Posted by: westlancashirerecord | July 20, 2017

Brexit To Blame For No Independent Drainage Board Progress?

Pick up any newspaper these days and you will find Brexit being blamed for all that is rotten and incompetent about our way of life. In an astonishing claim made by a senior Environment Agency officer in relation to the proposed IDB “There is also the issue of the government’s legislative programme being dominated by the UK’s exit from the EU”. What Brexit has to do with land drainage in West Lancashire escapes my wide ranging and often vivid imagination. Perhaps a remoaner will tell me?

In February this year Halsall Parish Council  received an “Update from the Environment Agency on the possible closure of the Pumping Stations and setting up of an independent Drainage Board. Representatives from the Environment Agency and West Lancashire Borough Council attended the Parish Council meeting held on 8th February 2017. Dale Gibbons (EA) advised us that the notice period has been extended to 31st December 2018 and that during 2017 they will be working with the NFU, CLA, Lancashire County Council, local communities, the relevant local authorities and other organisations interested in these changes to seek to develop a new advisory group which will be looking at possible options to help those affected to find a sustainable way to manage land drainage in the Alt Crossens catchment area.

“There was a clear commitment by the Environment Agency to organise and hold the first meeting of the advisory group by the end of April. Borough Councillor John Hodgson agreed to represent WLBC on the advisory board.

“Dale Gibbons went on to say that a viable alternative solution needs to be identified before the end of December 2018. If there is clear support demonstrated by those affected for a preferred option that cannot be delivered with the existing notice period, the Notice period can be extended further if required to enable this option to be progressed. There will also be further engagement with those affected to ensure they have both the opportunity to be involved in this process and are also kept fully informed on progress”.

Between January 2016 and Tuesday 18 July 2017 there has been an exchange of emails between the Halsall Parish Council (HPC) and the EA. They are variously pleas from HPC for information and stonewalling replies from EA. Changes of staff, high workloads due to “flooding”, anything but progress! Here is the latest “From: Gibbons, Dale
To: davebondhpc Sent: Tue, 18 Jul 2017 16:38 Subject: RE: Public Meeting re Closure of Pumping Stations. Hi Dave At present, we do not have the necessary information to inform meaningful discussions on all of the options due to the issues with the legislation. It had been hoped that information on the proposed amendment to the Act could be used to inform the discussions on the option of forming a new water level management board, but this is not possible. There is also the issue of the government’s legislative programme being dominated by the UK’s exit from the EU. We are seeking clarity from our Directors and Defra on how best to progress, and until this is confirmed, we will hold off bringing the advisory group together to avoid wasting people’s time. I will be in contact to confirm the next steps as soon as I have something to share, but it is likely to be a number of weeks before that is the case. Regards Dale”. But hang on! There IS a  …surely they haven’t taken control of the Alt Crossens Pumping Stations?

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