Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 22, 2019

Burscough Flood Risks, The Martin Mere Effect?

Bernie Webster writes

“Over recent years, from personal experience I have become only too aware of serious flooding issues in the Burscough area. My home has been flooded entirely on three occasions since 2008. In the last two years flood has only been prevented by deployment of automated pumps and one which was turned on manually. There is absolutely no doubt that without these pumps in place, not only my home, but the homes of some of my neighbours would’ve been flooded again.

“Because I have lived in Burscough for over 34 years, I’ve come to know many local people including the farmers who work the land close to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Some people living close to the WWT have brought it to my attention that there are some concerns regarding water being unable to pass unimpeded through the site. I have had discussions with Management at the WWT as well as the Environment Agency. Despite assurances that the activities at Martin Mere have no effect upstream in terms of increased flood risk, and despite their good reputation and high standing, I remain unconvinced of their assurances.

“WWT are to the best of my knowledge the Riparian owners of the Boathouse Sluice which runs through the site. As owners, they would have responsibilities to ensure the Sluice is maintained in such a way so as not to impede the flow of water through it. Although a third party may have agreed to carry out maintenance work, I do not believe that this in any way shifts responsibility to that third party from the WWT, and so it would not be a reasonable defence to say that the third party is responsible for recent failings.

“Boathouse Sluice

is the Main River/Watercourse which drains the majority of Burscough. It can be seen clearly on Google Earth. It runs directly through the WWT site, and has more than one leg. The main Sluice runs from United Utilities Waste Water Treatment site through to Crossens. It also has a leg which runs from Marsh Moss Lane, through the WWT site and joins the main Sluice.

“To the best of my understanding the image which is now shown by Google Earth was taken in the height of summer 2018. The image shows very clearly that a significant length of the Boathouse Sluice is almost completely blocked by vegetation, including the leg which runs to Marsh Moss Lane. There are parts of this length which are so completely covered, that there no evidence whatsoever of a Sluice running through it. The Sluice at this location should, I believe be almost 10 feet wide and 4 feet deep and should be clearly visible.

“My understanding is that despite it being completely overgrown in the summer of 2018, it has been allowed to become further blocked without any maintenance during the course of the last 12 months. I will remind you that this is the main drainage channel for the greater part of Burscough.

“There are other issues which relate to the WWT

one of which is a Weir that was installed some years ago. I have correspondence stating that this has been through all the proper consent processes. (The Management wrote to me giving assurances; “The Weir has been in existence for at least 27 years and went through the Flood Defence Consenting process”). However, neither the WWT nor the environment agency have been able to produce documentation to support this”.

“I am also concerned about recent Planning Applications from the WWT, in particular Application number 2017/1275/FUL. I would like to make reference to some of the documentation contained within that application: 

1. Martin Mere’s planning application reference, PP – 0652 3548. Flood risk assessment. MM – 13–2 7–0 0C. “ however there are no historical records of flooding in this location since 1975 when it became a WWT Centre”.

2. Carr Faulkner Associates. Reference CF8907. January 2018. R EV a March 2018. “ no records of flooding to the red edged site. Minor incidences was notable September 2012 for one day the nature trail, visitor centre and restaurant facilities remain open”

3. From the Case Officer’s report WLBC. Section 6. 25. The Council Drainage Engineer has been involved and yet no mention has been made of the flooding on Boxing Day 2015. I have in my possession a letter from Martin Mere, which has been sent to me via our member of Parliament Rosie Cooper. Part of this letter states “ Martin Mere also flooded (including our education building) and we had to close the site, losing thousands of pounds of Income”.

“It should not be difficult to work out that there has been some miscommunication on these matters. Firstly from the part of Martin Mere, The two versions which have been put forward appear to contradict themselves.

“Secondly, as a professional consultancy firm, Carr Falconer Associates have not managed to put forward a complete and accurate history of flooding on the site. I’m sure that they must pride themselves in their professionalism, and as professionals, they should surely be aware that’s when somebody is seeking an opinion which favours their own proposals, that it should be necessary to ask very probing questions, even when the client is somebody with such high repute as the WWT, in order to safeguard themselves from any suggestion of bias that would compromise their reputation.

“Third, if WLBC’s Drainage Engineer has been involved as would be suggested in section 6.25. Then the question that would need to be asked is, how could an individual in a role which requires a high level of competence as well as a good knowledge of the area in which they work, have failed to ask sufficient pertinent questions, not only with the applicant but other sources as well. The Drainage Engineer’s Department, if functioning in a competent manner must surely be aware of all the recent flood events.

“Fourth, I’m not entirely familiar with Full Planning process, but I would envisage it would involve several well-informed and well considered individuals looking at all of the evidence. If any of the Planning Committee are not aware of flooding problems in the Burscough area, then it would have to be asked how have they managed to take up such an important role. It is surprising that none of those involved took into account the fact that these premises were, according to the management of the WWT, flooded on Boxing Day 2015”.

Perhaps that is the crux of the matter? Flooding of Burscough is of long standing. How many elected members of the WLBC would put up with raw sewage in their gardens and homes? Answers on the back of a postage stamp!


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