A petition has been launched calling for urgent action to fix the flooding problem at Cuckmere Valley.
Residents say the iconic meanders of Cuckmere Haven have been overflowing in recent months due to a shingle blockage which has not been cleared by the Environment Agency.
According to the petition which has been started by a ‘Bob Dylan’ on change.org, hundreds have been affected – with farmers’ land being ruined by the saltwater, businesses (such as Buzz Active) being forced to close, or residents living in fear the water will flood their homes.
It says, “Since the end of September there has been a crisis in the Cuckmere Valley, Exceat. The river mouth has previously been dredged each year to keep the shingle out and the river allowed to naturally rise and fall with the tide.
“Due to cost-cutting measures and a plan to ‘let the area go back to its natural state’, the Environment Agency has stopped this vital action and as a result the river, the iconic meanders, and surrounding area have been totally flooded.”
It continues, “This has lead to hundreds of people in the local community being affected; be it farmers who’s land has been ruined by the salty water, local businesses that have had to close as their building is physically underwater or local residents who are in fear that the water mere meters away from their homes will make that final leap.
“If the Cuckmere River mouth is not cleared and the waters allowed to continue to flood we will undoubtedly lose the iconic Cuckmere Meanders and a lot of the local area too.
“This is just the beginning of the effect this flooding will have on the area. The famous location brings in over a million tourists every year which keeps many local businesses from Seaford, all the way to Eastbourne and further in business.
“I urge you to support this petition and help us change the Environment Agency attitude to this crisis.”
An Environment Agency spokesperson said it is investing £2.6 billion in flood and coastal erosion risk management projects between 2015 and 2021, helping to protect 300,000 homes.
They said, “A flood and coastal erosion-risk strategy was produced for the Cuckmere Estuary following consultation with local residents and others in 2009.
“The Environment Agency will continue to clear shingle that accumulates in the mouth of the river if required to reduce flood-risk to properties upstream.”