£298k to help protect West Sussex homes from flooding

THE fight against flooding has received a £298,500 boost from the Department of Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

West Sussex County Council’s Operation Watershed is already underway to help better prepare for extreme weather.

Now, the council has been awarded the Defra grant to help protect homes and businesses from flooding.

Known as the Defra Pathfinder project, it will last for two years and be run by the council, the National Flood Forum and local agencies responsible for managing flood risks.

A total of £200,000 will be spent on installing flood protection at 40 homes identified as being in areas at greatest risk from flooding. They will also be the homes of those identified as most vulnerable.

Because Littlehampton and Bersted have been identified as most at risk from flooding, at least half of this will be spent in these communities.

Flood Action Groups will be formed in Littlehampton, Bersted, Shripney and Felpham among others.

The National Flood Forum will appoint a community officer to establish and support these groups.

Across the county, 68 parishes will receive support to develop community emergency plans. Emergency response kits, containing hi-visibility jackets, road closure signs, maps and radios, will also be distributed.

Cabinet member for residents’ services Lionel Barnard said: “This project is all about getting people to be more prepared for flooding.

“We want to help them understand their exposure to flood risk and inspire them to do something about it.

“We will also be protecting the homes of the most vulnerable in those places at greatest risk of flooding.”

He added: “We want these improvements to act as a catalyst and encourage others to put them in.”

National Flood Forum chief executive Paul Cobbing said: “Flooding has devastating impacts on families and communities.

“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with West Sussex County Council to make the pathway to advice and support clearer for residents at risk of flooding and to help them take action to protect themselves.”