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.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Save The Ribble Blog Nominated for Award - Congratulations to all Ribbleside residents!

Our Save The Ribble Blog has been nominated for a New Statesman New Media Award 2006, in the Innovation category. So congratulations to all Ribbleside residents for making the Blog such a successful forum!
The theme of this year's New Media awards are "ingenuity, modernisation and accessibility", and the Innovation award will 'go to the best new media innovation that improves public life'. The New Statesman, one of Britain's leading political magazines, in association with IT services company Atos Origin, intend to award 'those who have achieved something of benefit to others, whether in their community or in society at large'.
"Society has always been promised a great deal by the digital revolution", says John Kampfner, editor of the New Statesman. "The 2006 New Media Awards will highlight the projects that have really delivered on that promise".

Thanks to all of you for your stories, comments, concerns, information, research, photographs, and poems, all of which have made this blog what it is. It is your concerns about and opposition to the inappropriate Riverworks "vision" for our river and green spaces which have made this blog an exciting, and ultimately rewarding experience for all of us - and more local residents are contacting us every day.

The strength of opposition to the Riverworks proposals is overwhelming, most residents who have so far contacted us are extremely concerned about the environmental impact of the proposed barrage and "Central Park" building development, above and beyond their other concerns about increased floodrisk and loss of quality of life.
The barrage involves stopping the free-flow of water and silts upon which the entire Ribble ecosystem depends, losing the up-river mudflats forever and starving the down-river estuarine habitat, putting one of the most important wetland habitats in Europe at risk, losing the ever-changing moods and tides of the Ribble forever, for the sake of speedboats and cruisers and economic gain for a few. The "Central Park" development involves building thousands of new houses, businesses, and a formal park on local green belt land, losing meadows, woodlands, a Nature Reserve, amateur league football fields, a broad range of wildlife habitats and local amenities, with our local allotments also at risk in the long-term Preston City Council Composite Masterplan.

Your ideas of an alternative vision for the future of the Ribble and our local green belt have already started coming in, with eco-tourism - such as promoting the Ribble Way and the Pennine Way, the Nature Reserves and places of special interest along the Ribble corridor - top of the agenda so far!

Keep sending in your own ideas and suggestions for promoting the Ribble and green belt in their natural glory, and more local stories for the Tales from the Riverbank Residents' views, comments, and connections posts, and congratulations to all of you for a brilliant community forum!

Contact the editorial team at
or Save the Ribble Campaign, PO Box 1104 Penwortham, Preston, PR2 0DB.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

More Tales from the Riverbank

‘My family and I take long walks with our dogs along the "tram road" and the adjacent area. I commute to work daily by bicycle along the south side of the river. There are very few traffic free cycle or walk routes near Penwortham and it looks as if there is going to be one less! Having been a Penwortham resident for over 20 years, my wife has lived in Penwortham for all her life, we are dismayed that this, one of the few remaining local areas of peace and beauty, is going to be devastated by the proposed riverside development.’
Richard and Pam,

‘I have lived in Penwortham for eighteen years, and for five of those years I have been chronically ill. For the past five months I have been on chemotherapy. Thankfully the treatment is working - but it does leave me very weak and unable to do simple every day things. On the days when I am feeling relatively well I find walking through the unspoilt area on the south bank of the Ribble very therapeutic.
Before I got ill I was a gardener and I have always got a lot of pleasure from observing the plant and animal life around the Ribble. This is an area I have enjoyed for years - both as my own son has grown up and whilst I have cared for other local children. If this is the price of Preston achieving its much vaunted “city” status then it is a price that’s way too high in my book’.
“Major Tom”, Studholme Crescent, Penwortham

'I am a single dad and I often take my four year-old son for walks and cycle rides on the banks of the Ribble. As a council tax payer in South Ribble I am livid that our council is not standing up to the megalomaniac empire building of Preston City Council. Frankly, if the town hall bosses at Preston and South Ribble are spending their days dreaming of being in charge of a conurbation the size of Liverpool or Manchester then perhaps they should consider applying for jobs at those local authorities instead of ruining the unique local environment they were elected to protect?
To paraphrase Woody Allen I am actually beginning to believe that:
"those who can't do go into politics. And those who can't do politics get jobs
with the council.
And, of course, those who can’t do anything, I think, get elected to Preston City Council." ’
“Snorlax”, Copper Beeches, Penwortham

