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Issue:- 13 February 2013

Consultation for Flood Risk and Land Drainage in Alt / Crossens

DESPITE the latest UK's government announcement of the allocation of a further £130 million to be spent across Britain on flood defences, nearly £69 million in the north, the nearest area to north Merseyside to receive money is Croston, Lancs. provided to help alleviate problems on the River Yarrow.

Meanwhile, the people of North and Central Sefton and Southwest Lancashire are anxious about the situation with regard to the low lying areas of the SW Lancashire plain, from Hightown and Ince. Blundell in the south to Rufford and to Banks and south side of the Ribble estuary. Historically, much of this land was part of Martin Mere! Because of the reduction in funding from central government, a reduction in spending by those responsible for our flood protection is felt to be necessary and interested authorities are seeking public input and have just held 5 open sessions throughout the area, as they seek the best ways to secure protection, despite the cuts. The last meeting was in Ince Blundell on 11 February 2014, and amongst the agencies represented were the Environmental Agency, United Utilities and the National Farmers Union, and also various councillors and conservationists. Although both Crossens and Altmouth major pumping stations are likely to be retained, many of the back- up pumps up-stream are likely to be lost because of the cost of maintenance. Alternatives have been suggested including doing nothing, which was not favoured by anyone present. Others rely on local developments, including supporting local landowners and farmers to maintain drainage on their land. (Current observation might suggest that although many, even most, would do so the effects of a few negligents could be severe. Would there be any enforcement, if so what costs would that incur?) Others proposals include pre-feasibility studies of flood storage potential and investigating problem culverts, local development frameworks toward long term protection of and re-creation of watercourse corridors / flood plain and working with local authorities to stop inappropriate building. Also, identifying local surface water hotspots and planning accordingly, as well as promoting individual business flood resistance and resilience management plans.

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It is of great concern that at the very time in which climate change seems likely to bode more deluges and storms in the future, the current consensus view of Natural England, the Environment Agency and Sefton Council with regard to coastal erosion is the euphemistically named ‘managed retreat’. So add to this the threat of floods in the hinterland as well, the future for low lying areas may not be too rosy.

The main pumps at Altmouth and Crossens are designed to be able to pump out against the tide but if the auxiliary pumps are lost what are the chances of them being overwhelmed? Despite all this there are still those who would build yet more on the flood plain. It is to be hoped that the expressed desire to halt such enterprises is not overruled by more distant forces! Government ministers are now admitting mistakes over decisions taken in Somerset and the South West. We are all conscious of the impact of the present financial situation but isn’t this another example of short term action which is likely to prove very costly in terms of lost prime agricultural land and property damage should severe flooding occur in our region due to inadequate defences, resulting from today’s savings. Is this false economy or necessity? Are there other, as yet unconsidered, possible answers? Is this a price we must pay or should we seek to change the proposals. Let us know what you think.

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