A MEETING is to be held soon between wildlife experts and Pagham residents.
Officials at Natural England have suggested the session to enable them to explain their opinion about crucial work to reduce the risk of flooding.
Advice which has been issued by the environmental watchdog is to be amended after it was revealed in last week’s Observer.
James Seymour, Natural England’s area manager for Kent and Sussex, said the organisation acknowledged the importance of the initiative to cut a channel through the Church Norton Spit to stop it forcing the incoming tide to Pagham Harbour on to the foreshore and scouring away the shingle.
“Natural England does not object to the works proposed for the spit at Pagham. We recognise that this is an important project for the residents and don’t want to stand in their way.
“We have advised the planning authorities on the steps they should take in relation to the environment before reaching a legally-robust decision on planning permission.
“Our official letter of advice, although providing sound information, lacked the degree of clarity we aim for. We will issue a clearer version of the letter shortly and will meet residents to explain our advice,” he said.
The £750,000 scheme has been proposed by Pagham Parish Council as the only remedy to prevent the continued loss of the beach.
Council chairman Cllr Ray Radmall said last week some properties were only protected by 7m of beach compared to 70m a few years ago to make the current protection below the emergency safety limit.
He described scenes on the beach during the most recent of this winter’s storms as frightening. Some 350 homes are at risk of flooding if the sea comes over the beach into the low-lying roads behind.
The council has applied to Arun District Council for planning permission to create the channel. The area’s layers of environmental protection mean Natural England is among those which has to be consulted.
The organisation’s comments are considered by the Maritime Marine Organisation before it issues a licence for the work. This is distinct from Arun’s approval.
Mr James added: “It is important to stress that our advice does not seek to prevent the proposal going ahead.”
Natural England wanted the best for the community and Pagham’s unique environment.