Flooding in parts of Crawley looks set to continue for years due to delays to a major flood reduction project.
The Upper Mole Flood Alleviation Scheme was developed by the Environment Agency in 2010 to adapt to future changes in climate and provide better flood protection for Gatwick Airport and thousands of people living in Crawley and Horley.
The scheme, originally scheduled to be complete by the end of 2013, is made up of five projects:
l Improvement of two existing clay fill dams at Tilgate Lake and Clay’s Lake, Pease Pottage
l Creation of two new clay fill dams at Worth Farm and Ifield;
l Restoration of a stretch of river at Grattons Park, Pound Hill.
Work at Tilgate Lake finished in July 2011 and Worth Farm and Grattons Park were substantially completed in December 2013.
The dam improvement work at Clays Lake has been granted planning permission but refusal of an application for a new access point has stalled it.
It is now scheduled to start in September and finish in September 2016.
The Environment Agency said the new flood storage reservoir at Ifield would require a significant external contribution for it to proceed.
However, once complete, the whole scheme would reduce flood risk to 640 properties from ‘significant’ to ‘moderate’. Some 663 properties would change from a ‘moderate’ risk of flooding to ‘low’.
The annual flood risk at Gatwick Airport, South Terminal, would be reduced from five per cent to two per cent.
Tim Connell, operations manager for the Environment Agency, said: “The scheme is not yet complete but so far the completed elements are performing well during the heavy rainfall we are currently experiencing.
“Our teams across the region, along the east coast, and at the Thames Barrier are working tirelessly throughout this ongoing incident, operating gates and structures and checking that flood defences and barriers are in good working order.”
Staff have also been working to clear trees and debris to reduce flood risk to property.