Flooding fears – can town keep waves at bay?

Seaford beach damage. SUS-140219-153610001
Seaford beach damage. SUS-140219-153610001

The possibility of serious flooding in Seaford will be the subject of a public meeting today (Friday, 7pm) at the town’s Clinton Centre.

Speakers will include local MP Norman Baker, who will offer a national perspective, and Environment Agency Coastal Communities 2150 Project Team leader John Gower.

He will demonstrate, using computer modelling, the possible impact of rises in sea level and options for adapting to such rises.

With growing concern about the town’s sea defences, ‘Can We Hold Back The Tide’ has been organised by Seaford Community Partnership.

Another key speaker at the free meeting will be Kim Smith, the Environment Agency’s team leader on partnership and strategic overview for flood risk management, who will describe last year’s flooding and outline the Environment Agency’s strategies to address such problems in future in Seaford and Newhaven.

Planning for flooding events will be explained by Ian Hodgson, from the Resilience and Emergency Partnership.

Concerned local resident Jim Skinner, from Denton, said, “Although on the face of it this may well be a one-way communication to us from the Environment Agency, this is nonetheless a very good opportunity for those, like me, who have a very great concern regarding the beach as it currently exists, and how it is currently managed. I would urge all who have an interest in the beach situation, and I know there are many who do, to come to this meeting and take opportunity to voice those concerns.

“In a nutshell the EA still only sees our beach as a means of preventing flooding, they still basically only pay lip service to its amenity value. This meeting is a real chance for us, the beach users, to be heard and, hopefully, listened to.”

Last winter a series of bad storms removed much of the shingle from the beach and hence removed a large part of Seaford’s sea defences.

In Newhaven, 50 houses and 10 businesses were flooded. The railway line was closed for nearly four days, with more than £1m-worth of damage caused to signalling equipment.

Seaford, Newhaven, the Ouse Valley and Lewes are part of a project co-funded by the European Union, known as Coastal Communities Project 2150.

The project looked at the impact of rising sea levels and the increased risk of more frequent storm surges.