“It has taken far too long for this Jacobs flood report to come forward from Lancashire County Council, it’s been a year and a half since I was offered a copy of it at the Flood Forum meeting I held in Christ Church.
“All the county can tell us now is that the recommendations are too expensive to carry out, but very little about what they have been doing for the past two years to make any progress. “This was taxpayers’ money used to fund a very high level and detailed report and the immediate reaction suggests it was all a waste of time and money
“I have written to Lancashire County Council and to DEFRA to ask what they plan to do now to protect my constituents from the threat of further flooding, many constituents who have already had their lives devastated through flooding in 2012 or 2015”.
A historical piece of LCC claptrap
On 26th September 2018 under Freedom of Information Act a resident asked “Dear Lancashire County Council, Has the Jacob Report on flooding in West Lancashire been released for public view? If so can you please provide the link to it on your website. If it hasn’t can you please indicate when it is expected to be published. Thank you. Yours faithfully, A Hinde
On 30 October LCC replied
“Further to your email of 26 September, we are now in a position to respond to your enquiry regarding the ‘Jacob Report on flooding in West Lancashire’. Firstly, we would like to apologise for the delay in providing this response; we are extremely busy at present but we greatly appreciate your patience in this matter.
“As it is likely that some, or all of the information you are requesting is ‘environmental information’ as defined in the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), you request is being addressed under this legislation.
“The flood risk team are in the process of contacting all the individuals to explain the advice given in the report about using their privately-owned land for flood risk management purposes. Whilst we can estimate that this exercise may take some further weeks or months to complete, we can’t be specific as progress depends on the speed at which the individuals feel they can respond.
“As the report relates to a project which is still in the course of completion, we believe it to be exempt from disclosure under Regulation 12(4)(d). We acknowledge that there are general arguments in favour of the council releasing information that it holds. However, this has to be balanced against the public interest in ensuring that the council is not rushed into completing projects and that appropriate time is taken to ensure the task is carried out appropriately. Additionally, there is a strong public interest in ensuring that the public are provided with accurate information, which is likely to be frustrated by releasing documents/information which are still in the course of completion.
“In all the circumstances of this case, we have therefore concluded that the greater interest lies in maintaining the exception under Regulation 12(4)(d) and your request is refused at this time.
Until such time as every individual has been contacted and has had the opportunity to discuss the implications for them personally , we cannot release the report into the public domain, although we are happy to explain the report’s findings in broad terms. If it is these findings that you would want to know about, please confirm by return email and we can try to find a way to inform you appropriately without revealing individual personal details.
“We are sorry we have been unable to assist you further on this occasion”.
No funding disclosed
LCC’s framework engineering consultant, Jacobs UK Ltd, was engaged from June to September 2015 to inform the Section 19 report, drawing on data made available by the RMAs in Lancashire and from Met Office records. There are no financial implications arising from consideration of this report. The costs of producing the Section 19 report have been met from within LCC’s Flood Risk Management team’s annual revenue budget allocation. Any detailed investigations carried out by this team are met from the same budget. (Another secret?)
DEFRA helps with funding. The split between authorities is related to the level of local flood risk as assessed from national mapping, and results in grants to individual LLFAs of between £110,000 and £750,000 a year. In terms of risk, LCC’s area ranks 8th out of the 152 LLFA areas. No actual sum is disclosed.