Scheme to save beach is urgently underway

URGENT work is continuing to create a scheme to save an eroding beach.

Pagham Parish Council is employing consultants to work on its preferred solution to the problem.

It has spent £45,000 in the past year on the scheme. This continues the work the council commissioned in 2009 and 2010 to identify the potential options to protect the endangered foreshore.

Ray Radmall, the council’s chairman, said: “The current consultants, ABP Mer, have further refined all this technical work and are progressing as a matter of extreme urgency.

“Their plan is for a ‘controlled breach’ of the Church Norton Spit, thereby recreating the former, pre-2003, stable harbour mouth and thus releasing vast quantities of shingle which are currently trapped by the deflected harbour current.

“This will flow, under the influence of longshore drift, along the Pagham frontage to replace the massive erosion losses of the last 13 years.”

The parish council has become the promoting authority to represent the community.

It is seeking a sustainable solution to the situation which threatens to destroy a significant part of the area’s housing and infrastructure if action fails to be taken.

“The beach erosion which has developed due to the growth of a nearshore shingle bank since 2003 is causing deflection of the harbour from the shore,” said Cllr Radmall.

This was forcing 3.3m tons of water each tide through the narrow channel between the bank, or Church Norton Spit, and the beach with the currents scouring the foreshore. The spit is also cutting off the usual longshore drift which moves shingle along the shoreline and replenishes it.

Cllr Radmall said: “The rapid recent erosion has many socio-economic consequences. We no longer have a safe amenity beach. Dangerous currents now prevail.

“Unstable temporary rock banks, revetments and sink-holes are dangerous hazards.”

Pagham Yacht Club commodore Peter Atkins said its members were keen to carry on.

“We have just celebrated 50 years and we are determined to be in existence for another 50 years,” he said. “We are very keen to keep going and we can see no reason why we shouldn’t do that.

“Every time a hole appears in front of the club a working party appears to fill it in.”

The biggest disappointment for the club in West Front Road was the bleak outlook for its members when they were in the building.

“To be looking at all sorts of broken concrete is not the nicest thing,” he said. “We have just got to be pragmatic about it.”