Environment Agency close Littlehampton’s River Road and install temporary flood defences

The Environment Agency have today installed temporary flood defences in Littlehampton’s East Bank, despite recently spending over £22.5 on building new flood defences.

In what could only be described as a national disgrace, the Environment Agency have now closed a section of River Road in Littlehampton to build temporary flood defences in preparation of tonight’s tidal surge.

Picture – courtesy, Terry Ellis.

Temporary flood defences erected by Environment Agency in Littlehampton’s River Road.

This, the same area where the Environment Agency recently completed a £22.5m Flood Defence scheme, but stubbornly refused to complete a section of the flood defence improvements, citing it was the responsibility of the landowner.  Something the landowner strongly refutes.

Rather than simply press on and build the disputed section of the flood defence wall, arguing who was responsible later, the Environment Agency’s local senior management team including  Mr David Robinson, Environment Agencies Operations Manager (East) and Mr James Humphrys, Environment Agency Area Director – decided instead to leave a gap in the new defence wall.

The gap in the flood defence wall, which poses a series flood risk to local residents and businesses.

Work on either side of the ‘gap’ was completed by the Environment Agency and the landowner, with the area where responsibility being disputed, left unattended and at risk of flooding.

Environment Agency staff working at constructing temporary flood defences in Littlehampton, earlier today – Friday 13th January 2017.

I covered this a recent blog post and asked David Robinson from the Environment Agency as to when he expected this gap to be finally blocked up, he replied by email as follows:

Dear Paul
 
Thank you for your email.
 
Littlehampton is better protected from flooding today than ever before following the construction of the East Bank Flood defences.  You are right that there is one area at Riverside Autos in River Road where the standard of protection that the private defences provide is lower than the new flood wall elsewhere.  Unfortunately, it was not possible to simply carry on the piling in front of the Riverside Autos site when we became aware that it was not going to be developed. 
 
Since September 2015 we have had a robust plan in place to deploy dedicated temporary flood defences which are stored in our Chichester depot.  These defences are similar to those you may have seen in the media during the winter floods of 2015/16 which have been used successfully many times.  We have not permanently installed the barrier at Riverside Autos to allow the current occupiers to continue to operate their business however we will deploy the barrier when the weather forecast and tide levels are predicted to be above particular trigger levels.  We last tested our plan in October 2015 and have not been needed to deploy the barrier at any time since then.
 
As you know, I had hoped to have a permanent solution in place by now but this has not been possible.  We continue to work with the landowners and our contractors to build the defences which I am hopeful will be in place by winter 2017-18.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Dave
 
David Robinson
Operations Manager (East)
Solent and South Downs Area
Environment Agency

 

As you can see from David Robinson’s reply, there is no solution to the problem, but wishful thinking on his part as to when the situation may be resolved.

As you can see in above picture, the Barge (in 2014) working on creating the new flood defence scheme positioned right in front of the gap, but still the Environment Agency refused to give the go ahead to complete this section of the defence wall.

An absolute disgrace.

In the meantime, while Mr Robinson sits on his hands achieves little or nothing, Littlehampton’s river road residents are now facing an ongoing flood risk, temporary road closures, disruption to services.

And who is footing the bill for these additional temporary flood defences? Certainly not the landowner, but the tax payer.

Arun District Council’s refuge contractors unable to empty bins in River Road earlier today owing to the Environment Agency’s road closures.

A tarpaulin carelessly left blocking the pavement forcing a lady with a child and pushchair to squeeze beside a working vehicle.

Temporary Road Closures

The Environment Agency advise that the temporary road closure in River Road will remain in place until 9am, Saturday 14th January 2017 when the road will re-open again.

Littlehampton’s West Beach area

No additional flood defences appear to have been allocated today to Littlehampton’s West Beach area, this being the area that didn’t ‘benefit’ from the Environment Agencies £22.5m flood defence scheme.

Many (with the exception of the EA and their consultants) believe that the construction and enhancement of Littlehampton’s East Bank flood defence scheme, has created additional problems for the West Bank area. The Environment refuse to accept this view point.

Make up your own mind – but ask yourself, how can the Environment Agency be allowed to get away with spending over £22.5m on  a flood defence scheme that now ultimately relies on the crude apparatus pictured below.


As always, thanks for reading, your comments welcome.

 

 

 

Will the Environment Agency ever finish Littlehampton’s Flood Defences?

Despite spending in excess of £22.5million on flood defences in Littlehampton Harbour, the Environment Agency still have not completed the flood defence works – and a massive gap still remains in the new flood defence wall.

Hard to believe, that it was back in September 2012, the Environment Agency began constructing Littlehampton’s flood defence scheme. Yet, here we are, early 2017 and Littlehampton still hasn’t been protected from flooding.

Despite assurances made at the start of the project by Environment Agency Manager David Robinson and his colleagues, that their extensive, disruptive  works would ensure Littlehampton was protected from a future flooding event, a large flood-friendly gap has been left in the new flood defence wall.

As you can see in the above picture, a barge was commissioned to complete the works along this side of the River Road’s riverside frontage. My understanding is, that the Environment Agency are holding the landowner responsible for paying for the works to this particular stretch of the riverbank. However, the landowner disputes their liability.