'I have lived in Preston all my life, and am proud of being a Prestonian but I am seriously concerned about the idea of a barrage on what is a beautiful river, ruining such a unique area with crowds of daytrippers and speedboats - and as for building on all those fields and woodlands, what a crazy idea!! How many other cities - old or new - can boast of having countryside and an unspoilt river just five minutes from a busy city centre? Preston has a long history of making sure all of its citizens can access fresh air and nature - which is why we have all our parks, and this area around the river offers something different to the formal parks. Preston City Council should spend all this time and money making more areas of Preston as nice to live in, rather than ruin a unique area of countryside just a few minutes from our doors.'
Arthur, Broadgate.

‘We have just visited our relatives who live in penwortham and we have taken our 2 dogs out for a walk in the beautiful green fields near to the city. You are so priviledged to have countryside easily accessible from your city. This is a real bonus for preston. We are from Sheffield and although we are surrounded by countryside, it is a car journey away. I cannot believe that the council would want to ruin this, instead of marketing it for the gem it is. I was quite tempted to move here myself!’
Gail, Sheffield.

See more Tales from the Riverbank
and Residents' Voice Concerns
and Concerns for the Environment
and Local People who Care for more residents' views...

See Ribblesider Photos for local residents' photographs of the Ribble and green belt.

Send in your views to or you can add comments on the Blog.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Journalists and Bloggers - Our Policy on Using Material From This Site

To Journalists, Bloggers, and People who wish to submit material to our blog:

'Save The Ribble' is a community campaigning blog, the first in Lancashire and one of the first in the UK. We think the tremendous success of our blog will mean that there will soon be many more local campaigns that use blogging as a method of promoting their cause.

Our blog contains a wealth of material that could be useful to journalists reporting on the 'Riverworks' proposals, and interesting to other bloggers, including many excellent photographic images of the River Ribble, and of Ribble wildlife. As a campaign, we want to raise awareness of the contents of the Riverworks proposals and of the beauty of the Ribble, and the countryside around it, under threat from these development ideas.

Many local people are offering us pro-river photos, stories, poems and other material that they think will help us in our campaign against the Riverworks barrage and housing plans - anyone offering us such material needs to be aware of our policy on the use of photographs and other material from this site, as do journalists wishing to report on our campaign and bloggers who want to talk about our work on their own blogs.

Here is our policy on using photographs and other material from this site:

Journalists and Bloggers may use single photographs and unlimited quotations from text posted on this blog PROVIDING:
1. The 'Save The Ribble' Blog is clearly credited as the source of the material
2. They publish the URL of this blog ( ) in the article (in a newspaper), or a link to this blog (in a blog/website).
3. The use of the material is solely for the purpose of reporting on the 'Save The Ribble' Campaign, or issues affecting the River Ribble, it's wildlife and the people who live nearby. Permission is NOT granted for any other purpose. (If in doubt, please contact the editors of this blog at ).

This policy applies ONLY to images and words on this blog

Warning! The other blogs and websites we link to may well have a different attitude to using their material - check with them first!

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Action Residents Can Take to Oppose the Barrage and Green Belt Building Proposals

Preston City Council has put in a bid for lottery funding to take their Riverworks options of building a barrage on the Ribble and building houses on our Green Belt a stage further.

The Council has applied to the Big Lottery Fund Living Landmarks programme for funds to pursue a full Feasibility Study (£1/2 million) with the possibility of further funding (up to £50 million) to pursue the River barrage and Central Park building options (see ).

