Posted by: westlancashirerecord | December 6, 2018

Don’t Believe All, Or Much, Of What You Are Told

Whatever happened to Burscough’s New Lane Wastewater Treatment Works? A Report by Burscough Flooding Group.

“New Lane Wastewater Treatment Works was the only significant infrastructure project promised for Burscough during the 2012 local plan consultation and it was significant because it could have reduced Burscough’s current sewer flooding problems  and prevented them increasing further due to the massive amount of housing being built in Burscough.

“Perversely the Council (WLBC) cited Burscough’s flooding problems as a positive for development in the 2012 Local Plan and some Councillors promoted the massive Yew Tree Farm (YTF) site by saying things like, “it was essential that YTF is built to trigger funding to fix the flooding problems in Burscough”.

“Because of the public’s concern about flooding  the Borough Solicitor wrote to Burscough Action Group (BAG) stating that building would only take place once existing problems with infrastructure were resolved and this same message was widely advertised to the public by WLBC (at taxpayers’ expense).

“United Utilities (UU) who work in partnership with WLBC, appeared to be equally concerned for residents welfare and the 2012 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) contained the following information about Burscough, “UU are aware of the situation regarding surface water flooding issues and are currently reviewing their assets in the Borough in order to identify possible future funding requirements. Given this [Yew Tree Farm] site is a strategic development site this presents an opportunity to address the issue of surface water flooding on the entire site, the adjacent industrial area and possibly areas in the rest of the settlement by alleviating pressures within the drainage system in general.”

“During the 2012 Local Plan examination in public, UU presented a clear message to the planning inspector that they would get funding in 2015 to enlarge or replace the treatment works. In 2015 UU failed to get funding.

UU’s concern about Burscough flooding problems  continued and in March 2018 its email to Burscough Parish Council (BPC) contained, the following, “there is a bottleneck in the system as the sewer narrows beneath the railway line [at New Lane]. During intense rainfall the combined sewer network is unable to move the foul and surface water runoff through the network quickly enough leading to flooding of both surface and foul water. (UU email to BPC Burscough neighbourhood plan 23/3/2018).

“Unfortunately, in April 2018 UU stopped caring about Burscough’s flooding problems and emailed BPC with the bad news, “it was determined that the historical values obtained were skewed by missing data and by the inclusion, double counting, of return flows related to the carrier water for the Kalic dosing arrangement. The double counted return flows have been measured at 856 m3/d. Disregarding skewed data and adjusting to exclude double counted flows the works flow. . . In summary, there is sufficient headroom (capacity) to meet future development needs.” (UU email to BPC Burscough neighbourhood planning 17/4/2018).

“In 2018 UU personally let the public know that it doesn’t care anymore,  by saying, “Our previous calculations contained an error and the Treatment Works has no capacity issues.” (paraphrase of UU’s comments to the public June 5th 2018 UU at Briars Hall Lathom).

“Unfortunately for residents, despite UU’s calculations, Burscough has continued to suffer from widespread sewer flooding in storms. The New Lane Treatment Works has flooding problems going back at least twenty years; because the sewage pumping station feeding the treatment works has flooded the main road, the rail crossing risking derailment of trains and nearby acres of farmland. A local resident said that a farmer built the current dyke running alongside the footpath to try and direct the flow of sewage away from farmland and that UU have now bolted down the manholes fitted between the SPS and the WWTW (presumably to reduce the risk of a derailment).

“So, there we have it, despite the false promises of Councillors and UU, the total spending on Burscough waste water infrastructure from 2012 to 2018 was £25. Made up of eight M10 bolts at £20, one pair of rubber gloves £4 and one bottle of bleach £1.

“Gavin Rattray – Secretary Burscough Flooding Group. PS, I made all of the last paragraph up but couldn’t make the rest up!”

So, do you really believe all you are told by UU and WLBC, or some, or bugger all, like me!


  1. It’s all so predictably depressing. Back in the days when we in Burscough naively thought we could actually influence the decision to build thousands of houses, I remember Clr Adrian Owens, during one of those utterly pointless ‘Have Your Say’ sessions reverentially telling the good Burghers of Burscough that there was ‘no chance’ of any building for years & years because UU operated on five yearly investment cycles – and they’d shown no interest in stumping up any money to date…. so there was nothing to worry about.

    And even more amazingly, he said it with a straight face!

    The episode of YTF really affected me. I no longer take part in anything entitled ‘Have Your Say’, because at the end of the day, it’s a pointless exercise. All we did as a YTF protest group was to legitimise the Council’s actions, because they were seen to at least be *talking* and *engaging* publicly with the plebs, while behind closed doors, plans were going ahead regardless.

    • We can only sympathise with Burscough, by far the worst affected part of West Lancashire for council and utility services. As for talking and engaging, we all know what is going on behind the closed doors, which is to make sure the mushroom method of consultation is in good working order. Which it is.

  2. It’s reminiscent of Wally Westley’s ‘lies told door to door’, but on an epic scale. And wasn’t there a recommendation to WLDC from UU in around 2006 that no more building should take place, due to inadequacies of Burscough’s drainage infrastructure?

    • No apology was ever given by Westley, who nevertheless is re-elected by those he accused. Still, as we say around here, stick a blue rosette on a dog’s bits and it will be elected. We did read of the 2006 recommendation about no building in Burscough, but developers became the planning decision makers. What else did we expect?

  3. The ‘Have Your Say’ shtick is so favoured by politicians. They do it regularly at local level, and steamroller opponents who disagree. Slightly different at national level, as rarely, and ever-so-inconveniently, the people fail to read the script and give the elite a bloody nose – as with the EU referendum in 2016…..

    • So true. Consultations are “notice of intention to proceed but we will ignore your views anyway”.

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