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East Sussex village goes green in search for storm overflow solutions

The village of Fairlight has become home to innovative nature-based solutions aimed at reducing flood risk and storm overflow activity in the area

The village of Fairlight has become home to innovative nature-based solutions aimed at reducing flood risk and storm overflow activity in the area. 

The East Sussex community is Southern Water’s Clean Rivers and Seas Task Force’s sixth pathfinder project, aimed at trialling sustainable ways to reduce or slow the amount of rainwater entering and sometimes overwhelming our sewers after wet weather. 

When such an event happens, heavily diluted flows made of up mostly rainwater may be released into the environment – in line with Environment Agency permits – so homes and communities are not flooded. 

But we are working hard to reduce their use, and Fairlight is on the frontline. Alongside green sustainable drainage schemes like water butts and raingardens, a number of innovative engineering approaches are also being deployed to optimise our network. 

Work will also include working closely with East Sussex County Council to see how highways drainage can be improved by building gullies to reduce surface water run-off entering the combined sewer network. 

Further longer-term plans for investment in the wider area is due to be announced later this summer. 

Southern Water’s project lead, Jon Yates, said: 

“We are excited to have a pathfinder in Fairlight. We are bringing our expertise and knowledge of engineering and the environment into a coordinated and talented team with the aim of improving water quality, reducing storm overflows, and improving the environment. 

“We can only make these improvements if we continue to work together with customers, East Sussex County Council and businesses so this project can be collaborative and can make a real difference and reduce and prevent releases.” 

Community partnerships are being driven by a steering group led by MP for Hastings and Rye, Sally-Ann Hart, and featuring councillors from East Sussex County Council and Rother District Council, with local residents invited to regular meetings to hear about progress and steer the project. 

Chair of the Fairlight pathfinder project and MP for Hastings and Rye, Sally-Ann Hart, said: 

“Since becoming the Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye I have been encouraging Southern Water to improve the drainage and sewage system in my constituency.  

The setting up of the Fairlight Pathfinder Project is a step in the right direction and I am pleased to chair the group. We all need to work together to take the necessary steps to slow the flow of rainwater into our drainage system.”  

Southern Water’s other five pathfinder projects are on the Isle of Wight, the Pan Parishes area of Hampshire, and along Kent’s coastline in Whitstable, Deal and Margate. 

To find out more about pathfinder projects visit our dedicated webpage.