Category Archives: Flood Watch

Highways Teams Are Busy With Flood Clear-Up And Snow Forecast

Lancashire County Council states “it’s highway teams are continuing to work to keep the county moving following the weekend’s floods, as well as gearing up to deal with forecasts for ice and snow for some areas”.

But some residents are critical of LCC for not undertaking routine clearance of road drains that would stop much local flooding. Classical examples are in Burscough, Halsall, and Aughton. Time and again we see the floods on main roads. We showed pictures of Moss Delph Lane in Aughton, which regularly floods, and there is visible damage to a drain there.

“Highway teams received in the region of 400 calls over the weekend, and worked around the clock to respond to issues caused by Storm Ciara. Most of these problems related to localised flooding of roads, and downed trees, with teams using sandbags to divert water where necessary and chainsaws to remove trees which were causing obstructions.

“Work is ongoing to clear drains blocked by flood debris, repair retaining walls damaged by the flood waters, and assess damage to roads and other infrastructure.

“The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for snow and ice for the region from 3pm on Monday and throughout Tuesday.

“Localised forecasts are for wintry showers to affect the whole county, with sleet and snow expected to particularly affect higher routes throughout Monday night and Tuesday morning. Snow expected overnight could lead to accumulations of up to 6cm on the very highest routes by morning, with the potential for some snow to also settle at lower levels.

“Gritting is planned across the county this evening, with crews going out from 2pm this afternoon in some areas ahead of the wintry showers forecast. Team are also being retained to patrol throughout the night on those routes expected to be most affected by snow in the early hours.

County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Our highways and emergency planning teams have had a very busy weekend as part of the multi-agency emergency response to deal with the impacts of Storm Ciara.

“I’d like to thank them for their hard work and dedication as I understand they put in some very long hours, and did all they could to mitigate the impact of the flooding to our communities.

“Fortunately the water has now receded, and our Emergency Planning team is leading the coordination of the recovery phase. Our highway staff are still busy out on the roads, dealing with problems to structures such as retaining walls caused by the storm, clearing debris from drainage infrastructure, and assessing other damage.

“But the weather has not finished with us yet, and our focus over the coming hours will be on keeping the county moving due to the forecast for ice and snow for many areas.

“I’d remind people that gritting the roads will not stop snow and icy slush from settling, and I’d ask people to take great care and drive to the conditions. The salt we put on the roads helps to prevent ice by lowering the freezing temperature, the action of traffic is needed to mix the salt with the ice and snow to make it work, which means any route could stay icy even after being gritted.”

Lancashire County Council has a fleet of 45 frontline gritters which can treat the 1,500 miles of the county council’s priority road network within around four hours, but may take longer in severe conditions.

As the Lead Local Flood Authority for Lancashire, the county council will be investigating the causes of flooding as a result of Storm Ciara in order to identify where repairs may still be required, which organisations need to be involved, and in particular where there may be opportunities to bid for funding for schemes to mitigate future flooding. People are asked to report any issues with as much detail as possible, particularly where properties have been affected, by calling 0300 123 6780 during normal working hours or by email to highways@lancashire.gov.uk.

Have You Been Flooded Today?

Everybody has been flooded to some degree

depending on what surface water road drains the County has neglected. In Moss Delph Lane, Aughton, which has a record of severe flooding which then reaches Prescot Road at the railway bridge junction, it’s a given that flooding will happen. 

Former Aughton Parish Councillor David Gallagher was a good citizen today as he spoke to local residents and then immediately contacted Lancashire County Council and the Police 101, “first engaged, then online form filled in”, so he has the incident numbers. He hopes they will soon clear this up. He provided all these photographs as evidence of LCC neglect.

Hope of ending such flooding is certain to be dashed, as the LCC pleads poverty of public funding while the public just keep on paying more.

 

 

 

WLBC Planning Application 2019/1182/ARM Stirs The Attention Of Burscough Flooding Group, Again!

The application seeks 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… | Site Of Former Yew Tree Farm Liverpool Road South Burscough Lancashire.

As expected in flood prone Burscough, be it surface water or raw sewage on doorsteps and intruding into homes, the Drainage Statement For Land At Yew Tree Farm Burscough 28rd October 2019 Job No. 19010 drew considerable attention. It stated “There are no existing adopted sewers crossing the site, and as far as we have been made aware there are no existing private drains which will need to be either diverted or catered for within the design for this site.

