ELECTION candidates should pledge to stop flooding, a meeting in Bognor Regis was told.
Those standing in the polls for parliament and local councils in May 2015 had to take the problem seriously.
Hugh Coster, Bognor Regis Civic Society’s deputy chairman, said the pledge would see the hopefuls state they would ‘persistently and permanently’ campaign for a temporary pause in development until the area’s flooding problem was solved.
“We have to make this into an election issue,” he said at last Friday’s civic society meeting. “Local councils don’t have the power to deal with this. We have to go to government level.”
The pledge was in line with the civic society’s policy on the matter, agreed some years ago, which called for an immediate halt to all significant building to enable the causes of flooding to be sorted out to the satisfaction of insurance companies.
This would stop households around the town being hit with high insurance problems or refused cover because of the flooding risk.
The Bognor area suffered from flooding because the land between the South Downs and the sea was a massive sponge. “The water is just below the surface now, with a high water table.
“In that situation, building on the flood plain is just going to displace the water that is already there. If the buildings are built a bit higher, all that means is the flooding is displaced further down the line,” he said.
Only land outside the flood zone should be built on for starter homes and homeless people while the possibility of flooding existed.
Mr Coster said: “The answer is to get the water off the land. They have been doing that in The Netherlands for hundreds of years.”
That could be achieved after a four-point action plan.
After the temporary building plan had been put in place, studies should be made to fully understand the way in which water arrives around the town and how much.
Next would come the creation, clearance and connection of water courses to enable as much water as possible to flow to the sea.
Work should be carried out at the same time, he said, on the water’s exits to the sea so the full volume of water could be discharged all day.
“This work is going to take time which is why the temporary building ban is needed to provide protection until the work is done,” he said.
Mary Harvey, a committee member of the society, said flooding also caused health problems.
“There are three places in Limmer Lane where, when there is heavy rain, raw sewage is coming up and going into the sea,” he said.