You probably won’t be surprised to hear that we have just had our wettest February on record. This follows four previous months of very high rainfall, making it an exceptionally wet five-month period with a whole year’s average rainfall falling.
This has created plenty of surface water at times, including damage to roads and the major flooding of the M23 in December, but the impacts in the Crawley area have been much less than in many other parts of the country where flooding has been severe. While other areas have had (even) more rainfall than us, the main reason why the impacts here haven’t been as severe is because of the substantial investment made over many years in flood prevention.
This was especially so during the previous Conservative Administration at Crawley Borough Council that ran from 2006 to 2014. In conjunction with the Environment Agency, a huge amount of work was done to prevent a repeat of the flooding Crawley had back in the year 2000 and the 1990s.
The work we did included raising the dam at Tilgate Lake so that more water could be stored during high rainfall events, rather than have it all rapidly flow downstream to Furnace Green, Three Bridges and Gatwick all at once. We also desilted the Ifield Mill Pond and did good work at the Waterlea Flood Meadow and the balancing pond in Maidenbower. More recently the Environment Agency did works upstream from Crawley at Clays Lake in Worth Forest and we’ve seen works on the River Mole and Gatwick Stream.
West Sussex County Council run Operation Watershed which since 2012 has funded over 360 projects across the County, helping local communities with over £3.3 million of funding for flood prevention measures. This programme is still running.
The cumulative effect of all this flood prevention work has delivered good results for us here in Crawley, despite having more frequent very heavy rainfall events in recent years. I have no doubt that many homes and businesses have not been flooded this winter that would have otherwise been, showing that prevention is better than cure.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
4th March 2020