Regardless of who is responsible, surely the sensible approach would have been for the Environment Agency’s contractors to have completed this remaining section of the flood defences while their contractors were already in the river area working on the flood defences and arguing liability at a later date?

Surely the potential costs of clearing up after a flooding event, far outweigh the savings made by leaving a gap in the flood defences? Given that the equipment needed to construct a flood defence wall in a harbour environment are expensive, to say the least – the costs of now returning to bridge this gap will be far in excess of the costs that would have been involved in making good the wall when the EA’s contractors were already in place.

In any event, at the time, the Environment Agency decided to withdraw their contractors, leaving the area with the massive gap you see in the above picture,  leaving a number of giant sandbags, (which can be seen in the picture)to be used in the event of a flooding crisis.

How can a government funded quango spend over £22.5m on creating what were described at the time as being ‘state of the art’ and we’re left with a number of giant sand bags to save the town from flooding?

More importantly, why have the local authorities who were partners in this project (primarily – Arun District Council, West Sussex County Council) remained silent on the situation and not demanded a remedy?

I’ve asked David Robinson, manager at the Environment Agency for an update on what they’re intending to do to bridge the gap and complete the flood defences that were promised.

I have also written to my MP Nick Gibb (Littlehampton MP) asking for his intervention.

I will update the blog with any replies, in the meantime I’d urge you to write to Nick Gibb, MP for Littlehampton to bring pressure on the Environment Agency to undertake and complete their statutory duties.

Nick Gibb MP, can be emailed at:  gibbn@parliament.uk

When I previously raised this issue back in 2016 – this story was taken up by the BBC including featuring on BBC South East News with Sean Killick, BBC Radio Sussex and other media outlets. At the time, David Robinson, Manager at the Environment Agency gave assurances that a permanent solution would be achieved.

We’re still waiting, Mr Robinson.


As always, thanks for reading, your comments welcome.

Paul

 

 

 

Littlehampton’s Action Boat will not be running this Season.

Sad news – No Action Boat for this coming Season.

Action Boat

Earlier this week I caught up with the guys behind Littlehampton’s popular white-knuckle powerboat rides –  Action Boat  They confirm that owing to the Sea Defence works they won’t be able to run their popular rides this season.

Apparently the problems with access to and from the boat are just too great now that Action Boat’s berthing pontoon has been removed while the sea defence works are underway. They are hopeful that they’ll be back again in action in 2015. But this is a big blow for Littlehampton as this was one of our newest and most popular waterside attractions.

And it’s not just Action Boats that will be affected by lack of pontoon space.

One of the biggest problems facing Littlehampton Harbour this year will be the lack of visitor berthing space for visiting boats.

Littlehampton harbour 8

Last year we enjoyed  a bumper season with visiting yachts many of them arriving as part of ‘Rallies’.

These boats and rallies bring a very welcomed spend to our local businesses – restaurants, shops and bars doing exceptionally well. Each year my own bike shop in Pier Road does well with cycle hire with visiting mariners and we also manage to sell a number of bikes to them.

But with the restricted pontoon space, it’s difficult to see how they’ll all fit in.

And, sadly  the future of the Littlehampton Ferry also looks to be in doubt.

Littlehampton Ferry

Latest update I can get on the Littlehampton Ferry is that the boat is up for sale and the previous operator (Action Boats) has confirmed it won’t be running the ferry as part of their operation.

Again even if a buyer is found it’s difficult to see where a suitable embarking and landing pontoon would be found as the original pontoon has now been removed as has the steps leading to it.

No doubt it’s going to be a difficult season for us as we’ve lost these two very popular attractions.

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Latest Update from the construction of Littlehampton Sea Defences, the crane climbs onto the bridge

Today, Tuesday 25th February 2014 marked an important milestone in the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences as the especially created Crane Bridge was commissioned.

Littlehampton Sea DefencesThe especially created ‘Crane Bridge’ above.

If you’ve just joined us, a quick overview on why the bridge is necessary.

The Project’s engineering team previously discovered that Pier Road is simply not strong enough to take the weight of the 130tonne crane, which is needed to undertake the piling work.  To overcome this problem,  a massive ‘Crane Bridge’ or platform has been designed and constructed to lessen the weight impact on Pier Road.

Today, we witnessed the amazing sight of the 130 tonne crane quite literally driving up an especially created shingle ramp onto the Crane Bridge where it will operate from.

The pictures below detail both the construction of the ramp and the driving of the crane onto the platform.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 1aWork begins on building the crane ramp.

Over 400 tonnes of shingle were needed to build the ramp. Once the piling is finished and the ramp no longer required, the shingle will then be used to back-fill behind the piles, so there’s no extra cost in materials in creating the ramp.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 1The ramp is so high that the roller has to be lifted onto by the crane.

Flood Defences 4Rolling and compacting the shingle to take the 130 tonne crane.

Littlehampton Flood Defences 2Careful attention is taken by VolkerStevin to ensuring the levels are just right.

