Sea snail is a ruse

I REFER to the comments of Cllr O’Brien (Observer, August 25), and Miss Lanchester (Letters, Observer, September 15) regarding the SSSI as an alternative protection for the snail at Pagham Harbour.

I suspect there may be a hidden agenda behind the idea of a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) /Reference Area for Pagham Harbour.

My reasoning follows thus:

1) Snail found in 2007 at Church Norton Spit and at Lydd, in Kent.

2) Natural England failed to add it to the SSSI citation for Pagham Harbour (which would have provided adequate protection, according to your report).

3) In late December 2010 the defolins lagoon snail was cited in a proof of evidence from Natural England, for the Lydd airport public inquiry.

4) In February 2011, according to documents on its website, Balanced Seas declared their wish for an MCZ and reference area (which allows no discretion to allow for disturbance, such as sea defence works).

The rigid rules Balanced Seas has had to follow, demand that, if the snail is present in its area, then it has to give it the protection of a reference area unless it is already protected under another designation such as a SSSI. Balanced Seas declared that Pagham Harbour was the only place in the south east where it had been found (this contradicts statement 3 above).

5) At a later date, Balanced Seas was challenged over the existence of the snail at an alternative site (Lydd), and on information provided by Natural England, claimed that research carried out in 2010 showed that the snail no longer existed in Lydd. Meanwhile the public inquiry was still relying on the snail being at Lydd, and also an application had been submitted to DEFRA for an international conservation designation (RAMSAR) which included the snail.

6) It is apparent from the above, that Natural England ‘wants to have its cake and eat it’.

I am curious how the RSPB fits into this as future managers of Pagham Harbour, as in February this year the RSPB’s contribution to Balanced Seas over Pagham Harbour was that it ‘does not require additional protection for foraging seabirds’.

T J Wright,