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

 

 

 

Update on the Littlehampton Ferry.

Littlehampton Ferry

I previously reported that it was doubtful that Littlehampton’s Ferry would be running this year. I understood (wrongly as it turned out..) that this was owing to the lack of suitable pontoon space and landing area. The original pontoon having been removed to facilitate the construction of Littlehampton’s Flood defences.

However, I now have it on good authority that the Environment Agency’s Contractors – VolkerStevin were very concerned to hear that their construction works would potentially hamper the running of Littlehampton’s Ferry. Consequently they’ve now offered to provide a suitable pontoon area and landing area from which the ferry could operate from.

I understand that this offer has been declined.

Full credit must be given to VolkerStevin for coming up with this offer and making every attempt to facilitate the operation of our ferry.

But why isn’t the Littlehampton ferry going to run this year?

My understanding is that the ferry has never actually made any money and was in a loss making situation. No surprises here as the reason the original ferry operation was discontinued is a result of ongoing losses.

Some years ago when I was running the Oyster Pond boating lake on behalf of Arun District Council I looked into re-launching the Littlehampton Ferry. At that time I undertook a feasibility study, which included talking with the previous ferry’s operators – Littlehampton Harbour board and I couldn’t see how the ferry could be made to work without substantial public subsidies.

Whatever the reasons for the non-operation of the Littlehampton ferry, it’s important to clarify that the non-operation is not as a result of the construction of Littlehampton’s Sea Defences. And, every effort has been made by the Environment Agency’s Sea Defence Contractor, VolkerStevin to accommodate it, should it be re-instated.

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As always, thanks for reading and do feel free to add your own views below.