Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Inquiry Panel - Protecting, Preserving and Promoting The River Itchen in Southampton - Thursday, 17th November, 2022 5.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Melanie Morley Democratic Services Officer 02380 832198 

Link: Link to Meeting

No. Item


Minutes of the Previous Meeting (including matters arising) pdf icon PDF 236 KB

To approve and sign as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 6 October 2022 and to deal with any matters arising, attached.


Resolved: that the minutes of the meeting held on 6 October 2022 be approved and signed as a correct record.


Protecting, Preserving and Promoting the River Itchen in Southampton - The River Environment pdf icon PDF 458 KB

Report of the Scrutiny Manager outlining the focus of the second meeting of the inquiry and 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 Scrutiny Manager detailing the issues concerning the environment of the River Itchen in Southampton.


The Panel received the following representations:


Graham Horton, Thames Solent Team Manager, Natural England summarised the key issues about the ecology of the River Itchen in Southampton as:

o  The River Itchen is an important asset for people, wildlife and the economy.

o  In recognition of its national and international importance its environment is highly protected by several pieces of legislation including -

Site of Special Scientific Interest; Special Protection Area (significant bird populations); Special Area of Conservation (Maritime habitats); Ramsar site (Globally significant wetlands). This legislation places a requirement upon public bodies to consider impacts when permitting activities.

o  Like many tidal rivers it has a long history of human use and a strong contrast between tidal and non-tidal stretches.

o  Above Woodmill; the Itchen is a classic example of a chalk river: clear water, high biodiversity & globally rare. Below Woodmill; its more industrial, more modified but still important.

o  Tidal part of the Itchen includes mudflat and saltmarsh habitats; Overwintering birds, including brent geese; Breeding birds such as terns; and migratory fish: salmon, trout.

o  Non-tidal part of the Itchen provides classic chalk river habitats with lots of invertebrates – dragonflies and important fish species.

o  Like many rivers and estuaries in the Solent (and England) the Itchen is facing a number of threats including population pressure, pollution pressure, climate change leading to droughts and rising sea levels, and invasive species.

o  England Coastal Path is nearing completion which provides additional opportunities to access blue/green spaces and reconnect with the coastline and the health benefits that come with this (the higher the quality of the nature the better the health benefits).

o  The Itchen could accommodate increased recreational pressures - if well managed - opportunity to increase access provision, build a stronger relationship with ‘place’ and with the natural environment.

o  Opportunities for rewilding and biodiversity recovery – Oyster reefs in the Itchen would help to improve water quality.  Pilot schemes in River Hamble and IoW.  Natural England is working with universities and are ready to scale this up with potential for this to be funded in Southampton through nitrogen neutrality schemes.

o  To develop sustainably, access to the water should be encouraged and integrated into new developments; water usage needs to be reduced in new developments; green developments – trees, amenity grasslands and nature areas need to be incorporated.

o  The Council’s Nitrogen Mitigation Policy Statement is welcomed.  The Council could choose to go further, beyond nitrogen neutral and require developments to be nitrogen positive.


Dr David Rumble, CEO Wessex Rivers Trust, summarised the key issues about water quality in the River Itchen in Southampton as:

o  The importance of considering the catchment as a whole, the long timescales and the spatial scale involved.

o  Pollution sources affecting the tidal Itchen – Largely rural: Agriculture (70-75% of nitrogen in the Itchen comes from agriculture), land  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.