Chichester Harbour

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Chichester Harbour
Chichester Harbour from West Wittering beach - geograph.org.uk - 1379749.jpg
View of the harbour from West Wittering
Chichester Harbour AONB locator map.svg
Chichester Harbour AONB locator map.svg
LocationWest Sussex, England
Hampshire, England
Established1964 (AONB)
Full list below
Websitehttps://www.conservancy.co.uk

Chichester Harbour is a large natural harbour in West Sussex and Hampshire. It is situated to the south-west of the city of Chichester and to the north of the Solent. The harbour and surrounding land has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).[1][2][3] The area is also part of the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation,[4] Chichester and Langstone Harbours Ramsar site,[5] Special Protection Area[6] and Nature Conservation Review site, Grade I.[7] Part of it is a Geological Conservation Review site[8] and two areas are Local Nature Reserves.[9][10]

Chichester Harbour is a 3,733.5-hectare (9,226-acre) area that is managed by Chichester Harbour Conservancy, an independent public body that was established by an Act of Parliament in 1971.[11]

Description[edit]

Chichester Harbour is one of four natural harbours in that area of the coastline, the others being Portsmouth Harbour, Langstone Harbour and Pagham Harbour. It is one of the few remaining undeveloped coastal areas in Southern England and remains relatively wild. Its wide expanses and intricate creeks are at the same time a major wildlife haven and among some of Britain's most popular boating waters.

The massive stretch of tidal flats and saltings are of outstanding ecological significance. Very large populations of wildfowl and waders use the mudflats feeding on the rich plant life and the huge populations of intertidal invertebrates. More than 7,500 Brent geese overwinter on the intertidal mud-land and adjacent farmland and around 55,000 birds reside in or visit the Harbour throughout the year.[12]

The harbour is one of the south coast's most popular sailing waters with as many as 12,500 craft regularly using the harbour, with competitive racing taking place among the 14 sailing clubs of the Chichester Harbour Federation.[13] The villages, sea walls and footpaths are a popular leisure area for residents and tourists alike.

Set up by the Chichester Harbour Conservancy Act 1971, Chichester Harbour Conservancy has the duty to conserve, maintain and improve the harbour and amenity area for recreation, natural conservation and natural beauty. As well as being the statutory harbour authority, the Conservancy manages the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).[11]

To the south west of the entrance to Chichester Harbour is Chichester Bar, a shallow spit which can present a significant navigation hazard at all states of the tide. The entrance to the harbour is deep with a fast tidal stream and to the east of the main harbour entrance channel is a gravel bank known as The Winner.

The east side of the harbour entrance is an area of geographical, recreational and conservation interest known as East Head. It is a large sand dune linked to land by a narrow area known as The Hinge. In recent years The Hinge has been breached by several storms and then repaired. There is much debate about whether and how it should continue to be repaired.[citation needed]

The western boundary with Langstone Harbour is defined by a historic causeway known as the wade way, once the principal access from Hayling Island to the mainland, but since bisected by a deep channel for the Portsmouth and Chichester Canal in the 1820s, and no longer safely traversable.

Chichester Harbour has three main channels. The Emsworth Channel, the Thorney Channel and the Chichester Channel, which also branches off into the Bosham Lake and Itchenor Reach.

Harbour villages[edit]

The harbourside settlements are: Birdham, Bosham, Chidham, Dell Quay, Emsworth, Fishbourne, Langstone, Northney, South Hayling, Southbourne, West Itchenor, West Thorney and West Wittering. The nearest towns are Chichester and Havant. The harbour lowlands contain high quality arable farmland. Boatyards, marinas and commercial fishing are important elements of the local economy.[citation needed]

Biology and geology[edit]

The harbour has diverse habitats, including intertidal mudflats, shingle, saltmarsh, sand dunes, marshes and woodland. The mudflats provide feeding grounds for internationally important numbers of ringed plovers, grey plovers, redshanks, black-tailed godwits, dunlins, sanderlings, curlews and greenshanks. There are geologically important sand dunes and shingles at East Head and east of Langstone.[14]

Designation[edit]

Year Classification Legislation
1964 Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949
1970 Chichester Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
1987 Chichester and Langstone Harbours Ramsar site Council Directive 2009/147/EC
1987 Chichester and Langstone Harbours Special Protection Area Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017
1992 Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010

Recreation[edit]

Chichester Harbour is used for a wide variety of sailing, including dinghy racing; it is the venue for the 'Itchenor Gallon' race for the International 14.[15] There are several yacht marinas. It is also used for fishing.

Harbour tours depart year round from Itchenor in either a traditional boat or in Solar Heritage, a solar powered boat. During the summer regular trips depart from Emsworth on Solar Heritage and on the Victorian oyster boat Terror.

There is a small dory that operates as a ferry service between Itchenor and Bosham.

The harbour is a very popular area for birdwatching; guided bird walks and boat trips are offered during the winter months by Chichester Harbour Conservancy.

There is a network of footpaths for walkers and a cycle route from Chichester to West Wittering which passes through harbour countryside.

West Wittering Beach and East Head is the only sandy beach on the West Sussex coast and is a popular family and tourist destination on warm weekends.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Landscape". Chichester Harbour Conservancy. Archived from the original on 9 April 2019. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Designated Sites View: Chichester Harbour". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Archived from the original on 28 May 2021. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Map of Chichester Harbour". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Archived from the original on 6 November 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  4. ^ "Designated Sites View: Solent Maritime". Special Areas of Conservation. Natural England. Archived from the original on 28 May 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  5. ^ "Designated Sites View: Chichester and Langstone Harbours". Ramsar Site. Natural England. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Designated Sites View: Chichester and Langstone Harbours". Special Protection Areas. Natural England. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  7. ^ Ratcliffe, Derek, ed. (1977). A Nature Conservation Review. Vol. 2. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 3–4. ISBN 0521-21403-3.
  8. ^ "East Head (Chichester Harbour) (Coastal Geomorphology of England)". Geological Conservation Review. Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Designated Sites View: Nutborne Marshes". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Designated Sites View: Pilsey Island". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Chichester Harbour Conservancy". Archived from the original on 6 December 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Overview map of the UK's Areas of Outstanding Beauty". landscapesforlife.org.uk. Archived from the original on 3 December 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  13. ^ "Chichester Harbour Federation". Archived from the original on 2 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.
  14. ^ "Chichester Harbour citation" (PDF). Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 May 2021. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  15. ^ "International 14 Gallon Trophy at Itchenor Sailing Club". Yachts & Yachting. Archived from the original on 2 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014.

External links[edit]