Concerned residents are urged to write to the Big Lottery to express their opposition to Preston City Council’s proposals. The Big Lottery requires all projects which receive their funding to demonstrate community involvement and have the widest possible public support. They will therefore take the views of local residents very seriously when considering Preston City Council’s bid – so let the Big Lottery Fund know how you feel about the options to build a barrage on the Ribble and build on our Green Belt and write to them at:

Living Landmarks Fund
Big Lottery
1 Plough Place

Or e-mail

In addition residents can write to their local City or Borough Councillors, Parish Councillors and to their M.P. – express your concerns and ask them for their views.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Tales from the Riverbank

We feel very priviliged to have come into contact with so many local residents with tales to tell of their connection with the River Ribble and the countryside area on the south bank - both of which will be damaged or lost forever if the Riverworks Project proposals for a barrage and water sports park on the river, and for the enormous building development on the Penwortham green belt and floodplain go ahead. You can contact us at

Here are two very moving tales from local residents which show the depth of connection people feel for this very special area in which we live, and includes their own beautiful photographs:

Bob's Tale.
'The proposals to build a barrage across the River Ribble would, in my view, greatly increase the risk of flooding of low-lying areas at certain times of the year. I lived next to the river, off Broadgate from 1944 until 1973 and on several occasions saw it over the top into Avenham park, into the laying field next to the New Bridge and into Leyland Road in the vicinity of the fire station. Fifty years or so ago, there was a similar crazy plan which alarmed me even then for different reasons. The Ribble formed my entire working life. In about 1953, my friends & I were always playing in the river bed and I found an old radio set there which started my interest in radio. That, coupled with the pleasure in large expanses of water and watching big ships being scrapped alongside Ward's Shipbreaking yard next to the dock, led me to a 31-year career in the Merchant Navy as a radio officer. A barrage would have permanently covered the rocks, rapids & river bed which were my playground. Fortunately, it never came to pass. Even now, I regularly photograph the river in all its moods & here are a few recent photographs showing that it is not always "mud flats," but can become quite sandy as well. I normally take two photographs of the river from Old Penwortham bridge on the first tuesday each month and put them in my computer so I can see it change over the seasons.
What a shame it would be to lose the different "moods" of the river'.
Bob W.

Here are some of Bob's photographs, others will be posted on River Photography

4th April 2006 from Penwortham Old Bridge towards Penwortham Holme

4th April 2006 Broadgate at low tide

31st January 2006 High Tide.

Derek's Tale.
'I am 87 years old and about to go into hospital for a serious operation. I was shocked to hear that they wanted to build on the fields of Lower Penwortham. Why can they not to leave these places of beauty alone? I have lived here for a quarter of my life and have always used this area to walk my dogs. I met my second wife whilst out walking there. Our dogs fought and Popeye, my terrier was hurt. My wife died recently and the place is so full of memories for me. It is a unique, beautiful place and I hope it can be saved. Where can you find cattle grazing in verdant pasture 10 minutes' walk from Woolworths?

I have written a poem which captures my protest at its threatened loss, linking my coming departure, with its'.

Tram Bridge Stones by Derek Marrison.

The river flows,
The time goes,
My time is nearly gone,
But, before I go,
Down below,
I see
Tram bridge stones.

Dumped years ago
When they built the tram bridge
Across the Ribble low,
These rocks they discarded -
Now the bridge shadow
On the river
Quivers amongst their shimmer.

The river flows
The time goes,
And what is not guarded
Will be discarded.
The land across Avenham water
Will be shown no quarter,
And like Time's sands,
Slip through our hands.

Parallel lines of ancient industry
And nature now intertwined,
Across the Ribble at Penwortham,
That's what you'll find!
A place to meditate,
A place to quietly roam,
In pastoral pastures
Near the city centre
And our homes.

Let us not discard it
Like Tram bridge stones!

Tram Bridge

For more residents' views, comments, stories and connections, see More Tales from the Riverbank and links.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Hulmes Mill Site - Leyland

There was an interesting article in today's 'Lancashire Evening Post'.

Apparently South Ribble Council is to allow shops to be built on derelict land near South View Terrace and Eden Street in Leyland.

What was really interesting is that the land is not to be used for housing as there is "an oversupply of housing in the South Ribble area".

If there is no need to build 40 houses on this brownfield site in Leyland, then there is certainly no need to build 4000 houses on a greenfield area next to the Ribble at Penwortham, as is suggested in the 'Riverworks' proposals...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ribble Campaigners Message To Councillors

Following the enormously successful protest walk along the banks of the River Ribble, to launch this blog and show the depth of residents opposition to the ideas in Preston City Council's 'Riverworks' proposals, we sent a mass email to councillors in Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council and Lancashire County Council.

