‘Options’ are spin

I must make comment on Kevin Smith’s front-page article of February 24 titled ‘Act now to save our homes from flooding’ in respect of sea defences at Pagham.

The range of options shown in the highlighted blue box would suggest the Environment Agency (EA) could select any one of them to best effect to provide sea protection in Pagham.

In actual fact, the options firstly have to be given the consent of the conservation regulatory authorities (EA, Natural England (NE) and DEFRA) before any such work can be done. Then there is the severe constraint placed on any government funding for it.

Unfortunately, Pagham is not high on their priority list and the amounts available are likely to be quite meagre.

In actual fact, the only current proposal on the table is to extract shingle from the private beach at Aldwick and transport it to Pagham beach for the very limited funding of £75,000 as and when the situation demands it, say, in two to four years’ time. We know from past experience this is not a sustainable option.

Therefore the three options listed in the blue panel are essentially only a wish list and this is really no more than ‘spin’ in common parlance.

A similar argument can also be applied to the document which has been delivered to several households titled Pagham Harbour – Managing the risks of flooding and erosion’.

While the document is informative, the section on the back page titled Funding Future Work gives an insight into what the true situation really is.

When we hear they are ‘closely monitoring the situation at Pagham’ they are actually hoping the channel will block up and the situation miraculously rectify itself without their needing to spend any more money on it.

A further issue is the power of the regulatory authorities – EA, NE, DEFRA – to refuse consent for essential work to be done is neglectful, an absolute disgrace and completely without justification.

In light of this, the government should address its election promise and curb the power of these quangos when they are in conflict with human rights, public protection or just simple common sense.

The necessity for an elevated shingle bank at Pagham goes without question for the protection of a substantial portion of the community.

We are grateful to Bourne Leisure (Church Farm) for their promised upgrade of the inner harbour banks. In protecting their own site, they have also generously (and at no small expense) agreed to also help us in our quest to prevent the back-door flooding for which the area is similarly vulnerable.

Our own community scheme is also absolutely in compliance with the government’s Localism Act. Many thanks should also be given to our MP, Nick Gibb, for his support with our sea defence problems at Pagham.

Allen Miller

West Front Road, Pagham