Lancaster residents angry and frustrated at recent flooding as city council leader asks Prime Minister for £5m resilience funding

Lancaster residents have described the most recent flooding in the city as a "crisis that could have been avoided".

By Nick Lakin
Wednesday, 12th August 2020, 10:22 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th August 2020, 10:26 am

This week, the leader of Lancaster City Council has written to the Prime Minister to urgently request £5m for flood defence and resilience measures in the Burrow Beck area of Lancaster.

In the early hours of Tuesday August 11, the area around Lentworth Drive flooded for the second time in six days following heavy rain.

On both occasions residents had to be evacuated and a number have now been rehoused due to the damage caused.

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Recent flooding in Lentworth Drive, Lancaster.

Following a similar flood event in 2017, the Environment Agency developed a proposal to reduce flood risk from Burrow Beck.

However, their funding calculator suggested that the government would fund only £776,000 of the estimated £3.3m needed, and so the scheme has not progressed.

Residents have also not been offered the funding that the government often provides to put property level defences in place.

Many are angry and frustrated by the lack of action.

Firefighters attempt to tackle the floodwater in Lentworth Drive.

Phil McGrath a resident of 22 years said: “It's got worse, more properties are affected and it could have all been prevented.

"It appears that increased building on flood plains alongside lack of management of the beck - and being told that residents suddenly have riparian duties - has led to a crisis that could have been avoided.”

Donna Kolev, a resident who previously suffered from flooding in 2017 said: “It’s the stress of every single time it rains it seems we get a flood warning.

"Constantly on edge and stressed about whether we will flood again.

The aftermath of the second flooding incident in Lentworth Drive. Photo by Erica Lewis.

It’s getting beyond unreasonable now that no-one will do anything about it!”

Andrew Egerton from the South Lancaster Flood Action Group said: “We’re very clear what needs to be done.

"There are some short term measures such as proactive maintenance, digging ditches, raising bridges and building embankments which will make a difference in the short term.

"In the long term building stormwater storage upstream of the residential areas is in the words of the Environment Agency 'the only reasonable technically viable option to move the community in to the low flood risk Band'".

In a letter to Boris Johnson, Coun Dr Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council, has asked that Environment Agency works should now be given priority.

She said: "Having worked closely with affected residents since the November 2017 incident I know that repeated flooding is having a significant impact on residents both in terms of wellbeing and mental health, as well as costs incurred and property values lost.

“Between the impact on residents, the costs of repeated emergency responses, subsequent rehousing and the increasing frequency of events due to climate change, I know that this would be £5m well spent.

“Given the weather warnings for the rest of the week, residents will continue to worry through the day, and not be able to sleep at night, because we know that one heavy rainfall could see homes flooded once again.

"Please tell my residents you will do everything in your power to reduce their flood risk.”

Lancaster City Council’s on-call teams attended both flooding incidents to support the emergency services and Environment Agency.

This included removing debris from the beck to help to keep it flowing and opening a rest centre for those who needed to be evacuated from their homes.

Ahead of further predicted heavy rain, a multi-agency meeting took place on Tuesday morning to discuss further mitigation measures and additional meetings will take place later this week.

The South Lancaster Flood Action Group has also warned that Lancaster City Council's recently adopted Local Plan has highlighted an area off Grab Lane for development with 200 houses.

The group said the development would make the stormwater storage are "technically impossible" and would "enshrine the current level of flood risk in the community".