Fears over vulnerable Hayling trail ahead of storms

There are fears parts of the popular Hayling Billy trail will be lost to the sea
There are fears parts of the popular Hayling Billy trail will be lost to the sea
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THERE are fears one of the most popular walkways in the area will be lost to the sea.

Havant MP David Willetts says urgent repairs are needed on the five-mile Hayling Billy trail on the western side of the island, which runs from Havant town centre.

The off-road track is well-used by cyclists and walkers but parts of it are at risk.

The most damaged part is about one third of the way down and is falling into the sea.

It has been fenced off by Hampshire County Council, which owns it.

In a letter to the Environment Agency, Mr Willetts said something needs to be done before the winter storms.

He said: ‘I am very aware there are several parts which are now seriously eroded and vulnerable.

‘It is the major way in which cyclists get up and down the island – and we wish to encourage cycling.

‘Secondly, it is of major historical significance and value as a tourist attraction.

‘Thirdly, there are also important utilities located along the route, such as broadband connections and Hayling Island’s gas 
supply.’

The Environment Agency says neither the trail, nor the coast, is its responsibility but that of the local authorities.

Councillor Frank Pearce, who represents Hayling on Hampshire County Council agreed – but said they would be requesting some financial support from the agency.

He said: ‘I’ve been down there several times recently.

‘I must admit it’s in a sad state. In some parts it’s virtually collapsed into the water.

‘The problem we’re up against is it doesn’t need a small amount of funding, it needs a massive amount of funding.

‘It’s not a particularly large area but we’ve got to start building out into the sea.

‘It is a very sensitive job because of all the cables that are underneath it.

‘We are working on finding funding. Perhaps we can approach the energy companies?

‘The Environment Agency will have to help us and so will Havant Borough Council.

‘But I suppose, ultimately, the buck stops with the county council.’