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MP joins fight to help geese

MP NICK Gibb has pledged to back the Brent geese in Pagham.


Mr Gibb was asked to intervene in the matter of protecting the birds in the face of major housebuilding schemes close to Pagham Harbour local nature reserve.


Campaigners fear the geese, which spend winter in some of the fields around the harbour, could be forced away by the scale of the building.


Giles Binyon, a committee member of the Pagam group (Pagham And Aldwick Greenfields Action Movement), urged Mr Gibb to get involved in its campaign to ensure the geese are protected.


Mr Gibb, MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, said: “In the area surrounding the Pagham Harbour nature reserve, it is important to do all we can to protect the natural feeding grounds for wild birds.


“The issue of Brent geese has been a concern of mine for some time and one I have raised with appropriate authorities in the past. I have taken up Mr Binyon’s correspondence regarding the mitigation area with both Natural England and Arun District Council and will be following this matter closely.”


As reported, Arun has allocated three sites around Pagham for strategic housing allocations. Applications for two of the sites have been approved by Arun.


One concerns 23 hectares south of Summer Lane on which 400 homes put forward by Hanbury (PM) Ltd have been given the go-ahead by councillors.


Mr Binyon said Pagam feared the mitigation plan recommended by Natural England and agreed as part of the planning approval would be insufficient to ensure Brent geese would continue to visit Pagham each winter.


His calculations suggested the area of foraging land available to them would shrink from the current 18.7ha to 16.73ha after the Summer Lane site is developed.


“This blow to the Brent geese would be, of course, on top of the increased pressure and disturbance from people and their pets,” Mr Binyon told Mr Gibb.


“This unprecedented assault on one of England’s jewels must be resisted.


And, despite the best efforts of the local community, it looks like you could become the last line of defence on what, in any person’s view, is quite obviously an appalling catalogue of decisions.


“This is not mitigation but, plain and simple, wildlife eradication. And it is happening on your watch. Please get involved.”


Mr Binyon said the Brent geese mitigation plan from the developers, guided by Natural England, relied on securing a field which would be planted with goose foraging vegetation to replace that lost to the development.


It was Pagam’s view that, even if this was achieved, the field was not only smaller than the current ones but less than a third of it was suitable for planting suitable vegetation.


This disparity could be accounted for by the fact the existing fields would not be useful for geese every year, he added.


But the measures also failed to take into account the reduction in available foraging from the other sites, particularly Hook Lane, which are due to be developed.

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