Adur District Council is in advanced talks to buy Pad Farm – a stretch of arable farmland on the western banks of the River Adur, north of the A27 – from current owners Ricardo Plc.
It plans to encourage biodiversity at the site and strengthen its role in flood defence plans by turning it back into salt marsh.
Salt marshes are important habitats for many rare and unusual species of plants, birds and animals which have adapted to living in an environment that is regularly covered by tides.
They help protect the land around from flooding, in addition to being a natural source for capturing climate-changing carbon gases.
Councillor Emma Evans, Adur District Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, said the project ‘proves this Council is taking the protection of our natural resources seriously’.
It comes after the council announced plans to buy a 70-acre piece of land, New Salts Farm, between Lancing and Shoreham, in September, to protect it from housing and return it to natural habitat.
Mrs Evans said: “We are working hard to strike a balance between creating much needed new homes for people who want to live here and the protection of our environment, in particular the Adur estuary environment.
“These two large pieces of land will now be protected from development and add to our natural estuarine riches for generations to come.”
According to a report set to go before Adur & Worthing Councils’ Joint Strategic Committee (JSC) next week, officers have reached initial agreement with Ricardo Plc to buy the land.
The overall cost of purchase, including fees, is reported to be around £324,000.
The report notes that Adur District Council has committed itself to a programme of climate change action and protecting natural habitat in its ‘Platforms for our Places’ plan of action, as well as declaring a climate emergency in 2019 and pledging to become a carbon neutral authority by 2030.
It also states that both Pad Farm and New Salts Farm could offer a net gain toward flood defence plans for the area, as the development of homes at the Western Harbour Arm has resulted in a small loss of mud flats.
Where development cannot avoid some loss of natural habitat, compensatory payments make it possible to develop green space schemes elsewhere such as Pad Farm and New Salts Farm.