Littlehampton flood defence has a ‘gaping hole’ in it

The crumbling defence by River Road have caused some major concerns
The crumbling defence by River Road have caused some major concerns

A ‘GAPING hole’ is ‘completely undermining’ Littlehampton’s £22million flood defence scheme, a landowner has claimed.

Robert Boyce has criticised the decision by the Environment Agency to not replace the existing defences on the east bank of the River Arun, by River Road.

He said the rotting, decrepit 26 metre stretch makes the rest of the defence pointless as if an exceptional high tide were to hit, the water would overflow it and impact neighbouring residents and businesses.

Mr Boyce said: “Not only will homeowners be angry but they will be wet, too. That’s one thing we don’t want to happen.

“You can’t have a flood defence with a huge gaping hole in the same way you can’t have a boat with a hole in it – it just won’t work.

“The flood defences that the Environment Agency have put in are useless. It’s like a bath without a bath plug – the water will go straight through the gap and will run out behind it, flooding the road.”

Mr Boyce claimed less money should have been spent on ‘making the defences look pretty’ and more on ensuring all areas of the wall were up to scratch.

“I would stop doing the superfluous ‘nice work’ to make it look pretty and focus on making it effective first.

“They have to focus on the integrity of the defences first and foremost,” he said.

An Environment Agency spokesman said contingency plans were in place in the eventuality of flooding overcoming the defences.

The spokesman said the Environment Agency was aware of the condition of the River Road section of flood barrier and that the agency shared the concerns of local residents.

However, the spokesman explained that particular stretch of the defence was not included in the original east bank scheme as there were a number of development options for the site already on the cards, which included the reconstruction of the river wall.

The spokesman added: “We continue to closely monitor this section until a future developer implements a permanent solution for the site. We have contingency plans in place to deploy temporary defences at the site to minimise any risk in periods of adverse weather and high tides.

“We put these plans in place during the period of exceptional high tides last Autumn. Our £22million scheme itself is nearly complete and is already performing as it should to considerably reduce tidal flood risk to £188,500,000 worth of homes, businesses, and assets in the district.”