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 david.simister@champnews.com
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 (3023956)
West Lancashire councillor refutes homes at risk worries over flooding plans
by David Simister


A WEST Lancashire councillor has hit back at claims that controversial Environment Agency plans to scale back its pumping operations will put residents' homes at risk.

Councillor John Hodson said this week that although plans by the Government agency to scale back its pumping operations and increase its use of natural drainage in the Lower Alt and Crossens area have been attacked as being “flawed” by a Lancashire County Council scrutiny committee, he was keen to stress to residents that the body has a duty to ensure residents homes are not put at risk.

He told The Champion:

“It is very important that residents are clear on the issues which face the area with regard to the Flood Risk Management proposals. Following approaches from concerned residents in Mere Brow, Banks, Tarleton & Hesketh Bank, who are under the impression that the proposals will pose a flood risk to their homes.

”Many months of further Consultation and debate is required before the full implications are considered and worked through, but in summary the simple issue that residents need to understand is that changing Agricultural and Drainage practise does not mean that homes will be put at risk. This is about Water Resource Management within the Catchment Area.

“This should not become an argument of food versus homes, but a way of finding solutions to the wider issues affecting the whole area.”

The Environment Agency is proposing scaling back its pumping operations in the rural areas of West Lancashire which surround Southport, arguing that the £3m it currently spends in the Crossens and Lower Alt area is no longer sustainable.

However a Lancashire County Council scrutiny committee investigating the Environment Agency's consultation into the plans said it had found flaws, and argued “in some senses, the consultation process must begin again.”

The Environment Agency said that while the consultation had raised “a lot of concerns”, the organisation was focused on protecting residents' homes.

A spokesperson for the agency said: “We recognise the recent consultation has raised a lot of questions and concerns, but remain in the early stages of the process. We are currently considering all of the responses carefully and looking to improve the way we discuss this issue with people over the next 12 months so that we can explore the best options for the long term management of the catchment.

”No action will be taken, or decisions will be made, until we have had these detailed discussions with the community and local partners. While the Environment Agency needs to focus its work on protecting people's homes from flooding we do recognise the importance of this area for jobs and the economy.“






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