‘Lives could be lost’ fears retired flood defence agent

Flooding in Bramber in 2000, when the River Adur burst its banks
Flooding in Bramber in 2000, when the River Adur burst its banks

A RETIRED flood defence agent claims more needs to be done to protect Shoreham and Lancing from flooding.

Frank Preston was employed by Southern Water Authority when it took over the sea defences at Shoreham Beach and worked there for 30 years, until he took over hands-on management of the Adur catchment.

Mr Preston, of Furners Mead, Henfield, believes housebuilding north of the South Downs, the lack of de-silting in the river and poor maintenance of the flood banks are contributing to flooding risks.

“If I lived in the area, I would not sit back dormant and wait until I lost everything I owned under the floods,” he said.

The River Arun and River Adur shared the same estuary many years ago, he pointed out, and the estuary was about 1,000 yards west of the present estuary, up to the Ferry Road area.

On the south side of the A259 was a bank, known as the Brighton Road protection scheme.

Mr Preston said: “This bank has been excavated to build houses, which at high tide will allow water to seep along the footings from the sea into the developed land on the north side of the road. This puts extra water to drain away the sluices at the dog kennels at low water.”

He said some of the defence banks levels were half a metre below design levels, with the tide levels 600mm higher than when the design levels were set in the late 1950s.

The land west of Brighton Road was a flood plain, made up of fine silt, which takes up ground water at high tide then drains out at low water between the tides.

“By developing this land, it puts more load on the flood plain and filling in part of the flood plain with landfill has only made matters much worse,” he explained.

Mr Preston said it was impossible to predict when a flood bank would fall, so he feared lives could be lost at night when people were asleep in their beds.

“Although I am sorry for the home owners who got flooded, they were so lucky the weather was so kind to them and the river was not in full flood, or Shoreham, Lancing and parts of Worthing would have floodedm,” he added.

“There would be no stopping at low tide because the head of flood water at Rice Bridge on the A23 is 15 metres higher than Shoreham Beach, and at Bay Bridge on the A24, 17 metres above Shoreham.”

Mr Preston would like to see a much-improved flood bank from the A259 along to Ferry Road, from the railway bank at Shoreham Airport to Cuckoo Corner, on Coombes Road, and from the Ropetackle site to the left bank up river to the Adur flyover.

“Shoreham Airport bank needs to be rebuilt by filling in the ditch at the rear landward side and building the bank one metre higher and two metres wider at the top, with a two-and-a-half back slope and re-excavate a new ditch to replace the old one,” he believed.

“At the section of bank known as the houseboat bank, the top is three metres above the floor level of the houses to the rear and three-and-a-half metres below high tide on spring tides. It needs to be built up a metre higher, also with toe piling.”