Socio-Economic Impact of business activity in sensitive maritime environments in the Channel region A Case Study of Chichester Harbour, West Sussex
AbstractThis research was undertaken as part of the Channel Arc Manche Integrated Strategy (CAMIS) Project; an INTERREG IV A funded project which aimed to develop an integrated maritime strategy for the Channel region. The project involved 19 partner organisations across northern France and southern England working across 6 project strands to develop an effective strategy for use of the common maritime and marine resources in the region. Within the Channel region, there are a number of ecologically sensitive marine environments, such as estuaries, harbours and bays, which as well as being environmentally significant areas, support a diverse range of business activities. This diversity of use and range of stakeholders operating within an area can result in conflicting priorities, making developing an effective, holistic and balanced management plan challenging for local government bodies. Through case study research, this study aimed to examine how businesses operating within the boundaries of an ecologically sensitive environment, such as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), perceive their relationship with their environment, and how they could be supported in a way that encourages business development, while protecting and maintaining sensitive ecosystems and valuable resources. Chichester Harbour, West Sussex, in South East England, is an example of where an area adorned with a range of environmental designations, in particular its recognition as an AONB, supports a diverse and active business community. Throughout the research, the aim was to identify actions and future initiatives that would support the businesses operating within the area, while balanced management plans that protect and maintain environmental integrity continue to be developed for the Harbour. Priority actions for the Harbour area identified by stakeholders as a result of the research process included: Formation of a Chichester Harbour Business Association/ Enterprise Network/ Cluster to support businesses in the area, Development and promotion of a Chichester Harbour Brand that could be used to support collaborative marketing of the businesses operating in the Harbour, as well as advertising the Harbour as an attractive destination for businesses and other 4 investment, and information and education for visitors and tourists…(we may run into trouble for “attracting tourists” as we have rec. disturbance issues) Implementation of an integrated, sustainable transport network around the Harbour. It is recommended that this transport network would have a green agenda, and should ideally include new infrastructure developments such as: a ferry service operating across the Harbour mouth to connect East and West, improved parking/ park and ride facilities around the Harbour, and the development of a connected cycle path around the Harbour and AONB. Formation of an annual Chichester Harbour Festival to promote business in the area, with a particular focus on attracting marine recreational businesses to, and informing and educating general public and visitors about, the area. Encouraging improved relationships with existing bodies and associations to ensure there is a collective approach to the future development of the Harbour. Taking the findings of the research into consideration, a number of recommendations were generated which would be applied to both the local area bordering Chichester Harbour, but also to the wider Channel region. These include: Efforts should be made to increase the level of awareness of the valuable role SMEs across the Channel region play within their local communities. Often, as seen by this research, SMEs dominate local markets and contribute significantly to local and regional economies. However, because of their size, they often lack the resources to promote their own interests in the face of more powerful residential lobbies that have little personal interest in the sustainability of local economies. As such they require additional support and recognition, if they are to continue contributing positively to the social and economic well-being of their local communities. Establishing local business clusters and associations, working with the Chambers of Commerce and local authorities, would allow common goals and challenges to be identified, encourage collaborative approaches to marketing, promotion and general business activity, with multiple benefits for the local communities. In the case of Chichester Harbour, it has been recommended that a Chichester Harbour Business Association be formed to support local businesses, with strong links to existing support infrastructure provided by local authorities and other trade associations. Encouraging communication and collaboration between businesses and local authorities and Conservancy to ensure positive relationships between stakeholders are formed. By working together, a collaborative future can be achieved, ensuring both socio-economic and environmental sustainability. Engaging in meaningful dialogue with businesses in an area, through meetings, e-networks and newsletters is vital to ensuring appropriate business support is provided. Working in this way allows all stakeholders to contribute to the identification of key priorities for an area, identifying common goals and issues. For example, businesses in the Chichester Harbour area stressed the importance of developing a regional brand/ standard of quality, and the formation of a sustainable transport network. It is also suggested that businesses in the Harbour area could benefit from building relationships and encouraging collaboration across the Channel region, learning from similar businesses operating on the French coasts. For example, Chichester Harbour could draw on some of the recommendations made during the CAMIS Marina 2020 research (McKinley, 2013).
McKinley, Emma Socio-Economic Impact of business activity in sensitive maritime environments in the Channel region A Case Study of Chichester Harbour, West Sussex. Project Report. University of Chichester.