Category Archives: Flood Watch

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 !

Burscough Baring Its Flooded Soul

Burscough Flooding Group (BFG) retains its almost full time campaign for Burscough not to be flooded by maintaining dialogue with those responsible for Burscough being flooded. A letter to the LCC Head of Highways is one example, which was caused by WLBC and LCC not recognising BFG as a “proper flooding group” even though it had the formal constitution required.

It’s worth remembering too that the First Tier Tribunal found the Burscough flood issues to be serious and complex, involving the interplay of surface watercourses, groundwater sources, and the sewer networks, all failing Burscough.

Gavin Rattray wrote

“Thank you for your letter to MP Rosie Cooper dated 21st May 2018, which I received today [7 January 2020] (see the scan following).

As LCC now knows, Burscough Flooding Group’s relationship with LCC has changed radically for the better since the appalling meeting LCC and UU had with the public at Briars Hall. BFG were extremely pleased with the recent constructive meeting with the LCC team, during which we were told that it will be followed up by LCC arranging further meetings with us, including one with BFG, LCC and Jacobs in which BFG will liaise with Jacobs. The liaison with Jacobs will be to inform them of our local knowledge of the flooding issues in Burscough.

“In response to the second paragraph of LCC’s letter. Burscough Parish Council made it clear to us that LCC did not want us to attend that meeting and that is why we weren’t invited by BPC. In the third and fourth paragraph, LCC very strongly implies we weren’t a flood action group.

“BFG have always been a flood action group; we have always had a constitution and we have always met the definitions of flood action group within https://nationalfloodforum.org.uk/working-together/communities/what-is-a-flood-action-group/. We are also a member of the national flood forum having joined it shortly after we were constituted in 2016; and finally LCC met BFG shortly after we were constituted (no doubt as part of its duty to meet flood action groups).

“In order for us to continue to have our new transparent and honest working relationship, it is necessary for BFG and LCC to let bygones be bygones. However, we would like to make it clear that the issue we had with LCC was brought about because of its refusal to incorporate the information residents, BFG and BPC had all gathered, into its S19 report following the 2015 Boxing Day flooding. BFG believe that decision set back the resolution of Burscough’s surface water flooding problems by at least two and 3/4 years.

“In addition, because the Environment Agency informed BFG in 2016 that the major cause of increased flooding in Burscough is development without sufficient investment in drainage. We know how vital documents such as the SFRA are in protecting areas like Burscough from surface water flooding and I urge LCC in its role as final approver of the SFRA to help Burscough by insisting that Burscough’s SFRA meets current best practice.

“For example, we know that LCC currently have no criteria against which it measures the quality of the SFRA and this allows WLBC to produce poor SFRAs with little specific details of problems. This enables developers to build without fully mitigating the flood risks and, given the inherent flooding problems here, it is no surprise that nearly every large development is known to have flooding problems which are contributing to the deeper downstream flooding problems in Orrel Lane, Crabtree Lane, New Lane and Martin Mere etc.

“For further information on LCC’s role in the SFRA, see the DEFRA document “Land use planning – Assessing the quality and influence of Strategic Flood Risk Assessments (SFRAs)”.

 

News Of Regular Visitors To New Cut Lane Halsall, United Utilities

On The Subject Of Crap And United Utilities

UU made an evening visit to New Cut Lane in Halsall tonight, above, to clear and flush the blocked foul drains along the usual stretch of road well known for flooding and sewerage issues!

It’s been suggested that “as UU are here so often, perhaps it would make financial sense to move their lavish headquarters in Warrington to Halsall or maybe Burscough to save time and mileage costs or, better still, invest and upgrade the sewerage system, thus saving time, money and resident frustration!!!”

Last month one Halsall resident so used to having a UU team outside their house almost invited them to Christmas dinner, but was concerned that perhaps they may have already been invited to a Burscough street?

Gavin Rattray Secretary Burscough Flooding Group Wrote A Dear Ian Letter

To Cllr Ian Moran

“I noticed your article in this week’s Champion and thought it a good opportunity to write. Due to the combined failures of WLBC and LCC to use much of the currently published flooding evidence for Burscough, their generally secretive behaviour, the drawn out process of issuing the Jacob’s report; along with WLBC’s failure to consult with UU and it be published.

