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 www.environment-agency.gov.uk/subjects/flood 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Save The Ribble Campaign, PO Box 1104 Penwortham Preston PR2 0DB