Littlehampton Flood Defences crane bridgeThe view from the Crane’s bridge, which gives you an idea of both it’s scale and height.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 3Preparations underway to ready both the ramp and the crane bridge.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 4No room for error as the crane is extremely close to the edge.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 5Crane ready to begin its climb.

Littlehampton Crane Bridge 6One of VolkerStevin’s engineers gets ready to give the go-ahead.

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane climb 1Everyone holds their breath as the crane begins its climb but then the engine stalls leading to some lighthearted banter. The crane is reversed up so as to allow the rear weights take the strain (these are the red blocks at the rear of the crane)

Littlehampton Sea Defences Crane climb 2Initial attempts fail as the crane’s heavy duty tracks dig into the aggregate and it’s unable to climb.

Crushing sleepers 1Some sleepers are laid to give the tracks more purchase.

crushing sleepers 2However, these are quickly turned into wood chip.

crushing sleepers 3This time more sleepers are laid, but at a different angle. Will they be enough to allow the crane to begin its climb?

crushing sleepers 4Initially it looks as if they’re going to go the same way as their predecessors..

Crane almost there 1But the plan works and the crane begins its climb.

crane almost there 2Almost there.

crane almost there 3Continuing the climb.

crane almost there 5Hanging in the balance. The awful moments when the crane is about to go beyond the point of no return. You’d have to have been there to appreciate the creaking and banging noises, hence the guys all looking upwards.. (I have a video of the whole event which I’ll shortly upload to the Diaries)

success crane on rampA success! The crane is safely in its new position on the recently constructed crane platform. Everyone was impressed with the skill of the crane driver, who made what looked like a near impossible task easy.

Littlehampton Sea Defences crane driverThis man’s skill was amazing.

crane on the rampThe crane in position ready to start the piling works in Pier Road.

So what happens now?

Earlier I caught up with Eric Smethurst, VolkerStevin’s Public Liaison manager.

Eric explained that the crane will now begin piling works in Pier Road. While this is going on, a second bridge will put into position ahead of the existing bridge and the crane will simply drive forward onto this new section when it’s completed. The section the crane was on will then be placed forward of this section and so forth – so essentially ‘leap-frogging’ along Pier Road until all the piling is completed.

It’s an amazing sight. There’s no doubt about it that the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences is now entering an exciting phase. Lots to see, especially in Pier Road, which will now become a hive of activity.

So If you haven’t been down to see the works already – now is a good time.

This is one of two cranes that are now working on the construction of Littlehampton’s Flood Defences. The second crane is currently working in Arun Parade and this is the bigger of the two cranes weighing in a massive 160 tonnes.

If you’re visiting – Remember that (at the moment at least) you can park free in the Windmill Car Park, courtesy of Arun District Council provided you are a customer of a business in Pier Road.

So come down, grab a bite to eat and enjoy the view.

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As always, thank you for reading and joining us.

We welcome your comments.

Spectacular behind the scenes pictures from the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences

A huge thank-you to Andrew Walker from the Environment Agency for providing these superb behind-the-scenes pictures. A number of them have been taken from a basket hanging from one of the cranes.

(Click on the pictures to super-size them)

Littlehampton Sea DefencesA bird’s-eye view of Littlehampton’s East Bank Flood Defences Scheme under construction.

Construction of Littlehampton's Sea DefencesAmazing view of the entrance to Littlehampton Harbour, Littlehampton’s iconic Lighthouse and the boardwalk loved by so many.

Aran Parade 5

The area behind the piling at Littlehampton’s Arun Parade all ready for backfilling and them a cap will be built on top raising the level of the sea defences.

Arun ParadeThe area being backfilled.

Littlehampton Sea DefencesThe giant especially created Crane Bridge/Platform which will carry the 136tonne crane along Pier Road while it undertakes the piling works. One side of this giant bridge will sit on Pier Road with the other sitting on the recently installed piles. It will work it’s way along Pier Road North with the crane sitting on top. Quite a sight when it’s up and running,which we hope will be tomorrow (Tuesday, 25th February 2014).

Littlehampton Sea DefencesThe giant crane’s plaform which sits on wooden sleepers.

constucting Littlehampton's sea defencesThe Piling hammer which drives the piles into the river bed.

Thanks again to Andrew from the Environment Agency and to VolkerStevin for allowing me to use these pictures on the Pier Road Diaries. As always, thanks to Eric Smethurst,Volker Stevin’s public liaison manager for providing us and all the visitors to the scheme with updates and explanations and for answering my endless questions and the construction staff not minding my poking my camera at them.

Remember to sign up for regular blog updates by entering your email address in the top right hand corner of this page.

And if you’re on twitter, follow Pier Road Diares on Twitter – @Pier_Road

Make sure you visit Littlehampton Seafront to see history being made. This is once-in-a-lifetime event and we’re now entering the most exciting part of the scheme’s construction.

As always, thanks for reading and following.

The Pier Road Diaries is now getting over 5,000 visitors a month and our mailing list is growing daily. If you’re planning a Littlehampton event, please do let us know – email us at pierroad@live.com and we’ll update your event’s details to the ‘What’s on Section’ of the blog, which we’re currently working on.

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