In Praise Of Flood Action Groups

“Groups are very much led by the community themselves. The National Flood Forum simply gives them the tools to ensure their success and sustainability. It supports the group to work in partnership with all the right professionals that are needed. Flood action groups are a model of community empowerment.

“We work with communities to empower them to reduce their flood risk and be in control. I have no doubt that the best results happen when people in Flood Action Groups are listened to, their ideas are valued and their local expertise and knowledge is acted upon as part of a partnership approach to reducing flood risk.

“Flooding is a complex issue with lots of agencies and authorities each having a different role to play, which is confusing and frustrating for people. In our experience the best way of making things happen locally is by communities working in partnership with those who can make a difference such as local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies”.

Simple? We wish! As experiences in Burscough, Halsall, and Ormskirk show us, it’s anything but simple, the “local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies” don’t want to know.

The most recent effort by Burscough Flooding Group to interact with “those who can make a difference such as local authorities, the Environment Agency and water companies” had its usual ending. Burscough Flooding Group Secretary Gavin Gattray

having proved his expertise, local knowledge, and determination to solve the flood risk, was told by a condescending LCC Officer “I can’t provide you with a full training course in planning procedures and regulations in one email, however I will try to offer some help in terms of the general planning issues you raise. Firstly, you need to understand that Yew Tree Farm development has an approved masterplan and an outline permission, both of which have conditions attached to manage surface water drainage. These conditions are being applied to subsequent reserved matters applications. Once reserved matters are approved, there is usually no further opportunity to vary the drainage design details”.

What a good start in response to matters concerning 2019/0311/ARM and 2019/1182/ARM, for which Gavin Rattray had asked LCC “This is a follow up to my email to yourself and ***** on the 9th September below. It is important that you respond to it as soon as possible please; because it could impact on the information feeding into the current application at YTF. Without it BFG may not be able to adequately respond to planning application for the next phase of YTF 2019/1182/ARM. WLBC has set us a deadline of 31st January 2020”. So Burscough will suffer flood alerts, including severe flood warnings, because of more expansion of Yew Tree Farm!

And why the importance? Gavin Rattray wrote “As you must already know BFG provided the new information (attached) too late to change the drainage on the planning application referenced above and knowing from the LLFAs [Lead Local Flood Authority] own comments. The LLFA has approved the application on some sort of trust basis because the drainage conditions in 20190311ARM are considerably less onerous than the special conditions imposed by the masterplan for Yew Tree Farm (flawed as they are also). As were the surface water drainage conditions imposed on the previous six homes constructed on the end of Lordsgate Lane (also YTF land). With the benefit of the new information BFG have supplied. It looks like both were a mistake which may still be partly recoverable as the SUDS has not yet been built and 2015/0171/OUT hasn’t yet been approved.

“Please can LLFA kindly look at the evidence we have provided and stipulate to WLBC what it believes will be necessary to mitigate the increased downstream flood risk both developments are currently causing at Langley Brook and the suspected risk to Orrell Lane and Crabtree Lane? (This is due to the two new YTF developments currently being connected to an already flooding drainage system without attenuation).

“Now the LLFA is aware of design of the drainage system for 2019/0311/ARM and the very high downstream flooding risk due to the virtual abandonment of maintenance on parts of the Alt Crossens system, please can LLFA also ascertain what can be done in the longer term to improve the planned SUDS system to reduce the extra downstream flood risk to as low a value as possible in order to protect residents and farms and stipulate this to WLBC?”

Will it be enough? All this community empowerment (subject to partnerships with WLBC, LCC, UU) means nothing in Burscough.  Will YTF development that brings vast amounts of council tax to WLBC and LCC be made conditional on attenuation? Some hopes! Caveat emptor !

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