Category Archives: Flood Watch

Open Letter To WLBC Planning Committee From Burscough Flooding Group

Councillor Gareth Dowling (Chairman); Councillor Andrew Pritchard (Vice-Chair); Councillor Iain Ashcroft; Councillor Mrs Pam Baybutt; Councillor Alexander Blundell; Councillor Carl Barry Coughlan; Councillor Vickie Cummins; Councillor Noel Delaney; Councillor Cynthia Dereli; Councillor Terry Devine; Councillor David Evans; Councillor Susan Anne Evans; Councillor Julian Antoni Finch; Councillor David O’Toole; Councillor Edward Pope; Councillor Jane Thompson; Councillor Mrs Marilyn Westley; Councillor Mrs Joan Witter.

Dear Councillors

As you are all aware, both foul and surface water drainage networks in Burscough are known to flood in heavy rainfall due to a lack of capacity in both drainage systems. That problem is identified in the 2012 local plan and the current neighbourhood plan. No new capacity has been built, therefore, the frequency and severity of flooding which residents report to BFG has increased. It was once thought to be mainly due to development without SUDS, however, what is being hidden from residents is that developments like Yew Tree Farm (YTF) with SUDS have already significantly added to the flooding problems here and how that come about and why the application should be opposed by Councillors is explained following:

“Although the developer appears to intend to restrict runoff to pre-development (greenfield) rates, a review of the SUDS Manual CIRIA 2015 section 3 demonstrates that even if the peak flow from developed sites is attenuated so that it does not at any point exceed the greenfield peak flow; the overall volume and duration of flow is still increased.

“When a number of developments, such as phase 1 YTF, the nursing home on the A59, Booths, Victoria Park and Ainscough Mill all occur in the same catchment area, the combined effect is to increase the overall peak flow downstream because of the greater total volumes being discharged from each development. This means that the likelihood of flooding downstream still increases despite installation of SUDS.

“The NPPF requires that the risk of downstream flooding be considered and unless and until this is adequately addressed, it is contended that the proposals for discharge of surface water in this manner should be rejected.”

WLBC has recommended that YTF phase 2 (2019/1182/ARM and 2020/0293/CON) go ahead. Are any Councillors able to explain for the benefit of BFG and residents, how YTF phase 2 can possibly go ahead without increasing our downstream flooding problems?

Yours faithfully

Gavin Rattray – Secretary Burscough Flooding Group

Please see below the relevant extracts from the SUDS Manual.

Section 3.1 Designing for water quantity
Peak rates of surface water runoff discharged from a developed (i.e. relatively impermeable site, if left uncontrolled, are normally significantly greater than from the site in its greenfield state. This is because the runoff drains off the surfaces of the developed site much quicker than the greenfield site and there is much more runoff, as less water is able to penetrate the ground or be intercepted in other ways. On sites overlying sandy, well drained soils, peak rates could be at least an order of magnitude higher. This can have significant consequences for the receiving watercourse by increasing flow velocities and the likelihood of flooding and bank erosion. Where sites discharge to existing piped drainage systems, the risks tend to be even greater, as pipes have constrained capacities and are more sensitive to changes in flow rate.

3.1.2 Attenuation controls the peak runoff rate by extending the hydrograph. So, while the peak rate of runoff may not increase, the duration over which this peak rate occurs will be significantly longer than before development as a result of the additional runoff volume. This can also increase the likelihood of flooding in the receiving watercourse. Where sites discharge to sewer systems, changes in volumes are particularly important, due to the risk of sewer flooding and CSO spills.

Figure 3.3 shows the post-development discharge rate with attenuation in red. The volume of runoff is the area under the graph. This extended period of peak flows in the receiving watercourse can be damaging for both morphology and ecology, caused by greater erosion and movement of sediment. Therefore, controlling peak runoff rates from large storm events is extremely important, but it is not sufficient on its own to reduce the impact of the development on the downstream catchment.

