The issue of plastic pollution in the Itchen estuary is now being studied and reported on in increasing frequency, with recent research emanating from the University of Southampton and media coverage. This has highlighted that there are greater concentrations of microplastic pollution in the Itchen estuary than elsewhere in the river and the wider Solent estuarine complex. A major hotspot of plastic pollution is present within Chessel Bay, a nature reserve located on the eastern bank of the estuary, from which approximately 4 tonnes of plastics were removed in early 2023, as part of a large-scale clean-up, coordinated by Southampton City Council, the University of Southampton and Nurdle.
The Environment Agency, Southampton City Council, Natural England, Southampton University and the Wessex Rivers Trust recognise that the key to the long-term prevention of plastic pollution in the Itchen estuary is to establish a collaborative partnership committed to delivering measurable environmental improvements to the estuary through prevention, reduction and clean-up of plastic pollution. A Feasibility Study and Stakeholder Analysis was undertaken on behalf of the project partners.
The Crown Estate (TCE) have secured funding for the next steps to develop the partnership and a Strategic Roadmap, and consider monitoring work and future funding needs . This is likely to start in the new year (2024) and take up to 6 months. TCE would like to use the Preventing Plastic Pollution (PPP) in the Itchen Estuary as a blue print to upscale this type of broad community project around the country. They have also commissioned ‘A Future Without Rubbish’ CIC to review plastic monitoring/clean up activity around the country, and explore the circular economy opportunities.
To establish a collaborative partnership that is committed to delivering measurable environmental improvements to the River Itchen estuary, through the prevention, reduction, and clean-up of plastic pollution.
There are four main distinct work areas of this 5 year project:
The specific objectives with this phase of the Project are to: