Blue Flag awards given to 55 beaches in England - 22/5/13
More than 50 English beaches have met tough new EU standards to receive Blue Flag awards, recognising their high standards and water quality.
Thanet in Kent won eight awards, while the Isle of Wight, Bournemouth and Poole in Dorset, and Torbay in Devon each received four awards. Campaign group Keep Britain Tidy runs the awards scheme in England.
The 55-beach total is down from 79 in 2012, but this year beaches were subject to much tougher standards. They had to meet the new "excellent" standard required under the new EU Bathing Waters Directive.
Posted 22/05/2013 13:29
Ark Royal leaves Portsmouth for scrap yard - 20/5/13
Large crowds are expected to gather in Portsmouth later to watch aircraft carrier Ark Royal leave the port for the final time. The Royal Navy's former flagship was decommissioned early following the 2010 defence review and is being towed to Turkey for scrap.
As part of a £2.9m deal she will go to the same yard that took her sister ship Invincible. Former crew members are expected to watch as she leaves at about 13:00 BST.
The Invincible Class aircraft carrier saw active service in Bosnia and led UK naval forces during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Formally decommissioned in 2011, the Harrier jets that flew from Ark Royal were sold as spares to the US.
New carriers using the joint strike fighter will not enter service for nearly 10 years.
Posted 20/05/2013 09:48
Raising the beach for little terns - 8/5/13
The first phase of the RSPB’s three-year project to restore and protect the little tern colonies around Langstone Harbour and Hayling Island has been completed.
Little terns only visit the UK in the summer to nest and rear their young. They are highly vulnerable at this time because they choose to nest on bare shingle, close to the shoreline, where their eggs or chicks can be flooded.
Over the last few weeks, 500 tonnes of aggregate was delivered by tug and barge to South Binness Island and used to replenish a beach where little terns have nested, but often had their nests and chicks washed away by high tides.
By increasing the extent of the beach’s ridge, the conservation charity believes more suitable nesting habitat will be created, and raising the ridge height will help prevent nest 'wash out' from higher tides.
All the aggregate materials were provided by Lafarge Tarmac, who also gave advice on the best grades of shingle to use to help withstand the effects of wave and tidal erosion for as long as possible.
Rebecca Jackson, from Lafarge Tarmac, said: “We were delighted to be involved with this amazing project, which is so important for the south east’s little tern population.
The future of nesting little terns and other breeding seabirds at Langstone Harbour was made more secure after the RSPB, working with Havant Borough Council and the Langstone Harbour Board, gained funding from the European Union Interreg, Heritage Lottery Fund and The Veolia Environmental Trust earlier this year.
The shingle replenishment is just one part of the grant work. Project staff and volunteers will also engage and work with local schools to encourage active learning and participation with their local natural heritage, including, making little tern chick shelters from recycled materials. A programme of education and outreach activities will be implemented through the project, designed to improve public understanding of little terns and their current plight.
Posted 10/05/2013 09:51
South coast landslides a 'serious issue' - 8/5/13
The number of landslides across the south coast has increased in the last four months, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS). Research carried out by BGS has shown 16 cliff falls between Bridport and Chichester from January and April, compared with 22 for all of last year.
It comes a week after a major landslip near Durdle Door in Dorset.
A large crack which first appeared 15 years ago developed further over the weekend at the top of the cliffs at Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire.
In March a 150ft (45m) long, 6ft (1.8m) deep crack appeared on cliffs near Bowleaze Cove, Weymouth.
Posted 09/05/2013 09:24
Dunkirk vessels mark first Southampton Maritime Festival - 5/5/13
Twenty ships from the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 sailed the Solent to mark the start of the first Southampton Maritime Festival.
The city's docks are open to the public for two days, with events ranging from diving displays and a Lancaster bomber flypast.
The event is raising funds to help preserve and restore historic vessels.
Prince Michael of Kent officially opened the event at the Ocean Cruise Terminal.
Organised by the Southampton Heritage Federation and Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (HWTMA), the festival is also marking the 175th anniversary of the opening of Southampton docks.
Posted 06/05/2013 20:25
New ferries needed for Portsmouth-Fishbourne route - 27/4/13
Wightlink has said multi-million-pound investment is needed on its Portsmouth-Fishbourne route to build a new fleet of bigger ferries. The company says the move is essential because it faces up to 40 per cent increase in costs by having to switch to low-sulphur, environmentally friendly fuel. That follows fuel costs trebling over the past three years.
The new fuel regulations mean existing ferries will have to be modified by the end of next year to keep them operating while Wightlink seeks investment for its new fleet.
It says existing ferries would be made "unviable" and new ships would take up to four years to be brought in — once spending approval had been given.
The company said this week ever-bigger cars would mean that by the time its existing fleet was axed, ferries would be able to carry just over half the number of cars they could when they started to be introduced on the link, more than 30 years ago.
Wightlink says it is confident modern, cleaner ferries can overcome environmental concerns in protected Fishbourne Creek and more reliable ships would reduce road congestion.
The spokesman said new ferry design would accommodate wider cars, which had cut usable lanes on existing ferries from six to five, reducing capacity from 142 cars to a predicted 76 by the time they were replaced.
Posted 29/04/2013 09:58
Towed Fishing Gear Emergency Byelaw - 17/4/13
The Solent European Marine Site (Specified Areas) Towed Fishing Gear Emergency Byelaw comes into force on Friday 19 April 2013. The MMO made the emergency byelaw using powers derived from the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.
The purpose of the byelaw is to protect certain specified seagrass beds (also known as eelgrass – Zostera spp.) in the Solent European Marine Site from damage caused by towed fishing gears. The byelaw protects the seagrass in specified areas where towed fishing gear activity has been observed as follows:
* Chilling in the Solent and Southampton Water Special Protection Area (SPA)
* Langstone Harbour within the Chichester and Langstone Harbour SPA and the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
* Portsmouth Harbour in the Portsmouth Harbour SPA.
See http://www.marinemanagement.org.uk/protecting/conservation/solent_ems.htm, for details.
Posted 17/04/2013 14:08