A DEBATE has broken out over sea defences at a nature reserve.
Farlington Marshes stretches along the northern shore of Langstone Harbour from Portsmouth to Havant.
The Environment Agency, which maintains the defensive walls, has launched a plan to rebuild them from scratch in the next 20 years.
This is part of a long-term plan formulated by the agency which would allow the sea to reclaim between a third and a half of the marshes.
But Portsmouth City Council is reviewing this plan after fears that the marshes might be lost altogether, and it also does not believe that the walls need replacing.
Councillor Hugh Mason, who is councillor for the St Jude ward, put forward a motion that Farlington Marshes should be maintained.
He said: ‘The Farlington Marshes can only be maintained, as finances permit, for the next 17 years.
‘During which, decisions will have to be made whether to realign the defences and decide how much can be lost to salt marsh.
‘We need to confirm the importance which the city attaches to preserving our largest area of open land.’
Councillor Peter Eddis, of St Jude ward, backed the motion to keep the current walls and just pay to maintain them.
Cllr Eddis said: ‘Maintaining the present wall is by far the cheaper option.
‘With a little tender loving care there is no reason why the present boundary wall should not still be effective in 100 years.
‘Raising it by three feet is not a costly or technically difficult option.
‘The marshes are unique on this stretch of the south coast and they provide fresh water coastal meadow and high water roosting for the bird population which feeds off the intertidal mud flats.’
The council heard these arguments at a full council meeting.
It voted unanimously that the sea defence lines should be maintained to a standard adequate to preserve the integrity of the city’s coastline.
The council was told that the costs of the plans have only been estimated and are not yet ready to be confirmed.