“It could be perceived that flooding evidence in Burscough is being managed by omission and that is likely to enable the next phase of building on Yew Tree Farm to go ahead without any improvement in Burscough’s drainage. This could save United Utilities tens of millions but will further the misery of flood victims in Burscough.

“Do you have any comment? Do you propose to undertake any investigations into WLBC’s involvement in the ongoing issue we have raised?”

Recent Guardian Reports On Sustainable Drainage Systems

“After the 2007 disaster which claimed 13 lives and contained 92 peoposals, the Sir Michael Pitt

review led to new laws in 2010 to implement the use of sustainable drainage systems, which provide safe areas for water to pond. But the provisions were never implemented and instead a voluntary system asking developers to follow these practices was put in place. 

“But it has not worked. The government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), found that just 15% of planning applications in areas of flood risk incorporate sustainable drainage measures and in 2015 the CCC warned ministers their plans were inadequate. However, in May, the government successfully opposed a plan to make sustainable drainage compulsory, and to make developers increase the capacity of drains to which new homes are connected”.

We, being unbelievers of developers being other than honest, take it all with a pinch of salt! 

Rush to build new homes will increase flooding, experts warn

“Plans for one million new homes by 2020 risk overwhelming drains, unless the government ends freeze on legal requirements for sustainable drainage, according to the nation’s building and flooding professionals. The risk could be avoided, however, if the government ends its seven-year freeze on implementing legal requirements for new developments to include sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), such as ponds, green roofs and permeable paving. These slow the flow of water into drains, cutting the risk of floods.

“Flash flooding, where heavy rain overwhelms sewers, is already the most frequent type of flooding and costs about £260m a year. Flood risk is also expected to rise as climate change is leading to more intense rainstorms. But at present new housing developments can simply connect to existing drains, increasing the risk of floods.

“A law requiring new developments to include SuDS was passed in 2010, but the government put the rules on hold, aiming to save developers money and speed up house-building. But a report published on Thursday by a coalition of professional institutions finds the policy freeze has not sped up house building and has put homes at risk of flooding, without saving money.

“The report urges the government to use a current review to finally implement the rules. “We recognise the urgent need for 1m new homes but it is pointless to build in a way that creates flood risk for the future” said Terry Fuller, chief executive of the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, one of the bodies that produced the report.

“Our analysis shows the main obstacles to high quality and widely implemented SuDS are political and institutional rather than technical or financial, so there is no reason why government should not support stronger policy,” he said.

“SuDS can also provide valuable habitats for wildlife and Martin Spray, chief executive of the the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, said “The government’s freeze on sustainable drainage policy is a loss for wildlife and a loss for communities. But we can make this change affordable and quick, delivering new defences and new habitats, without slowing down house-building”. Other bodies backing the report include the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Association of Drainage Authorities and the RSPB and WWF.

“People living with the threat of flooding are deeply worried about how new developments will increase their flood risk. It’s undoubtedly the biggest problem we hear about, along with insurance” said Paul Cobbing, head of the National Flood Forum, which represents flood-prone communities across the country. “We run the risk of thousands suffering the devastating effects of flooding much more frequently. We need to take action to ensure we’re creating and building flood-resilient communities for today and for 30 years’ time”.

“A jobsworth for the Department for Communities and Local Government said “We’ve put in place strong safeguards to stop inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding, and we are clear that sustainable drainage systems are critical for reducing surface water flood risk. Planning authorities have to make sure new buildings are flood-resilient and we expect sustainable drainage systems for all new developments with 10 or more homes”.

“Existing planning rules encourage the use of SuDS, but a survey of more than 500 industry professionals for the new report, including engineers, flood experts and planners, found only 8% believe that current standards are driving high quality and effective SuDS in England. The government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), also found only one in seven planning applications in areas of flood risk in 2015 contained the phrase “sustainable drainage”.

“The new report also found that many SuDS that were installed were poor quality. The government’s own research shows SuDS are often cheaper to build and maintain than traditional drainage systems and the CCC estimates that they save £2 for every £1 spent.
In 2016, the government rejected proposals to use its Housing and Planning Act to increase the use of SuDS. Lord John Krebs

then at the CCC, told the Guardian “In 20 years time, people will look back and say, “What were they thinking?” as flooding already causes £1bn of damage every year on average but the risks will rise yet further as climate change leads to more intense rainfall, bringing floods to places not currently in danger. The numbers of households at significant risk of flooding will more than double to 1.9m by 2050, if the global temperature rises by 4C.

