A project which will help ease flooding in parts of Crawley has been given the go-ahead.
The Environment Agency’s third application to improve the dam at Clay’s Lake, Pease Pottage, was approved last week by Mid Sussex District Council. Work is expected to start in September.
The project will mean the lake will be able to hold 40 times more water during floods and will limit the flow downstream to Maidenbower, Three Bridges and Gatwick.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “We are delighted that Mid Sussex District Council has approved our planning application for the Clay’s Lake element of the Upper Mole Flood Alleviation scheme. This is vital to ensure we can protect more homes against the effects of flooding.
“We have already completed two flood storage areas at Tilgate Lake and Worth Farm. Once the Clay’s Lake part is complete, the scheme as a whole will reduce the risk of flooding to over 1,000 homes in Crawley and Horley, and will help protect Gatwick Airport.”
Although a similar project with a different access point was permitted, this application was refused permission twice because of the disruption it could cause to residents.
Crawley Borough Council (CBC) property services officer Peter Allen wrote to the district council asking it to support the latest plan.
He said: “Over the past few years there have been numerous times when the existing infrastructure has come close to reaching its existing limit and in the recent December 2013 and January 2014 high rainfall events, some areas failed or were very close to failure and had a real detrimental impact on residents and businesses of Crawley.”
Reacting to the news Cllr Ken Trussell, CBC cabinet member for the environment, said: “I accept the decision with much happiness because the Environment Agency can move forward with the scheme. We all know what happened in the areas of Maidenbower, Three Bridges and the station.”
Labour’s shadow portfolio holder for the environment Cllr Colin Lloyd said: “I am relieved to hear that the planning difficulties have been overcome. The ongoing rain has highlighted once more how urgent the work at Clay’s lake is. Equally vital is moving forward the stalled flood protection plan for west of Crawley near Ifield and Gatwick Airport.”