Drain pain fears for £400k project

Dock Bridge Lytham
Dock Bridge Lytham
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Fears have been raised a £400,000 project to help with drainage in Fylde is in danger of not working.

Earlier this year, new metal penstocks were installed at the Dock Bridge pumping station in Preston Road, Lytham, as part of an Environment Agency (EA) project.

Handout photo issued by Greenpeace of Andrew Pemberton, a farmer from Lancashire as the campaign group announced it is planning legal challenges against fracking in a bid to halt plans for the controversial method of extracting gas from rock.  PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday October 14, 2013. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Fracking. Photo credit should read: Steve Morgan/Greenpeace/PA Wire''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Handout photo issued by Greenpeace of Andrew Pemberton, a farmer from Lancashire as the campaign group announced it is planning legal challenges against fracking in a bid to halt plans for the controversial method of extracting gas from rock. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday October 14, 2013. See PA story ENVIRONMENT Fracking. Photo credit should read: Steve Morgan/Greenpeace/PA Wire''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

The new penstocks were supposed to improve the drainage system to halt widespread flooding, but dry weather and high tides have caused a build-up of silt and caused the water flow to be blocked.

An EA spokesman said it had allowed water levels to build up near the drain to try and flush the silt away from the doors – but it had not worked as planned.

He added: “Although this has allowed the doors to open for periods, it has not been fully successful and we are now seeking permission from Natural England and the Marine Management Organisation to remove silt from in front of the doors and further downstream, by mechanical means.

“Because it is a tidal channel, it is difficult to keep this area clear of silt as it builds up again very quickly when the tide comes in. To tackle this we have recently refurbished the penstock valves on the upstream side of the Dock Bridge tidal outfall.

“The penstocks work by enabling us to close the valves to hold water upstream and build up a ‘head’ of water. We can then open the valves and release the build up of water, which quickly flows downstream and flushes the silt away. The penstock valves are working as designed, but due to the dry summer we have experienced, it has been difficult to build up a large enough head of water to flush the silt away.”

The EA is expected to start work this week on clearing the silt, but admitted long-term it could be forced to spend more cash to make further changes to help improve the system.

The spokesman added: “We are continuing to work with our contractor and their consultant to review modifications to both the gravity and pump outfalls at Dock Bridge.

“The results will be summarised in a business case that will be used to seek approval and funding to undertake the work.”

Earlier this year, farmer Andy Pemberton, of Pemberton’s Dairies in Lytham, said the project had been flawed due to long delays: “The Environment Agency has really got themselves in a pickle.

“Due to the six-month delay to hand over the project, the creek has gone back to how it was 18 months ago.

“This affects all drainage for St Annes, for Lytham, for Blackpool and beyond.”