New MOD partnership to protect the environment on Thorney Island

The Ministry of Defence and the Environment Agency have signed a Memorandum of Understanding creating a partnership that will develop new habitat and sea defences on Thorney Island.

The resulting saltmarsh and mudflats also have the potential to act as an effective ‘carbon sink’, an exciting first step towards supporting the Government’s net-zero carbon by 2050 targets.

The Army, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence and the Environment Agency signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Thursday 16 January marking the generation of the Army’s first large-scale habitat creation scheme at Thorney Island, East Sussex.

In partnership with the Environment Agency, the Army and its delivery partner Defence Infrastructure Organisation, will invest in new sea defences and re-create up to 70 hectares (170 acres) of inter-tidal saltmarsh and mudflat. This new coastal habitat is urgently needed to compensate for losses due to rising sea levels and potential coastal infrastructure developments, such as the managed realignment of flood defences in the region.

Thorney Island and surrounding areas will benefit from significant net gains in biodiversity and wildlife value, but the work also has the potential to help reduce the effects of climate change.

Major General David Southall CBE, Director of Basing and Infrastructure said: “Our partnership with the Environment Agency demonstrates our commitment to the wider sustainability agenda and our responsibility as a land owner to our employees and society as a whole."

The work on Thorney Island will shape future ‘green’ developments across the MOD estate and contribute towards the Government’s pledge to meet the Net Zero 2050 target Maj Gen Southhall CBE

Nick Gray, Area Flood and Coastal Risk Manager for the Environment Agency says “We are excited to work with the Ministry of Defence on this ambitious project. By working together we are both able to achieve more for environment and create a lasting legacy for the local communities.

In addition, Thorney Island has been identified as part of a pilot programme to install solar farms at four sites around the country. This solar farm will meet approximately one third of the Army’s electricity needs on the Island and save around 400 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The Ministry of Defence is embracing new technologies and promoting UK prosperity by investing in UK Clean Technologies, leading the rest of Government as the second largest public sector employer in the UK.