Council receives £298,500 grant to boost flood prevention fund

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West Sussex County Council’s drive to help communities become more resilient to flooding has received a £298,500 boost.

Under Operation Watershed, work has already started to better prepare West Sussex against extreme weather.

Now the County Council has been awarded a grant from the Department of Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) 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 County Council, the National Flood Forum and local agencies responsible for managing flood risks.

£200,000 will be spent on installing flood protection measures at 40 homes, all located in areas of greatest risk from flooding.

These homes will be where the most vulnerable people live.

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.

These groups will consist of people with local expertise and knowledge of flood risks in their area who can work with the agencies responsible for flood prevention.

They will have the power to influence and change the way floods are managed.

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

Sixty-eight parishes in West Sussex will receive support to develop Community Emergency Plans to help them next time flooding arises.

Emergency response kits, containing hi-visibility jackets, road closure signs, maps and radios, will also be distributed so communities can take the appropriate action to manage floods locally.

West Sussex County Council’s 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.”