Why the river at Cuckmere Estuary is not flowing properly

Cuckmere Haven (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-180907-110042008
Cuckmere Haven (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-180907-110042008

People visiting the Cuckmere Estuary – between the A259 and the sea – will have seen that the river isn’t flowing properly, and is high even at low tide.

This is caused by a blockage of shingle and mud from the river mouth upstream for 300 metres.

The flood plain can’t clear effectively – water has been lying in the fields north of Litlington for four months.

The Environment Agency used to keep the river mouth clear, but now it will not despite repeated pleas, and having signed a joint statement in 2016 with the National Trust, Natural England, South Downs National Park Authority, East Sussex County Council and Sussex Wildlife Trust, part of which states ‘For many years the EA has removed this shingle build up, to allow the river to flow freely.

This work would continue for up to 15 years or until the river system becomes self-cleansing’. The end date for this pledge is 2026.

The EA’s document ‘Owning a Watercourse’ details its Incident Hotline to report flooding, blockages which could cause flooding to main rivers, and unusual changes in the flow of water.

The Friends of the Cuckmere have reported the situation to the hotline, but without success.

Other bodies that could help resolve the problems include the landowners in the estuary – National Trust, East Sussex County Council, and Seaford Town Council – but they also appear unwilling to act.

If you’re concerned about the lack of progress, and the failure to take the community’s views seriously, why not contact your MP or the bodies above?

The Friends of the Cuckmere will continue to press for sensible action. You can help this effort by joining us and increasing the strength of the community’s voice – www.cuckmerefriends.org

Mark Lamb

Chairman Friends of the Cuckmere

Westdean 
Seaford