Flood report slammed

TOO little, too late and full of minor inaccuracies - the Environment Agency's update on Uckfield's flood defence measures was slated by members of the town's flood forum.

Wealden councillor and Uck Valley Flood Forum chairwoman Cllr Claire Dowling told members at a town council meeting a reply had been sent spelling out how it failed to address townspeoples' concerns.

She said: 'There are no details in this paper, no background evidence for assertions made, minor inaccuracies which make you doubt conclusions and no back-up plan.'

The main concern was the agency's aim to 'reinstate the flood plain'. Cllr Dowling said: Their time scale is 50 to 100 years - the council's LDF (local development framework ) is 20 years.

'The River Uck flood plain houses 60-plus businesses and retailers.

'It's the best little industrial estate in the area - if we put this into the LDF future employers will not even look at Uckfield.'

She described the agency's integrated urban drainage study saying: 'We need this now, in 2009, not in their own time frame.

'With climate change, recent flash floods and increased housing numbers the existing drainage system needs to be looked to see how it will react.

'Let's deal with it now, the agency is always playing catch-up.'

She said upstream water storage north of Buxted should also be considered (an option cited in 2005) and surveys on possible storage areas on the Framfield and Tickerage streams.

There should also be some system put in place at Isfield to slow water down - these together would help relieve pressure on Lewes where 22 per cent of the water in the Ouse comes directly from the River Uck. The group is also calling for investment in a second channel culvert, an initiative backed by Cllr Duncan Bennett.

Cllr Dowling concluded: 'There is work to be done here and now - not some time in the future.' Wealden District Council also plans to respond in detail.