Milford Haven has been selected as the pilot area for the project due to its considerable environmental value and high concentration of economic activities. The energy companies around the Haven Waterway produce about 25% of the UK’s total energy needs. These companies and their supply chains employ over 5,000 people across South Wales.
The Cleddau River watershed is also vitally important for water abstraction, providing approximately 47Ml/d of drinking water every day, equating to around 90% of the County’s daily demand. A further 27Ml/d is abstracted to supply industrial customers. Future water availability will be affected by upcoming changes to abstraction licences under the Habitats Directive and the predicted impacts of climate change.
In addition, the county has an outstanding natural environment. The international and national significance of Pembrokeshire’s biodiversity is reflected by the fact that more than 6% of the total land area is within Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). There are eight National Nature Reserves and seven terrestrial SACs as well as the Pembrokeshire Marine SAC. There are also five SPAs designated under the EU Birds Directive. This rich and diverse natural resource serves as the basis for an important tourism industry, as well as agriculture and fishing. Despite these valuable assets unemployment in Pembrokeshire is currently just below the Welsh average and Pembrokeshire has the third lowest level of household income in Wales.
There is also growing concern over the loss of biodiversity in Pembrokeshire, primarily due to changing and intensifying land management practices¹. Intensive dairying can result in problems of disposal of organic waste, which can cause serious pollution incidents, and agriculturally derived bacterial runoff in coastal catchments can cause failures in bathing beach standards and negatively effect fish/shellfish growth. The extended growing seasons that are occurring as a result of changing climate can have negative environmental consequences. Cultivation of crops such as maize and potato can result in bare soil during periods of high rainfall, with subsequent run-off of enriched sediment, and therefore increased soil erosion and potential water quality issues. Consequently, the majority of Pembrokeshire Marine SAC features are in unfavourable conservation status and nutrient loading into the Milford Haven has been identified as a key priority action. Existing actions within the SAC management scheme adopted in 2008 are not in themselves adequate to address this. With the Waterway considered as being “full” with no headroom in the Milford Haven catchment, this presents a potential barrier to development and therefore any future schemes requiring a permit to discharge into the catchment will require some form of offsetting scheme.
¹ State of Wildlife in Pembrokeshire Report 2011. Available: http://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/content.asp?id=22546&d1=0