What chance for Burscough in those circumstances?

On Flooding, Poo In Burscough, The Jacobs Report, And LCC

Apropo previous correspondence reported on WLR, pre-Christmas, Gavin Rattray, Secretary Burscough Flooding Group (BFG) is still hoping to see the Jacobs Report

He wrote to LCC “Thank you for responding to my email, let me start by saying that BFG as a group will continue to meet with any of the flood risk management authorities for the benefit of residents, therefore please can you arrange for us to meet with Jacobs in January 2020”? As fate would have it there has been some effluent flooding containing raw poo on the A59 that invaded the front path of a residence there.

The response “Dear Mr Rattray, Thank you for sending through your comments. I apologise that with the various office closures recently and other prior commitments, I shall not be able to complete a detailed response straight away. I aim to reply in full by the end of the week commencing Monday 13 January.

“Our consultants now have the initial responses from the Risk Management Authorities. As they will be working over the next few weeks on the matters raised, it will be impractical to organise for you to meet them ‘in January’ as you request. Once I have a clear plan of their next steps and can secure a reliable timescale for further engagement with the Burscough Flood Group, I’ll be happy to contact you to make appropriate arrangements. Yours sincerely, Rachel Crompton. Flood Risk Manager. Lancashire County Council”.

More flood evidence at bus stop on the A59

From Gavin Rattray “Dear Rachel, Thank you for the update. It is very unfortunate for Burscough residents that the timescale the LLFA and WLBC are working to means that the Jacobs report on Burscough, already believed to be nine months overdue, is currently being kept secret during the time when the second phase of the YTF development for 267 homes (2019/1182/ARM) is being decided by WLBC.

[2019/1182/ARM Approval of Reserved Matters – Erection of 267 dwellings including details of appearance, landscaping, layout and scale. Discharge of Condition Nos. 5, 8, 14, 16, 18, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 and 35 from outline planning permission 2015/0171/OUT].

More flood evidence on the A59

“As you may remember, from when you attended the 2012 local plan examination in public, the Yew Tree Farm development was phased, in order to: • Allow UU to monitor the effect of the development on the existing flooding problems in Burscough• Enable UU to achieve the necessary increase in its network capacity from investment commencing in 2015• Ensure that the investment stays ahead of the demand placed on it by YTF, Grove Farm and other developments.

“LCC and UU, together, went to great lengths to reassure the planning inspector during 2012 local plan examination in public that UU would resolve the sewer network capacity problems that plague Burscough. WLBC separately initially made promises to the public in letters, public meetings and in newspaper advertisements stating that Burscough’s problems would be solved during the local plan consultation and later that they would not made be worse. Subsequently UU failed to gain funding in 2015 and therefore nothing has been done, so the problems that were clear to the inspector in 2012 have inevitably grown since that time.

“Therefore it is crucial that the public and the planning committee have the most relevant up to date information on the flooding problems in Burscough before planning decisions are made which are likely to exacerbate the situation. Through WLBC not consulting UU for 2019/1182/ARM and through LCC withholding the Jacobs report and allowing the EA, UU and WLBC to do the same. LCC are leading a group which is keeping the best available flooding information from UU, Jacobs and elsewhere secret, making it impossible for the public to be engaged and the planning committee to have the correct information to make an informed decision that best serves the community.

“Are LCC going to make WLBC consult with UU over 2019/1182/ARM and publish it in the planning documents before it goes before the planning committee and in sufficient time for the public to comment?

“Are LCC going to publish the Jacob’s report in the planning documents for 2019/1182/ARM before it goes to the planning committee and in sufficient time for the public to comment? “Best regards Gavin Rattray – Secretary Burscough Flooding Group

104. As submitted, the Plan indicates that development of the site could not begin until at least 2020, due to constraints on capacity at the New Lane WWTW which are unlikely to be resolved before then. However, further work by the promoters of the site demonstrated that it would be possible both to discharge all surface water from the site to an existing watercourse, at greenfield run-off rate, and to remove a volume of surface water from the existing (combined) sewerage system greater than the foul flows from the new development.

105. UUW confirm that this would enable the anticipated delivery of some 150 houses on the site by 2020 to be achieved without overloading the sewerage system. The Environment Agency are also satisfied that this rate of delivery is acceptable. Thereafter, the anticipated delivery of about 350 dwellings (at a rate of about 50-55 dpa) over the rest of the Plan period would depend on funding from Ofwat for upgrading works at New Lane. Future development proposals would be an important factor in any decision on funding, and given the pattern of proposed site allocations in the Local Plan the evidence indicates that the prospects of UUW securing funding are good.”

121. Like Yew Tree Farm, sewage from Grove Farm would discharge to the New Lane treatment works. The prospective developer proposes to discharge all surface water to a local watercourse at greenfield run-off rate, and to divert a volume of existing surface water arising elsewhere away from the public sewerage system. UUW are satisfied that on this basis up to 170 houses could be built on the site in the period up to 2020 without overloading the system. From 2020 onwards, it is reasonable to assume that upgrading works will have been implemented at New Lane so as to enable the rest of the development to proceed (see paragraph 105 above). (Report On The Examination Into The West Lancashire Local Plan Report to WLBC Roger Clews Planning Inspector 26/09/2013).

Our informant writes “UU’s combined sewer surcharged onto our drive from the A59 last week (for the 2nd time) but this time leaving us with a substantially poo saturated gravel drive”.

On the subject of poo, we wonder if “The Book of Poo”

which is the definitive spotter’s guide, naming dozens of species of faeces and what they all mean, using science, medicine, and deadpan humour to get to the, um, bottom of things, should be available in LCC libraries? Or perhaps on the desk of the Flood Risk Manager. Lancashire County Council?

Make Sure You Are Prepared In Case Of Flooding

You, us, we residents of West Lancashire

are responsible for protecting our homes from flooding that West Lancashire Borough Council through its and its flood prevention partners’ ineptitude has not prevented from happening! You couldn’t make it up! Nothing about the incapacity of the waste water systems to keep our homes safe.

“Make sure you are prepared in case of flooding” says West Lancashire Borough Council. You can get lots of information to help you be prepared “if there is any local flooding this winter on the West Lancashire Borough Council website”. Really, that’s verbatim! God forbid the flooding of a website by water than by drivel!

“We would like to remind residents that you are responsible for protecting your home, whether you own or rent it. Our flood awareness webpage can help you decide if you should take steps to protect your property, where you can get help with flood prevention equipment and what to do if flooding occurs.

“The North West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee also provides really useful information on their flood hub, which can be accessed via Flood Hub (external link). Manage your flooded home by moving upstairs, most homes only flood downstairs!


“If severe weather does hit West Lancashire the Council will be using its winter and social media to tell everyone if its services are affected. Follow @WestlancsBC on Twitter and Facebook.

“The ‘blue light’ Emergency Services also use social media, and winter can be used to find information on Lancashire County Council services such as highways, gritting and school closures”.

Jacobs Report On Burscough’s Flooding Problems-Part 2

The BFG response to LCC is perceptive and demonstrative of a much deeper understanding of the ongoing flooding problems of Burscough than the so-called “Professional Partners” who are the very cause of those ongoing flooding problems. It is their unfettered  and secret “policy” that has normalised the existence of surface water and groundwater flooding affecting Burscough. Why should Victorian standards of sewage and water removal be alive and kicking in 2019?

Mr Rattray writes “Dear Lancashire County Council

“Thank you for responding to my email, let me start by saying that BFG as a group will continue to meet with any of the flood risk management authorities for the benefit of residents, therefore please can you arrange for us to meet with Jacobs in January 2020?

“With regard to the points made in your email, I would like LCC to carefully consider the following comments:

1. “We don’t share the report beyond the professional partners (RMAs) until we are satisfied that the report is of a finished professional standard, this is part of our contractual obligation with the consultant.”
“To enable BFG to accept this argument, could LCC please explain why it previously agreed to share the draft report with us and also provide a copy of the contractual obligation with the consultant which supports the above statement.

2. “They [UU] need to check that the data has been accurately interpreted and shared in a way that meets their professional standard requirements”
“To enable BFG to accept this argument could LCC provide a copy of the professional standard requirements which supports it.