This is the letter we sent:
Dear Councillor,

Local residents of Preston, South Ribble, and other communities along the Ribble corridor are concerned about proposals being considered under Preston City Council’s Riverworks Project to build a barrage or weir on the River Ribble, and develop on green belt/floodplain in Penwortham (“Central Park” development).

Local residents have launched a website as a forum where they can access information, and voice their concerns about these proposals and their love for the River Ribble and adjoining green spaces at .

Many residents are concerned that some of the ideas in Preston City Council’s Riverworks “vision” are being considered as options for the future of the River Ribble and our green spaces, options which could have far-reaching implications throughout the Ribble corridor.

On Sunday afternoon (14th May 2006), despite the rain, more than 80 residents from both Preston and South Ribble celebrated the launch of the Save The Ribble community blog with a community walk alongside the Ribble and through the green spaces in Penwortham at risk of development. We are emailing all local Councillors in the Ribble corridor to ensure that you, as elected representatives, are aware of local residents’ concerns regarding the developments being considered for our River, and our local environment.

Local residents feel concerned:
a) that a barrage or weir on the River Ribble is even under consideration, as the Ribble is a river of such international, as well as national and local significance to wildlife that it is afforded the highest protection as a Special Protection Area under the Habitats Regulations 1994;
b) that developing thousands of new houses, businesses and infrastructure on land which is both our local green belt, and floodplain for an area considered at “significant risk” by the Environment Agency, is even under consideration;
c) that both of these options are being considered from the perspective of their commercial viability BEFORE FULL consultation with local residents and with concerned environmental organisations including the RSPB, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, the Ribble and Lancashire Fisheries Consultative Associations, and English Nature;
d) that FULL consultation should take place with all of the above BEFORE any decision is taken to pursue these options further.

With regards,
concerned residents,
Save The Ribble Campaign.

We hope every pro-river resident will be writing letters to their own councillors, adding their own voices to the rising tide of opposition to the 'Riverworks' barrage and housing proposals.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Ribblesiders celebrate the launch of the campaign blog – despite the rain

Despite the rain, more than 80 local residents from both South Ribble and Preston walked alongside the Ribble and through the local green belt to celebrate this unique area and celebrate the launch of the blog.

Local residents enjoying the Ribblesiders walk despite the rain

Between 50 and 60 residents set off from Priory Park on a wet Sunday afternoon and were joined by the more leisurely arrivals along the route as we walked upriver, past the Riverside Road allotments, along Penwortham Holme and past our amateur league football fields and Holme allotments, along Leyland Road a short distance then through our local green belt, Nature Reserve, meadows, trees and past more of our football pitches, all alongside the Ribble, at low tide and showing all her glorious mud flats at their best. By the time we reached the Old Tram Bridge across the Ribble at Avenham Park, we were nearly 90 strong (over 100 including dogs!), all enjoying the walk and the occasion despite the rain falling even more heavily by this time.
Here we cracked open a bottle of champagne, toasted our River and green belt and voiced our hope that the Ribble can forever flow unimpeded on her course, and the green belt can remain forever green!

The message to Preston City Council is clear – local residents are opposed to their “vision” for our River and our green spaces.
Our vision is for a community where both our quality of life and the environments’ quality of life is the top priority, and residents’ views about major potential developments on such an enormous scale are sought in the first instance, and are taken seriously.

Some of the other local residents take an interest

More pictures of this great occasion will be posted later. See below for more residents’ views, and news concerning support for the Ribble from a local parish council, and from a local M.P….

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Fylde Borough Council and Freckleton Parish Council support the Save the Ribble Campaign

Fylde Borough Council have joined Freckleton in opposing the barrage proposal.
Freckleton Parish Council support our campaign ‘and would object most strongly to any barrage being built across the river Ribble’, and Fylde Borough Council, keen to promote eco-tourism in their borough, recognise that a barrage would damage the Ribble's ecosystem and are opposed to a barrage on the River Ribble.

This illustrates that Preston City Council's "vision" for the Ribble will have implications for a number of communities along the Ribble corridor, far beyond the boundaries of their own jurisdiction.

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Michael Jack M.P. for Fylde ‘most concerned’ about effects of a barrage on ‘outstanding’ Ribble.

