Save The Ribble

A blog dedicated to preserving the beauty and delicate ecosystem of the River Ribble, and opposing the Riverworks 'vision' to build a barrage on our River and develop on our riverbanks, floodplains and green spaces, causing damage to wildlife and the environment and increasing the risk of flooding to our homes. Save the Ribble Campaign is not responsible for the content of external blogs or websites which link here.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Photographs of The River Ribble - Greenbelt Under Threat.

The River Ribble and the allotments, fields and countryside around it are fantastically beautiful - our councils have failed to publicise how beautiful it is - the Riverworks proposals will destroy this quiet beauty and the vital inter-tidal wildlife habitat.
Pictures by Reigh Belisima and Atlantic Salmon unless otherwise named.

The River Ribble shining in the sunlight on a spring morning, taken from the Preston Tram Bridge.
You can double-click on any of the pictures to see them in more detail...

A Redshank at low tide, taken from the riverbank near Fishergate Hill and Liverpool Road Bridge at Broadgate.

Footprints left by wading birds - the tidal mudflats are an essential habitat for a huge variety of birdlife.

Cliff Fazackerley, chairman of the Ribble Link Trust said a barrage would give "obvious" benefits to "local people" who would be "able to look at a constant water level rather than horrid mudbanks, which are left once the tide has receded" (Lancashire Evening Post letters page 28/2/2006)

Local people enjoying a walk in an area our council describes as "Bleak, barren and undeveloped" and "severely underutilised". (Quality Riverside document 01, Preston Riverworks)

The Ribble at low tide, taken from Penwortham Old Bridge, between Broadgate and Leyland Road. These mudflats in Broadgate support numerous bird species.

Thanks to Greg for this wonderful picture of the mist rising from the Ribble.

Thanks to Bob W. for these three pictures of the Ribble...

this one 7th February 2006...

7th March ...

and 2nd May 2006. More of Bob's beautiful pictures and the story of his own special connection with the Ribble can be found on Tales from the Riverbank

Scrubland on the Penwortham green belt contributes a vital addition to the range of habitats in this area, and this particular patch is home to a Heronry. Winter 2005/6.

Penwortham Old bridge during heavy rain, March 2006.

Ribchester March 2006

Preston City Council say this is a river which "has lost it's identity" !!!(Quality Riverside document 01, Preston Riverworks)


Friday, April 21, 2006

Lancashire's First Community Campaigning Blog

Our ‘Save The Ribble’ blog has met with remarkable success since the first post, only 16 Days ago.

We are the first community group in Lancashire, and possibly the whole North West to publicise our campaign in this way - and it is working brilliantly!

We decided to use a blog to put forward our ideas, because of a wall of secrecy and evasiveness from local politicians and officials – by putting our ideas and arguments online, we are making sure that these people cannot pretend that they do not know about the growing local opposition to their plans to seriously disrupt our river and it’s environment, and the additional flood threat the developments will mean to our homes.

Our blog has met with both local and international acclaim. People all over Preston, Penwortham, Longton, Broadgate, Frenchwood, Walton Le Dale, Bamber Bridge, Hesketh Bank, Ribchester and the villages around the Ribble Estuary are talking about our blog. Already over 20 other blogs have posted links to ‘Save The Ribble’, our campaign is attracting anglers, bird watchers, allotment keepers, walkers, nature lovers and amateur league footballers.

We expect this number to rise even further as news gets round about the misconceived and grandiose plans of councillors and officials. These planners and developers are so out of touch with local people that they are proposing to build over local allotments, football pitches, fields, trees and quiet riverside walks enjoyed by hundreds of us, to replace them with a water sports park for jet-skiers and power boat fanatics, along with over 4000 new houses in the river's flood plain. Their plans will mean a permanently higher water level, a rise in 'run off' and an accumulation of silts that will pose an additional flood risk to homes right back up the Ribble Valley.

If you oppose these moves, then tell everyone you know about what is happening! If you run a website, post a link to our blog! Most of all, join our campaign and help us build an organised opposition to the millionaire developers and their friends in the council!

The 'Save The Ribble Campaign' are the first community campaigning group in Lancashire to use a blog to promote our message - but we will definitely not be the last!

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Weekend on the Allotment.

