Lancashire County Council has published the results of an independent study into flooding in Ormskirk. While LCC teeters on the point of insolvency, its flood partner United Utilities paid a mere £36million in Corporation Tax in 2018 from a total of £636.4million operating profit.
In its role as Lead Local Flood Authority
the council is responsible for investigating the causes of flood events, and establishing actions that could be taken by all organisations responsible for managing water to reduce the impact of future events.
The council commissioned an independent study into flooding focused on Hurlston Brook, which runs through the middle of Ormskirk. The area has suffered from flooding on a number of occasions, with the most significant recent events occurring in 2012 and 2015.
The detailed investigation looked at various options for managing flood risk and how well they would work, measured by how often they would prevent flooding to properties and reduce the depth of water in people’s homes.
The study advises that using locations around the town to temporarily store flood water would be the most effective option, although it wouldn’t solve all the problems, and would be very expensive because of the land which would be needed. It also outlines that the cost of these measures is too high for current public funding mechanisms to pay for outright.
However, it also advises that other options, including property-level protection measures for homes most at risk, adopting long term planning and land-use policies designed to slow the rate at which water which runs off surrounding land, and ensuring the existing drainage network works as well as possible, could help to reduce the impact of future flooding.
United Utilities and other partners working with developers
The report concludes that a wider, co-ordinated approach to manage the situation is needed, involving the county council, United Utilities and other partners working with developers to ensure the local drainage system meets the needs of future development, and look for opportunities to refurbish and regenerate the existing drainage network.
County Councillor Albert Atkinson, deputy leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We have a duty to investigate the causes of serious flooding events to ensure all the organisations responsible for managing water, and the communities affected, understand the problem and how the impact of flooding could be reduced in future.
“Thanks to this study focused on Hurlston Brook we now know far more about the way a number of complex factors interact during flood conditions, such as surface water run-off from surrounding agricultural and urban land, various watercourses, and the local drainage systems. The study advises on a combination of engineering measures which could be adopted. The most effective combination would include constructing storage areas for surface water to reduce the amount of water draining into Hurlston Brook, and reduce the pressure on the drainage systems.
Option to spend £7,000,000 too expensive,
“Unfortunately this option would be costly, in the region of £7m, and a significant residual flood risk would remain even if it were put in place. As such it could not be delivered with the current public funding mechanisms. However the report also outlines a number of further measures which organisations and individuals could pursue to improve the current situation. Some of these measures could potentially be achieved quite quickly, such as individual property owners installing flood doors, and others are more long-term, such as ensuring the issue is considered when development is planned in future.
“As the study recommends, we will continue to work with all partners which play a role in managing water in this area, and consider how planning policies about land-use in the surrounding area and opportunities to fund improvements through future development, could help to reduce the risk of flooding”.
And the floods will just keep on causing flooding misery!