Agency shares our fears of flooding

I WOULD like to second and third the two recent letters from Messrs Coster and Barnes. They very clearly stated the limitations to any further building on the flood plain and the technical reasons 
for such.

The attempt by Cllr Bower to blame the recent flooding on a 
few blocked ditches will fool 
no-one, especially the residents who are downstream of the current housing development at Shripney. It is time Arun District Council took the comment about a ‘duty of care to existing residents’ seriously and stopped believing the fine theories fed to them by developers and their ‘experts’, and instead started to open their own eyes and ears about what is happening locally in respect to the flooding and the changing weather.

Balancing ponds work very well in theory. The problem is nature has no time for theories and loves proving them wrong. We are puny against such natural forces and should sit up and take note when things do not go as planned.

I have just received a copy of the Environment Agency’s submission to Arun DC’s consultation process which has just finished. It is very critical of the proposals for employment land provision and the siting of the strategic housing (ie 2,000 extra houses in Aldingbourne, Eastergate and Barnham parishes).

The EA wants Arun DC to do more checking on whether the old LEC site is too flood-prone to be suitable for an industrial site.

They do not seem to be very convinced that it is a good idea 
at all. As regards the 2,000 houses, they are very critical about the effect such a large development would have on ‘groundwater and surface water inundation of the sewer network’. They state that this may ‘lead to surcharging sewers and has resulted in pollution of the watercourses’.

The EA further states the extra 2,000 houses would ‘make the current situation worse unless certain measures are put in place’. They later suggest what these measures ought to be, and these include a major upgrade to the Lidsey Waste water Treatment Works and big improvements to the drainage situation.

The EA does not appear very happy with the way Arun DC has given no detail about what its plans are in relation to the above points. In fact at this point they state that without these major improvements they would consider the Local Plan is UNSOUND.

This is a fairly damning comment from such a body as the Environment Agency and indicates the major omissions that exist in the local plan.

Other points made by the EA are that Arun DC should set a clear target for the use of brownfield land before greenfield land, rather than just say they are promoting its use.

My own comment on this is that Arun DC’s choice of grade one and two highest-quality land in the country on which to site 2,000 strategic houses is incredibly damaging and destructive of this country’s food growing resources. Reading between the lines of the EA report it would seem the EA is very concerned there will be an increased flood risk downstream(ie Bognor Regis) of any large development in the villages as well as overloading the sewers and causing more foul water flooding of fields, gardens, schools and houses.

And, unless we are to believe Cllr Bower will be able to singlehandedly, like a latter day King Canute, prevent further flooding, it is very unlikely Arun DC will have the money to do all the improvements recommended by the EA.

One further consequence that more regular flooding incidents will create is a greater risk to Bognor Regis’ Blue Flag status.

If you would like to see a copy of the EA report then it may be downloaded from the Villages Action Group website at www.villagesactiongroup.org

Mike Turner

Chairman of Villages Action Group