“There are existing adopted foul, combined and surface water sewers in the highways surrounding the site. Flood Risk Assessment – SuDS Management Plan. SuDS designs have been informed initially by a Flood Risk Assessment prepared by WSP dated 16th February 2015 which was submitted as part of the planning application reference 2015/0171/OUT. Foul sewers would be offered to United Utilities for adoption under a S104 Agreement as covered by the Water Industry Act 1991”.

Burscough Flooding Group asked of WLBC, 18 November 2019, how it normally ensures, especially in the light of the Lordsgate Lane YTF application, that building for this phase won’t go ahead until after the planning committee have agreed that drainage conditions can be met?

Moving on to 20 December 2019 Gavin Rattray

asked about various issues including nothing listed under the drainage statement/strategy/plan documents, when the application would be heard, and concerning the six houses on Lordsgate Lane of which the original special drainage conditions for YTF were never met. Mr Rattray specifically sought assurances that drainage conditions would be met.

Forward to 20 January 2020 and From: Drainage Sent: 16 January 2020 17:37 To: @westlancs.gov.uk> Subject: FW: 2019/1182/ARM – YTF Phase 2. “Hi, I met with Dave Crompton at the YTF development site on Tuesday morning (14th inst.) and now understand exactly what progress has been made to date.

“As suspected the surface water diversion in Lordsgate Lane cannot be undertaken just yet as United Utilities need to adopt the new SW sewers that will convey the existing flows to the attenuation ponds i.e. they will not allow diversion of a public sewer to a private sewer. Also, the SW flow from the new houses on Lordsgate Lane will be diverted to the new prospectively adoptable sewers, and it should be noted that this is not dependent upon adoption of the sewers. I now understand that why the phase numbering has become so confusing, but as these phases are cited in various legal/contractual documents it would confuse matters more if they were changed in line with my comments below.

“The foul drainage system will convey the flow to a Foul Water Pumping Station, from where the flow will be regulated before entering the existing combined public sewer to the west of the development. This combined sewer extends from Lordsgate Lane where the existing surface water public sewer is to be disconnected and diverted through the proposed SuDS system.

“Upon examining the submitted Geo-Physical Report (Summary Report 19010/SUM) I am satisfied that the conclusion that infiltration is not a suitable means of disposing of the surface water runoff. This is due to high perched groundwater levels and/or unsuitable ground.

“I will defer to the LLFA for any recommendations for discharging Conditions 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30. However, to aid the LLFA I expect the applicant to provide SW design calculations in mdx format, to demonstrate that there will be a free discharge for all events, to show how floodwater will be managed (i.e. exceedance routes) and provide external works drawings. On the latter point it needs to be demonstrated that SW runoff will be effectively managed within each plot and not allowed to flow onto adjacent plots, open space or highway”.

Thereafter BFG, as a stakeholder, submitted a 22 page document of evidence about foul drains, surface water drains, and myriad reasons why it opposed the application for Phase 2 of Yew Tree Farm, as did Burscough Town Council, which disclosed that the Jacobs Report was received by LCC in November 2019.

Historically it’s worth remembering that re “WLBC’s Secretive Behaviour. Gavin Rattray “Thought it would be helpful [to Cllr Ian Moran] if I clarified WLBC’s secretive behaviour, so you are aware of the issues. As you might not know, the main reason we know so much about the flooding problems in Burscough is because a freedom of information request made MP Rosie Cooper [below in historical picture] on behalf of Burscough Action Group,

obtained communications from UU dating from 2007 onwards stating that Burscough’s drainage network was hydraulically inadequate and so on.

WLBC clearly denied our MP and my rights through FOI legislation for 12 months, coincidentally until just after the closing date for evidence to be accepted into the public enquiry. We know WLBC has a duty in law to provide a balanced case. Did it try its absolute best not to? As you must know more recently I made a FOI application on behalf of BFG and it was denied by WLBC because they said I was vexatious – because WLBC were resolving the flooding issues in Burscough and it was a non-issue and so on. WLBC also denied FOI rights to everyone else, i.e. the entire world, including MP Rosie Cooper, who asked questions about flooding or drainage in Burscough. I got my FOI answered because I won an appeal to First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) Information Rights Appeal Reference: EA/2018/0219”.

