THE Crossens pumping station will not be closed as part of controversial Environment Agency cutbacks, it has been revealed.
The government agency has proposed scaling back pumping and increasing the use of natural flood plains in the Lower Alt with Crossens catchment by 2015, due to funding cuts from Defra. It recently extended its consultation over the proposals until January 31.
The plans have sparked fears that homes will be more vulnerable to flooding and that farmland will be threatened.
Currently there are two main pumping stations at Crossens and Altmouth and 11 satellite pumping stations.
But while the future of the satellite stations remains unclear, agency staff ruled out closing or reducing the functions of the Crossens station during a meeting with a task group of county and borough councillors on Friday, according to North Meols councillor Paul Blane.
He said: “We met with three representatives from the agency and were delighted to hear that following a site visit they have ruled out closing the Crossens station.
“Lorraine Fullbrook MP, local parish councils, and councillors from West Lancs and Sefton have put a lot of effort into ensuring the agency extended the consultation, and in raising awareness of the proposals to local people.
“This news will come as a relief to many people, but is only the start. We need people to keep submitting their feedback and there are still many issues to be resolved.”
Keith Ashcroft, Environment Agency area manager, told the Advertiser: “The draft plan recommends that we maintain Crossens pumping station and we hope that clarification of this issue will allay concerns.Š
“We will continue to work with interested groups to investigate how water can be best managed to protect homes from flooding and how businesses can play their part in land drainage.”
Last Wednesday, West Lancs councillors voted to back a motion to support MP Lorraine Fullbrook’s opposition to the agency’s proposals at full council.
The motion expressed fears over the loss of high quality agricultural land, jobs, the impact on businesses and residents, home insurance and flood defences in the area.
An amendment was added to the report before council by the Labour group that no costs will be incurred by West Lancs council tax-payers.
Cllr John Hodson said: “Everyone’s first priority must be to protect the residential areas and as such any scheme put forward should reflect this.”
The council will now write to the agency as part of the consultation to express concern over the issues raised and to seek reassurances they will be addressed.
To take part in the consultation, visit bit.ly/pmCLMh