Pagham residents call for urgent flood prevention

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Alarmed residents have called for urgent action to stop their Pagham seafront homes from being flooded.

The bungalow owners on the Pagham Beach estate fear the serious erosion of the beach will soon see the waves lapping at their doorsteps in tides such as the recent high spring tides.

Allen Miller, 61, of West Front Road, said: “I have lost half of the shoreline in front of my property since I moved in about nine years ago.

“There was 120m to the beach then and there is about 64m now. In the past three years, we have lost 18-20m of foreshore.

“At the current rate of attrition, I would think optimistically there will be about ten years before the sea gets to my back door. Pessimistically, it could be as little as three years.”

The latest map shows 935 properties around Pagham at risk from flooding if no action is taken.

Mr Miller’s views have been backed by the Pagham Beach Residents’ Association.

Chairman David Huntley said: “This problem needs to be solved.

“In the past, that has been done by cutting a new mouth to the harbour. That would create a solution which would last 100 years.

“At the moment, the scouring of the beach is done on the ebb and flood tide currents so we lose every time. This action is building up the Church Norton Spit and moving it along the foreshore.”

The spit’s formation has been caused by the swirling effect of the waves taking shingle from the foreshore and depositing it on the spit.

This worsens the effect of the tides and has seen the spit stretch for hundreds of metres where once there was open sea.

The erosion has also split the beach in two with a 10-12ft sheer drop from the top to the water’s edge. The situation has been the subject of several reports in recent years as Arun District Council and the Environment Agency grapple with solving the problem to Natural England’s satisfaction in an area subject to strict controls because of Pagham Harbour nature reserve.

A scheme to put 30,000sq m of shingle, ending last April, was devised as a temporary answer.

A spokeswoman from the district council said an expert study was due to report soon about the likely outcome of any works on the beach.

“We are now at the stage of the study where we are able to look at the various options and assess them on cost, benefits, practicality and how they would meet the various environmental constraints we have in the area,” she said. The study’s results would be made available to residents.

Meanwhile, the beach continued to be monitored and steps taken to keep it safe. This involved removing wartime defences which had become exposed and the steep cliff which had formed.