Thursday, 17 July 2014

Frodsham Marshes - replacement of the drainage pumps

The drainage of Frodsham and Ince Marshes has been a topic of discussion and debate ever since the Environment Agency (EA) decided that, after 2015 they would no longer fund the management and drainage of the marshes.

Quite frankly, so far as the EA is concerned this was and is a cost benefit analysis.  They have limited funds available to support flood alleviation schemes in the country - and in terms of priority and flooding risk our marshes were a lower priority than other schemes.  One only has to remember the flooding in Somerset recently to understand their position - even if, locally, we don't agree with them.

The good news for all of us is that local businesses, landowners and the Highways Agency have come together and are working up arrangements to maintain the complex web of drainage ditches, a siphon and sluices.

The first main step in this reached a milestone yesterday when the EA agreed to co-fund the replacement of both pumps (one at Ince, the other at Frodsham) with the Highways Agency (HA).  The HA clearly have an interest in ensuring that the M56 is well drained!

The existing pumps are 1930s vintage and are now well passed their serviceable life.  Getting spare parts for them is nigh on impossible.  Also they do not meet the latest environmental standards - including the Eel Regulations.  The EA accepted that they couldn't in all fairness hand on - non-compliant pumps to new operators - hence their decision to co-fund their replacement.

I'm hoping to be able to discuss the new arrangements for managing and maintaining the pumps and the drainage ditches shortly.  The good news for all council tax payers in the Borough is that the new management and maintenance arrangements look set to be paid for and managed privately.