Conversations With A Dinosaur Borough Council, Part 1

In August last, and being concerned that Burscough suffers so much flooding that comes into the “so what” category of the West Lancashire Borough Council, a resident described by email to WLBC the problems shown within the “Boathouse Sluice/Certificate of Lawfulness 2019/0608/LDP” issue.

He wrote about a farmer being advised by the Environment Agency that it “would not be best practice and no one would have any right to drain ditches without consent”. The police could become involved! This “mind-blowing” advice was accepted by the farmer who accepted that he will need to find alternative ways of ensuring his crops are not destroyed because of the chronic failure of maintenance at the Boathouse Sluice.

“It should be pointed out that a local farmer has cleared this part of the Sluice for over 30 years “Free of charge” and “as far as I was aware, that all he intended to do was to get the job done because it had not been done for 2 years and the Boathouse Sluice was completely choked up, threatening crops and homes as far back as my home and on Orrell Lane as the video and photographic evidence I hold will clearly show”.

“I am aware this has been a contentious issue. A meeting with the police was organised 2 years ago because of problems as a consequence of flood water not being able to be cleared as it should through WWT. I am led to believe that Natural England attended, and an agreement was made that The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust would have the Watercourse cleared every 12 months and the silt removed every 2 years. The Wildlife and Wetlands Trust have failed to honour this agreement as can clearly be seen from Google Earth.

“Around 2 months ago, the farmer came to me complaining that the Boathouse Sluice had not been cleared as had been agreed, and his field of 15 acres was waterlogged and other fields were unable to be drained effectively. I spoke with the Police Officer concerned and asked her for a copy of the agreement and any record she had of the meeting. She assured me that she would make contact with Natural England to get a copy of anything they held in relation to the meeting and would let me know. She has not been back in touch.

“I understand that the farmer met with the Officer concerned in recent weeks and as a consequence was told further enquiries would be made. My understanding is that the member of staff at the wildfowl trust has been “unavailable”. I only have this from one source so this may be inaccurate.

“Since having been flooded myself I have taken an interest in flooding matters and am still in the process of trying to understand how the whole system should work and more importantly why it is regularly failing. I have paid attention to the view from Google Earth which I believe was taken in the height of last summer, just over 12 months ago. The views show that the Sluice was completely overgrown with vegetation then and had not been cleared since so this would mean that a full12 months further growth would have made matters even worse..

“I have written assurances from The Environment Agency and Martin Mere Wildfowl Trust that the Boathouse sluice is cleared and that the activities at Martin Mere have no effect upstream. I am not confident that these assurances accurately reflect the facts.

“I received a telephone call to let me know that someone had been to the Boathouse Sluice and cut the tops of the Reeds back and part of the Sluice was now visible, this presented a good opportunity to highlight the discrepancies between what has been written and the visible evidence.

“I will clarify that the advice given by the Environment Agency regarding clearing of ditches without permission should not happen again, has been communicated to the individual who provided the information about the clearing. I would also like to stress, on a personal basis as well as someone gathering information regarding flooding issues that no person should step outside of the Law. A local farmer has disclosed his involvement to the Environment Agency who have dealt with this by way of “Advice”.

“As regards my gathering of evidence, I will take advice on that. My personal opinion when given the information, is that I should record it for the benefit of Burscough Residents and until convinced otherwise that will remain my position on the subject, as to decline the opportunity to gather information would be similar to telling all Journalists Not to visit a crime scene.

“I do not believe I would be serving the best interests of the Public of Burscough by withholding this information from them”.

Nor do we, and we will publish details of the ensuing saga of the Dinosaur Borough Council for the benefit of the public.

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