Pagham Harbour to be handed over to RSPB

RSPB Regional Director Chris Corrigan and WSCC Leader Louise Goldsmith at Pagham Harbour
Image caption RSPB director Chris Corrigan and WSCC leader Louise Goldsmith discuss the transfer at Pagham

Management of a West Sussex nature reserve is to be handed over to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) by the end of the month.

The 1,500 acre Pagham Harbour reserve, visited by more than 200,000 people a year, has been managed by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) since 1964.

The council said the transfer had been agreed and would be finalised once all the legal loose ends were tied up.

The nature reserve's staff would be transferred to the RSPB.

Pagham Harbour Local Nature Reserve is owned by organisations and private individuals including the Environment Agency, WSCC and Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Shingle beaches

The site is internationally important for wading birds and wildfowl in autumn and winter.

Brent geese visit in large numbers between September and March and it also has breeding little terns, one of the nation's rarest birds.

Its shingle beaches provide a backdrop for flowers such as the yellow-horned poppy and viper's bugloss.

After the transfer WSCC will guarantee an annual payment to the RSPB for the next 10 years to help support the service.

It will also provide £100,000 capital investment over four years, which the RSPB will match to improve buildings and infrastructure.

County council deputy leader Lionel Barnard said: "The agreement will deliver financial savings, which is something we have to consider in the current financial climate.

"By transferring the management of Pagham Harbour to the RSPB we are safeguarding the future of the reserve and also giving the opportunity for enhancement."

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