SERIOUS concerns over a report on a flood risk assessment on the proposed site of the new Saddleworth School have been raised by the chairman of the parish council.

Cllr Robert Knotts has listed “shortcomings” in a detailed submission to Oldham Council leader Sean Fielding, council officers, local ward councillors and the parish council’s own planning committee.

Cllr Knotts, who has degrees in mathematics, business and engineering, and extensive experience in computer simulation, raised the issues after studying a 98-page document from a consultancy company commissioned by Oldham Council.

He says computer simulation is an extremely complicated specialist subject and techniques and results need to be offered to non-specialist readers in layman’s terms not hidden in “computer speak”.

And he questions if the computer simulation results in the council’s report offer effective reassurance that flooding from Diggle Brook will not impact on the proposed £19.2 million school site and, crucially, asks would flooding prevent building the school in the affected area.

He said: “My analysis of the assessment is completely objective.

“In its present format I am concerned the risk assessment document offers more ammunition to those opposing the school's building in Diggle.

“I judge things objectively not with political bias. I am not making any statement to oppose the school's siting; I am just asking objective questions.

“Clear statements of reassurance, or not as the case may be, need to be given,” he stressed.

“I suggest the report will go right over peoples’ heads with other than a few with specialist computer simulation knowledge.

“I doubt if it will be meaningful to many readers, including Oldham Councillors who I seriously doubt will understand the analysis.

“Consequently, the councillors will be very poorly placed to make the decision about the school’s planning application.”

He added: “I don’t doubt the computer simulation competency of the organisation responsible for the analysis. But I do very seriously question the organisation’s ability to communicate effectively, particularly to non-specialist readers.

“If I was writing a school report on the effectiveness of the report from the point of view of communication I would add a comment ‘could do much better.’

“Frankly if this is the best that can be produced from a communication point of view it is not good enough.

“Infographics should be used to offer explanations to non-specialist readers.

“If the council has paid for this report as an effective communicate platform it has been seriously short changed with the council and taxpayers not getting value for money.”

The Flood Risk Assessment is the second one developed. The first was rejected by the Environmental Agency.

An Oldham Council spokesman said : “Mr Knotts letter is being treated as a comment about the planning application and it will be considered and included in the forthcoming reports about the applications.

“Discussions about the flood risk issues on these applications remain on-going between the Environment Agency and the applicant.

“The Council awaits the conclusion of them with interest but I have no indication at this stage of exactly when that will come.” A spokesperson for Diggle for Saddleworth School, (D4SS), said : "The position of D4SS remains the same and we want the new school built in Diggle as a priority.

“The continuing delays are disappointing and we hope that it is brought before the planning committee again very soon.”

Keith Lucas speaking for the Save Diggle Action Group (SDAG) said:”This is Saddleworth’s mini Brexit, as this saga continues, pupils and parents are without a new school. A school that could have been built by 2015 on the present site in Uppermill.

“Saddleworth pupils and parents deserve a new school.”