Michael Jack M.P for the Fylde is ‘most concerned about this proposal and will be watching very carefully to see what the effects of Preston’s current thinking is on the river and its estuary which I acknowledge is a place of outstanding importance particularly as far as bird life and biodiversity is concerned’.

Michael Jack is also the Chairman of the Parliamentary Environment Committee, which is currently urging the Government and Local Authorities to heed the Environment Agency's advice about not building on flood plain.
See 'Flood powers must be tougher' BBC news link.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Residents Continue to Voice Concerns about Riverworks "Vision" for Ribble and Green Belt

Here are a few more of local residents’ views and comments. To view previous postings of residents’ views go to “Local People Who Care About the Ribble” and “Residents’ Concerns for the Environment” (see links)

‘We enjoy bird-watching, and in the past 12 months have seen the residents herons, cormorants, terns, oyster-catchers, golden-eye duck, grebe and a variety of gulls – and all while walking the dog!
Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine the possibility of use by powered craft, which would totally alter the character of this tranquil area’
Margaret and Tony,

‘It makes me so mad to see our environment continually threatened by constant development’.
Tracey G,

‘As a resident of Avenham, living next to Avenham Park I am totally opposed to development of the opposite bank of the river. I have always been under the impression that the park was created to prevent the development of Preston City Centre across the river and that the presence of a countryside sanctuary so close to the city centre is something that has always made Preston unique.’

‘No to the barrage!’
Dave and Sue,

‘I was born here, and I can see the river from my house. Every day I see the wildlife,and how much pleasure it gives every living thing that encouters it. There is recently a pair of black and white ducks (I don't know the species) and they are just one example of how often new life comes here. I've been led to believe that the Ribble holds species now that only live in good water.
There is no need to change it. It seems the only ones who want change stand to make money from it, and have no appreciation for the beauty and ecology of the river.’

‘I have enjoyed the green fields and nature of penwortham since i moved here 15 years ago. I walk to work each day through countryside and farmland. I see woodpeckers, grebes, rabbits, even if i am lucky, the kingfisher. At the weekends i spend time digging on my allotment, surrounded by peace and nature. If this development goes ahead then everything that makes me contented with where i live will vanish.’

Andy O. of Preston has been photographing this area for the last 6 years. See his great pictures at

‘Do you remember the seal that used to visit the Ribble near Avenham Park about four years ago? It used to come up the river at high tide and feed in the deep waters of Church Delph, the former quarry on the north side of the river close to the Tram Bridge.
When the tide went out it would lie on a long, flat rock and sun bathe, occasionally wiggling its flippers. You could see it best at about 7am and later at night. People used to stroll down to the Tram Bridge to watch and admire it. It wasn't grey really: more a brownish furry colour. Did anyone photograph it?
A friend told me that it had escaped from a zoo in Colwyn Bay (how did she know?) and that its body was later found on the estuary banks near Freckleton.
I still think of the rock as "Seal Rock". If the barrage was built, Seal Rock would be submerged for ever and we would never see a wild seal so close to the city centre again.’

(Still… we could end up with a colony of seals just below the barrage picking the fish off as they come through the bottleneck fish-runs like they now have decimating the fish populations of the Tees…?! Doing the Ribble run could just about finish off the Atlantic Salmon - the 10th most threatened animal species in Europe – if they go ahead with the barrage then...)

Save The Ribble Campaign Blog Launches on Sunday 14th May!

We will officially Launch the Save The Ribble Campaign Blog by emailing all the Preston City, South Ribble and Lancashire County Councillors with our blog address to let them know the strength of public feeling over the proposal to barrage the Ribble and develop on our green belt and local amenities.

This community blog is our forum, allowing us to voice our concerns and find out information – particularly as we feel that our councillors and politicians are NOT LISTENING to us.

To celebrate the enormous success of the blog we invite all Save The Ribble Campaigners, family, and friends of the Ribble to join us on a Ribblesiders Local Amenities Walk along the Ribble in Penwortham on Sunday 14th May at 5pm.

Scroll down for:
· Ribblesiders Local Amenities Walk details.
· More Residents’ Views and Ribble pictures – including the Ribble Tidal Bore!!
· New Posts about the Ribble and its vital importance to wildlife and local people.