Also, attenuation can only control relatively large rainfall events, and does nothing to address the problems associated with a development site generating runoff from all of the smaller rainfall events. With natural soil conditions, the runoff from the majority of such events (i.e. with a total depth of, say, 5 mm or less would have been lost through infiltration and/or evapotranspiration. Runoff from these frequent small rainfall events will usually just “pass through” attenuation systems with limited or no control.

At a catchment scale, the potential limitations of using attenuation alone are also evident (Figure 3.3). Although the runoff from each sub-catchment has been attenuated to limit flows to pre-development conditions, the peak flow downstream will continue to rise because of the greater total volumes being discharged from each sub-catchment. This means that the likelihood of flooding downstream still increases.

“We Refuse To Treat Residents With Such Contempt”

Until it suits us?

Open Letter To Residents Of West Lancashire From Council Leader, Cllr Ian Moran March 12 2019 “At a meeting of the West Lancashire Borough Council Cabinet this evening, the Labour administration requested that the timescale for developing a new Local Plan be changed, in order to take into account the concerns raised by residents during the recent public consultation.

“We have said from the outset of this Local Plan process that we wanted this to be a meaningful consultation, in which the public could see that their concerns were being listened to.

“When the last Local Plan review took place, the Conservative administration, which included OWL Cllr Adrian Owens, completely ignored the concerns of residents across the borough over plans to build significant numbers of housing in the area, not least Burscough residents’ overwhelming referendum result. We refuse to treat residents with such contempt.

[The referendum Question was “Do you want the West Lancashire Borough Council to release green belt land at Yew Tree Farm and Red Cat Lane for developments disproportionate to the size of Burscough, without thoroughly investigating and exhausting all suitable alternatives and prioritizing non-green belt land first We refuse to treat residents with such contempt. Yes 55, no 1,438]

“The proposals put forward for a new Local Plan were intended to try and stop the problem of housing developments being built without any guarantee of infrastructure improvements, to roads, schools and GP surgeries.

However, we refuse to drive this through against residents’ wishes, and so we will review the responses and update the evidence used in formulating the plan, to ensure that a more effective set of proposals can be brought forward in future.

“This Conservative government has placed local authorities under huge pressure to deliver new housing, without giving them sufficient powers to tackle the problems of developers sitting on development land and trying to cherry pick the best sites, as happened last year with our successful defence of Parrs Lane in Aughton. If we don’t review our Local Plan regularly, the government will impose the housing on us without any regard for local infrastructure, so we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep control”.

Returning to the statement We refuse to treat residents with such contempt”, how else can current contemptuous treatment of the Burscough Flooding Group be described? How can an elected body blandly ignore the democratic right to be heard because paid officers advise otherwise? WLBC Labour 2020 isn’t fixing the Tory mess, it’s just adding to it?


Flooding, Sewage, And No Community Rights

Tonight, at 7pm, on the day that WLBC proved it doesn’t know what day of the week it is, a planning decision will be made that betrays the entire Labour controlled community of Burscough.

The (No party whipping allowed) Labour dominated planning committee will support a proposal from a Planning Officer that states “Site Of Former Yew Tree Farm Liverpool Road South Burscough Lancashire. Approval of Reserved Matters – Phased development of 267 dwellings, Burscough West, Recommendation: Approve with conditions”.

Never mind that Burscough Flood Group has stated “Adding proposed homes from Phase 2 will significantly add to the existing foul water flooding problems in Burscough. Foul effluent is regularly seen on the streets in Burscough during heavy rainfall. The phase 2 planning application doesn’t provide the necessary additional foul network capacity to prevent foul flooding” and much more”.

Or that Burscough Town Council has objected to the application, stating, “The Jacobs Report was received at County Council November 2019 followed shortly by this application in December 2019. This proposal is possibly the largest housing development in Burscough and the information contained in the report is vital for consideration of this application. The current Strategic Flood Risk Assessment is considered to be flawed at inception, due to lack of and inaccurate detail, and to be out of date, being ten years old now without a review.