3. “As UU have shared confidential information to inform the report then they need to check that the data has been accurately interpreted”
“As BFG have provided the largest source of information based on the confidential information we hold, why hasn’t the same courtesy of checking the data been extended to BFG? It is not appropriate for LCC, UU or WLBC to check or alter the data provided by BFG without BFG being involved in that process, as we all know the conclusions of a report may be completely altered by the addition or removal of a single word.

4. “The report will be, without doubt, unaffected by political bias, vested or financial interests”.
“An admirable aim but unless LCC has control and auditing processes which verify the above is true and always remains true, then there will be doubt. For example the Police Complaints Commission (PCC) regulations 2012 provide a framework which reduces wrongdoing in the Police force because it roots out and prosecutes wrongdoers. The PCC is able to supply a list of employees who have been prosecuted and/or dismissed or otherwise disciplined. Is LCC able to provide examples of actions, including censure, it has taken against individuals or authorities who have acted improperly because of political bias, vested or financial interests? You have already explained how the drafting process involves your professional partners who have vested, financial and political interests and not BFG who provided the largest source of information.

5. “We have every intention of sharing the final draft with the group, prior to signing the report off as complete. That opportunity will allow for feedback from the BFG”.
“Unfortunately, that isn’t helpful. LCC, by denying us access to the draft documents, ensures that we won’t be aware of the changes that the RMAs have made. Please note that the RMAs are run/overseen by politicians or and/or multinationals which brings into question point 4. LCC has denied BFG the opportunity to influence the report even though BFG seems to be unique as a contributor to the Jacobs report on Burscough in not having any political, financial or vested interests.

“If we were given the opportunity to influence the document, we would like to have the following concerns considered:

• Was the scope of the investigation solely drainage infrastructure and ditches, or was it more holistic and therefore also covering how the actions of the RMAs have affected flooding for the good and bad – BFG were never told the extent (is further work needed)?

• Does the report explain that much of the data provided by the partners was gathered in an extraordinarily dry period. A comparative scenario is the considerable amount of flooding which has taken place this year – has data also been taken in a more rainy period?

• Some of the flooding in Burscough is caused by the expansion of Martin Mere and the neglect of the Alt-Crossens Pumping Network neither of which are in Burscough, how has the report dealt with those issues?

• BFG believes the gathering of external flood reports by the RMAs is virtually non-existent. What does the Jacobs report find? This is important because many people don’t report internal floods because of the effect on the value of their home, therefore external floods provide a truer picture of the functioning of the drainage system and the level of internal floods

• A long term dispute between WLBC and the EA leaves no mechanism to investigate potential Critical Drainage Areas (CDAs) in West Lancashire. What effect has this had on planning and the resolution of flooding problems in Burscough, which has several potential CDAs?

• The SFRA isn’t kept up to date and sequential tests are never undertaken for Burscough, yet new developments usually have or cause flooding problems, are they related?

• The RMAs operate in an environment of obsessive secrecy, for instance there is a shortage of public information about the causes and instances of flooding in Burscough because the LPA was, for a long period, illegally denying all residents FOI information about flooding. In addition, MSFW meetings in West Lancashire are held in secret with no minutes made or published which has reduced informed oversight of the planning process, whereas for example Wyre MSFW meetings are published. Are any of the RMAs for Burscough contravening the 2015 Transparency Code?

• Much evidence of flooding has been provided to the RMAs by residents and by consultants (funded by central government and by Burscough Parish Council) yet little of it ever appears to inform the RMAs for Burscough. For example flooding information provided by BFG to LCC was excluded from the S19 report on storm Desmond, resulting in the report painting a false picture of the flooding. A 2010 consultant’s report on flooding in Burscough went missing on completion until 2016, meaning it was unavailable during the local plan consultation and six years of rapid development. Although things have since changed for the better; WLBC, UU and LCC had all recently stated in public meetings that they wouldn’t accept flooding information from BFG, which we perceived was part of a long term policy not to seek/collect evidence of flooding. Did that policy cause the neglect of the drainage system and explain why Burscough suffers from so much surface water and groundwater flooding?

Gavin Rattray – Secretary Burscough Flooding Group”.

Isn’t it astonishing that the subject of what is visible to any and all of these jobsworth RMAs, as shown below, 

has not shamed them into activity for the benefit of residents and out of their talking shops? As a national politician is now repeating “just get it done”, who could disagree with the Burscough Flooding Group?