Ribblesiders Local Amenities Walk, Sunday 14th May.

The walk will start at 5pm at Priory Park, Penwortham, progressing upriver on the Penwortham side and finishing on the Tram Bridge linking Preston Junction Nature Reserve in Penwortham with Avenham and Miller Parks in Preston, where we will celebrate by opening a bottle of champagne!
The walk takes just under an hour at a fairly leisurely pace.

For those less familiar with the Priory Park area, Priory Park is the small open area by the River at the bottom of Priory Lane in Penwortham. (Priory Lane is off Liverpool Road, opposite the top end of Cop Lane). Priory Park can be reached by two easy routes (see map below):
1. Go down Priory Lane, and at the bottom of the hill turn down Round Wood (new houses), and then right down Tower View (not named on map), walk through the gate here until the path opens out to the River.
2. Or, on the Penwortham side of the Liverpool Road Bridge where it crosses into Preston, there is a car park just off the road next to the allotments: walk through here and follow the River downstream (on Holme Road) for a few minutes and you will come to Priory Park.

Priory Park is on Holme Road by the Ribble at the end of Priory Lane and Round Wood.

The walk will go upriver from Priory Park, and pass the allotments which border Liverpool Road by the river (just before the Bridge over the Ribble to Preston). Here we cross over Liverpool Road (take care with small children!) and carry on straight ahead onto Penwortham Holme, on the path alongside the river, passing some of our local league football fields and another section of our allotments.

At the end of Penwortham Holme, we walk along Leyland Road for a short way, then carry on alongside the River on the Penwortham side, past the childrens’ play park on Margaret Road. We carry on along the Ribble, under the railway bridge and passing the scrub areas, small fields and wooded areas, home to countless hedgerow birds and small mammals - and privy to the frequent sight of birds of prey hunting them – and then pass the Heronry, and our fields, copses, and local football league playing fields bordering the Nature Reserve in this area, and along to the Tram Bridge, arriving here by 6pm at the latest, when we will crack open a bottle of bubbly! We will be posting pictures of the Walk on the blog.

If you have any queries about the Ribblesiders Local Amenities Walk, or the blog launch, please email us at

Residents’ Concerns for The Environment, and Loss of Quality of Life for People

More of your views - and pictures - this is YOUR forum, tell us what you think
You can double-click on the pictures to see a more detailed image.

Having grown up in Penwortham and having lived here for 40 years, the River and its adjoining countryside has always been an important part of my life – both as a young child and an adult. The River area has offered great open space for recreation. I can’t believe that Preston City Council and South Ribble Borough Council, without any consultation with local people who use and value this area, wants to sacrifice it for the sake of profit and their own prestige. The Ribble does not belong to Preston City Council or South Ribble borough Council, and is not theirs to do with as they please'.
Chris, Leyland Road, Penwortham.

Preston Junction Nature Reserve

‘I feel so angry that this barrage and building development proposal is even being considered. The Ribble is vitally important to wildlife and the entire ecosystem on a local, national and international level, and it is vitally important to the people who live here. To even consider such a damaging project is madness. Why is this endless desire to destroy the environment at the heart of any proposal for so-called “development”? Why isn’t the preservation of the environment itself seen as development? ‘Sustainable development’ is just another buzz-word not a genuine aim. We are told by the Council and other organisations that support the barrage and development on our green belt that it is for our own good, but why do they think we live here? We already know what is for our own good, and chose to live in an area where a fantastically beautiful river and open countryside is just a few minutes from our homes, offering us priceless peace and quiet and access to nature without having to sit in a car on the motorway for hours in the pursuit of these very things which we now have. If we wanted to live in the centre of a sprawling city landscape like Liverpool or Manchester, that is where we would live. Our kids play on the fields and alongside the river for hours, they absolutely love it. We need to preserve the Ribble and our green belt for the sake of the environment, and for the sake of our children and generations to come.’
Jane, Middleforth.

Hundreds of Swallows, Swifts, and House Martins return to the Ribble. These birds not only feast on the many insects over the Ribble and surrounding greenbelt, but the Swallows and House Martins use the mud revealed at low tide to build their nests under our eaves... double-click on this picture to see these birds in more detail.

