The 3 Parishes of Aldingbourne, Eastergate and Barnham together with their associated villages and settlements are all situated on a Flood Plain. This extends from the foot of the South Downs to the present sea coast. Historically, the coast was further inland many thousands of years ago and where we live is effectively the remains of ancient beaches and alluvial flats. They are riven with ancient waterways or drainage channels which today we call “Rifes”. There is the Aldingbourne Rife, the Eastergate Rife and the Barnham and Lidsey Rife. These channels all drain naturally towards the sea coast because the whole area slopes very gently towards the sea. Because it is a very flat Plain and only slopes gently, this means that any water from rainfall will only drain SLOWLY towards the sea via the Rifes.
If the rainfall is very heavy as we are experiencing increasingly now with the apparently permanent Climate Change that has happened, then there is too much water for the Rife channels to deal with. They quickly fill to the brim and overflow onto the flat Flood Plain. The water will then find any route possible in its desire to get to the sea. If this includes your house and garden there is nothing you can do about it. The water volumes and forces involved are too great for any human to stop.
It so happens that the village of Felpham and the town of Bognor Regis are directly in the path of this water. They will inevitably get flooded in various places should the Flood Plain to their North become covered in water.
It seems from recent events that this area has already reached a flooding limit since, with the Climate Change and increased rainfall, flooding incidents are now becoming fairly common.
Arun District Council’s new proposals in the Draft Local Plan to carpet our Villages with 2,230 new houses plus attendant roads and concrete will inevitably increase vastly the surface run-off of rainwater and not allow it to soak away into our present fields, ditches and meadows. Coupled with this would be the enormous number of concrete foundations for the new houses which would also displace huge amounts of water and help to prevent any absorption by the ground.
Any common sense assessment of our situation should lead to the conclusion that we have already reached sustainable limits in the areas such as the Villages which are built on a Flood Plain. Any further concreting over of fields in this area will result in much worse and frequent flooding further downstream, – i.e. in Felpham and Bognor
An excellent new website has recently been created by residents of the Felpham area. The group is called the West Felpham Flood Action Assembly or WFFAA. The website has some good Photos and contact details should you wish to get in touch with them. The website may be accessed here.