A STUDY is under way to find out if the demands of Pagham Beach’s residents for coast protection work can be met.
The annual meeting of Pagham Beach Residents’ Association was told by Pagham Parish Council chairman Cllr Ray Radmall a scoping report had been started.
This is looking at the feasibility of cutting a channel in the growing Church Norton Spit and restoring Pagham Harbour’s mouth to its 1961-2003 position. The scoping report by engineers Royal Haskoning will be followed shortly by an environmental impact assessment.
The parish council is working with the Environment Agency and Natural England to ensure the changes can be made within the constraints of an area heavily protected by environmental rules.
Cllr Radmall said at last Friday’s meeting the organisations had pledged their support at a meeting the previous Friday chaired by MP Nick Gibb.
They had also offered advice to help write the reports but would not contribute to the expected £870,000 cost of the work because they did not believe the time was right for it.
David Huntley, the residents’ association’s chairman, said: “This begs the question ‘When is the right time?’ - when a few houses have fallen into the sea? Or when the sea breaks through?
“Emergency measures, called adaptive management, on the beach are rather like spinning plates. Sooner or later, one will be dropped because we cannot react fast enough.
“Arun District Council have worked very hard to try to stop houses falling into the sea but, without stopping the scour erosion current (caused by the spit) they are bound eventually to fail and run out of money.
“The permanent solution which stops all this is to put the harbour mouth back where it was 1961-2003.”
Outside number 21 West Front Road, 20m of beach were lost in 48 hours and 17m remain.
“It is obvious we will not last another winter. We have to get a move on,” he said.
He used the meeting at Pagham Village Hall to state the activity which had taken place in the past year.
This included nearly £1,000 raised at Pagham Action Group’s open day last month, attended by 500 people. The Pagham Flood Defence Trust has also been set up by the parish vicar.