CALLS for 'emergency' action are growing as a road in Grange has been left underwater for several weeks by unprecedented flooding.

Meathop Road, connecting Grange to Meathop along the railway embankment along the coast, has been the subject of frequent flooding for many years but the situation is currently 'the worst in living memory'.

This is according to Mark Gillett, commercial director of Grange-over-Sands Golf Club, which is currently sitting under several feet of water.

The club has a permit to excavate silt from the outfall of Seldom Seen Culvert, under J T Atkinson Builders' Merchant, out into Morecambe Bay for a distance of 30 metres, once a year until 2027.

The club has applied to the Environment Agency (EA) to vary this permit to allow it to form a channel from the outfall of Seldom Seem Culvert to the River Kent in the bay.

He said: "We've been closed since before Christmas before the heavy rains in January. Obviously it’s getting worse, and we have very little way of escaping.

"It's never been as bad as this even during Storm Desmond.

"The River Winster isn't draining properly and the culvert is blocked so the water has nowhere to go.

"We did have a whopping great pump that was helping a little but our energy bill in the last two months is about £9,000.

"With us not being open, and the spike in electricity costs, we just can’t keep it running.

"We started the application to vary the permit to the EA in July last year but it wasn’t formally submitted until November due to certain criteria being met.

"They then had to consult with various partners such as the Marine Maritime Organisation (MMO), and Natural England, which takes eight weeks.

"They have now said that’s not enough time, and have asked for a further two weeks.

"Make no mistake, this is critical, an emergency situation."

The Westmorland Gazette: Much of the golf course is completely submergedMuch of the golf course is completely submerged (Image: David Lawrence)

"The main reason we've been given is that the agencies don’t consider it a long-term solution.

"Our argument is that we desperately need a short-term solution then we can look at a long-term solution.

"It wouldn't take more than a day to clear it out and we would be willing to do the work of clearing it of the silt and sand that’s built up.

"It would be like pulling the plug out."

An Environment Agency spokesman said: "We know this issue is causing concern and we are keen to work with partners and the local community to try and improve the situation as quickly as possible.

"In the past, the Seldom Seen culvert has been cleared to drain water off Meathop Road.

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"However, this is not a long-term solution as shifting sands on Morecambe Bay can still cause it to block.

"We are currently considering an application from Grange-Over-Sands Golf Club to vary their Flood Risk Activity Permit so they can extend excavations from the culvert to the River Kent, which may alleviate some of the flooding issues."

David Lawrence, who owns Holme Farm, on Meathop Road, thinks that clearing the culvert is the only 'natural' solution.

He said: "We just don’t understand why it's taking so long.

"This would be the perfect time to clear it as millions of gallons of water that's currently standing in our fields and the golf club would completely flush the culvert out.

"I don't understand the argument that it's not a long-term solution.

"It would do the work of probably 15 water pumps, without the electricity costs.

"It's as natural as could be.

The Westmorland Gazette: The golf course on the right from a flooded Meathop RoadThe golf course on the right from a flooded Meathop Road (Image: David Lawrence)

"The situation as far as travelling in the area is dire.

"I feel for the golf club. I’m sure their members will be getting frustrated and some could well leave.

"They have this year on year but in the summer there's no better place to spend time than down there on the bay.

"There's also an elderly gentleman that's completely cut off that lives on the island opposite the golf club.

"He's made of stern stuff, and is just laughing it off and he's healthy enough, but nobody can get to him in case of an emergency.

"There's been a lot of talk about the Seldom Seen culvert over the years, and I was a sceptic for a long time, as it was a constant problem to keep it open.

"But when we did get it open in 2020 I was gobsmacked.

"It discharged an unbelievable amount of water and it really did its job well."

Peter Baker, owner of Woodlands Hotel and Pine Lodges in Meathop, has called the situation 'absolutely ludicrous'.

His hotel will host a meeting to discuss the crisis on February 3 at 4.30 pm.

The meeting will be attended by agency representatives, local business owners, residents, councillors, and Tim Farron MP, who, after visiting the site has added his voice to the growing clamour for action.

Mr Farron said: "It is so obvious what needs to be done.

"The culvert is blocked, and we have the ludicrous situation where there is less water on the bay side of the railway line than there is on the inland side!

"The golf club, other businesses, farms and residents are in complete limbo until action can be taken.

"The EA and MMO must consider the urgency of this situation and act accordingly.

"This is not a one-off situation, Meathop Road continuously floods due to this blockage, and the EA and MMO need to recognise this and award this permit so that work can be carried out swiftly and as needed.

"It is set to reach below-freezing temperatures this week and if this water was to freeze this would be catastrophic to local people and businesses."