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Flooding

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The Environment Agency’s plans to disinvest in flood control measures on Martin Mere remain high on the Council’s agenda. It is apparent that no-one is quite sure what the extent of flooding will be once the local pumping stations are switched off. This remains a matter of great concern to the Parish Council and indeed our colleagues in Burscough, Rufford, Halsall and Downholland. This is undoubtedly a situation where public pressure can count and the Parish Council encourages you to make your voice heard. Please let your concerns be known to your local councillors and MP. This is not only about farmland; it has the potential to affect infrastructure such as roads, railways and utilities. It is possible that the full extent of the repercussions will not be known until the land is allowed to flood, by which time it may well be too late. The people of the Somerset Levels are still feeling the effects after the floods have subsided. We don’t want to see a similar situation in Scarisbrick.

4 thoughts on “Flooding

  1. Stuart Johnson

    While no longer a resident of Scarisbrick I am concerned about the proposal to cease pumping Martin Mere. While there may be no immediate effect on the area of the Mere itself, the water courses that drain into the Back Drain and Sluice from more distant areas will undoubtedly have increased levels. Also as the land has been mechanically drained for decades the soil has changed to be less able to contain high moisture levels. Although only likely to happen again if the sluice gates at Crossens fail it is worth remembering the 1956 flooding which saw the road beyond Bescar Lane crossing under water and no discernible line between road and farmland existed.

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  2. Christine Charnock

    It would be of great concern to me and Scarisbrick in general if the Environment Agency does indeed disinvest flood control measures. My niece has been flood out twice in the last year or so. It is heart breaking to see the effect it has on people. My husband remembers the time many many years ago when the moss land to the right of Woodmoss Lane was flooded it not a good sight believe me. I have seen with my own eyes that many of the ditches are not attended to. Sandy brook for one and many more. We all pay our council tax so come on keep those pumping stations working for the good of our God given land so it can produce food to feed us and the surrounding areas. Scarisbrick people deserve this right.

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  3. Stephen Roberts

    I have read the Spring 2016 edition of Scarisbrick Village Matters paying particular interest on the article on Flooding and pump closures. As a property owner I also attended the Public meeting in Hasall on 18th February 2016.

    At the Public meeting there was little to no evidence presented to show how much work had been done to persuade the Environment Agency to change its mind. Further, as the Enivronment Agency is an instrument of Government (funded via DEFRA) to implement Government policy; again there was little evidence presented to demonstrate what has been done to lobby the Government to change its mind.

    I am aware that parts of Cumbria are in a similar position to Alt – Crossens with notice the close various pumping stations that again drain low lying farm land. I wonder has any consideration being given to all the Local Councils effected by this ‘pump closure policy’ combining forces to lobby both the Environment Agency and Government to change its mind?

    At the meeting on 18th February there was a lot of talk about setting up an Internal Drainage Board with support from the National Farmers Union. From the meeting I understood that where IDBs already exist that they can attract substantial government grants, however it was said that a new IDB would not receive any form of Government Grant. This, in my opinion, is unfair and work needs to be done to lobby Government to change this situation.

    Questionnaires have been sent out to farmers and land owners on their views regarding setting up a new Internal Drainage Board. This will cost money to run, mostly paid for by the farmers and land owners, however West Lancashire Borough Council will have to pay a levy that will be passed onto home owners via council tax.

    Basically this is a switch from central government funding to local funding raised from farmers, land owners, and home owners. This is a situation that I do not support.

    Reply
    1. John Herbert Post author

      You raise some important points. The Environment Agency has always been keen to point out that it is an agency of Her Majesty’s Government. Its instructions (and funding) come from HMG via DEFRA and it has no choice but to carry them out. As you correctly state, it is HMG that must be lobbied.

      In the past Scarisbrick Parish Council (SPC) has written to the Prime Minister and local MPs. The PM’s office made it quite clear that this is seen as a local problem requiring local solutions. SPC has also put a resolution before Lancashire Association of Local Councils (LALC) “that the National Association of Local Councils approach central government to give an undertaking that they will provide funding for the continuation of satellite pumping operations in the Alt-Crossens catchment, whether through the Environment Agency or the establishment of a local Water Level Management Board”. The motion was unanimously carried. SPC has also continued to raise the profile of the matter in the press. I am aware that other parish councils have been active in writing to DCLG and DEFRA on the subject.

      A delegation including representatives of the National Farmers Union, Country Land Owners Association, Rosie Cooper MP, United Utilities, Environment Agency, Lancashire County Council, and Sefton and West Lancashire Borough Councils, met with Dan Rogerson, then Minister for Flooding at DEFRA, in July 2014. The purpose of the meeting was to raise the awareness of the problems facing the Alt Crossens catchment and explore any possible assistance the government may be able to offer in supporting ongoing land drainage activities whilst protecting and enhancing the rural economy. The outcome of the meeting was that the Minister confirmed there would be no additional funds from HMG and that the establishment of an IDB would be an appropriate solution, but which would need to operate under the long established funding formula.

      However, it appears that “the long established funding formula” is hitting the buffers and there may be a glimmer of light. The Land Drainage Act 1991 requires that drainage rates and special levy are set using data from 1991. This is a significant problem for potential new IDBs as much of the data is no longer available. HMG are now looking to amend the Act. In addition, the government grants to which you correctly refer are being phased out as we move to 100% business rate retention by 2020. This will undoubtedly create inequities in local government funding and problems for (many) authorities who fund existing IDBs. Government has set up a Fair Funding Review to address inequities resulting from the withdrawal of grants. I will be putting a motion before LALC’s executive committee that it writes to DCLG to ask that the regional and national importance of agricultural land within the Alt Crossens catchment is considered when examining needs and redistribution in the Fair Funding Review.

      I agree that as proposals currently stand it represent a shift from general to local taxation. This is entirely in keeping with HMGs move towards “Localism”. However, it can be argued that this simply removes the privileged position that the northwest has held for the last 30+ years. Around 1980 (for reasons I’m trying to determine) the region’s IDBs successfully petitioned to have their functions taken over by the then North West Water Authority (and ultimately the Environment Agency). This was accompanied by a move from local to general taxation –a privilege apparently unique to Lancashire and Cumbria and not enjoyed by other areas who maintained IDBs. That decision is clearly at the root of our (and Cumbria’s) current problems.

      Reply

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