A major community scheme which campaigners say will save homes in Pagham from being washed away by the sea looks set to be rejected.
Natural England has recommended rejecting the major £750,000 scheme to cut through a large spit which has formed - and amongst the reasons given is to protect rare birds and snails which inhabit it.
The scouring of Pagham’s coastline is now so bad that there are houses just metres away from the sea.
Pagham Parish Council chairman Ray Radmall is furious with the recommendation, which has been made to the government’s Marine Management Organisation (MMO), the overall decision-makers.
He said: “It’s a massive body-blow, it’s an utterly daft decision.
“In their seven-page response, they (Natural England) are recommending rejecting the scheme to the MMO, who have to grant the licence for the work.
“It’s a crazy decision. This has been on-going for 14 years, and now part of the beach has gone well beyond emergency levels and that’s very upsetting for people and very frightening.
“The beach is badly scoured by the 3.3million tonnes of water which comes through the channel with each tide and a number of groins have been completely destroyed.”
The scheme proposes to cut through the large shingle spit and simultaniously block the current entrance to the harbour channel.
But the spit itself is protected by an EU protection order, while some endangered Little Turn birds also nest on it.
These were some of the reasons given by Natural England for recommending rejection, along with tiny snails which it says live in the shingle, according to Mr Radmall.
“Local residents have already pledged around £250,000 towards the £750,000 it would cost to do the work,” Mr Radmall said.
“Now we have been told we have to find another £300,000 to £500,000, not to mention the £224,000 that has already been spent on consultant fees over four or five years.”
Mr Radmall added that the £40,000 Chichester District Council had been given as the Erosion Management Authority had long since gone on recent work to move shingle along the beach as a holding measure.
“So far we have been lucky, we’ve had storms every few days but nothing like they’ve had up in Cumbria. But when that changes there is the very real risk that homes will be lost,” he warned.
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