Burscough Floods

Who would you believe on local flooding history?

A Burscough resident whose home and those of his neighbours are only protected from raw sewage by his own flood pump, or WLBC/LCC/UU whose failures to protect Burscough from regurgitated sewage are on record?

Readers will recall the judgement in Gavin Rattray v IC (Allowed) that described the interplay of surface water courses, groundwater sources, and the sewage networks. The key legislation is the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 which creates, and attaches duties to, Risk Management Authorities (RMA). WLBC is not only the planning authority but is the RMA responsible for managing flood risk locally. Relevant to these flood risks are LCC and United Utilities.

A few days ago we highlighted the appalling neglect of Burscough and the link to Martin Mere including the Boathouse Sluice. An application to WLBC

“2019/0608/LDP | Certificate of Lawfulness – Proposed installation of 3 no. penstock valve structures. | The Wildfowl And Wetlands Trust Martin Mere Fish Lane Burscough Ormskirk Lancashire L40 0TA” has been submitted to WLBC on 14 June 2019. These changes are being proposed and there is suspicion by some Burscough residents of an attempt to bypass the full (legal) planning process.

Supporting information “Martin Mere is low-lying wetland complex of open water, with seasonally flooded marsh and grassland habitats overlying deep peat. It occupies part of the old Martin Mere which, prior to agricultural drainage was the largest lowland lake in England. Martin Mere is nationally and internationally designated for its overwintering birds, breeding bird and plant assemblages, all of which require high water levels. Currently the fields which are maintained for breeding waders are wet in the winter but in March the water levels in boathouse sluice is lowered and all of the water from the breeding wader fields drain away leaving them dry.

“The creation of this water level management structure will reduce the hydrological issues caused by 300 years of agricultural activity, land drainage and wind erosion has caused peat shrinkage on the farm land surrounding Martin Mere, which has resulted in the site becoming significantly higher (up to three meters difference) than adjacent land. This has place considerable pressure on embankments and WWT Martin Mere to maintain water levels through pumping. The main aim of these activities are to allow accurate control of water levels that ONLY affect WWT Martin Mere and achieve (or partly achieve) the actions suggested within the Site Improvement Plan (1C, 1D & 1E) that the EA have approved.

“The work will involve installing 3 penstock valve water level management structures which will be placed in to the water column via a 13.5 tonne 360 digger (Popes Hightown). The location of these structures will be immediately in front of current concrete culvert. The penstocks will be used to hold back the winter water levels in the ditches marked on the map. This will retain only the winter water levels on Martin Mere land only. These works will not affect the flow in Boathouse sluice. These works will keep the fields shown on the map wet from March – June. In May and June the water levels will be lowered to provide muddy edges for feeding waders and their chicks. This lowering will be achieved using a combination of evaporation and opening the penstocks to allow some of the water to leave (the penstocks will only be opened if we have high rainfall, evaporation and natural drawdown is preferable)”.

The Environment Agency has provided a Permit in respect of Flood Risk Activity centred on the construction of 3 valve structures in Boat House Sluice Main River and a temporary cofferdam structure to dewater Boat House Sluice.

You can read all planning applications relating to Martin Mere, dating back to 1990, at
https://pa.westlancs.gov.uk/online-applications/simpleSearchResults.do?action=firstPage

In 2013 Martin Mere flooded badly.

Andy Wooldridge, the park’s centre manager, told the Echo “It is the worst flood in the last 40 years. I live on the site and at one point the water was nearing my front door. Fortunately the water table has started to come down so we expect it to be back to normal today. A flood during the summer months would have affected our nesting birds so we were fortunate”.

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