The Secretary of the Burscough Flooding Group has told the public via the Champion Letters that the county council won’t meet with the residents group to discuss flooding problems. Mr Rattray believes the Local Lead Flood Authority is a disgrace. His letter is here .
There is a WLBC planning application: 2017/1275/FUL “The Wildfowl And Wetlands Trust Martin Mere Fish Lane Burscough Ormskirk Lancashire L40 0TA. Removal of the existing tensile geodesic dome and construction of a new teaching structure, a new bespoke pond dipping area with the creation of four raised dipping ponds, set under a netted cover with landscape enhancements to an adjacent large existing pond providing natural dipping areas”.
Mr Rattray also wrote “Dear Parish Councillors, WLBC and Residents
Note: The following is a copy of the information uploaded to WLBCs planning portal with added photographs. The closing date to make comments is the 12th January. I urge anyone with first hand experience of flooding near or at MM to comment on the application themselves.
I wish to comment on the flooding aspects of the recent WWT planning application referenced above in light of the Flood Risk Assessment provided by the WWT, which states, “there are no historical records of flooding in this location since 1975 when it became a WWT Centre”…not even the flooding that occurred in October 2012 and was reported by…yes, Martin Mere itself”
Burscough Flooding Group’s records indicate that:
• Residents and farmers near Martin Mere (MM) report that they have suffered regular flooding and near misses for many years.
• One resident reported who began to suffer flooding in 2014, reported that the groundwater level is substantially higher than it was 30 years ago.
• One farmer neighbouring MM regularly loses £1000s of pounds worth of crops to flooding and blames MM.
• A resident of Fish Lane (living opposite MM) told us that widespread flooding occurred in September 2012 when MM had to make huge efforts to rescue birds from all over the sanctuary. It was reported in the Champion at the time. The same residents has contacted WLBC to complain about MM several times, he believes that the height of the Martin Mere’s weir has had a very negative effect on his homes flood risk and has the impounding of water to enable MM to operate its canoe safari. He also stated that at previous applications MM had incorrectly stated they have no knowledge of flooding at the site despite flooding being widely reported in the media.
• One Fish Lane resident was internally flooded due to groundwater flooding on Christmas Day 2015 and at least one other suffered internal flooding beginning on Christmas Day 2015.
• Two homes on Fish Lane have had flood prevention equipment installed through WLBC issue of central government grants.
• Seven homes on Fish Lane (living opposite/near Martin Mere) suffered flooding on Boxing Day 2015, some of those saved their homes from internal flooding by digging ditches and using portable pumps. No doubt as always some won’t have reported their flood to any of the authorities.
• Martin Mere was badly flooded beginning on Christmas Day 2015 and still deeply flooded eleven days later on the 5th January 2016 when the attached pictures were taken for the Southport Visitor.
BFG have made considerable efforts to get to the bottom of the flooding problems that residents, farmers and MM suffer from, and to that end we had a lot of correspondence with the Environment Agency (EA) including FOI and have met them in their offices. We found that the weir at MM wasn’t licenced and doesn’t have any formal approval, nor is there any evidence of MM consulting with local residents or farmers over the weir. All of the residents and neighbours who have spoken to BFG generally blame MMs weir and impounding of water for their problems.
BFG through its communication with the EA believes that the flooding at MM is caused by lack of maintenance of the boathouse sluice and the catchment drainage systems, housing developments in the catchment and global warming. We do know that the weir at MM has a negative effect on nearby flood risk and are very concerned about the above; especially as we believe MM have plans to alter the weir (if they haven’t already done so) and perceive that the EA do not have the inclination to make MM consult with their regularly flooded neighbours first. Nor do we believe that WLBC as our LPA is keeping an eye on MMs plans for the weir despite the flood risk it poses. Some residents we spoke to believe that MM turned its pumps from the purpose of raising the channels for canoeing to instead dump floodwater water onto farmland downstream after Boxing Day 2015. We know that this wouldn’t have been possible if the wetland centre (MM) had a published water management plan. It doesn’t and we believe that this is a serious failure of the authorities to regulate it. That, along with their failure to control the development of MMs weir means that the authorities as a whole are failing to do the basic checks on MM and therefore not protecting its many neighbours from flooding.
We trust that WLBC will take the opportunity to address its past failures to regulate MM by questioning MMs FRA in detail and gets them to correct it. In addition, as WLBC is currently travelling the county looking for flood risk, we hope that for residents sakes many of whom are rightfully angry about the high level of flooding they suffer, it analyses the risk posed by MM’s weir, canoe safari and lack of water management plan.
By its own public admission “2nd October 2012 WWT News “Last week wasn’t such a good week for us here at WWT Martin mere we experienced a lot of flooding due to the heavy rain fall. We were flooded from Tuesday carrying on until Saturday. It was the worse flood I have seen in 40 years. The local farmers said they had not experienced that kind of flooding since 1957 when the original draining bank burst and flooded large areas of land. The main implications were some of the birds had to be moved. We did however for the captive birds make floating rafts out of pallets to put food on for them. We also had to move the cattle onto dryer grounds. There was no additional damage caused to the centre, just loss of revenue, inconvenience for both us and members and additional work for the ground staff. Thankfully we are now open as usual”.
It is not just the Burscough Flooding Group that should be fighting what passes for planning probity around flooding. The more time that passes, the more the chance of every property in West Lancashire being flooded.