To bring the matter up to date Gavin Rattray wrote today re the Jacob’s report on Burscough’s flooding problems “Dear Councillor Ian Moran. Thank you for your email of the 25th January with the offer to meet Burscough Flooding Group. However, as you haven’t contacted BFG as you said you would, does this mean you have withdrawn your offer of a meeting?

“May I ask if WLBC are going to press ahead to get application 2019/1182/ARM approved without considering the Jacob’s report which it holds a draft copy of? Did WLBC prevent the borough engineer from analysing the Jacob’s report and/or completing his comments enabling it to be issued? Or is there another reason for the delay?

“The closing date for putting evidence into 2019/1182/ARM was 31st January. The offer of a meeting is still open. If you are not willing to meet it would be helpful if you could explain your reasons for not engaging with BFG”.

A telling comment made by Gavin Rattray was that “BFG have to engage with senior politicians, such as yourself, because our flooding problems are caused by geology; and decisions made by politicians which can only be solved through decisions by politicians. That is why BFG will continue indefinitely to try and get the political leadership of WLBC to communicate with us”.

Burscough Flood Records Report

Executive Summary


On the 8th June 2016 Burscough Parish Council agreed that a residents’ group should be set up to collect flooding evidence and produce a report for a future Parish Council meeting. In response Burscough Flooding Group formed on the 12th July 2016 and subsequently collected evidence from witnesses and victims, contacted through leafleting, advertising and by knocking on doors.

It has met with, and made freedom of information legislation requests from, Lancashire County Council, West Lancashire Borough Council, the Environment Agency and United Utilities. Evidence collected has revealed that large amounts of flooding occurred in 2012, 2015 and 2016 with a peak of 73 internal and over 100 external floods occurring in Burscough in 2015. Information provided by residents about the long-term history of flooding showed that a significant number of areas were suffering long term repeat flooding.

The Group has found that the causes of flooding were predominantly water discharging from United Utilities surface water and foul sewers in the urban areas; and inadequate capacity of ordinary watercourses, fed with urban surface water run-off, in the downstream rural areas. In the course of the investigations the Group found that United Utilities surface water sewer network drains the un-attenuated surface water flows from several large housing estates into watercourses and believe that this is the primary cause of flooding in Higgins Lane, Crabtree Lane, Orrell Lane and the Truscott Estate.

In addition, the Group has found that groundwater flooding occurs around Martin Mere and Yew Tree Farm and that the infiltration of groundwater into watercourses and sewers is highly likely to have been a negative factor in the severity of flooding when it occurs.

Maps and photographic evidence of the nature and extent of the flooding in Burscough follow with the flood records at the back of the document containing a comprehensive recent record of the locations, frequency and causes of flooding in Burscough. The report can be seen in full, on request 

Copies are available on the Parish Council website, http://www.burscoughpc.co.uk, or to view at the Parish Council Office. We include the Burscough Flooding Group email address BFG@FullStopLtd.co.uk  and if the public email a request for a copy of the Flood Records Report for Burscough, they will be emailed a pdf copy of the report, just include full name and Town please on the email.

The “Complete Burscough Flood Records Report for BPC Rev 16 28012020.pdf” is an amazing document, both as narrated and its technical content, that will rival any and all official works and is a credit to those involved in it.

The “Get Stuffed It’s The Law” Planning Policy Of Borough Planners

Parkinson’s Law

is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. It is often applied to the growth of bureaucracy in an organization. Like a borough council! And a borough council planning department.

A week ago we wrote about cases of missing WLBC Planning files, mainly relating to the Burscough none drainage strategy and consequent episodes of foul sewage in residents’ homes.

WLBC recently informed our resident and anti-flooding campaigner that “With regards the issue about comments being removed from the website after 12 months, I am still awaiting feedback from other Officers of the Council who may have been party to the decision”.

The information duly appeared, like a planning version of War and Peace. “Further to your query regarding the removal of representations from the Council’s public access website, I have now received advice from the Council’s Acting Planning Support Team Leader who advises the following:

“The Council’s policy in this matter is specified in our Level 2 Privacy Statement (available on our website – https://www.westlancs.gov.uk/planning/planning-privacy-notices/level-2-development-management-cil-privacy-notice.aspx) that comments and objections do not form part of the statutory register: [So that’s an immediate bugger-off then!]

“The law requires us to maintain the information on the register of planning applications indefinitely, and as such information relating to applications will be available on our website permanently. Comments and objections on applications do not form part of the statutory register. Whilst we will retain electronic versions of these, copies will be removed from the Council’s public access system 2 years after the application has been determined. CIL information may be retained permanently for audit and monitoring purposes. Enforcement complaints are retained permanently as the records are necessary to inform the planning process. [Selective then!]

