Minister pledges to make sure decision is ‘quick’

A GOVERNMENT minister has told Pagham residents he was shocked by the damage to their beach.

Dan Rogerson, under secretary of state for natural environment, water and rural affairs, pledged to make sure a quick decision was made to find a solution to the problem.

“The beach is pretty stark. I know that, if you are living right on the edge of that, it is a worry,” he said.

“I know the feeling is very strong here about what you want done and that you know what the solution is.

“We do have to obey the law. It’s important we get things right. We can’t do something that will make the situation worse elsewhere.

“What I can do is to keep up the pressure in the system so a decision is made as quickly as possible.

“A decision will be made before the dissolution of parliament at the end of March. I will have all the information and feedback by then.”

Mr Rogerson’s 90-minute tour of the affected area along the West Front Road frontage resulted from a meeting residents, councillors, MP Nick Gibb and council officers had with environment secretary Elizabeth Truss in October.

They used the visit to London to press their case for a channel to be put cut in the Church Norton Spit. The spit of shingle is growing and forcing the tides in and out of Pagham Harbour on to the beach.

Repairs made by Arun District Council, such as replacing the shingle and building a rock revetment, are swept away or damaged by the conditions.

But any action in the area has to take account of its environmentally-sensitive status next to the harbour’s nature reserve. This means the RSPB and Natural England are involved in the consultation as well as the Environment Agency.

Mr Rogerson was confronted with evidence of the damage when he arrived at Pagham Yacht Club. He was joined by the club’s vice-chairman and vice-commodore, Chris Page and Andy Grout, in looking at the slipway, winch bases and public seating wrecked by the sea.

Mr Rogerson walked along the beach, accompanied by Pagham Parish Council chairman Ray Radmall.

He stopped at the home of Allen Miller, Pagham Action Group’s vice-chairman, to look at the situation.

Robin Henderson and Steve Woodgate, of Pagham Flood Defence Group, were also present.

Mr Gibb said: “I asked the minister to come down to Pagham to see for himself the real danger the erosion of the beach is causing to people’s homes and so that he could understand the causes of the problem. In the meeting with the secretary of state last month and with Dan Rogerson today, I’ve made it clear that the only solution is to cut a channel through the spit at the harbour mouth. There have been different alternatives that have been tried but they have not worked. We know the current has got worse and the spit is growing.”