Open Letter To The Local Lead Flood Authority AKA Lancashire County Council

“Trenching without appropriate consents”, a primer for public officers uneducated in the custom and practice of digging drainage ditches.

“Dear Stephen Young

“Thank you for your email. The ditch referred to in your letter is a drainage ditch 200 yards away from the nearest house. Residents believe it has had no noticeable effect on the flooding on Crabtree Lane. Whereas BFG firmly believe that the cause of the railway line’s partial collapse is the increased flow of surface water from the new housing developments in Burscough. Each flood causes water to flow horizontally through the embankment resulting in cumulative damage until we arrived at the point where the embankment collapsed.

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“BFG first reported problems with the inadequacy of the rail culvert and floodwater build up against the railway embankment to the LLFA, when it met with it in 2016. The meeting was voice recorded and included Borough Councillor Andrew Pritchard, County Councillor Cynthia Dereli, Rachel Crompton Senior Flood Risk Manager, and Paul Baguley LLFA Officer. We have recently learnt that the LLFA in the four years since they were first being told about the problem have never warned Network Rail! Does the LLFA perceive as we do that this could be viewed as negligence?

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“Luckily no trains were derailed and nobody was hurt. Flooding could have been reduced or eliminated at any time, in the last 10+ years had: • LLFA warned network rail and, in turn, they had cleared its blocked culverts; • United Utilities (UU) increased the network capacity of their sewers to adequate rather than third world; • UU cleared their section of the boathouse sluice • LLFA addressed the general lack of capacity of the local water courses and the sewer network • The Environment Agency (EA) forced UU to clear the boathouse sluice as UU are the riparian owner.

“Yet none of them did anything! Instead LLFA have chosen to divert attention from the near rail disaster, due to the collective failure of the Flood Risk Management Authorities (FRMA), by falsely drawing negative attention to the action of the farmers. The farmers have removed a restrictive culvert and dug a new ditch to drain their own land simultaneously improving downstream drainage for Burscough.

“You don’t need permission to plough your land, dig drainage ditches, plant a hedgerow or create a shelter belt.”…/53-how-do-planning-rules-affec…

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“Finally, as you must be aware, because I wrote to the LLFA at the commencement asking for technical assistance, BFG together with the Wilson family, Burscough Town Council and Bernard Webster have come up with a low cost fully funded solution to the flooding on Crabtree Lane using the Town Councils CIL money. The LLFA ignored the email!

“Now unfortunately a number of persons have made what we perceive as purely politically motivated objections and that has delayed our purchase of materials and stopped the project as of the 26th October. We note an alternative solution which was promoted by the LLFA on the 14th September, didn’t come into existence until after BFG’s solution had come to fruition. It is surprisingly similar but doesn’t have agreement amongst the FRMA, permission from the landowners, a cost (which is estimated to be 3 x more) or funding and will no doubt take four years more than our scheme.

“Due to weather and the needs of the farmer, there may only be a short window of time available to install our drainage scheme on farmland this year. Please can you reassure us that you will write to us within a week to formally tell what exactly is meant by “consent issues”? We don’t believe we need any more permissions than those we already have from the Environment Agency and the receiving landowner, however, if we do need any other consents, then will you assist us in obtaining them so that this delay in protecting residents who have suffered severe flooding doesn’t continue? Or will the LLFA ignore this email?”.

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Gavin Rattray – Secretary Burscough Flooding Group

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