Controversial plans to flood Medmerry and shift its sea defences over the next century have been backed by district councillors – to save Selsey.
The community representatives threw their weight behind the proposals outlined in the Pagham to East Head Coastal Defence Strategy.
They agreed that without moving the defences further inland, they risked losing Selsey, described as a ‘£1bn asset’, to the sea.
Cllr Bev Tinson, who represents Selsey North, said: “We do realise the Medmerry proposal is not going to be something everyone is happy with, but if something is not done it will pose a serious threat to Selsey.
“In the future the social and economic side of Selsey would be at risk.
“We are not looking at that happening next year but in the next 50 to 100 years.”
Dee Caldwell, of Ham Residents’ Association, believes the plans to move the sea defences is a positive proposal.
He said: “It’s not perfect, but the world isn’t perfect.
“I think it’s very good news. I think we are in a better situation than in Selsey, which may struggle to get the funding to sustain it.
“At least they have proposed to do something to protect us. It’s looking positive.”
Council members accepted there would be funding issues with the proposal.
It is estimated to cost £26m, including £6m for habitat creation, which the government is expected to fund. They said they were convinced it was the most realistic and sustainable option.
Agreements were reached that businesses and residents from the area would need to be involved in the process and the Grade II listed Coastguard Cottages terrace would need to be protected.
The Environment Agency met with Arun District Council and Chichester District Council to discuss the draft strategy.
The proposals made by the Environment Agency in the strategy are that Selsey’s sea defences would be sustained.
However, this would cost £111m over the next century, a bill which campaigners and residents say will not be met by the government.
Councillors also backed ‘adaptive management’ for the area of Pagham Beach, Pagham Harbour and Church Norton at an estimated cost of £35m.
They also agreed with sustaining the sea defences at Bracklesham and East Wittering, at an anticipated cost of £80m.
Proposals were also made to ‘hold the line’ at Cakeham or undertake minor realignment.
Expected costs for the work would be £25m.
Plans for adaptive management at East Head have been proposed, with improved def-ences for West Wittering, costing £11m.
A total of £9m of that would go towards East Head.
The committee has put its recommendations for each of the six areas of coastline to the executive board.
Residents who have not already seen the plans are encouraged to make their way along to the final public exhibition.
As well as viewing the proposals put forward for each of the six coastlines of Medmerry, Selsey, East Wittering and Bracklesham, West Wittering, Cakeham and Pagham, residents will also have the opportunity to speak to the team behind the project.
Cllr Tinson added “I will be making sure residents of Selsey are aware of the next exhibition and get as many as possible to go along and have their say.”
The exhibition will be held on Wednesday, August 6 between 1pm and 8pm at Selsey Town Hall.
Story in the Chichester Observer