Flooding

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.

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4 Responses to Flooding

  1. John Penfold says:

    Yes,and add to this the proposal to turn the ex LEC Refrigeration grass airfield just NorthWest of Felpham into an industrial estate,with a new road spur from the Arun Leisure Centre roundabout into it. This is right next to the lower Rife confluence before it flows to the sea outlet.
    The Airfield was known to be regularly flooded or waterlogged.

  2. Eastergate, Westergate and Barnham all suffer badly with flooding. The land is very flat and there is almost no fall between these villages and the coast. Water simply sits on the land or roads and only drains away very slowly. The water table is very high.

    Rainwater is stored in aquifers in the Downs, but the excess always flows south towards the sea via streams and rifes (small rivers) and underground in shifting sand strata (known as green sand). This underground flow has been altered by the gravel extraction around Chichester. The gravel pits, which are full of water, actually divert the ground water towards Eastergate, Westergate and Barnham . This increases as the water flow grows, so lifting the water table east of the gravel pits.

    New development will add to the problem by providing increased catchment areas of roofs, roads and other hard standings, whilst by reducing agricultural land, field percolation will also be reduced.

    The rifes are inadequate and clearly do not have the capacity to cope at certain times. The result is overloaded drainage, floods and overwhelmed sewage plants.

    In the floods of 2000 three of the four routes into Westergate were impassable. In 2012 the A29 was closed at Shripney – again.

    The Fontwell Avenue pumping station could not control the capacity of the extra water flow in 2000 and it was left ‘open’ to run into the villages via the A29 and the stream that crosses near Elm Tree Stores.

    The “hill” created by the landfill at Lidsey is capped with clay to contain toxins etc. and thereby to stop them leaching into the topsoil. If this works as intended it also means that rainwater cannot penetrate the clay from the outside either, so instead of normal field percolation rainwater will instead run off the “hill”.

    With the “hill” covering a large acreage, water will run off at speed in all directions and will substantially increase the risk of flooding in any new development nearby and also downstream at Bersted.

    On the plus side, Arun always claims to be a responsible council and so, no doubt, they will organise some complimentary swimming lessons for residents downstream in Felpham, Bersted and Shripney.

  3. VAG says:

    The increased risk of flooding from the proposed 2,230 house development also increases the risk that Bognor Regis will lose its Blue Flag status. This is very important to Bognor as it could seriously affect Bognor’s status as a premier seaside resort.
    At a time when the Council is worried about under investment in Bognor, then it is obvious that they should use some joined up thinking. Concrete and tarmac upstream could lead to disastrous consequences downstream, and not just to flooded out residents, businesses and overflowing sewers. No new businesses will be attracted to Bognor Regis because any possible gain from the bypass will be negated by increased flooding of the Shripney part of any new road.

    The risk to Bognor’s Blue Flag could be the last straw.

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