Floor Defence scheme responsibility left to freeholders

Adur and Worthing Planning Department approved the Environment Agency (EA)’s Tidal Walls Flood Defense Scheme for the Adur River on March 14, with 23 conditions attached.

These conditions can be found on the Adur and Worthing Council site Planning section.

A significant element of this scheme is that EA are handing ownership of the new defence to riparian (riverbank) owners, whether those owners like it or not. All riparian owners, such as Adur District Council, local businesses or private freeholders (including houseboat owners) have a current duty to be ‘responsible for maintaining the bed and banks of the watercourse’. (EA’s document ‘Living on the Edge.’)

At the meeting of March 14, EA did confirm that if a flood event damages the defense, they will step in to repair the wall. However, houseboat owners have been told that if, for example, a handrail deteriorates, the bill will pass to the riparian owner.

The precise law that allows EA to build a new structure on someone else’s land, then force them to own it, has not been identified to us, despite repeated requests.

This large public scheme is, in perpetuity, being left in the hands of riparian owners, including a hundred or so individual freeholders whose land borders the river. Any questions of whether or not this is fair are simply being avoided.

Jon Potter

Chair

Adur Houseboat Association

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