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:
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.
Operations Manager (East)
Solent and South Downs Area
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.