Just this week a local resident photographed a small 'lake' (picture available from HIRA) alongside the Billy Trail and sent its photo together with the following comments to Cllr. Wilson, requesting urgent action to ensure that those responsible dealt with this threat to Hayling's Billy Trail:
"A few weeks ago I sent you an email regarding the erosion from the harbour side [of the Billy Trail]. The picture taken [March 21st] shows the lake formed on the landward side, its level is near the top of the bank that supports the Billy Trail. The lake is well above the height of the harbour and it appears to be unable to drain. I expect if it rises any more it will wash away the Trail. The drainage ditch on the side of the Billy Trail has not been maintained for years, it is filled with washed-in soil and choked with weeds for most of its length. Please make sure something is done urgently to protect and preserve our much loved historical heritage."
An extract of Cllr. Wilson's response today March 24th is as follows:
"I will do my best to get to the bottom of who is responsible for the various issues and what can be done. I share the concern that if organisations are not fulfilling their responsibilities some of the proposals in the Local Plan could prove unworkable."
We know that the Environment Agency has declared Hayling's western coastline, adjacent to the Billy Trail, a 'let go' coastline so that no protection will be provided as this coastline continues to erode. We also know that, consequently, Havant Borough Council plans to move the Trail further inland. However we are also aware that the wildfowl refuge (E26) - mitigation for all of Sinah Field's, Rook Farm's and Fathoms Reach developments - will also be located in this inland area. Since we are already witnessing Hayling's coastline erosion and the Eastern Solent Coastal Partnership (ESCP) predicts, following national forecasts, rising sea levels, how can anyone be certain that a) the Billy Trail will not, eventually, become flooded again b) the new refuge can be as permanent or even safe from human and dog disturbance as Sinah Field and both other sites would be? Everyone should be mindful that any 'mitigation' must be managed by a "management company" in perpetuity: who will pay for this and, given the record of even this local drain management, what are the guarantees that this will be effective?