Natural England '˜not opposed to Pagham sea defence scheme'

Natural England has retracted its recommendation to reject a major community scheme which residents say will save under threat homes.

Work to move some of the shingle beach recently to protect Pagham Yacht Club and homes
Work to move some of the shingle beach recently to protect Pagham Yacht Club and homes

As reported, the government agency had said a £750,000 plan to cut through a shingle spit which is causing severe coastal erosion should be rejected.

The report said the spit was ‘nationally important to scientific investigation’ and should be left to evolve naturally.

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Homes are now just metres from the sea at Pagham after significant coastal erosion

But following a huge outcry from Pagham residents as well as MP Nick Gibb, Natural England has withdrawn its letter, saying it lacked a ‘degree of clarity’.

James Seymour, Natural England’s area manager for Kent and Sussex, said: “Natural England does not object to the works proposed for the spit at Pagham.

“We recognise that this is an important project for the residents and we don’t want to stand in their way.

“We have advised the planning authorities on the steps they should take in relation to the environment before reaching a legally-robust decision on planning permission.

“Our official letter of advice, although providing sound information, lacked the degree of clarity we aim for.

“We will issue a clearer version of the letter shortly and will meet residents to explain our advice.

“It is important to stress that our advice does not seek to prevent the proposal going ahead – it is aimed at ensuring that the consequences for the natural environment are properly considered by the planning authorities in reaching their decision.

“We are committed to helping achieve the best long-term outcome for the local community and the unique environment of Pagham.”

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