Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, undertook a visit to Chichester Harbour last Friday, as part of celebrations to mark 50 years since its designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Meeting teams at the Harbour, The Duke took the opportunity to ask about the varied nature of their conservancy work and learnt from local representatives of some of the issues facing the Harbour.
According to the teams, overdevelopment, water quality and sea level rise are all issues which threaten the environment of Chichester Harbour and it is the Conservancy’s job to protect the area for the future.
The warm autumn sunshine was out as The Duke was accompanied around the Harbour by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, before taking a short lunch at Itchenor Sailing Club. Judi Darley, the Conservancy’s Communities Officer, presented Prince Edward with a hamper of Harbour Honey, highlighting the important project that promotes honey bee conservation in the Harbour.
After lunch, The Duke took a tour aboard the Conservancy’s solar-powered Catamaran, Solar Heritage. Richard Austin, AONB manager, said the visit was a great opportunity to publicise the work done there:
“It’s an absolute privilege,” he told the Chichester Observer, “everyone’s smiling, everyone’s happy, it’s given everyone a boost in the area.”
Members of the public gathered to see The Duke, including two visitors who were pleasantly surprised by the visit. Geoff and Jude Dyson travelled to the harbour all the way from St Albans to visit the area where Geoff grew up.
Also speaking to the Chichester Observer, Geoff said he last visited in 1958 and the area looked identical to how he remembered it: “They say you should never go back but this is a place you can.”
Chichester Harbour, which is located between the towns of Havant and Chichester, was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1964. At the time, the National Parks Commissioner said of the area:
“It is unquestionably a very lovely area of tidal waters, lush fields and woods. Made outstanding, if not unique, by its backcloth of the Downs and by its ever changing vistas of Chichester Cathedral.”
AONBs are chosen for their scenery and there are only 33 of them in the UK – the smallest being the Isles of Scilly and largest, the Cotswolds. They receive statutory protection to conserve and, where possible, enhance their natural beauty.
Picture used with permission of Chichester Harbour Conservancy