A STERN letter outlining west bank residents’ fears of future flooding has been sent to a top environment minister.
Andrew Donovan, of Rope Walk, Littlehampton, has written to the Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss, warning her of the growing tide of concern over the area’s inadequate flood defences.
In his letter, Mr Donovan claims the improved multi-million pound defences on the east bank will have a detrimental effect on those living on the other side of the River Arun if the town faced severe weather – something the Environment Agency has categorically denied.
Mr Donovan wrote: “If I may ask whose stupid idea it was to raise the flood defences on one side of the River Arun and not the other?
“Did they not realise that if the water can’t get over one side it will pour over the other and destroy the nature reserve, the West Beach of Littlehampton, businesses, land, a golf course, not to mention over 100 homes and make it unsuitable and unhabitable for a long time to come?”
These concerns are also shared by the Littlehampton Civic Society, and Littlehampton Town county councillor, Ian Buckland, who are both backing the call for action.
However, Andrew Gilham, the agency’s flood and coastal risk manager, has refuted the flooding fears, stressing that the improved defences on the east of the river would not adversely affect its neighbours to the west.
He said: “There’s a bit of misinformation in that letter. The first point to be clear on is that the new defences on the east bank are not affecting flood risk to the west bank.
“That’s categorically untrue.”
He explained flood risk to the west bank had always been higher than that of the east bank, as the defences had always been lower there.
He added: “Flood levels in that area are dictated by the sea level and raising flood defences has not increased the risk – that absolutely isn’t the case.”
Mr Gilham agreed new flood defences would be needed and said the coastal strategy plan was seeking to address this.
However, he explained new defences could cost upwards of £9 million – cash which the agency didn’t have.
He said the agency could only fund about £1.3 million and would need the support of other partner agencies and businesses to supply the shortfall. He hopes that in the near future the agency will be able to deliver this project.