A CRUCIAL meeting has started to shape the future of disappearing Pagham Beach.
MP Nick Gibb joined Pagham Parish Council chairman Ray Radmall and two other councillors in discussing how to cut a channel through the Church Norton Spit.
The five-hour workshop at the Haywards Heath offices of Royal Haskoning was held after the engineers were hired by the council to produce a scoping report into the work.
This will set out how and where a channel could be excavated through the growing length of shingle.
Mr Gibb, Conservative MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, said recent weeks had seen ‘additional and dangerous erosion’ to the beach which was being repaired by Arun District Council.
“But we need to push ahead as rapidly as possible with the long-term answer to this problem, which is to cut a channel through the spit at or near the mouth of the harbour so the tidal flows no longer scour the beach in front of people’s homes.
“The work Royal Haskoning has been commissioned to do is the next and important step in securing that work.”
The spit has grown in the past ten years and has caused the mouth of Pagham Harbour to shift.
It is the strength of the incoming and outgoing tides, increased further by stormy weather, which is eroding the beach with the waves forced against it by the spit. Cutting a channel in the spit for the tide to enter and leave would stop that occurring.
Cllr Radmall told Pagham’s electors’ meeting on Tuesday (May 6) the workshop would also look at the mass of protection laws which surrounded the harbour’s nature reserve.
“The workshop will look at the technical issues of how we can intervene on that spit and how to work our way through the conservation issues which say we can’t go in there. Something will come out of it and I hope it is the solution we all know we want.”
But the community will have to raise an estimated £870,000 to pay for any work.
One of Pagham’s district councillors, Dawn Hall, said Arun was committed to protecting homes along the seafront while a permanent answer to the erosion was found.
“The district council is supportive of Pagham and will continue to do the emergency works while we are getting the permission and the solution for a long-term plan.”
She also said she was aware of health and safety concerns around the worst eroded section of beach and had asked for action.
More barriers were needed and more and bigger warning signs.
Pagham Parish Council member David Huntley said: “Sooner or later, someone will die there.
“They will be chasing after their dog, a child will fall in or somebody will be clambering on the rocks and the rocks will collapse.
“There’s a case for closing that bit of beach off. People don’t need to walk there.”