LET Pagham flood – an official at a government agency has said.
The officer at Natural England said Pagham Parish Council’s £750,000 plan to split a spit which is causing waves to erode the beach should be rejected.
Alison Atterbury, a lead marine advisor, said in her response to the proposals the alarming situation at Pagham – which has brought the sea to seven metres from homes – should be allowed to continue as an experiment.
The Environment Agency estimated in 2008 that 330 homes in Pagham were at risk from flooding. That number rises to 1,350 in the most extreme situations. But Ms Atterbury said in a letter to Marine Management Organisation, which has to license Pagham’s plans: “The shingle spit system at Pagham is currently experiencing a set of processes which are thought to be unique to this location.
“Pagham therefore represents a significant and important opportunity for the study of geomorphological processes involved in gravel spit formation.
“The recent changes to the spit should be regarded as being exceptional for a gravel-dominated coastal spit in England and Wales (if not the UK) and therefore nationally important to scientific investigation for studying the natural evolution of this feature.”
She has also dismissed the parish council’s efforts to lessen the scheme’s disturbance to birds and plants at the site by saying it is likely to damage or destroy the features for which the site of special scientific interest is noted.
The location is also covered by a marine conservation zone and British and European protection rules, especially in regard to the little terns which nest on the spit.
Pagham’s MP, Nick Gibb has called for an urgent meeting with Natural England’s chief executive to discuss the response.
Parish council chairman Ray Radmall said: The community feels betrayed.”