A draft plan has been drawn up to protect some of the rarest plants in the world on Shoreham Beach if it is made a nature reserve.

Several of the endangered plants found on Shoreham Beach can be found only there and in New Zealand.

They include a colony of Starry Clover which has been there since the nineteenth century and is found nowhere else in Britain.

Other rare vegetation includes Vipers Bugloss, Bristly Oxtongue and the Ivy-leaved Toadflax.

The area between West Beach and the entrance to the harbour is already a site of nature conservation importance.

Adur District Council and West Sussex County Council began moves in 1998 to win nature reserve status for the area because of the many rare species of vegetative shingle plants and other wildlife it contains.

The move would give extra legal protection to an area considered so important the county council has already appointed a vegetative shingle project officer to protect and develop it.

Adur has now drawn up a draft management plan for the beach if it does become a nature reserve.

However, a council report says the fears of some residents that parts of the beach will be fenced off to protect them are unfounded.

Excavators and lorries have been allowed onto West Beach to remove shingle for sea defence work to shore up beaches at Southwick damaged by winter storms.

In future all organisations involved in such work would be subject to a code of practice to minimise damage to the area.

Beach fires would be limited to designated sites and discussions would take place with Beach Dreams which holds an annual torchlight procession and bonfire on the beach.

A beach ranger would also be employed to co-ordinate educational visits and other information about the area.

Nature reserve project officer Duncan Morrison said: "The reserve is as much about people as wildlife.

"There is a great opportunity for people to become involved in the management of their local environment. Educational events and public open days will be encouraged.

"An additional benefit is that English Nature can give grants to local authorities and community groups funding work on the reserve."

A friends group will also be set up for community groups and residents to have their say, which will be supported by Adur and West Sussex councils.

The council's community services committee will consider the draft plan when it meets on Monday. (17)