The Environment Agency have suspended work on the River Road flood defences. They have discovered that the river bed was softer than their prior investigations had suggested, and further testing has shown that their current technical design will not work. The alternative design that they have identified would cost considerably more to install and would mean that the total cost of the Arundel flood defences would soar above the current £4.7m budget. The Environment Agency cannot incur this additional cost without ‘top level’ approval which, even if it is given, will take time to secure. For this reason they are going to suspend the work whilst they look at alternative design solutions which are within budget.
The specialist equipment in use in River Road costs a huge amount to hire (circa £100,000 per week) and so it will be removed. The fact that the equipment is being removed does not mean that the project has been stopped permanently, it just does not make economic sense to retain the equipment whilst it is not in use. However before this can be done some repair work needs to be done to the east end of River Road, so some equipment will still be on site for the next 6-7 weeks. At the council’s request, the Environment Agency are investigating whether any further short term measures to protect River Road can be put in place before the equipment is removed.
At the end of this period the River Road car park will be reinstated and come back into use. We will announce the date for this when it is finalised.
The Environment Agency believe that finding either the additional funding required or (probably more likely) finding an alternative technical design solution will take some months, and so they do not expect to be back in River Road before the Autumn of 2020. In the meantime the works on Fitzalan Road will continue and the works on both sides of the river south of the A27 bridge will proceed as scheduled.
Clearly this is deeply disappointing, and the continued uncertainty will cause distress to those residents who are most affected. Arundel Town Council will continue to work with the Environment Agency, other Statutory Authorities and our MP to ensure that work resumes on River Road as soon as possible.