Monitoring and Research

Our commitment to the environment includes constant monitoring of water quality, silting and erosion; of plant and wildlife; and of bird numbers.

The Authority’s performance is also subject to external checks. Natural England has responsibility for a rolling programme of condition assessments of SSSIs, which re-examine the particular attributes for which an SSSI was originally designated – such as habitat areas, salt marsh areas, plant life and bird numbers.

A recent check concluded that both areas were in considerably better condition than when last monitored in the early 2000s.

Our environmental monitoring work is done in-house and also with consultants. The survey team monitors the entire stretches of Stour and Orwell rivers that fall within its jurisdiction, with both rivers being surveyed on a five-year rolling programme.

This monitoring is to check that dredging in the harbour is not impacting on designated environmental sites in the rivers.

Integrated approach

The team uses a combination of hydrographic surveying and LiDar from aircraft to determine the intertidal area available to birds.

In addition, samples of mud are taken in characteristic areas in both estuaries – these are sent for analysis by a qualified specialist, to identify the type and level of organisms in the mud which are important for birds.

This detailed monitoring was a condition attached to the major channel deepening carried out in 2000. We are required to carry out the monitoring work for at least ten years, or until any impacts of the operation were clear. Some of this work is now concluded and the timings of the monitoring are being adjusted, with more partnership work to be done with the RSPB, Natural England and other bodies.

The 2011 deepwater expansion at the Port of Felixstowe led to further mitigation and monitoring work being put in place. Harwich Haven Authority was a joint applicant with Hutchison Ports UK in the consenting process, in its capacity as dredging authority and licence holder for the project, and is carrying out monitoring work on HPUK’s behalf.