Allotments near the Ribble are under threat from the Riverworks Proposals - here a Penwortham allotment keeper explains the positive contribution these allotments make to our environment, and to his family's leisure time:

Our Allotment is about 100 yards back from the Ribble. It is backed by a stand of mixed woodland. It is lovely peaceful spot. Spring is here and the Allotments are a hive of activity. Spuds and onions have been planted and in the lull before green house seeds can be planted out we decided to rescue and repair our water storage.

Hopefully we will not have to water too often this year as the soil is full of organic matter and soaks up water like a sponge. Young seedlings will need some attention though. We collect and store rain water to enable us to do this. Unfortunately we have developed a leak. Repairing this has involved emptying and relining the reservoir. A task complicated by having to move 7 frogs and about 1000 tadpoles. Does anyone know how many slugs a frog can eat? I would be interested to know.

Much of the organic matter used on the allotments is provided by local stables. This mixture of bedding and manure which presents a problem for the stables as it can not be tipped or burnt. On the allotment however this waste product becomes an asset. It adds fertility, improves the water holding capacity of the soil which is teaming with many invertebrates such as worms. Any one digging on our plot will probably be followed by a Robin who quite happily follows as you dig, feasting on some of the many fat worms uncovered. I hope the Kestrel does not see him.

The allotments are an asset to the local area. They provide recreation and exercise to local people of all ages. They add to the incredible biodiversity of the area offering habitat to a number of birds, mammals, amphibians and insects. They are fantastic recycling centres; vegetable waste is composted, old pallets and wood are reused, discarded pop bottles are used propagate seedlings in spring. I could go on.

The high organic matter in the soil stores moisture ensuring minimal water wastage in times of drought. During rain they can also help to prevent flooding.

Losing these leisure facilities to the developers would not enhance the environment but detract from it.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Local People Who Care About the Ribble and Local Councils who Don't

Since neither Preston City Council nor South Ribble Borough Council have consulted local residents about the proposed barrage and development on our Green Belt, we have decided to provide an opportunity for residents to air their views. Here is a sample of the comments we have received so far, please keep them coming in to

Evie said...
As a resident of Leyland Road for all my life, I know the true beauty of the ribble. I am 13 but I still understand how important the river and it's wildlife is. But also while me and my father were discussing this we noted some things:1) The fact our homes would be back on the floodplain, and therefore insurance would cost more, or we may not get insurance against flood damage2) Penwortham holme- the popular place for children's football team could become houses or a floodplain3) All the remaining beauty of our area (I.E. the fields popular with dog walkers) would become new homes. Now yhat's destorying beauty. I seriously hope that other residents help with this cause too- The should delevelop Preston from the inside out- not the outside in.
Evie Age 13
PS The Mudbanks descibed as 'ugly' seem to give my two springer spaniels Maggie and Murphy plenty of joy and very muddy coats!!

I'd be interested to know how all the political parties stand on the development proposed. After all they have the power to stop the development. The river and the surrounding green belt land should remain undisturbed. The last thing we need is more 'new builds', as for developing the river at what cost to the wildlife, this plan should remain a plan and go no further.
Ian Scott,

“I have lived by the river in Frenchwood for over twenty years. We moved here, despite the possible flood risk, because we enjoy the changing pattern of the seasons; the bird and wildlife which the tides bring twice a day; and the sense that, although we're close to the city centre , we are linked to the rhythms and flows of nature. Very many local people and visitors share this profound pleasure.
It is dismaying that, for the sake of developers' profits, the peaceful and much loved riverside should be damaged utterly for ever. It's especially upsetting that Lottery money might be used to reinforce this destruction. Local residents simply have not been asked what we think.”

Is THIS a good place to build offices and houses?

“The river and the fields beside it is Preston's unappreciated treasure, a place for quiet walks and watching wildlife.. its unique so close to the city centre to have redshanks, goosanders and even a tawny owl.. Destroying this would be a crime..”

“Apart from despair at what some people in Preston Council want to do to the River and its environment I feel really angry about the secrecy of the Officers and the uselessness of elected Councillors in understanding what is going on.One Councillor said something along the lines of 'trust me we are not planning to concrete over the area South of the River'. Yet the plans show that is exactly what the Officers want to do.Trying to drag information out of the Council is almost funny.The whole approach is a bit like the fancy brochure they are sending out when what you want are hard facts. It says one thing but means another.”

“It’s the worst thing anyone could ever do because the birds will have nowhere to live.”

Preston Found

People who care about Preston and the built environment might like to look at the Preston Found website and check out some fabulous photos of Preston, the River Ribble and surrounding area, including some aerial shots from the 1950s. These pictures confirm once again what a unique asset the River Ribble is. You can also contribute to an interesting discussion thread about the Riverworks project. See .


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Common Ground river campaign

The art & environmental campaign group, Common Ground (who invented parish maps, local distinctiveness, community orchards and Apple Day) has been running a campaign on the importance of rivers, brooks and running water in communities and, in particular, about the way that rivers bind us together with nature.
Their website is well worth a look:

They arranged ‘Confluence’, a celebration of art, poetry and nature based on the River Stour. From this came some fine artwork, available as postcards; poetry (in an anthology called The river’s voice); and a campaigning booklet called Rhynes, rivers and running brooks. Wouldn’t it be great if we celebrated our splendid Ribble with a similar art festival?

Mormons and the Ribble

Outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), it’s not generally known that the shingle beach on the Ribble on the south bank near the Tram Bridge was the site of the first European baptisms into the Church. They were celebrated on Sunday, July 30, 1837, in front of a crowd of about seven to nine thousand. The American LDS Elder Heber C. Kimball baptised nine Saints, the first being George D Watt. The Preston LDS Stake is now the older than the Mormon congregation in Salt Lake City.

Because of these pioneer baptisms, the first outside continental America, the south bank of the Ribble is a place of pilgrimage for many Latter Day Saints exploring their Mormon heritage. If a barrage is built, it’s likely that this sacred place would be submerged for ever.

You can read about the Baptisms in David M W Pickup’s The pick and flower of England (Living Legend, 1997, 3rd. ed.)

Contributed by Aidan TB.

This shingle beach, sacred to Mormons, would be lost forever under a watersports park if the barrage is built. Thanks to Greg for the picture.

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

Riverworks Proposals - The Story so Far

Preston City Council (PCC) have drawn up a range of options for developing Preston into the “third city of the North West”, the hub of which is to develop the River Ribble and surrounding area. City planners view the River as “bleak, barren and undeveloped”, and “severely underutilised”.

The Riverworks proposals being considered for development include:
- constructing a barrage or weir on the internationally important River Ribble;
- building thousands of houses, plus businesses, riverside shops and offices, a promenade, and roads on the green belt opposite Avenham and Miller Parks (their "Central Park" building development);
- further housing and business developments on Frenchwood Rec and Fishwick Bottoms, concretising the riverbanks upriver to Brockholes and create a water sports park on the river (their "Riverside East" development).

Valuable Green Belt and Local Amenities under threat.
These green belt areas also include a designated Nature Reserve, woodlands, fields and meadows and our local football league playing fields.
Penwortham Holme and all the allotments in this area of Penwortham are also included on the development proposals PCC call the "Composite Masterplan", available at Taylor Young architects under "urban" developments.

PCC’s proposals were described in an article in the Lancashire Evening Post (LEP) in June 2005. Since then, the City Council has been progressing these proposals, are currently drawing up a business plan and Deliverability Study, and have applied for further funding in order to complete a full Feasibility Study.
These studies will not be addressing the environmental impact of these proposals but their "commercial viability" and how they can be delivered (strategy, economics, timescale).
PCC applied to the Big Lottery Living Landmarks Fund for a grant of up to £50 million which council chiefs would use to “kick-start” the Riverworks project (see This is Lancashire archives, Riverworks article posted 16/2/06 at A large number of local residents wrote to the Big Lottery to object to this application, which subsequently failed: The Lottery Fund body insist that any successful project must show community support and involvement.

PCC have identified their 4 preferred sites for the barrage and the City Vision manager, Nicola Turner, has stated she wants the “Riverworks project to be well under way by 2012” (see LEP 14/02/06). Likewise, Veronica Afrin (Councillor with responsibility for regeneration, community and leisure services) has also stated that “the Riverworks project will… underway by 2012” (LEP 16/02/06).

These proposals appear to have been drawn up in consultation with various private developers (ie GVA Grimley, Mott Macdonald, and Taylor Young architects).
The proposals have the support of South Ribble Borough Council leader, Howard Gore, who stated that “these are really exciting ideas and we’re firmly behind the Riverworks initiative” (LEP 15/6/05 p.2).

Local residents along the Ribble corridor have not yet been consulted.
A large number of local residents are very concerned about these proposals.
Local councils throughout the Ribble corridor have not yet been consulted.
Fylde Borough Council and Freckleton Parish Council are amongst those opposed to the Ribble barrage.
Environmental organisations who are actively concerned with the River Ribble have not yet been consulted.
Environmental organisations are very concerned about the barrage proposal, including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, both the Lancashire and Ribble Fisheries Consultative Associations, the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside, the Ribble Catchment Conservation Trust, and Buglife.

Preston Council leaders claim that the barrage will “enhance both the natural and built environment”.
This ignores the crucial importance to wildlife of this internationally recognised intertidal habitat, and the beauty and character of this unique river.

PCC claim a barrage will “help create a sense of place for a major river that has lost its identity as well as providing an attraction to the people of Preston and tourists alike” (01: Quality Riverside document on PCC website), and by developing on most of our green belt, and converting what remains into their proposed “Central Park”, they will “provide a…leisure and open space resource that is accessible to adjacent communities in Preston and South Ribble” (04: Central Park document on PCC website).

Depleting the character, integrity, and quality of this beautiful and valued river will destroy its identity!

How can building on green belt and local amenity provision be providing more open space?

Local residents both sides of the River already enjoy leisure time around the Ribble and value the quiet countryside on our doorstep, and our local amenities which already exist here. A barrage and the proposed “Central Park” will not only endanger the environment but also destroy what local residents value most about the area. Council leaders and planners would know this if they had bothered to ask us.

This area is also floodplain:
The Environment Agency are trying to halt further development on floodplain (see then follow links to “High Level Target 5: Development & Flood Risk 2004/5”).

You can view PCC’s proposals at or enter Preston Riverworks on your search engine.

You can contact us by e-mail at or write to Save the Ribble Campaign, PO Box 1104, Penwortham Preston PR2 0DB.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Ribble in flood in Penwortham

Here's a picture taken on March 28th 2006 of the Ribble in Penwortham, breaking its banks after heavy rain. If a barrage is built, the River level will be permanently higher instead of its current tidal changes, the silts will progressively reduce the volume of the River bed thus reducing the capacity of the River and it's ability to deal with rainfall run-off. Rainfall run-off will also increase if they build the thousands of new houses on this floodplain, and a permanently high river level will cause groundwater to rise beneath both new and existing homes.

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Green Bloggers Welcome 'Save The Ribble'

The 'Save The Ribble' Blog is only a few days old - but it has already had a big impact in the blogosphere (The world of blogging).
Groovy Green from Ithaca New York has published this article , Dee Taylor has published this article and we have been welcomed too by Craig Cantin's blog - Thanks guys!


Friday, April 07, 2006

River Ribble - The Dangers of the 'Riverworks' Barrage and Flood Plain Housing Proposals

Why South Ribble and Preston residents oppose the Preston Riverworks proposals:

1. to build a barrage across the River Ribble;

2. to develop on the Ribbleside Green spaces: on the South Ribble side of the river, opposite Avenham and Miller Parks; and on Frenchwood Rec and Fishwick Bottoms.

-The barrage would irreversibly damage the entire ecosystem of the River Ribble and Estuary which is an area of International importance to wildlife.

-The Ribble supports more bird species in internationally important numbers than any other site in the UK, and is one of the top 3 UK Wetland sites, alongside the Wash and Morecambe Bay. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is opposed to this barrage.

-The Ribble is also a vital site for migratory fish, including Atlantic Salmon (the 10th Most Threatened species in Europe) and Sea Trout, all of whom depend on the tidal behaviour of the river. The Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association are working with the Environment Agency and the Ribble Catchment Conservation Trust to improve fish stocks, but have expressed their concerns that the Riverworks Project is ‘the greatest threat that our salmon and sea trout stocks could ever be faced with’ (Keith B. Spencer RFCA).

• The Ribble has the highest level of legal protection under both UK and European legislation: The Ribble and Alt Estuaries Special Protection Area is protected under the Habitats Regulations [Conservation (Natural Habitats &c) Regulations 1994] (EEC Birds Directive [79/409/EEC].

Environmental organisations opposed to this barrage include:
The RSPB, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, English Nature, The Lancs & Ribble Fisheries Consultative Associations, and The Regional Fisheries, Ecology and Recreation Advisory Committee to the Environment Agency.

A barrage would:

a) change the flow and behaviour of water, silts, and nutrients both above and below the barrage, damaging the habitat of the birds, fish, and other wildlife that depend on its tidal behaviour;

b) increase flood risk either side of the barrage site in South Ribble and Preston, and throughout the Ribble corridor, areas already identified as at “Significant Risk” by the Environment Agency;

c) add to the projected problems of sea-level rises and higher rainfall predicted for the North West over the next 30-100 years (the predicted rise in sea-levels is up to 3 metres by the end of this century; predicted rises in winter rainfall for the North West are up to 14% by 2050);

d) lead to changes in sediment deposit which would:
- be detrimental to the ecosystem below the barrage due to reduction in nutrients;
- increase flood risk still further due to ongoing reduction of the volume of the river, which would not be economically viable to dredge regularly as the decline in the commercial viability of Preston Docks shows;
- lead to changes in the distribution of radioactive deposits from BNFL Springfields;
- lead to the risk of silt contamination of areas affected by flooding.

e) affect the water quality above the barrage, increasing the risk of blue-green algae blooms, as affects Preston Marina, and increasing the build-up of pollutants and the subsequent environmental risks these pose.

The water sports park this barrage is intended to create would increase traffic congestion, noise and pollution, and destroy the integrity, beauty, and peace of this area of South Ribble and Preston.

Developing on the countryside area of Penwortham opposite Avenham and Miller Parks would destroy a significant and valuable area of designated Green Belt which:

a) supports a wide range of birds, bats, mammals, and other wildlife, including over-wintering flocks of Skylarks (flocks of between 70-100 birds), numerous hedgerow birds, Barn Owls, Linnets, Merlins, and Sparrowhawks;

b) is an integral part of the Ribble ecosystem, its bird population includes Kingfishers, Dippers, and a small Heronry;

c) includes a designated Nature Reserve;

d) provides the residents of South Ribble and Preston with access to beautiful, peaceful, unspoilt countryside right on our doorstep.

e) includes our local football league playing fields.

Our local allotments are also under threat as part of these development proposals.

To build housing, businesses, and the necessary infrastructure of roads and services in this area, and convert what Green Belt remains into a formal park to mirror Avenham and Miller Parks will be detrimental to the integrity of this wildlife ecosystem, and the beauty and value to local residents that this area currently provides.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England are very concerned about proposals to develop on this area.

This land is also part of the natural flood plain in this area. The Environment Agency are currently warning of the dangers of further building in areas at risk of flooding, as this puts ‘new development at risk from flooding or [is] likely to exacerbate flooding elsewhere’. The EA’s concerns have increased due to the Department of Trade and Industry’s Foresight “Future Flooding” Report which predicts that ‘both the number of people in danger from flooding and the costs of damage from floods will rise significantly’: (see then follow links to “High Level Target 5: Development & Flood Risk 2004/5”).
This adds to the increased flood risk that the barrage itself would bring.

For further information, contact us at or write to Save The Ribble Campaign, PO Box 1104 Penwortham Preston PR2 0DB

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Riverworks - A Threat to the River Ribble

People from all over Preston and South Ribble are beginning to realise the danger posed to our homes and to the environment by proposals put together by Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council, North West Development Agency and British Waterways.

These are the Riverworks proposals, and include ideas to:

1: build a barrage on the Ribble to create a water sports facility on the Ribble through Preston and South Ribble;

2: build a huge urban development on the Ribble's Green Belt and floodplain - including our meadows and woodlands, football pitches and allotments in Penwortham, South Ribble, and other urban developments on Frenchwood Rec and Fishwick Bottoms in Preston.

This is a map of part of the flood plain of the River Ribble, taken from the Environment Agency's website - Guess where Riverworks want to build over 4000 new houses...

(You can check the flood risk for your own area by going to the Environment Agency's site, and typing in your postcode. When you get there you will learn that "Building in the floodplain can hugely increase the chance of flooding".

On this blog we will be regularly publishing the facts and figures that show how disastrous the Riverworks project could be, to our homes, to our local wildlife, and to the peace and beauty of the local area. Make sure you check back here regularly for updates.

Read more about the building development proposals and the Ribble barrage proposal here.

If you want to join our campaign, ask a question or find out more, please write to 'Save The Ribble Campaign' PO Box 1104, Penwortham, Preston, PR2 0DB. Email:

"The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart" Tanako Shozo Save The Ribble Logo