“This was amended to 1 year in July 2019. Whilst we are not required by planning law to publish comments and objections as part of the statutory register we have, and continue to do so, on the basis that it assists both the Planning Inspectorate and any interested parties should they need to access any documentation in the event of an appeal being submitted. As there is no statutory obligation for the Council to publish this information we are able to set our own internal procedure for publication of anything additional to the statutory register we feel is appropriate and this does not have to form part of an official Council protocol.

“The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015 sets out the Local Planning Authority’s duties in respect to the statutory planning register, as follows:

“PART 1
(3) Part 1 of the register must contain in respect of each such application and any application for approval of reserved matters made in respect of an outline planning permission granted on such an application, made or sent to the local planning register authority and not finally disposed of—
(a) a copy (which may be photographic or in electronic form) of the application together with any accompanying plans and drawings;
(b) a copy (which may be photographic or in electronic form) of any planning obligation or section 278 agreement proposed or entered into in connection with the application;
(c) a copy (which may be photographic or in electronic form) of any other planning obligation or section 278 agreement entered into in respect of the land the subject of the application which the applicant considers relevant; and
(d) particulars of any modification to any planning obligation or section 278 agreement included in Part 1 of the register in accordance with sub-paragraphs (b) and (c).

“PART 2
(4) Part 2 of the register must contain, in respect of every application for planning permission relating to the local planning register authority’s area—
(a) a copy (which may be photographic or in electronic form) of the application and of plans and drawings submitted in relation thereto and of any accompanying design and access statement provided in accordance with article 9;
(b) particulars of any direction given under the 1990 Act or this Order in respect of the application;
(c) the decision, if any, of the local planning authority in respect of the application, including details of any conditions subject to which permission was granted, the date of such decision and the name of the local planning authority;
(d) the reference number, the date and effect of any decision of the Secretary of State in respect of the application, whether on appeal, on an application under section 293A(2) of the 1990 Act (urgent Crown development: application)(a) or on a reference under section 77 of the 1990 Act (reference of applications to Secretary of State)(b);
(e) the date of any subsequent approval (whether approval of reserved matters or any other approval required) given in relation to the application;
(f) a copy (which may be photographic or in electronic form) of any planning obligation or section 278 agreement entered into in connection with any decision of the local planning authority or the Secretary of State in respect of the application;
(g) a copy (which may be photographic or in electronic form) of any other planning obligation or section 278 agreement taken into account by the local planning authority or the Secretary of State when making the decision; and
(h) particulars of any modification to or discharge of any planning obligation or section 278 agreement included in Part 2 of the register in accordance with sub-paragraphs (f) or (g) or paragraph (6).

I hope this information assists.

Draw your own conclusions. Our intrepid anti-flooding warrior

responded “Thank you for the information. I really believe WLBC’s procedures are adding to flooding problems. For instance it makes research into planning related flooding issues difficult and it also causes problems for residents, councillors and groups like BFG, who comment on large sites with multiple applications, because the flooding information they supply gets removed, whereas it should be stored for future information and to inform current and future SFRA.

“Bearing in mind the above, WLBC’s public statement last year that it wouldn’t accept flooding information from BFG and that it lost a vital publicly funded flooding report on Burscough for 6 years in 2010. I believe that WLBC procedures, however coincidental, mean that it doesn’t store or use most of the flooding information provided to it that conflicts with its development strategy for Burscough.

“For example, removing comments caused an odd things happen during the YTF Meadowbrook appeal, which went residents’ way but strangely left the planning inspector completely unaware of the very well-known surface water flooding problems on the A59, Meadowbrook, the Truscott estate, Crabtree Lane, square lane etc. They would have been negatively impacted by the development in the form submitted.

“Meaning that the next Meadowbrook application in 2027 will rely entirely on residents resending flooding information which WLBC could so easily have kept indefinitely; or at least kept until they are resolved.

“Please would WLBC kindly supply, by FOI if required, copies of the comments and objections deleted from all of the YTF planning applications”.

In this electronic age how difficult can that be? Or should we be reverting back to reams of paper? Deletion of comments and objections may lead to judicial interventions without full evidence. Murphy’s law suggests that if anything can go wrong it will go wrong, just wait and see!

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)”.