Environment Agency close Littlehampton’s River Road and install temporary flood defences

The Environment Agency have today installed temporary flood defences in Littlehampton’s East Bank, despite recently spending over £22.5 on building new flood defences.

In what could only be described as a national disgrace, the Environment Agency have now closed a section of River Road in Littlehampton to build temporary flood defences in preparation of tonight’s tidal surge.

Picture – courtesy, Terry Ellis.

Temporary flood defences erected by Environment Agency in Littlehampton’s River Road.

This, the same area where the Environment Agency recently completed a £22.5m Flood Defence scheme, but stubbornly refused to complete a section of the flood defence improvements, citing it was the responsibility of the landowner.  Something the landowner strongly refutes.

Rather than simply press on and build the disputed section of the flood defence wall, arguing who was responsible later, the Environment Agency’s local senior management team including  Mr David Robinson, Environment Agencies Operations Manager (East) and Mr James Humphrys, Environment Agency Area Director – decided instead to leave a gap in the new defence wall.

The gap in the flood defence wall, which poses a series flood risk to local residents and businesses.

Work on either side of the ‘gap’ was completed by the Environment Agency and the landowner, with the area where responsibility being disputed, left unattended and at risk of flooding.

Environment Agency staff working at constructing temporary flood defences in Littlehampton, earlier today – Friday 13th January 2017.

I covered this a recent blog post and asked David Robinson from the Environment Agency as to when he expected this gap to be finally blocked up, he replied by email as follows:

Dear Paul
 
Thank you for your email.
 
Littlehampton is better protected from flooding today than ever before following the construction of the East Bank Flood defences.  You are right that there is one area at Riverside Autos in River Road where the standard of protection that the private defences provide is lower than the new flood wall elsewhere.  Unfortunately, it was not possible to simply carry on the piling in front of the Riverside Autos site when we became aware that it was not going to be developed. 
 
Since September 2015 we have had a robust plan in place to deploy dedicated temporary flood defences which are stored in our Chichester depot.  These defences are similar to those you may have seen in the media during the winter floods of 2015/16 which have been used successfully many times.  We have not permanently installed the barrier at Riverside Autos to allow the current occupiers to continue to operate their business however we will deploy the barrier when the weather forecast and tide levels are predicted to be above particular trigger levels.  We last tested our plan in October 2015 and have not been needed to deploy the barrier at any time since then.
 
As you know, I had hoped to have a permanent solution in place by now but this has not been possible.  We continue to work with the landowners and our contractors to build the defences which I am hopeful will be in place by winter 2017-18.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Dave
 
David Robinson
Operations Manager (East)
Solent and South Downs Area
Environment Agency

 

As you can see from David Robinson’s reply, there is no solution to the problem, but wishful thinking on his part as to when the situation may be resolved.

As you can see in above picture, the Barge (in 2014) working on creating the new flood defence scheme positioned right in front of the gap, but still the Environment Agency refused to give the go ahead to complete this section of the defence wall.

An absolute disgrace.

In the meantime, while Mr Robinson sits on his hands achieves little or nothing, Littlehampton’s river road residents are now facing an ongoing flood risk, temporary road closures, disruption to services.

And who is footing the bill for these additional temporary flood defences? Certainly not the landowner, but the tax payer.

Arun District Council’s refuge contractors unable to empty bins in River Road earlier today owing to the Environment Agency’s road closures.

A tarpaulin carelessly left blocking the pavement forcing a lady with a child and pushchair to squeeze beside a working vehicle.

Temporary Road Closures

The Environment Agency advise that the temporary road closure in River Road will remain in place until 9am, Saturday 14th January 2017 when the road will re-open again.

Littlehampton’s West Beach area

No additional flood defences appear to have been allocated today to Littlehampton’s West Beach area, this being the area that didn’t ‘benefit’ from the Environment Agencies £22.5m flood defence scheme.

Many (with the exception of the EA and their consultants) believe that the construction and enhancement of Littlehampton’s East Bank flood defence scheme, has created additional problems for the West Bank area. The Environment refuse to accept this view point.

