continue to be managed by the Conservancy on behalf of the Trust.

1 Nov 11






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