To stop the Environment Agency from forcing us to take ownership of a new public flood defence.
Who we are.
We are the Shoreham Beach Riparian owners, representing householders and houseboat owners along the Adur estuary in West Sussex. We are riparian owners because the river Adur runs along the bottom of our gardens, or because the present flood defence cuts through our land, as it does where the houseboats are.
What the Environment Agency are doing.
There is a flood defence running through our land, much of which has a public footpath along it. The flood defence protects more than 2000 homes, many of which would flood badly if the defence were to give way, maybe with loss of life. It also protects roads and infrastructure from being washed away. This is why the Environment Agency (EA) is going to strengthen and raise the flood defence and then build a wall to provide protection from the severest floods for the next 50 years. We know it has to be built and we think it is a good thing.
What is our problem?
The EA says that when this PUBLIC flood defence is built, we individuals will own it, and that we will have to PAY (for ever and ever) for its maintenance and repair, for example, if vandals damage it or if it is breached. Our sections of it will become our responsibility and our liability.
Why does this bother us?
If the flood defence breaks in our section, we could be sued for £millions both for repairing the defence and for all the damage caused by the rushing water to the people, houses and roads behind the defence. We have been told by the Environment Agency that if there is a breach they will mend it, and that the person who owns that section of flood defence will have to pay. How can we do that? Even if we sold our homes we couldn’t afford to pay money like that.
What will the flood defence be like?
By the houses and flats the defence will either be a concrete wall built over piling, or it will be made of panels of flood glass. So here is a rough diagram to show the situation for these riparian owners: -
Through the houseboat section there will be a bank with piling in it under a public footpath, with a wall along the Shoreham Beach side to protect the houses on the other side. The houseboats are the riparian owners, so will have to look after the flood defences for the houses.
Who else is affected in the locality?
All of us who live on the beach are only as safe as the weakest part of the flood defence which protects us. So having a flood defence is great, but the maintenance is essential for our safety, and it's important to everyone that this is done properly; that's why the Environment Agency should keep the responsibility.
Are other people locally and countrywide affected?
According to the Environment Agency, all people who own land beside a river or estuary (riparian owners) all over the country will face the same dilemma if new flood defences are built on their land. We think the Environment Agency should keep the responsibility for owning and maintaining all of them.
Why do we want to raise some money?
We are hoping to raise enough money for a barrister to look at our case and get a proper legal opinion as to whether we can stop the Environment Agency from forcing us to take ownership of, and having the responsibility for maintenance of, the new flood defence.
Raising, strengthening and maintaining the flood defence along this stretch of the river Adur is vital to protect all of us; many homes are built below the high tide level, and so is the main access road to Shoreham Beach for emergency services etc.. The current flood defence failed in two places at the nearby airport in December 2013, and huge amounts of water rushed onto the airport as a result; what we want is to ensure that the EA retains the responsibility for making sure that doesn't happen to all of us.
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and thank you so much for helping us!
About the claimant
This photo is of Beach Dreams when everyone from Shoreham Beach gets together for a fun weekend.
Shoreham Beach is not very big and is surrounded on three sides by water, so we are a close community.
There are all sorts of homes on Shoreham Beach, one or two still have the old railway carriages in them from the time when there was a film studio. There is a primary school, and a church, and some shops etc. And, of course, don't forget the houseboat community ... you can see photos of our boats on flickr (https://www.flickr.com/groups/weloveshorehamhouseboats/)
- Ordinary people like us face having to pay for the upkeep of a new £multi-million flood defence to protect 2000+ homes.
- Next step... instructing a barrister to see if we can stop this from happening.
- Zoe Willers of De Cruz Solicitors has kindly offered to initiate proceedings for us.
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We're in the news! and extended deadline.
As well as being on BBC Sussex on 1st September (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p044vcd8), we've also been covered by the Shoreham Herald (http://www.shorehamherald.co.uk/news/campaigners-near-funding-goal-in-flood-defence-ownership-battle-1-7562783), and yesterday we were given a double page spread in The Argus.
Because of this publicity we have an extended deadline so people can still donate if they wish.
We've reached the halfway stage!
We've done it! We have reached our first target of £2500, which is to fund the beginning of the work on our case by our Barrister.
Our next target of £5,000 is so that the Barrister can complete the task, and make site visits etc. and report back to us.
Because our case is unusual, and may be breaking new legal ground, it is going to be extra time-consuming to research it.
Any help with publicising it through our Facebook page would be gratefully accepted. https://www.facebook.com/Riparian.Owners/
We hit our first target!
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