Make up your own mind – but ask yourself, how can the Environment Agency be allowed to get away with spending over £22.5m on  a flood defence scheme that now ultimately relies on the crude apparatus pictured below.


As always, thanks for reading, your comments welcome.

 

 

 

Will the Environment Agency ever finish Littlehampton’s Flood Defences?

Despite spending in excess of £22.5million on flood defences in Littlehampton Harbour, the Environment Agency still have not completed the flood defence works – and a massive gap still remains in the new flood defence wall.

Hard to believe, that it was back in September 2012, the Environment Agency began constructing Littlehampton’s flood defence scheme. Yet, here we are, early 2017 and Littlehampton still hasn’t been protected from flooding.

Despite assurances made at the start of the project by Environment Agency Manager David Robinson and his colleagues, that their extensive, disruptive  works would ensure Littlehampton was protected from a future flooding event, a large flood-friendly gap has been left in the new flood defence wall.

As you can see in the above picture, a barge was commissioned to complete the works along this side of the River Road’s riverside frontage. My understanding is, that the Environment Agency are holding the landowner responsible for paying for the works to this particular stretch of the riverbank. However, the landowner disputes their liability.

Regardless of who is responsible, surely the sensible approach would have been for the Environment Agency’s contractors to have completed this remaining section of the flood defences while their contractors were already in the river area working on the flood defences and arguing liability at a later date?

Surely the potential costs of clearing up after a flooding event, far outweigh the savings made by leaving a gap in the flood defences? Given that the equipment needed to construct a flood defence wall in a harbour environment are expensive, to say the least – the costs of now returning to bridge this gap will be far in excess of the costs that would have been involved in making good the wall when the EA’s contractors were already in place.

In any event, at the time, the Environment Agency decided to withdraw their contractors, leaving the area with the massive gap you see in the above picture,  leaving a number of giant sandbags, (which can be seen in the picture)to be used in the event of a flooding crisis.

How can a government funded quango spend over £22.5m on creating what were described at the time as being ‘state of the art’ and we’re left with a number of giant sand bags to save the town from flooding?

More importantly, why have the local authorities who were partners in this project (primarily – Arun District Council, West Sussex County Council) remained silent on the situation and not demanded a remedy?

I’ve asked David Robinson, manager at the Environment Agency for an update on what they’re intending to do to bridge the gap and complete the flood defences that were promised.

I have also written to my MP Nick Gibb (Littlehampton MP) asking for his intervention.

I will update the blog with any replies, in the meantime I’d urge you to write to Nick Gibb, MP for Littlehampton to bring pressure on the Environment Agency to undertake and complete their statutory duties.

Nick Gibb MP, can be emailed at:  gibbn@parliament.uk

When I previously raised this issue back in 2016 – this story was taken up by the BBC including featuring on BBC South East News with Sean Killick, BBC Radio Sussex and other media outlets. At the time, David Robinson, Manager at the Environment Agency gave assurances that a permanent solution would be achieved.

We’re still waiting, Mr Robinson.


As always, thanks for reading, your comments welcome.

Paul

 

 

 

Southern Water forced to abandon emergency works in Pier Road owing to traffic chaos.

Now Updated with a reply from Southern Water (follows below main post)

Southern Water have been left looking like idiots this morning (Monday, 19th October) in Pier Road, Littlehampton.

On Friday, 16th October 2015 without any direct consultation or notification to local residents or businesses in Pier Road, representatives from Southern Water laid a number of ‘no parking cones’ along Pier Road announcing that emergency works would take place the following Monday and Tuesday.

Parking was suspended – with dire warnings of vehicles being towed away if they remain parked.

Southern Water works in PIer RoadAbove: Southern Water’s No Parking Signs which appeared without notice on Friday afternoon.

Then on Saturday, a traffic management system was dropped off and left on the pavement in Pier Road.

Southern Water emergency works in Pier Road, LittlehamptonAbove: Traffic control systems arrived on Saturday ready for Monday’s start..

And then today, Monday morning the contractors duly arrived in Pier Road ready to undertake the ’emergency works’ only to discover that as parking is permitted along both sides of the Pier Road carriage way, double lines being only seasonal, therefore rendering it impossible to close a single carriage way of Pier Road.

