Landowners in West Sussex are being urged to clear out their ditches during the summer.
West Sussex County Council is keen for riparian owners, who are responsible for the upkeep of their ditches, to make the most of the warmer weather and clear them out.
Ditches are watercourses designed to drain the surrounding area or hold water, and removing vegetation, grass, weeds, shrubs, or any other debris helps water run freely and prevents flooding.
When the weather is dry, it is easier to stand inside a ditch to cut it back.
John O’Brien, WSCC’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “If you are a riparian ditch owner responsible for keeping your ditch clear, it makes sense to do it when it’s dry.
“If your ditch holds water in winter, you are going to have problems getting into it to clear later in the year when it’s wet.
“The more clogged up it is, the more likely it will fail to protect from floods.”
He added: “The cost of maintaining a watercourse is minor compared to the costs that can arise from flood damage, not to mention the distress and inconvenience caused if your property is flooded.
“And if a flood occurs because a landowner has not carried out their responsibility to properly maintain their watercourses, that landowner could be liable for compensating any damage that occurs.”
If a ditch needs heavy clearance work, the county council’s Operation Watershed fund can offer help.
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It is an offence to disturb birds and their nests during the nesting season (between March and August), and if they are nesting in a ditch landowners are asked to delay any clearance work until later in the year.
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