Posted by: westlancashirerecord | February 9, 2017

No Supporting Evidence Admission By Environment Agency

The Burscough Flooding Group has obtained clarification that there has been no substance in some Environment Agency responses to them.

The Flooding group writes “You might be aware that the Environment Agency (EA) have made a number statements in responses to Burscough Flooding Group’s (BFG’s) Freedom Of Information requests; that the weir at Martin Mere was fully consented and had nothing to do with the flooding nearby, or at Crabtree Lane. BFG have diligently tried to obtain and observe the “Consent Documentation” through submitting a number of FOI requests. It is through this persistent and diligent approach that, eventually the EA have been forced to admit that they do not have this supporting evidence.

“This change in their position means that most of their responses in supporting the weir’s functions and operation were based on assumptions. We have also now been informed that there was a verbal dispute on 28 February 2017 between Willy Wilson the farmer at Brandreth branfarm and Nick Brookes the Director of Martin Mere around flooding issues and the weir. From that discussion it appears definite from information passed to BFG that no consent was ever given for the weir as Nick Brookes stated that Martin Mere had none.

“This has been followed very recently by part of the weir being removed (by persons unknown) and no longer being fully functioning. The EA have stated that Martin Mere are unable to put their weir back up to its full height without consent from the EA and the this would also require an Environmental Impact Assessment. This requires Martin Mere to produce this Assessment that proves that it would not increase the flood risk to its recently flooded neighbours and no doubt will be a considerable relief to them.

“There still remains a potential problem for residents as BFG warns as not all of the weir has gone and we have also been informed that the water level has also been raised by approximately 2’ at the cross drain, which is a leisure water area where canoeing is undertaken (not birds) in Martin Mere. When this issue was raised with the EA they stated they had no knowledge of this canoeing activity and that this activity may require an “Impoundment Licence”. The EA were unable to confirm that any Licence was in place as this matter is the responsibility of another department within the EA. This increase in water levels has the potential to increase the flood risk for some residents, BFG intend to pursue this issue and also ask the EA to remove the weir in its entirety until such time as full permission has been granted.

“The EA stated in their meeting with the BFG that the lack of maintenance of the catchment (including weeds in the Boathouse sluice), the installation of the weir and increased new building developments had generally increased the flood risk. The EA have scheduled de-silting and de-weeding the sluice for this next financial year”.

And in a separate message the EA stated “With regard to the points in your email below our Environment Management team have provided the following additional information: Q1 –The instance of surcharged sewage being discharged onto land would represent no difference to the activity of the spreading of manure/slurry onto the same fields. We have no evidence to suggest that bacteria from surcharged sewage at this location is contaminating the local aquifer. The Environment Agency can, and does, provide consultation input and comments when developments are proposed in areas where sewer capacity is an issue. This advice may or may not be taken by the planning department. Q2 – Our understanding of the situation is that some of the sewer network in and around Burscough is hydraulically challenged”.

“To conclude: Any public health based concerns you may have should be referred to the local authority. The capacity issues in the foul sewer network in the area can only really be addressed by the capital expenditure of UU money, as directed by OFWAT, as part of the water company’s sequential five year investment plans. The continued reporting of instances of foul sewer surcharge and subsequent pollution of a watercourse, to both the Environment Agency and UU is one way of increasing the likelihood of money being spent on the sewer network in areas of repeated pollution incidents”.


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