GOVERNMENT minister Richard Benyon has pledged to visit Pagham to address residents’ concerns about their disappearing shoreline.
Mr Benyon, the under-secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, told the Commons he would be willing to visit the area to re-assure homeowners about the safety of their properties.
He said: “I would gladly make such a visit if that would ensure local people’s fears were allayed, and so that nothing done by any government agency will be taken as a measure that puts people’s homes more at risk.”
Mr Benyon made his comments during a question and answer session last Thursday.
He had been challenged by Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb to intervene in the stand-off between government agencies and Pagham Beach residents.
Mr Gibb asked the environment minister to come to Pagham to see the situation and meet those whose homes were getting closer to the sea.
He told Mr Benyon how a spit of shingle and sand had built up at the mouth of Pagham Harbour nature reserve in the past few years.
“That spit is causing scouring of the beach through the action of the waves and the seawater trying to escape. And that is eroding the beach by up to several metres a year and beginning to put people’s homes at risk,” he said.
Mr Gibb’s challenge to Mr Benyon reflects the concerns residents in the low-lying area have about the continued effect of the spit on waves pounding the foreshore.
Those worries have been reflected by Pagham Parish Council’s campaigning about the matter.
Its members have warned that any flooding of the seafront estate would affect much of the rest of the area by disrupting sewage and electricity supplies.
But their efforts to halt the erosion have been foiled because of the presence of birds’ nests on the spit and the harbour’s heavily-protected status.
Mr Benyon assured Mr Gibb protecting the public interest would always come first in a conflict with protecting the environment.
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