MP holds Arundel flooding meeting
Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert called a meeting on Friday (24 January) to address recent flooding in Arundel and move forward measures to prevent more serious flooding in the town in future.
The meeting, hosted by Arundel's Mayor, Michael Tu, at Arundel Town Hall and chaired by Mr Herbert, was attended by all local authorities who have responsibility for managing flooding in this area of West Sussex.
Representatives of the Environment Agency, West Sussex County Council, Arun District Council and Arundel Town Council were present, together with residents affected by recent flooding.
Senior representatives of West Sussex County Council, Cabinet members Cllr Lionel Barnard and Cllr Pieter Montyn, joined Council officers at the meeting, a sign that the County Council is aware of growing concern over the issue of flood risk in the county.
They were joined by Arun District Councillor Paul Dendle and Mike De-Lara of the Arundel Flood Risk Community Group.
The combination of heavy rainfall and high tides in the New Year caused widespread flooding along the River Arun. While river banks in the town held, a few properties in Arundel were affected as a result of drains not working properly. Residents and officials discussed the causes of this localised flooding and what could be done to prevent it from happening again.
The meeting then considered proposals in a study commissioned by the Environment Agency to prevent more serious flooding in future.
The Agency's Lower River Arun Tidal Strategy (LTRAS) has completed public consultation and is now being reviewed by its directors. The proposals are expected to be signed off imminently.
The Strategy sets out a long term solution, at a cost of £23 million, to improve the river's flood defences and protect properties.
Within 10 to 20 years, 139 residential and 29 commercial properties are expected to be at risk, while within 50 to 100 years the number is expected to rise to 366 residential and 91 commercial properties.
The first phase of the projected works would take place over the next 20 years and would cost £10million. Central Government, through the Environment Agency would fund a third of this cost, with the rest being found through partnership funding.
Mr Herbert called for full engagement in the programme from local authorities, recognising that there would need to be a collective effort to find the necessary funding.
West Sussex County Council, which is the local lead flood authority, has committed to reviewing the proposals and will engage with other stakeholders in the next few months.
The Mayor of Arundel, Michael Tu, said: "I welcomed the debate about the longer term issues associated with the improvement of Arundel's flood defences. Major involvement by West Sussex County Council in the LTRAS is essential, and I am very pleased that two WSCC Cabinet Members had participated in the meeting and listened carefully to local concerns".
Following the meeting, Nick Herbert said: "Everyone could see how high the river levels were in Arundel, and the localised flooding and worse incidents elsewhere were all a warning to us that flood defences need improving for the future.
"The Environment Agency's Strategy points the way forward, but requires leadership from local councils, the involvement of the community and a collective effort to fund flood defence improvements over future years.
"I welcome the constructive engagement of the councils at this meeting and their agreement to consider how to take forward this important programme."
Mr Herbert said that he would be holding further meetings as necessary in other areas affected by flooding and drainage problems in his constituency.
1. For more information about the Lower Tidal River Arun Strategy please see the pages on the Environment Agency website at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/122196.aspx.