‘Collective fear’ over £100m Eastbourne flood defence scheme

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Concerns have been raised about an Environment Agency (EA) and Eastbourne Borough Council £100m project to reduce the risk of flooding and coastal erosion.

The EA says the scheme will reduce the risk of flooding and coastal erosion to about 10,000 homes as well as key infrastructure, businesses, heritage sites and nature conservation areas. It stretches 15km from Cooden Beach to Holywell.

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Update on £100m flood defence project from Pevensey Bay to Eastbourne

Robin Disney, of the Normans Bay and Pevensey Coastal Defence Ltd, an agricultural engineer with experience in land drainage and inland flooding, said the group had two main criticisms with the scheme:

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Criticisms to the coastal defence scheme in EastbourneCriticisms to the coastal defence scheme in Eastbourne
Criticisms to the coastal defence scheme in Eastbourne

Not enough money: Using EA costings, they say with £100m over 75 years there is only enough money to save and maintain 6km of the Eastbourne seafront. Instead, £400m is needed on a coastal plan, which will save Pevensey and east Eastbourne, they say.

Flooding: The group argues a much wider area would be flooded than EA is forecasting.

Mr Disney has met with the EA and says it admitted £100m is not enough for a full coastal protection scheme and no preferred option is decided yet. He said the EA is working to ‘strict government guidelines’ and costings which ‘may not be realistic in the type of planning needed here in Pevensey’.

He said there is a ‘collective fear’ with residents that plans carried out will be ‘too late’.

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He added: “There is a very serious situation occurring, which those who know about it, are now trying to do something urgently to prevent, both ongoing serious incidents, and a very detrimental result due to lack of planning and funding from the government.

"We could easily end up like Norfolk and Yorkshire, with great chunks of coastline being worn away, and houses falling into the sea.”

The Herald put these three main concerns to EA.

Andrew Walker, senior advisor for the Pevensey Bay to Eastbourne coastal management scheme at EA, said: “Sea levels are rising due to climate change. We are seeing more extreme weather. Our plans will make the coast from Pevensey Bay to Eastbourne more resilient to flooding and erosion of the land. More than 10,000 homes, businesses and infrastructure will be better-protected.

“We are in regular touch with many local groups, including Normans Bay & Pevensey Coastal Defence Company, sharing updates about the scheme.”

More information on the scheme will be announced ‘in due course’ and you can keep up to date at www.pevenseyandeastbournecoast.co.uk