Lancashire County Council has published an overview report on the December 2015 floods, as a first step in making public the findings of investigations into how the county’s communities were flooded and how future flooding risks can be managed, and while doing so has neglected a major risk.
“This first report, however, is much more limited in scope. Known as a “Section 19 investigation”, the report looks at the weather conditions leading to flooding in December 2015 and is particularly focused on the statutory responsibilities and duties of flood risk management authorities during those storms.
“The report identifies those bodies identified as risk management authorities by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, namely • The lead local flood authority (in this case Lancashire County Council) • The Environment Agency • A district council for an area for which there is no unitary authority • An internal drainage board • A water company • A highway authority” but not the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.
“The report found that all of these authorities had discharged their duties before, during, and after the flooding events caused by Storms Desmond and Eva, and that work continues in the medium-to-long term. All of the risk management authorities have been involved in gathering information about the individual causes of flooding in all 229 affected communities and potential measures to manage or mitigate the risk of future flooding. That information continues to be gathered and will be published as a series of district level updates, every three months, with detailed information on the investigations undertaken at each of the affected locations, and flood risk improvements already completed and the opportunities for further investigations and/or works.
“County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said “The December floods were unprecedented in their severity and extent, affecting more than 200 communities across the county and causing untold distress to homeowners, disruption to businesses and damage to critical infrastructure. Those agencies with responsibility for managing the risk of flooding have been working very hard together, as the Lancashire Flood Risk Partnership, to understand how each individual flooding incident happened and to take action to manage or reduce the risk of it happening again. This report starts the process of sharing the results of that work, ensuring that people are fully informed about plans for their communities.”
Two residents from New Lane recently contacted Gavin Rattray of Burscough Flood Group to tell him of their concerns about the high frequency of flooding in New Lane Village on the approach road to the level crossing shown. [click to enlarge] One was particularly concerned that should the road flood overnight in winter then there is the potential for a driver to lose control on ice and skid through a closed barrier and into the path of an oncoming train. BFG know that the primary source of flooding in New Lane is the inadequacy of its sewer network and therefore the most likely cause of any flood is going to be a sewage spill from UUs sewer network.
So Gavin stated “I am writing to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch rather than UU because my other experience of UU is of a great unwillingness to spend money to prevent their sewers polluting roads, footpaths, gardens and homes, because they aren’t responsible for spills in law because they don’t control what goes into the sewers (i.e. rainfall). In this instance you may be able to convince them otherwise because UU admitted that they have a widespread sewer network problem in secret to WLBC and BFG obtained proof of that through FOI [click to read]. BFG also have a copy of a letter signed by their Wastewater Services Director which he states that New Lane suffers from historical flooding due to the hydraulic inadequacy of the sewer system.
“So although UU are immune from prosecution for pollution, but if one of their frequent sewers spill should lead to an accident then there could be a potential case against UU for gross negligence, with the knowledge of its senior executives. I hope you agree and make that clear to UU so that one of your crossings can be made safer and at least some residents will also finally get a break from having their environment so frequently contaminated by UU’s sewage spills”.
A resident described how a 3 ton metal grid cover was bouncing up and down because of the violent flood. The railway track just looked like a canal, he said. Imagine a train hitting that!