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January 15 2014.

Newhaven MP Norman Baker has called for better investment in local flood defences following the two separate occasions this winter in which areas of the town have flooded.

Norman raised the issue of inadequate defences with the Environment Agency following flood damage in the run up to Christmas which saw flood waters affect between 50 and 100 residential properties affected in the Railway Road area of the town by water 30cm (1 foot) deep in places. Furthermore, high waters caused damage to Newhaven Swing Bridge, forcing inspectors out to assess the damage.

Proposals for future flood defences for the area will see 460 residential and 445 commercial properties better protected, but any scheme is still waiting for secure funding. The specific details of the design of future defences is planned to be brought to public consultation in summer 2014.

The Environment Agency has agreed that Newhaven is a priority for flood defences. However, the cost-benefit ratio required to receive funding that is set by the Agency moves year on year potentially leaving proposals for Newhaven on the sidelines.

Nevertheless, pressure for better defences is increasing as new planning applications, like the recent proposal for nearly 150 new homes on the site of the old Parker Pen factory, fall within areas at risk of flooding. Without improvements to Newhaven’s flood defences further investment in the town will become harder to come by as future developers and investors will be forced to accommodate flood defences in their plans. This will likely come at a cost to wider infrastructure improvements to the town.

Norman says: “Looking to the future Newhaven is in a precarious position. These extreme weather events are predicted to only get more frequent and more severe and the local flood defences have already been shown as dangerously insufficient.”

“I am pleased to see that the Environment Agency is taking the threat seriously and is planning on working with local residents to help better protect the town. I will continue to press the importance of the issue and the case for funding with the DEFRA and the Environment Agency and work alongside them to develop a scheme that will protect the town and its residents from future disruptions.”