Environment Agency not to blame

Dear Sir,

While agreeing that detail maintenance by the EA could always be improved, I must contest the assertion of last week’s article that the recent damage in Rye Harbour Nature Reserve could have been prevented by appropriate action by the EA. The damage – destruction of part of the Beach Road and flooding of the Information Centre - was due to the exceptional tidal surge that occurred in the English Channel, a rise of about 1.3 metres over the normal spring tide of 3.8 metres – a measurement of 5.18 metres at Strand Quay in Rye.

The Nature Reserve and Information Centre lie between the primary and secondary flood defences, the latter the product of a large investment programme executed by the EA over the last 7 years. They will therefore flood when exceptional events occur, overtopping the primary defences.

Without the EA investment and management, millions of pounds of damage could have been caused in Rye, Rye Harbour and Winchelsea Beach. There were some minor weeps due to faulty flap valves but these were quickly corrected. We are indeed very grateful to the EA for its prescience in the investment programme and the efforts of the operations staff – day and night – to run the system.

The EA moved contractors and equipment in within days to repair and re-open the destroyed Beach Road which had been there since 1947, a clue perhaps that, locally, this surge was higher than the 1953 event. Further, the recent big EA civil engineering effort to replace the Western Training Wall of the Rother channel prevented an even worse consequence, the collapse of the western bank and blockage of the river channel.

I should add that I have no connection with the EA or its contractors.

Mike Slavin, Rye Harbour.