£111m projects for flood response in Arun revealed

Members of the Arun Flood Forum will review their flood response plans after its inaugural meeting.
Bognor Regis Golf Club Course Flooded, sourced from Arun District CouncilBognor Regis Golf Club Course Flooded, sourced from Arun District Council
Bognor Regis Golf Club Course Flooded, sourced from Arun District Council

Some councillors on the forum reported to the environment committee at its meeting on Tuesday, March 19, which was set to grill Southern Water about its flood response during and after Storm Ciarán in November last year.

The forum was held on February 26, and consisted of representatives from Arun District Council, West Sussex County Council, the Environment Agency, Southern Water and some parish councils in Arun district.

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The forum is chaired by Simon Wilson, the director of management consultants Wilson Sheriff.

Flooding in Arun District, supplied by Cllr Martin LuryFlooding in Arun District, supplied by Cllr Martin Lury
Flooding in Arun District, supplied by Cllr Martin Lury

Southern Water held a presentation at the forum about its flood response role, highlighting projects to improve Barnham, Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Pagham and Lidsey totalling around £111 million.

Around £88.32 million of this will go to the Bognor Regis Wastewater Pumping Station to prevent too much groundwater getting into the wider network.

Southern Water said their area, which stretches across Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, West and East Sussex and Kent, could see a 19 to 25 per cent population increase by 2050.

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They said an extra 300 million litres of water would need to be added to the network, on top of its current capacity of around 576 million litres, by upgrading its ‘ageing infrastructure’.

Keir Greenway (Con, Bersted) said the presentation was ‘disappointing’ as they had made ‘very little’ mention of Storm Ciarán itself, saying the forum’s chair needed to ‘press’ for more answers from Southern Water.

He said: “They sold us what they’re planning to do with their business plan, which hasn’t yet been agreed.

“There were questions that were asked, where we either got no answer, or haven’t had an answer at all. We didn’t come out of that meeting with any ideas or anything like that – it was a good meeting but I think we can do better next time.”

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Gill Yeates (LDem, Bersted) said the meeting was ‘good’ but was not long enough for many clarifying questions to be asked, saying many questions from councillors did not always get an answer.

The Environment Agency was asked during the forum by West Sussex county councillor Jaine Wild (Green, Felpham) whether changes would be made to the Bognor Regis Tesco carpark to prevent further flooding.

The agency said the car park is designed to flood ‘to a certain extent’, acting as a flood storage reservoir, and that raising land to avoid flooding might lead to flooding in other areas around it.

Arun District Council has four seats on the forum filled by Sue Wallsgrove (Green, Barnham), Gill Yeates (LDem, Bersted), Keir Greenway (Con, Bersted) and Simon McDougal (Lab, Pevensey), with several other members also attending to ask questions.

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Parish council seats went to Middleton-on-Sea, Bersted, Barnham and Eastergate, and East Preston parish councils, which was determined by the number of flooding reports and the ‘degree of impact’ on each parish in Arun.

Southern Water and the Environment Agency have four seats each, and West Sussex County Council and ADC have two seats each for officers to answer questions.

The forum resolved all agencies involved in flood response in Arun to review their flood response plans, with ADC and WSCC to review their Local Flood Risk Management Strategy.

The next forum will be in May with no exact date yet, with either WSCC or the EA expected to give a presentation on their role in Arun’s flood response.