Barnham flooding: Arun District Council responds to MP's complaint

“Flooding is not the fault of this council,” an Arun District Council officer has told the MP for Arundel and South Downs in response to a letter written earlier this month.
Andrew Griffiths MP. Photo: Richard TownsendAndrew Griffiths MP. Photo: Richard Townsend
Andrew Griffiths MP. Photo: Richard Townsend

Following weeks of disruption caused by a collapsed sewage pipe in Barnham, area MP Andrew Griffiths wrote to Arun District Council, pinning the problems on council-approved over development.

His letter, which was also published by Sussex World, called for an immediate suspension on consents and additional development in Barnham, Eastergate, Westergate and Aldingbourne. In a response published on December 22, Arun District Council officer explained its belief that the Town Hall is not responsible for the disruption of the past year.

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"It is important to recognise the legal framework within which both ourselves and Southern Water have to operate,” Karl Roberts, Director of Growth and Arun District Council said.

He explained that Southern Water does not have the right to refuse permission to connect a development to the sewer system on the basis that the point of connection is, for whatever reason, open to objection – even if that objection is that additional discharge will cause a sewage overload. Since sewage companies like Southern Water can’t do this directly, this puts Arun District Council in an uncomfortable position, whereby the best it can do is defer the developer’s right to connect to the sewage system long enough to allow providers like Southern Water time to adjust the system.

"t would be helpful if sewerage undertakers were all made statutory consultees within the planning process for major residential and commercial developments,” Mr Roberts said – adding that the MP could raise the issue with the relevant secretary of state.

Making clear that the council will not approve a moratorium on planning decisions, Mr Roberts urged the Government to do it’s part to stop flooding in the South East: “The Council is ready to play its part in achieving better outcomes for all but in order to do that we need the Government to take active and positive steps to address the issues raised above and not simply blame local councils for the consequences of us implementing what is Government policy.”