Years of work and millions of pounds of investment have finally come to fruition as the Adur tidal walls scheme was declared officially open.
Dozens gathered at the Shoreham Centre yesterday (March 22) to usher in the conclusion of the £45 million project to fortify the flood defences along the banks of the Adur.
Chief executive of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, was on hand to cut the ceremonial ribbon and highlighted the impact the scheme – one of the largest in the UK – would have on the town.
“Flooding destroys lives,” he said.
“It doesn’t just destroy houses or businesses, it can destroy people’s peace of mind, wellbeing and mental health. It can destroy communities.
“We don’t like to think of flood schemes as being just about defences from floods. We think about them making places better.
“This is contributing to Shoreham and it is destined to be a better place. It’s not just about protecting against floods, but about creating prosperity.”
The 7,200m scheme runs along the banks of the River Adur, with 1.8km of new defences on the east bank between Coronation Green and the A27 road bridge, and 5.4km on the west bank between the river mouth and the A27.
More than 2,300 homes and businesses are set to be protected by the patchwork of flood walls, embankments and fortified glass, and Sir James said the added peace of mind would help to stimulate economic growth in the area.
“It’s not just a flood scheme, this is a growth scheme,” he said, and described the project as a ‘personal quest’ of his, having been involved from the outset.
The majority of the project has been funded by £37.4 million of government funding, alongside contributions from Coast to Capital LEP, West Sussex County Council and a number of private developers through Adur District Council.
Neil Parkin, the leader of Adur District Council, said the new defences were ‘tremendous’ and would allow the people of Shoreham to sleep a lot easier in their beds.
More than 15,000 bricks, 800 cubic metres of concrete and 6,845 tonnes of rock were used in the construction process, including salvaged flint to reflect Shoreham’s maritime roots.
The project has also created around 1.4 hectares of compensatory saltmarsh habitat for the benefit of local wildlife.
Member of Parliament for East Worthing and Shoreham, Tim Loughton, helped open the scheme and praised the ‘imagination and senstivity’ of the designers in capturing Shoreham’s proud maritime heritage.
Final work in ‘fine tuning’ the defences will continue, but yesterday’s ceremony marked the conclusion of the major works.
Read more about the project here: