Rethink delays plan for whitehall wetland habitat

Environment Agency has revised plans for Jacks Key

Environment Agency has revised plans for Jacks Key

First published in News Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

WORK to turn a former reservoir into a local beauty spot has been put on hold pending a review.

The Environment Agency said last year that work to repair the dam at Jacks Key would be carried out this summer.

It was understood the plan was to transform it into a wetland habitat ahead of handing ownership of the site to Blackburn with Darwen Council.

An Environment Agency spokesman yesterday told the Lancashire Telegraph: “Our original intentions were to undertake repairs to the dam to ensure long-term safety of the reservoir.

“In doing so, it was proposed that the reservoir could be used to manage flood risk by controlling river flow upstream of Darwen town centre.However, following a design review, we have determined that a safer, more cost-effective and sustainable solution is to decommission the reservoir, which will involve the removal of the earth dam, so that water cannot be retained behind it.

“This revised approach will require the Environment Agency to prepare a new planning submission, supported by an environmental assessment and consultation with land owners, the council and the wider community.

“We are currently developing our plans to do this and we remain committed to ensuring that the dam is made safe.

The former owner of Jacks Key reservoir went into voluntary liquidation in 2005 and since then Environment Agency engineers have carried out regular inspections at the site.

Whitehall councillor David Foster said: “During the floods of a couple of years ago, the dam held back a considerable volume of water that would have caused a lot of damage if it had gone downstream suddenly.

“We would want assurance that future flood risks could be managed adequately on the new scheme.

“What assurances do we have that the Environment Agency will not be changing their minds again?

“Residents will want to know that this is the safest option and not just the cheapest.

“We also need to look at how we can improve the area as a diverse wildlife habitat.”

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