GOVERNMENT ministers have confirmed funding for a £10.8m flood defence scheme along the east bank of the River Arun at Littlehampton.
The announcement was made last Thursday (February 7) by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which gave the green light to 93 new schemes across the UK.
The investment in Littlehampton will pay for improvements to the ageing flood defences on the east bank of the river, a move which the Environment Agency (EA) says will protect around 750 homes in the town from flooding.
Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb has welcomed the announcement, saying this was a “significant step forward” for the town.
Mr Gibb, who has been fighting for improved coastal defences in the town following the devastating floods in June and December, which left dozens homeless and caused hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage, said: “This is very good news indeed. This support of £10.8m for the tidal defences on the east bank of the Arun is exactly what we need to protect Littlehampton from rising sea levels in the future.
“I have been raising this issue in Parliament and I’m glad to see that, at a time when there are huge budgetary constraints across the board, the Government recognised the real need for improved flood defences in Littlehampton.”
A spokesman for the EA hinted work on the east bank would begin towards the end of this year, and would stretch well into 2014.
The coastal sea wall from the harbour mouth, stretching north, towards the A259 bridge, will be raised, with most work in the section between the Harbour Board office, in Pier Road, and Harbour Park.
Andrew Gilham, Sussex flood and coastal risk manager at the EA, expected it would take around a year to complete all the defences.
He added the construction work had been planned in conjunction with traders in Pier Road, and wouldn’t have an impact on the busy summer season, which many businesses relied heavily upon. “Ultimately, if these defences weren’t put in place, in the next 100 years or so, around 1,900 homes would be in danger of flooding,” he said. “It’s vital this work begins sooner, rather than later.”
Arun District Council has also given £500,000 to be used for a project to enhance the pedestrian section of Pier Road.