Measures to protect birds in the wake of thousands of new homes being built in the vicinity of Pagham Harbour have been agreed.
Chichester District Council joined Arun District Council in agreeing revisions to a joint plan to mitigate the impact of new developments anticipated over the next 15 years.
Arun’s local plan – to be reviewed by a government inspector later this year – includes a target of 4,555 new homes within the harbour’s special protection area.
This is in contrast to the 855 homes previously under consideration.
Speaking at a meeting of CDC’s cabinet on Tuesday, cabinet member for housing and environment services Carol Purnell said: “Chichester and Pagham harbours are internationally important for their bird populations. They are also heavily protected in the planning system.
“The increase in human population associated with the new housing development would, without adequate mitigation measures, put additional pressures on the birds as more people use the harbours for recreation.”
The plan was formulated following discussions with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Natural England.
The changes will include provision of a 1.5 full-time-equivalent visitor experience officer post at RSPB Pagham, who will educate visitors about how best to visit the harbour and cause minimum disturbance to the birds.
A series of initiatives will be introduced to encourage responsible dog ownership at the coast and independent monitoring surveys will also be commissioned to measure the effectiveness of the scheme.
A similar mitigation scheme has been in place at Chichester Harbour, called Bird Aware Solent.
The councils agreed the measures for a period of five years.
The scheme will be maintained in perpetuity, funded by contributions from developers.
But in line with the Chichester scheme, the definition of ‘in perpetuity’ will be revised from 125 years to 80 years.
This will reduce the contribution per new homes to £871.
Chichester cabinet members unanimously agreed the revised scheme.