MP welcomes accelerated flood defence scheme for Arundel
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has welcomed an announcement by the Environment Agency that it will accelerate a flood defence scheme in Arundel and include repairs to the collapsed wall at River Road.
The Environment Agency’s decision came after Mr Herbert asked the Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, to intervene following the failure to repair part of the river wall in Arundel which collapsed more than two and a half years ago.
Mr Gove asked the Agency to come forward with proposals, and after reviewing the recommendations from the Lower Tidal River Arun Strategy for Arundel the Agency has brought forward a scheme to improve flood defences in areas of the town at highest risk.
Repairs to the collapsed wall at River Road will be completed first, and work there is scheduled to begin by autumn 2019. The whole scheme is estimated to be completed in autumn 2020. Under the original timetable the work may not have started for two to three years.
The scheme will improve the protection of around 130 properties from flooding and up to 30 properties against river erosion on both river banks. The estimated cost is £4 million, funded by a combination of Government grant and local contributions of £750,000, including from councils.
The River Road residents have confirmed that they will contribute nearly £300,000 of this through insurance payouts and personal contributions, while on Thursday (11 October) Arundel Town Council voted unanimously to allocate the £64,000 which it has raised from local residents for the town’s flood defences through its precept, provided that West Sussex County Council and Arun District Council also contribute.
The Environment Agency has also stated that a contractor will be in place by next month (November), ready to act should any emergency works be required in the event of a serious wall collapse. By this time, they also expect to have updated flood warning and emergency response plans which will be shared with local councils and the community. Additionally, the Agency will be inspecting the river wall on a regular basis to identify any changes or deterioration in condition, with the next such inspection scheduled for February 2019.
Commenting, Mr Herbert said: “This has been a long battle but I am delighted to have helped secure this outcome on behalf of local residents. I am very grateful to Michael Gove for his intervention, and to the Environment Agency for revising and bringing forward its flood risk plans so that the River Road repairs will at last be done.
“I am confident that the necessary funding will be raised from local councils, and Arundel Town Council has already shown a lead. I look forward to confirmation from West Sussex County Council and Arun District Council that they will support this important scheme”.
Kim Parkes, who chairs the River Road Action Group, said: "The relief felt by affected residents now that a resolution to fix the river wall has been announced is overwhelming. An agonising period lasting nearly three years has come to an end and during that time the chaotic events that ensued resulted in severe desperation for all directly affected parties.
“Gratitude to MP Nick Herbert for the role he played in wrestling some very awkward situations towards a positive outcome are due in no small measure. It is obvious he spent much time and diligence in pursuit of a favorable outcome for his constituents. Without his intervention I doubt there would ever have been any resolution forthcoming."
The Mayor of Arundel, Councillor Lucy Ashworth, said: “On behalf of Arundel Town Council, I would like to express our gratitude for Nick Herbert’s commitment and determination to escalate this issue to Parliament.
“This extraordinary need for support has finally been recognised and will seek to alleviate the repairs of the River Road river wall amongst other flooding contingencies.
“The Council has valued Nick’s ongoing support with the residents affected and the Council have allocated £64,000 to the new Arundel Flood Alleviation Scheme. Our thanks to Nick Herbert and local advisor Derek Waller working together with local residents and link councillors.”
1. Photograph: the collapsed section of the river wall in 2016.
2. A copy of the Environment Agency’s notice to Arundel residents can be read here.
3. A timeline of Nick’s actions can be found at the following page: https://www.nickherbert.com/river-road/?rq=river%20road.