MORE wildlife could be given added protection at a bigger nature reserve.
Natural England is to be formally consulted on the new size of Pagham Harbour before it can be legally declared again as an important environmental site.
The decision to seek the approval of the re-declaration of the reserve has been given by West Sussex County Council cabinet member David Barling.
The request will be made next month. If it is approved, the county council’s executive director of residents’ services, Cathryn James, will make the formal declaration.
A report of which Ms James is a joint author said: “Pagham Harbour is both a national and internationally important site for its wildlife and geological importance.
“As such, it has a number of designations and these include special protection area, RAMSAR site, site of special scientific interest and a local nature reserve.
“Pagham Harbour local nature reserve was re-declared in 1997 in order to include further areas of conservation importance.
“Following a more recent review of the land within the reserve, the county council is now seeking to re-declare the boundary of the reserve.”
Agreement of the latest boundary will add 24 hectares to the reserve’s six square kilometres. The wetland site is important for birds like egrets, ducks and geese.
Ms James said landowners within the reserve had no objections to the proposal. Two areas in the reserve have unknown owners and they have been included. Some landowners no longer wanted to be included and others nearby wished their land to be included to lead to the slight change in its size.
A public drop-in event about the alteration was held at the harbour’s visitor centre in February. Some 50 people attended and the report says their response was positive.
“The RSPB have been consulted as managing agents of the site and are in support of the proposal,” said Ms James.
Pagham and Sidlesham parish councils also backed the move.
Byelaws were introduced to the reserve in 1975 to restrict certain activities. They are outdated and will be reviewed by the county council this year.
Further consultation will be carried out by the council about replacing them.