“A new Local Plan Review has been promised which will have to produce a new SFRA. That will not be in time for this application; During the consultation period for the current Local Plan residents were promised that improvements would follow. That hasn’t happened. If anything in certain areas the opposite has happened. e.g.:- a) Sewer surcharging on Liverpool Road South has increased and no improvements have been made to UU infrastructure. The surcharging results in contaminated sewage flooding”.

And a local resident, stating “Lack of, or the inadequacy of the drainage infrastructure; The Authorities and other Bodies have a duty to ensure the drainage system is “fit for purpose” and is sufficiently robust to deal with capacity issues now and for the future – Concern that drainage Authorities, have inadequate knowledge about the watercourses and culverts in West Lancashire to understand how the whole of the system works; Crabtree Lane has suffered 4 serious flooding events since December 2015, and contaminated foul water has been known to overflow the sewage pipe close to Orrell Lane; How is it possible to say the drainage systems already put in place, are in fact safe, and without fault”.

And there is so much more. But the income for LCC, WLBC, and UU from new housing, especially council tax, will dominate the proceedings. Fit for purpose will not be an issue, just the filthy lucre. To summarise the situation, Burscough Flooding Group recently suggested “Although it seems totally inappropriate to delegate decisions to predetermined bodies with vested financial interests, BFG believe this method of decision making has now become WLBC’s normal operating procedure and this sort of thing could have been going on indefinitely. Perhaps, it is suggested, this approach explains why BFG’s input to planning applications has not been considered and why so many sites that have come forward in Burscough now cause flooding”.

Not knowing what day of the week it is won’t deter officers from this decision. But the betrayal will always be remembered.

Update. The item was withdrawn for consideration of a problem with it that officers were having to resolve. For consideration in June.

The Open Letter Asking For Fairness That WLBC Will Not Want You To Read

As Yew Tree Farm Phase 2 rears its ugly head in Burscough, WLBC will press ahead regardless of local concerns democratically raised by those who will suffer from it.

WLBC states “The current application is in accordance with the overarching scheme and the statutory consultees are satisfied, as they were in 2015, that the drainage proposals are acceptable and will not worsen flood risk on or off the site. The application is recommended for approval by Planning Committee” notwithstanding sewage and floods have invaded some areas of Burscough for the past five years.

And there is now a Burscough Flooding Group “Open Letter to WLBC Council Leader and Chief Operating Officer” which states “It was disappointing to note that you incorrectly stated in your email that I have made “allegations of corruption” in my letter when I did not. What I did ask was the following, drawn from the 2015 Transparency Code, “Has a culture of secrecy and lack of transparency in WLBC created an environment which allows corruption to flourish?”

“I would appreciate an answer to the question, if the Council Leader or Chief Executive will allow you to do so. I would particularly like to know what safeguards are in place to prevent the deferred decision making process being misused and what precautions are taken to verify that deferred decisions are fair?

“I note that you also state, “the responses from BFG have been given due consideration, and the above applications are being dealt with in accordance with the Council’s Constitution and both national and local planning policies”.

“Given that flooding in Burscough is an ongoing local controversy with a great deal of public interest, it would prevent the controversy growing if WLBC demonstrated the accuracy of its bold statement by revealing the care it took by providing the details missing from the officers report, such as: 1. The date and time of the meeting when consideration of BFG representation took place (even if there was only 1 person). 2. Where the consideration took place. 3. The technical reasons why all of the points raised were either accepted or discounted. 4. The numbers of attending Flood Risk Managers, councillors, officers and any others. 5. The job titles/suitability/technical competence of the attendees. 6. How the decision was made, for example was it made by equal voting of attendees, or in some other way”.

“WLBC doesn’t have a vested interest in its strategic development site if you ignore new housing bonus, rates, and CIL (are there any other benefits). I note that WLBC has nothing to say about the almost equally obvious vested interests of UU and LCC. Your offer that BFG meet with a planning officer rather than WLBC Council Leader or the Chief Operating Officer is entirely inappropriate given that the complaints are about planning and the suggestion that BFG have refused several offers of a meeting with the same officer is entirely incorrect”.

