Flooding on Winchelsea Road

An HGV ploughs through flood water

Winchelsea Road was partially flooded last Thursday, February 21. It was a sunny day with no rainfall, so the obvious cause was the day’s high tide registering four metres at 12.19pm. Kathy Varley, whose home overlooks that stretch of road, took the photos.

The road flooded after high tide

Colonel Anthony Kimber, chairman of Rye Emergency Action (REACT) and coordinator of the Rye Neighbourhood Plan commented afterwards:
“My view is that this is partly sewerage system overload (via obvious drain cover in pavement); partly Highways road drains and at times partly leaks through the Strand Wall at high water. The result is surface water ponding as seen in your images.  At high tides such as we have seen recently, any water cannot gravity drain into the Strand. I have never been clear about drainage into the Strand from the road at this point, although it has been claimed that it is via a drain pipe (flap controlled) down to the around silt level.

“This periodic ponding is recorded in the ESCC surface water study and also features on the Rye Neighbourhood Plan. I will take this up again with the agencies involved: the Environment Agency, Southern Water and East Sussex Highways Dept.”

Image Credits: Kathy Varley .


  1. Yes, we’ve seen this before, but several sections of the road have been resurfaced over the last couple of weeks. I noticed that a couple of the roadside drains appeared to contain chippings as a result of the work: might this have been a factor?

  2. The problem is tidal water passing through the flood defences.
    I pursued this in October 2015 via ESCC, Highways England, the Environment Agency and alerted Sussex Police about the hazard to road safety. The initial response was to try and “cloud” the issue, blaming surface water and other Agencies.
    I did not accept this because the flooding occurred in dry weather and coincided with high tides.
    The Environment Agency (APT Romney and Either) investigated and did something, which addressed the problem. The road did not flood on a subsequent high tide (dry weather). I thanks the EA.
    The problem occurred again in November 2017 and I requested the EA repeat what they had done in October 2015. By 1st February 2018 the problem had been addressed again.
    Rye Town Council and Anthony Kimber were kept informed.
    The evidence is clear that the problem can be resolved. It is probably related to flap valves on surface water drains from the road but the EA has not said what they do to address the problem.
    I will forward email trails from 2015 and 2017 to Rye News as evidence that the problem need not be “clouded’.
    Separately, there is sometimes a problem in wet weather when surface water cannot get away at high tide but that’s another issue.

  3. I live opposite the puddle and I did comment that when they resurfaced the road (and I will say that they did a good job of it) that they have raised the road a little higher and the drain intake is now even smaller.

    But the puddle is related to the high tides and when the tide is high the outlets that pour into the quay are covered in water and sometimes the tides are so high that it then starts to travel back up the waste into the road. The road on the bend is considerable lower than on the house side and extends a good 100 meters towards Winchelsea direction and it would take an immense amount of water to threaten the houses.


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