Decision due soon on Pagham’s coastal protection zone

A DECISION about a controversial marine policy for Pagham will be made soon.

Fisheries minister Richard Benyon has said he will announce his view about whether a marine conservation zone should be established around the already heavily-protected area by Christmas.

He stated his deadline during a meeting with Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb and his Chichester counterpart, Andrew Tyrie.

Mr Gibb said: “I called on the minister not to proceed with the marine conservation zone at Pagham Harbour.

“Such a designation could prevent potential solutions to coastal erosion being implemented, particularly any solution that involved cutting a channel through Church Norton Spit.

“The minister listened carefully to the points I made and said he had taken on board my comments.”

Marine conservation zones are intended to form a network around Britain’s coast to protect wildlife.

Each zone will have a reference area where activities will be strictly limited.

In Pagham, this area is based around a sighting of Defolin’s snail, to the anger of residents and parish councillors.

They fear the creation of the zone will see it take precedence over their fears of flooding caused by the rising sea and the eroding beach behind their properties.

Mr Gibb also used his meeting with Mr Benyon last week to discuss the coastal erosion at Pagham Beach and the problems arising from the growing Church Norton Spit.

“We discussed the scouring that the spit was causing to Pagham Beach and the threat this presents to people’s homes,” said Mr Gibb.

“I raised the point that Natural England appeared to be resisting any proposals to cut a channel through 
the spit.”

This is favoured by many people as the best solution to the problem of the waves caused by the spit eroding the beach.

Mr Benyon told Mr Gibb at the meeting he was committed to visiting Pagham to see the problems which residents are facing.

This follows the invitation which Mr Gibb made to him in the House of Commons the previous week during parliamentary questions.

No date has yet been arranged for the visit.