Readers may recall how anger about the entire development was related in 2016 as “Absolutely disgraceful, Burscough residents have had no say at all in this matter, l wasn’t asked and l bet a lot more residents weren’t either, the village won’t be able to cope with the mass amounts of people coming to live here, also the drainage system and road network eg A59. Seems to me a lot of underhanded activity here, say no more. Grrrrr”.

Can You Avoid Making Routine Enquiries?

Like how to avoid the routine raw sewage appearing in Burscough when it rains and the utilities are not united enough to cope?

You know that local authorities in England have been given new powers to hold meetings, including planning committees, by video or telephone conferencing. The government announced it had temporarily removed the legal requirement for councils to hold public meetings in person during the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said the measure would allow council staff, members and the public to stay at home but still access decision meetings.

However, many councillors across the country are not happy about this move. The change covers all category of public meetings. It will be up to each local authority to decide how meetings should be conducted and how the public has access.

Cheek of the week!

From a planning officer who must remain anonymous “Please give some credit to council officials, who are knocking themselves out 7 days a week to stay on top of this, coordinating help to the most vulnerable and ensuring that key services are maintained. If you can avoid making routine enquiries (eg about a planning application) during this period that would be great”.

An Open Letter

to the WLBC Chief Operating Officer and Council Leader

is circulating in the borough, as crucial planning applications will be considered this week using the virtual meeting system of the Planning Committee, that will take place on Thursday, 21 May 2020 at 7.00 PM. A Skype meeting request will be sent to individual Members of the Planning Committee. The meeting will also be available to view for members of the public via Webcast on the Council’s website.

The open letter is to Chief Operating Officer Jacqui Sinnott-Lacey and Council Leader Ian Moran, and refers to the planning application for the second phase of Yew Tree Farm (YTF) for 267 homes (2020/0293/CON and 2019/1182/ARM), for the Burscough Flooding Group found that 2020/0293/CON was going to be determined in such a way that can, at best, be described as not transparent or, at worst, be described as completely illegal.

Chief amongst local concerns are that Burscough Flooding Group’s (BFG) representations can’t be meaningfully considered, because the decision makers, United Utilities (UU), West Lancashire Borough Council (WLBC) and Lancashire County (LCC), have all publicly stated that they will not accept drainage/flooding evidence from BFG, which might suggest that the Local Government Ethical Standards in public life are no longer a feature that West Lancashire residents can expect to benefit from.

In addition to the above, at least two of the decision makers have very clear vested financial interests, council tax income, in 2019/1182/ARM going ahead and, as you know 2020/0293/CON could determine the outcome of 2019/1182/ARM.

Of equal concern is that, although it seems totally inappropriate to delegate decisions to predetermined bodies with vested financial interests, BFG believe this method of decision making has now become WLBC’s normal operating procedure and this sort of thing could have been going on indefinitely. Perhaps, it is suggested, this approach explains why BFG’s input to planning applications has not been considered and why so many sites that have come forward in Burscough now cause flooding.

So the very reasonable and legal expectations of the BFG are a request that those addressed in the open letter investigate BFG’s concerns with particular regard being given to the following questions. Is WLBC, by failing to meaningfully take into account representations received, carrying out 2020/0293/CON and 2019/1182/ARM in an unlawful manner? Is WLBC, by making decisions on 2020/0293/CON behind closed doors without public oversight, acting in violation of the Local Government Act 1972? Has a culture of secrecy and lack of transparency in WLBC created an environment which allows developmental corruption to flourish?

Astute readers will recognise what is going on from widely spread public articles about the Burscough sewage and surface water problems. Putting it together with absentee councillors escaping expulsion by dubious timelines, and how the Beacon Park Golf Course landfill for royalties planning permissions openly involved huge scale VAT fraudsters, including an admission by a senior officer that one of them attended a meeting and his name remains historically on a planning permission to this day, should we despair about how low standards are? Probably!