New scheme boosts Garstang and St Michael’s flood defences

Send In Roy Payne''Flood Picture taken from the air over St Michaels in the late seventies
Send In Roy Payne''Flood Picture taken from the air over St Michaels in the late seventies
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AN £800,000 scheme aimed at reducing the risk of flooding at St Michael’s-on-Wyre and Garstang has been unveiled.

The government cash, will be used by the Environment Agency to improve flood defences on the River Wyre as well as carrying out silt and gravel removal - which will reduce the risk of flooding to hundreds of homes and businesses.

Most of the work will be carried out around St Michael’s, scene of devastating floods 30 years ago.

The cash will also be used for a detailed study of the Wyre’s catchment area to provide vital data which will enable the EA its and partners to manage flood risk in the area more effectively.

EA systems manager Gary Jones-Wright said: “Securing this funding is great news for people living and working in the area, as it means that the Environment Agency can improve flood defences along the River Wyre at critical locations, and reduce the risk of flooding to local homes and businesses.

“We work hard to manage flood risk in the area and, as well as maintaining flood defences along the River Wyre, we also monitor weather forecasts, rainfall and river levels and if we think the area is likely to flood, we can then warn local residents early if they sign up to our Flood Warnings Direct service.

“We also operate the two flood storage basins at Garstang and Catterall in order to try to reduce the risk of flooding downstream.

“The funding has enabled us to conduct a study of the River Wyre, and the data we have collated will be used to see if we can identify ways of reducing flood risk in the area even further.

“This may involve changes to how much maintenance we carry out in certain areas and how frequently we operate the flood storage basins in the future.

“If any significant changes are to be made, we will keep affected landowners up to date with our plans.”

“We want to complete the construction works as soon as possible, and plan to spread the works out over the spring and summer months to keep traffic disruption to a minimum, and to ensure we have as little impact as possible on local businesses while we carry out this important work.”

As reported recently in The Courier there have been claims, denied by the EA, that improvement work would only be kept to a miniumum to keep down costs.

Landowners in the village have been worried about the increasing number of times the emergency ‘Catterall’ flood basin at St Michael’s has been operating in recent years.

The basin captures river water which might otherwise deluge St Michael’s during times of heavy rain and high river levels.

At least two local landowners are known to be annoyed that their land, at or near the flood basin, has been fairly frequently used to retain river water, often leading to damage to the land and crops when the EA puts up the flood gate. There have also been questions raised about the efficiency of the compensation process in such events.

During one recent period of prolonged wet weather there was a brief stand-off between a landowner, the police and the EA, after the landowner blocked access to the basin.