Thursday, 31 December 2015

After the Floods: Greens Question Lancaster Flood Gate Closure Delays

Lancaster's Quay during the floods caused by Storm Desmond

Green Councillor for Castle Ward Nick Wilkinson has written to Sir Phillip Dilley at the Environment Agency asking for an explanation as to why the flood gates along St. George's Quay, Lancaster, were not closed on the Saturday evening of the floods.

After seeing that the swollen river was up against the walk way along the Quay on Saturday 5th December, Nick called the Environment Agency Incident Line at 16.55 to alert them to the fact that the gates needed closing urgently.

The Environment Agency said that they were inundated with calls and, when pressed, they were unable to give an estimated time to get the Quay flood gates closed.

Nick then escalated the issue to the emergency services and stood at the flood gates waiting for response team to arrive. The Fire Service and local Police attended (with bolt cutters), and the police asked Nick to call the Environment Agency back to confirm the process to close the gates. After around one hour, and the emergency services intervention, two Environment Agency officers attended to close them.

"The police and fire service were excellent," says Nick, "but I was surprised that the gates were not closed as a matter of course when the met office weather warnings were issued.

"It took myself, and the emergency services (whose resources were already stretched that evening)  over an hour to get the Environment Agency to close the gates. This could have been avoided had the gates been closed earlier.

"There should also be a way that emergency services can speak directly with the Environment Agency officers rather than having to go through a call centre."

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