Plans to abandon Climping coastline nearly finalised

Seething residents watched as a strategy to abandon Climping’s coastline to the sea took a step closer to being finalised.

About a dozen angry villagers were present as Arun District Council’s cabinet agreed to back the Environment Agency’s shoreline plans for the next century.

This says nothing should be done to those at Climping – apart from an area covered by a legal agreement – once a two-year notice period has been served.

The decision was greeted with a cry of ‘absolute rubbish’ among others as one villager confronted the agency’s official at the meeting, area flooding and coastal risk manager John O’Flynn. The agency says its strategy will put four homes at risk and 590ha of farmland in the coming century.

But this figure was challenged by Jeffery Bean with a map which showed 28 properties on Climping Street likely to flood as well as the A259 in an area which stretched to Horsemere Green Lane.

This information changed the cost-benefit analysis of pumping millions into the defences the agency had used for its strategy, he said.

“You are being asked to support a decision which is basically flawed,” he told councillors.

Mr O’Flynn said the map showed a future situation. “This is not a map for today. It’s a map for 100 years’ time with an extreme event and a one-metre sea level rise.”

He said the strategy could be altered if new evidence arose which significantly altered its direction. None had yet been produced since cons-ultation began 18 months ago.

Six other villagers also took the chance to ask questions. But the cabinet agreed to support the strategy with the condition it would be subject to a review by the agency’s large project review group.

The council’s coastal principal engineer Roger Spencer will also report back to next month’s cabinet meeting.

Arun deputy leader Roger Elkins said: “That’s the right way forward so the concerns are properly answered.”

The strategy – which covers the coastline from the Aldwick/Pagham boundary to the western side of the River Arun – will now be examined by the agency’s large project review group. This consists of some 20 senior managers from a wide range of disciplines. They will rigorously challenge the strategy in a process which began with a telephone conference yesterday.

It will continue with a meeting, probably next month, for a face-to-face examination.

The result of that scrutiny will be passed to the agency’s directors. Once it receives their approval, it will go to the government for the final go-ahead.