Readers may be aware of plans to withdraw funding for drainage operations in the Alt-Crossens catchment and the potential effects that this will have on the region and Scarisbrick in particular.
The land in Alt-Crossens is low lying with a good proportion sitting below sea level. Water is taken off the land via a network of drainage ditches and raised watercourses. A series of satellite pumping stations propels the water to major pumping stations at Altmouth and Crossens where it is pumped to sea. The system of pumping stations, drains and watercourses maintains Alt-Crossens in its mainly dry state and prevents flooding.
The Environment Agency has had its budget cut and been instructed by DEFRA to invest its resources into the protection of residential and commercial property and to cease land drainage benefits. As a result, notice is about to be served on satellite pumping stations within the catchment.
These stations and watercourses are important to us because they remove water from the large agricultural area that comprises our Parish and on to Crossens. Across West Lancashire about 40,000 acres of grade 1 and 2 agricultural land will potentially be put at risk. This land currently brings about £230 million into our local economy, income the area can ill-afford to lose. The extent to which the infrastructure of the area will be affected is unknown with the effect on roads, railways and utility supplies being a major concern. There is also a degree of uncertainty regarding the extent of land that may potentially be affected.
The matter is now starting to come to a head. The Environment Agency will serve notice on five pumping stations by the end of July 2015. These include Rufford Causeway, Clay Brow, Boundary Brook, Kew and Banks Marsh. Others will follow. There will then be a period of 24 months prior to closure of pumping operations, a period in which a solution must be found.
Further updates and notices of events will be published on this website where there will also be a series of articles exploring the situation in more depth over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the Environment Agency is to hold a series of engagement days for those most likely to be affected. The first event is aimed at local farmers and landowners who are hereby invited to attend. The event will be held at 7.00pm on Thursday 2nd July 2015 in the local NFU offices (1 Moss Lane View, Skelmersdale, WN8 9TL).