Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Inquiry Panel - Protecting, Preserving and Promoting The River Itchen in Southampton - Thursday, 6th October, 2022 5.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 3 - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Melanie Morley Democratic Services Officer 02380 832198 

Link: Link to meeting

No. Item


Election of Chair and Vice-Chair

To elect the Chair and Vice Chair for the Municipal Year 2022-2023.




(i)  Councillor Savage be elected as Chair for the Municipal Year 2022/2023; and

(ii)  Councillor Moulton be elected as Vice-Chair for the Municipal Year 2022/2023.


Inquiry Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 296 KB

Report of the Director of Legal and Business Operations requesting that the Panel discuss, amend and approve a final version of the attached outline inquiry project plan.

Additional documents:


Representations were received from Mark Pirnie, Scrutiny Manager, who was in attendance and with the consent of the Chair addressed the Panel.


Resolved: that the Inquiry Panel noted the Inquiry Terms of Reference and approved the final version of the outline inquiry project plan as presented in the report of the Director of Legal and Business Services.


Protecting, Preserving and Promoting the River Itchen in Southampton - Introduction, context and background pdf icon PDF 313 KB

Report of the Director of Legal and Business Operations requesting that the Panel consider the comments made by the invited guests and use the information provided as evidence in the review.

Additional documents:


The Panel considered the report of the Director of Legal and Business Services detailing an introduction to ownership and responsibilities, legislation and guidelines and feedback from community surveys regarding the River Itchen in Southampton.


The Cabinet Member for Transport and Regeneration, Councillor Keogh, with the consent of the Chair, launched the Inquiry by outlining the importance of the River Itchen to Southampton.


The Panel received the following representations:


Dr David Rumble, CEO Wessex Rivers Trust, outlined the importance of the River Itchen within the city of Southampton and summarised the key issues as:

·  The River Itchen has global importance as a spring fed chalk stream and has Special Area Conservation status due to its provision of a habitat for specific plants and animals, including Atlantic Salmon.

·  The tidal zone of the River Itchen contains mud flats which form part of a Special Protected Area for bird life in the Solent.

·  Industrialisation, including at the Woodmill, has had an impact upon the River Itchen and its habitats which is in contrast to the nearby River Test. It would be possible to restore lost habitats.

·  The River Itchen is now recognised to have importance to people who use it recreationally, to the benefit of their health and wellbeing. It can connect communities, and people live on it and near it.

·  The River Itchen is of importance to local communities and the local economy. Boatyards, marinas, auxiliary industries and aggregates businesses are based on and around it, and generate wealth and employment.

·  There are concerns about the water quality. Chalk acts like a sponge and whatever was applied to land in the river’s catchment area over decades can get into the river. Pollutants contaminate the river through watercourses, highways run-off, fertilisers, pesticides, sewage, industrial processes, littering and wrecks. It is noted that developers are now required to offset nitrates entering the river for new developments. This has an impact on habitats and ecology and is a problem for recreational users of the river. 

·  Climate change has had an impact on the River Itchen as drought has led to increased water extraction up river to provide for increasing demand whilst the Itchen Corridor is also a flood risk zone. This is likely to cause a net loss of diversity within the ecological systems of the river over coming decades.


Sam Foulds, Flood Risk Management Team Leader, and Cara Brims, Flood Risk Officer, from Southampton City Council delivered a presentation to provide an overview of ownership, legal responsibilities, users and legislation affecting the River Itchen within the city of Southampton and summarised the key issues as:

·  The River Itchen is fed by multiple smaller river catchments from a wide area of Hampshire, and activities within this area will have an impact on the river.

·  Land based activities will affect the water quality in the river as run-off from buildings and roads is collected by surface water sewers and drains and will enter watercourses without being treated. It is noted that new developments will  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.