Concern over harbour plan from council

Pagham Harbour
Pagham Harbour

A NEW management plan for Pagham Harbour should be stopped, say councillors.

Parish council chairman Ray Radmall said he was unhappy the document for the local nature reserve would come into effect without any formal consultation.

He said at this month’s meeting: “I don’t want this pushed through and we don’t have a chance of consultation.”

He was concerned the management plan may affect coast protection work needed on the nearby shoreline.

“This may have an impact on what we are allowed to do on the beach,” he said.

Various sites within the area are covered by a range of British and European laws to recognise their value for wildfowl and waders. This protection includes being a site of special scientific interest, special protection area and a Ramsar site.

The plan has been compiled by the RSPB.

The charity took over the management of parts of the nature reserve through a ten-year deal with the county council until the end of 2022.

It leases the county council and Environment Agency-owned land in the nature reserve and manages other areas.

The plan will last for five years. It states: “The habitats, landscape scale conservation and large audiences make the local nature reserve a great fit with the RPSB brand and a wonderful opportunity to engage people with the themes of saving nature and the threats of climate change and coastal change.

“The presence of a visitor operation gives a great platform from which to deliver RSPB-standard facilities and service.

“The local nature reserve has enough wildlife and landscape interest to sustain visits throughout the year.”

Estimated visitor numbers vary from 31,000 in August to 9,000 in December to make an annual total of 130,000.

The plan says the RSPB is more concerned with the quality of the visits than increasing the quantity. But an improved visitor centre at Sidlesham could increase its visitors from 12,000 a year to 100,000 with a minimal impact on roads.

More visits, however, were likely anyway as more people lived in the area and went out in their leisure time.

“The management challenges will be to ensure that visiting does not impact on the wildlife conservation designations, to retain the sense of wilderness and quietness and to ensure any visitor increases do not impact on already congested access roads, it adds.