They would have known this had their officials bothered to check with local business owners and residents.

A child could easily work out that if you’re going to close one carriage of Pier Road, you’re going to need to suspend parking the entire length of Pier Road, and not just opposite and around the area you need to dig up.

Now that Southern Water have left Pier Road, to return at some undetermined time later to complete their emergency works, this begs the question as to how urgent these ’emergency works’ actually are?

Most of us would assume an emergency being something that requires immediate attention.

Not so when it comes to Southern Water.

But then addressing customer satisfaction is not something Southern Water are renowned for. In 2013 the company received the undesired accolade of being the most complained about utility company in the UK generating a staggering 23,000 complaints in one year alone. They did however, manage to generate pre-tax profits of £156.9m in the same year.

And why are these works necessary?

Pier Road has only recently being opened to vehicular traffic having been closed for almost 2 years during the Environment Agency’s protracted flood defences works.

Therefore it’s extremely worrying for residents and businesses in Pier Road, that despite over £22.5m being spent jointly by the Environment Agency, Arun District Council and West Sussex County Council that Southern Water are now planning to dig up Pier Road’s new surfaces.

To-date, my requests for an explanation from Southern Water as to why these works are required have been ignored.

So, we’re stuck with rumour.

Rumour has it in Pier Road that the reason for Southern Water’s emergency works it that the underground pipe works have been damaged as a result of the Environment Agency’s flood defence works and that flooding is now being experienced in roads behind Pier Road.

Whatever is going on, it’s not good news.

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen grim-faced senior representatives from the Environment Agency, Arun District Council and the Environment’s Agency’s contractors, VolkerStevin meeting in huddled groups along the new walkway. Steps have been measured, gradients measured, failing concrete examined and now Southern Water want to dig up part of the recently laid new road.

As for the chaotic nature of Pier Road’s traffic flow  I have previously (along with many others) made representations to West Sussex County Council’s Highways officers and senior officers at Arun District Council that re-opening Pier Road without any changes to the traffic flow and management was mistake.

How could anyone spend £22.5m on a massive regeneration programme for Pier Road and re-open Pier Road with a narrower road than previously, allow 2-way traffic and allow parking on both sides of Pier Road?

And as for Southern Water – In September 2015 this company was fined £160,000 with additional costs of £27,000 at Chichester Crown Court in a case brought against them by the Environment Agency. Southern Water had pumped over 40 million litres of untreated sewage into the sea off Worthing.

REPLY FROM SOUTHERN WATER

Emergency work in Pier Road, Littlehampton
19/10/2015

Southern Water applied to West Sussex County Council (WSCC) for an emergency works order at the end of September, to repair a 9″ main on Pier Road.

WSCC gave us permission to carry out these works on Monday 19 October.

We didn’t apply for a road closure, choosing instead to put up temporary traffic lights as a way of minimising disruption to residents and businesses. In the days leading up the works we notified residents by way of signage and cones – asking people not to park in the area on that date, to allow our workmen access.

SW understands that whilst vital, repairs can cause disruption and we seek to minimise this as much as possible – for example with the use of temporary traffic lights rather than road closures.

Unfortunately when we arrived to carry out the repair, cars were parked along the road, meaning our workmen were unable to put up the temporary traffic lights and therefore could not safely go ahead.

We will be reapplying to WSCC to carry out the works as a matter of urgency and would ask drivers to help us by keep an eye out for any work related ‘no parking’ signs.

ENDS.

PIER ROAD FURTHER OBSERVATION

So, Southern Water’s latest method of communication important information to their customers is via attaching notes to traffic cones, which are intermittently placed outside a few doors.

The statement doesn’t explain why the works are deemed as ’emergency works’ given that very obviously there’s no immediate requirement to fix/repair/replace anything.

Clearly another example of Southern Water riding rough-shod over local residents and businesses. If they’re not pumping untreated sewage into our seas and beaches, they’re abdicating their statutory obligations by sticking notes to traffic cones.

I despair, I really do.

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As always, your comments are welcome and thanks for reading.