Government minister to visit Pagham beach

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A government minister has been invited to Pagham to see why residents are concerned about the loss of their beach.

The invitation to fisheries minister Richard Benyon was sent this week by Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb.

It followed Mr Gibb’s chairing of a public meeting in which nearly 200 residents made clear their opposition to plans for a marine conservation zone around Pagham Harbour local nature reserve which they fear could halt coast protection methods.

Mr Gibb said: “I have pointed out to Mr Benyon the concerns there are in Pagham about coastal erosion. I have referred to the marine conservation zone and the reference area within it which could affect any potential solutions to the coastal erosion problems.

“Coming down to Pagham will enable him to see for himself the problems we are facing and the dangers which might be posed by the marine conservation zone.

“Seeing things first hand always raises the understanding of an issue.

“The minister will realise the situation better if I can persuade him to come down and spend an hour-and-a-half talking to Pagham Parish Council chairman Ray Radmall and officers from Arun District Council than by looking at some papers on his desk.”

Mr Benyon will be heavily involved in the decision about whether or not to set up a marine conservation zone around Pagham Harbour.

The zone, one of many around the coast, is intended to protect marine wildlife and habitats. At its heart will be a reference area where all activity will be heavily restricted.

Those proposing the zone say it will not have any effect on work to protect Pagham from the sea which is eroding its beach.

Cllr Radmall told Pagham Parish Council’s meeting on Tuesday: “Things are moving in the right direction. It’s good news that Nick Gibb has invited the minister to come down.

“A lot of people have said to me in the past week or two Nick’s incisive questioning and examination at the public meeting has given them a lot of confidence in him.”