As restrictions are easing it has been brilliant to get back to somewhere nearer normal and meet people in the community again. At the end of last week, I met with the ‘Friends of the River Ems’, along with their local County and District councillors, Mike Magill and Roy Briscoe, respectively.
I have been working with Friends of the Ems since last year to protect the river and reduce the rate of water abstraction from the river by Portsmouth Water, as the current rates are having an impact on the area's ecosystem. Since getting involved I have learnt a huge amount about the unique habitats that chalk streams support, and the importance of this river, which acts as a wildlife corridor between the South Downs National Park and the Chichester Harbour.
I was finally able to meet with the River Ems group in person on Friday and visit several key sites along the river’s course. We were also joined by Bob Taylor, the CEO of Portsmouth Water who, along with his team, is engaging with our concerns and we are working to see what measures can be put in place to reduce the current amount of water taken.
I have also written to the Chair of the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) to ask if they’ll consider giving the river SSSI status (Site of Special Scientific Interest), which would be hugely helpful in our efforts to protect the area long term. I have a dedicated page on my website where you can keep up to date with my work on the River Ems, www.gilliankeegan.com/campaigns/protecting-river-ems.
Another highlight of last week was holding a ‘Pub Tour’ at the Bosham Inn. Before Covid, these were a regular feature of my diary, so it's great to be able to meet people in their locals once again. At the moment we’re holding them outside and socially distanced. I am planning more pub tours, up and down the constituency, from Selsey to Midhurst and Fernhurst. I will post in advance on my Facebook page, and on my website, so keep an eye out for details and I look forward to meeting many more of you over the summer.