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Council statement ties flood management to Garden Village Plan


Galgate flooding 'the worst yet'
Galgate flooding 'the worst yet'
Chris Satori

Following on from our recent article about the flood management problems caused by development on greenfield sites, in which we reported concerns about how development at Bailrigg had contributed to last week's disastrous flooding in Galgate, Lancaster City Council has issued a statement tying flood management measures to major new greenfield development plans at Bailrigg. Their statement reads as follows: 

"Following last week’s floods, Lancaster City Council has received many comments and queries regarding the Local Plan and future housing developments in the district.

"Many different organisations are involved in the management of water; the Environment Agency, United Utilities, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council.

"Lancaster City Council prepares the local plan that identifies development sites.  The city council would like to make it clear that part of the evidence base for the Local Plan is a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment. This has been prepared by independent expert consultants. It considers whether the location of development proposed in the Local Plan is appropriate in relation to the known risks from all sources of flooding including surface water.

"The recent events have added further intelligence to the understanding of flood risk within the district. Flood risk modelling continues to be updated for watercourses within the District, with a further review of the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment to be undertaken in the coming months once new data is finalised by the Environment Agency.

"There are two things to note. The first is that a Local Plan is not complete until it has been through a thorough an independent Examination and the council has considered the Inspector’s report, usually with binding recommendations. The independent examination will consider flood risk as an important matter and will take into consideration the comments of the Environment Agency and Lancashire County Council as Lead Local Flood Authority, both of whom are statutory partners in the preparation of the Local Plan.

"There remains sufficient time to undertake further evaluations following the recent flooding events before the examination takes place, likely to be in late 2018.

"The second is that development can also deliver bespoke solutions to flood risk which can be of benefit to the wider community and may not otherwise happen if development doesn’t occur.

"As part of the proposals for the Bailrigg Garden Village, the council has commissioned independent engineering experts to examine how water is managed at present and how water should be best be managed in future to reduce flood risk.

"For example, the creation of areas of wetland and ponds could ensure that surface water run-off can be better accommodated in times of extreme rainfall such as those experienced last Wednesday.

"Galgate is exposed to flood risk at present, however the development of the Garden Village has the potential to put in place mitigation works to reduce, rather than increase, the future flood risk in Galgate.

"Any new advice from the Environment Agency and Lead Flood Authority (Lancashire County Council) as a result of last week’s floods will be given full weight by the council and not overridden.  If they cannot support some parts of the Local Plan then it will be revised accordingly."

Just add soap?

We recall that Lancastrians were told for years that the only way traffic congestion in our city centre could be tackled was through the Bay Gateway plan. We waited and we're still waiting. We now have the Bay Gateway. It was built through a natural wetland and now its water runoff from heavy rainfall has nowhere to go and causes its own floods to nearby land and properties. 

As I waited at Lancaster's Pointer roundabout today, looking at a stationary queue of traffic into the city tailing back south along the A6 as far as the eye could see, I had my doubts about how building thousands more houses and more university buildings across more wetland at Bailrigg, Scotforth and Bowerham and along the Bay Gateway (the greenfield ribbon development they all swore blind wouldn't be allowed) is going to be managed so that it can both reduce the city traffic congestion (as is claimed yet again) and deal safely with the vast additional water runoff, when all these areas are already in serious trouble.

We understand that our councils and agencies are at the mercy of an unstable donor-driven government that demands thousands more homes than its own statistics of housing need require, and penalises failure to comply; a government that has repeatedly cut public money for vital northern infrastructure across the board. Right now Lancashire County Council is struggling to find the money to even keep the existing drains clear, as residents of the Marsh realised last week. MP David Morris has scathingly condemned the County Council for not doing enough about flood management, but his party keeps cutting their money for it.  The powerful commercial lobbies behind these plans have far more influence with 'our' government than ordinary constituents do. But do they expect us to believe that they can hold back the water with wishes, like Canute? 

This short-sighted profiteering has serious consequences. Property is destroyed. Livestock miserably drowned. People put out of their livelihoods. Lives are turned upside down. The plans and hopes of our local people are washed away.  The health risk is rising.  Floods can happen again - it just has to rain hard. It will. A real flood management plan and agencies and infrastructure that take climate change into account must be a priority, not just another sales pitch. 

Multi-Agency Public Meetings on Flooding 

Two more multi agency public meetings are being held in the coming week to discuss concerns arising from the recent floods. Representatives from Lancashire County Council, Lancaster City Council, Environment Agency & Emergency Services will be answering your questions & hearing your concerns. The dates for these are

Galgate Area: Tuesday 5th December starting at 7.00pm at Ellel Village Hall, Main Road, Galgate LA2 0LQ
Hala/ Bowerham/ Burrow Beck Area: Thursday, 7th December 7, 2017 starting at 6.30pm at Moorside Primary School, Bowerham Rd, Lancaster LA1 4HT