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Operation Watershed - Key Information and Timeline

Key Information
• ‘Operation Watershed’ was created by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) following flooding in the county during 2012/13 to address issues with the drainage infrastructure including the riparian ditch network, damage to roads and improving resilience to protect homes, businesses and highways.

• In December 2017 £1.5m was allocated to Operation Watershed over a 5-year period until 2022/23. The budget allocation for 2021/22 is £300,000, available on a first come-first served basis, subject to evaluation using a scorecard.

Timeline
This project is time-critical both in terms of access to funds and window to complete the work i.e., after the nesting period and before the rainy season – August to October.

March 2019 – the Parish Council explores funding from the South Downs National Park Authority to enhance the biodiversity of the pond, last major works undertaken in 2000.

June 2020 – SDNPA suspends funding, Operation Watershed is highlighted as an alternative to both enhance biodiversity and manage surface water flooding, caused by a combination of pond silt accumulation and blocked drains.

July 2020 – the Clerk and Councillors engage with the Active Communities Lead at WSCC, SDNPA and Arun District Council, and also past beneficiaries of the scheme.

August 2020 – Paul Cann, Principal Drainage Engineer with Arun District Council visits the site and provides guidance on how the situation can be managed, the first step in the process being the removal of the willow tree.

September 2020 – SDNPA offers to pay for the Quantity Survey Report (civil engineer’s survey).

October 2020 – SDNPA also offers to pay for an ecology report, Arun District Council will fund the topographical survey and CCTV/jetting drainage survey and the Parish Council arranges a silt level and contamination survey at a cost of £2521.30 (+VAT, which can be reclaimed).
The Council is informed that removing the roots of the willow tree will not on its own be sufficient to address highway flooding.

December 2020 – Ecology Report provided by ‘FLOW’ – Fixing and Linking Our Wetlands – reports blocked culvert and recommends repair and removal of willow tree.

January 2021 – Preliminary work is complete to allow application Operation Watershed and contractor appointed to fell the willow.

February 2021 – SDNPA consent to felling of the willow.

March 2021 –
• Quotes invited from nominated contractors to undertake the engineering work.
• A group of local residents oppose the felling of the tree which is postponed.
• An extraordinary Council meeting is held (31/3/21) and a resident proposes an alternative scheme which may allow the willow to remain in situ.

April 2021 –
• Resident provides a report detailing an alternative scheme.
• Parish Council seek technical advice on this alternative scheme and whether it might be considered for funding through Operation Watershed.
• The Parish Council plan to submit an application, current estimated cost circa £60,000.

May 2021 –
The Parish Council votes to make two separate applications, one of which is based on the original scheme provided by the Council and another that incorporates the variation provided by Price and undertakes not to fell the willow tree  before 1 August 2021 to allow for a decision to be made on the applications.

August 2021 –
West Sussex County Council have advised that the Highways Team will be supporting the original scheme for funding consideration and detailing its rationale for rejecting the variant scheme.

September 2021 –
Application approved subject to ‘call in’ where ‘call in’ refers to the period of ten days following the date on which a decision is made and during which time such decision may be called in for reconsideration by the Cabinet.

October 2021 –
Decision effective 11 October

Price & Myers' Report (commissioned by a resident and shared with consent)

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