Re-Visiting “Democracy Quarantined” In The Light Of The Burscough Flood Risks

Yesterday we mentioned

the “valuable opportunity for councils and developers to fast-track controversial schemes with minimal democratic scrutiny”…and “councils will “delegate authority on planning matters to town hall officials, by-passing the usual committee process”…and we feel obliged to offer for public scrutiny once again the ongoing case of Burscough and its raw sewage and flooding problems

Early in April Burscough Flooding Group (BFG) wrote “We are very much in favour of reporting flooding to the authorities and were set up to collect flooding information. We have been highly praised by the Parish Council and Lancashire County Council (LCC) for the quality of our work, which is largely backed up by photographs.

“It’s important that we warn residents not to entirely rely on the integrity of the Flood Risk Management Authorities because they are cash strapped and it’s not in their vested interests to accurately record all flooding. This is because it affects their ability to build houses to raise revenue, as it would WLBC; and in the case of the Environment Agency, LCC and United Utilities, it means they would have to commit money to spend on the drainage infrastructure to resolve the problems.

“For example BFG identified 98 internally flooded homes in Burscough over a 7 year period mostly due to UU’s sewers and it has been totally ignored by the LCC who oversaw our publicly funded Surface Water Management Plan SWMP.

“LCC were able to do this by excluding all public oversight of the SWMP including BFG and then including United Utilities, frankly unbelievable evidence, that only two homes were internally flooded in Burscough by UUs sewers in 10 years. So by all means report floods to the EA, UU and LCC but make sure you record them with BFG or the Parish Council as well, because it’s perceptible your evidence will never be seen again!”

Later in the month BFG wrote again with detailed objection to the flooding and drainage provision called YTF Phase 2 Objection. Burscough Flood Records Report for BPC has been provided as supporting evidence in the email following (2 of 2).

“Burscough Flooding Group (BFG) has serious concerns that the drainage from the 2nd phase and onwards of Yew Tree Farm will cause flooding and commented extensively on the same drainage conditions (26/30) in 2019/1182/ARM in January 2019 and those comments are on WLBC’s planning portal. However, because WLBC have superseded the essential part of application 2019/1182/ARM with 2020/0293/CON, which we were unaware of, we are concerned that our comments on drainage and flooding must be considered by WLBC.

“In order to prevent decisions being made, affecting flooding and drainage in Burscough, without all of the detailed and accurate evidence of floods collated in the 2020 issue of Burscough Flood Records Report for the use of the Flood Risk Management Authorities and Burscough Parish Council. Therefore, BFG require to be allowed to comment on 2020/0293/CON Approval of Details Reserved by Condition Nos. 26 and 30 of planning permission 2015/0171/OUT relating to a foul and surface water drainage strategy. Site of Former Yew Tree Farm”.

And of particular concern was this telling paragraph “I found five related cases to 2019/1182/ARM, therefore, as 2020/0293/CON is a small part of 2019/1182/ARM shouldn’t that mean that it has potentially six or more related cases (see Appendix 1 in YTF Phase 2 Objection) the evidence from which should be considered. Can I ask why WLBC hasn’t listed any related cases at all within 2020/0293/CON?”

There is much more to the case. But for now we remind readers that “The case [Gavin Rattray v IC and WLBC] went to the Greater Regulatory Council where three judges found unanimously for Gavin Rattray and Burscough Flooding Group. Subsequently WLBC and the Information Commissioner wasted further public money trying unsuccessfully to withhold the information. WLBC lost again”.

Surely WLBC wouldn’t now take advantage of a “coronavirus emergency escape clause” and bypass the usual committee process? Don’t bet on it!

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