In its decision report, Arun District Council said: “There would be significant positive benefits to the local community in terms of coastal protection and reduced flood risk; and that the adverse impacts would, in general, be apparent only for a temporary period (ie during the construction period).”
It said approval was subject to several conditions which set out mitigation measures in respect of the Little Terns and other wild bird species, water quality, archaeology and to ensure the harbour remains open.
Support for the scheme had been received from Pagham Parish Council and 12 residents.
Pagham Flood Defence Trust applied to cut Church Norton spit to make a new channel to help reduce or avoid the risk of flood and erosion at Pagham Beach and Haven Church Farm.
A previous application was made in 2015 to ‘alleviate the pressure exerted by the harbour outlet channel along the shoreline and to allow a flux of shingle into Pagham beach shoreline to reverse beach erosion’.
The latest plan has been ‘refocused’ to ‘avoid/reduce the risk of a tidal breach into Pagham Lagoon with associated flood risk to properties on Pagham Beach and large parts of Haven Church Farm holiday park and avoid/reduce the risk of coastal erosion leading to property loss at the southern end of Pagham Beach’.
The report says this is a ‘forced system’ as a consequence of human interventions like the development of properties on Pagham Beach and the development of the holiday park.
“All these have and continue to impact the natural functioning of the beach and harbour system preventing it from reaching its full natural potential,” it said.
“The present application recognises this situation and proposes an intervention that does not include any new structures but instead uses a
beach management intervention that kick-starts the natural processes of channel switching that was seen to happen completely naturally in 2015/16.”
Since then there had been a breach of Church Norton spit caused by natural processes.
The report said since summer 2018 the outflow channel had been forced into a tighter bend and pushed towards Pagham Spit ‘resulting in significant erosion of the shoreline (Pagham Spit) that led to the breach into the Little Lagoon in summer 2020 and the widespread exposure of the WWII anti-invasion scaffold structure’.
“With rates of erosion and channel migration towards the harbour, lagoon and properties observed since 2020 it is very likely that properties will be at risk from flooding and/or erosion during next winter,” the report said.
“This leaves autumn 2021 as the only available window to carry out the planned intervention without impacting nesting or overwintering birds.”
To see the decision go to the Arun District Council planning portal and use the reference P/93/21/PL.