Councillors vow to carry on fighting

WE WILL keep on fighting to protect Pagham, councillors have pledged.

Parish council members used their annual parish meeting to re-affirm their commitment to continue their efforts to keep the area safe from flooding.

They said they were disappointed with the lack of commitment given by environment minister Richard Benyon to their objections to a planned marine conservation zone along Pagham Beach and their concerns about sea defence works.

Cllr David Huntley, who is also the chairman of Pagham Beach Residents’ Association, told Tuesday’s meeting: “All we can do is to keep telling people our concerns.

“We can’t afford to give up. We must hope the message gets through.

“Pagham Beach is the sea wall for the rest of Pagham and the low-lying villages and we have to inject a note of realism into the subject.

“The authorities think they are going to solve the problem with a rock revetment. I don’t believe it is the solution.

“I think the erosion is going to go down the beach and break through at the yacht club. If it does, we will have a problem.”

He pointed out the revetment – or rock barrier – would take recent spending on flood protection work along Pagham’s shoreline to some £1.2m when it was built this autumn. This was only slightly less than the cost of the residents’ preferred solution of cutting a channel in the Church Norton Spit and maintaining it.

The 900m long spit is the source of the erosion by forcing the waves into a narrow channel between its growing bank of shingle and the beach.

It has put 16 bungalows at West Front Road’s western end at risk from the erosion.

Arun District Council and the Environment Agency want to put in the 120m-long rock revetment to hold back the tide.

Parish council chairman Ray Radmall said he feared Mr Benyon’s visit would do little to stop a marine conservation zone being imposed on Pagham to act further environmental limits to any work which could be carried out.

“Local people see the imposition of a zone as ‘a spiteful act’ against the community,” he said.

“People feel that government messages remain mixed and, therefore, very much reflect the status quo prior to the visit.

“In spite of sound arguments against the imposition of a zone, it became apparent this was a government commitment and he stated possible ‘management features’ to cater for flooding problems could be included.”