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BEHIND THE HEADLINES: A27 flooding

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‘SOUL-DESTROYING’ blockages are continuing to flood the A27, as well as seven nearby businesses which regularly see their workshops underwater.

Drivers are familiar with flooding on the A27, but the stretch between the Portfield roundabout and the A285 at Halnaker is often particularly bad.

Nearby Maudlin Farm, home to seven businesses, is deluged whenever the A27 is flooded, meaning the workshops are completely under water.

“In the past 13 months I’ve had water in my workshop five times,” said Ryan Westwood, of Westwood Furniture Co.

“The first time that came in, I had a wooden floor in here so that all had to be ripped out.

“I’ve put a concrete floor in and this floor now takes about three months to dry once it’s wet. I’ve had dehumidifiers running 24 hours a day and I can’t really work in here until it’s dry, with the moisture and the furniture.”

He described the A27 as a ‘dam’ causing water to back up then overflow on to the dual carriageway.

According to Mr Westwood, the problem started when ditches that used to run south from Westhampnett to the Pagham Rife were cut off by the A27.

Since then, water pools north of the carriageway. With especially heavy rainfall, the water overflows and blocks the A27, needing to be pumped away by Highways Agency contractors.

There is a pond south of the A27, with a nine-inch pipe connecting to it from where water collects on the northern side.

However, Mr Westwood said there was no outlet for the water there and it frequently backed up.

He said a pipe connecting the pond to the Pagham Rife could soon solve the problem.

“It’s just infuriating, because all they’ve got to do is put a pipe in,” he said.

“It just needs a pipe to be put in at the bottom just to let the water run away. Basically it’s hitting a dam and backing up and flooding us all out.”

The farm has been in Mr Westwood’s family for years and he said the situation had worsened considerably in recent times.

“It’s quite soul-destroying really, just to see the farm like this, without it affecting the businesses as well.”

The water has been so deep at Maudlin Farm that it has come up to at least waist height and people relied on waders to get through.

Mr Westwood said the Highways Agency did pump water away fairly quickly once it reached the road, so it did drop, but until then the yard stayed full of water.

Permanent pump to be installed

THE Highways Agency frequently has contractors pumping water away from the A27 and Maudlin Farm.

On Monday, Ryan Westwood said their efforts had seen the water level drop significantly.

“The Highways Agency has done a truly amazing job and the water is the lowest it’s been all year, so we are

very pleased and can only assume the pump is now working,” he said.

There were fears a temporary pump stationed there on Friday (January 24) had broken down.

Once water hits the A27, tankers often have to work 24 hours a day to clear the road, but according to Mr

Westwood, they are just keeping the water at bay.

On Tuesday (January 28), a spokesman for the Highways Agency confirmed a permanent solution could soon be in place to stop the A27 flooding.

“A new pump is currently being installed, to replace the temporary pump, near Shopwyke Park, to take water away from the A27 to the Chichester flood relief channel,” he said.

“The work will be complete by April 2014. This follows improvements to the drainage on the A27 around Chichester carried out in 2012.”

He added the Highways Agency worked hard to reduce the amount of surface water on the A27 to ensure journeys

remained safe and reliable for the tens of thousands of drivers that relied on this route each day.

Maudlin Nurseries

LAST year, planning permission was granted for nearly 100 new homes in Westhampnett on the former Maudlin

Nurseries site.

Residents and businesses were concerned about the impact this would have on A27 flooding, especially as another green field would be tarmacked as part of the development.

“In their drainage plan they said water will soak into a greenfield site,” he said, adding this would not work as the field to which it referred was clay-capped and the water would just run off towards the A27.

“It’s only going to get worse when they start tarmacking that field.”

The cause

WATER is getting blocked on the northbound side of the A27, with the A27 having a ‘dam effect’.

Additionally, the nearby landfill site (part of the Westhampnett depot) is clay-capped, meaning that whenever it rains, water runs off the clay and pools on the south-east side of the field, raising the water levels even further.

Additionally, this is exacerbated by blocked ditches along Dairy Lane, which run alongside the landfill site.

Ditches are also a problem further north, according to Mr Westwood, as they are not being cleared out and lead to water heading towards the A27.

Timeline

IN JUST over a year, the eastbound carriageway of the A27 has already been flooded four times.

- December 21, 2012 to December 31, 2012.

- February 10, 2013 to February 14, 2013.

- January 3, 2014 to January 9, 2014.

- January 17, 2014 to January 20, 2014.

 

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