We are now at a time when worldwide environmental issues are of great concern to all of us. Scientists the world over are in agreement that unless we act now and put the environment at the forefront of our political and social thinking, there will be serious repercussions that we may never recover from. It is of great importance to me that environmental considerations need to be recognised at a local level.
Before undergoing any such transformations we must always consider the environmental impact both short and long term. The river barrage and building plans will have a negative impact on the environment both in the short and long term, affecting marine life, birds, and threatening precious green belt land. As a local resident, I see it as my duty to oppose the barrage and thus in some small way play my part in the great tide of like-minded people who consider the environment and nature more important than money and profit
Darren, Broadgate.

Swallows, Swifts and House Martins soaring over the green belt in Penwortham, the first sign of summer!

· The Governments’ own research and stated policy for the future states that bird species are indicators of the stability of the environment AND are indicators of quality of life for people. The Governments’ Quality of Life Counts 1999, Update 2004 ( click on publications) states that all bird species in the UK are in long-term decline, and ‘populations of some farmland birds such as the skylark and corn bunting, and of woodland birds such as the song thrush and bullfinch, have fallen by more than half’ (1999).
The 2004 Update suggests that ‘Farmland bird populations fell by 42% between 1970 and 2002, and woodland bird populations fell by 15%’ in the same period, although there are now suggestions that this decline may be slowing.

All of these bird species populate our green belt areas currently under threat of development from the Riverworks proposals.

Thrushes are a common sight on the meadows opposite Avenham and Miller Parks, and these meadows and woodlands are what makes Preston so unique, barely five minutes walk from the city centre...

These reports also state that the quality of our rivers are important as ‘Rivers… support a wide variety of wildlife and are used extensively for recreation’ (1999).
Bird species are regarded as ‘good indicators of the broad state of wildlife… because they are wide-ranging and tend to be at or near the top of the foodchain’. We already know that ‘We value wildlife for its own sake’, but the Government do also recognise that wildlife is a valuable indicator of ‘our quality of life’.

See also the RSPB:

Icelandic Godwits and Oystercatcher, Freckleton marshes

Ribble Tidal Bore at Freckleton. It's not the Severn Bore, but marvelous to see nonetheless, another thing lost to us forever if the barrage is built...
of course, the Severn is also now at risk from a proposed barrage...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ribble Link Trust Chairman Counts Some Birds - is this the best Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed Ribble Barrage we can expect?

Mr Cliff Fazackerley, the Chairman of the Ribble Link Trust, supports the building of a barrage across the River Ribble. He believes that the issue of installing a barrage is ‘causing unnecessary concern’ (Lancashire Evening Post 28/4/06 Letters) and has completed an “assessment” of bird species on the River to prove it.

Mr Fazackerley, who has previously described mudflats on the Ribble as ‘horrid’, (LEP letters 28/2/06) wrote in his letter (28/4/06) that on a recent walk from the dock to Savick Brook he counted just 17 birds, apparently suggesting that they are too few to really matter. And of those that he did count, all but one were swimming to and fro in the middle of the River and so, by implication, have no need of the “horrid” mudflats here anyway!

Mud, mud, glorious mud. Pity we scared the birds away. But we are nowhere near as scary as a barrage.

Mr Fazackerley also states that the barrage (or weir as he prefers to call it) ‘will not affect the Ramsar site at the mouth of the river, and… will have very little effect, if any, on the wildlife that feeds on the banks’ (28/4/06).

Yet, the fact is that the River 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.

It is the tidal nature of the River which is crucial in maintaining the ecosystem of the Ribble corridor and estuary.

Mr Fazackerley appears to believe that if some of the incoming tide is allowed to ‘top the weir’ this sea water will ‘bring with it the new food supply for all the wading birds’ (28/4/06).

In fact, one effect of the barrage would be to stop the silt and therefore the essential nutrients being washed down the river and feeding the estuary upon which thousands (literally) of birds depend.
The mudflats also support birdlife in other, less obvious ways – for example we recently witnessed dozens of House Martins taking mud from the mudflats in Broadgate and near Avenham Park to build their nests.

And, just for the record we took a walk with the RSPB on the marshes adjacent to the Ribble at Freckleton (not far from Savick Brook, just upriver from the Douglas where Preston City Council would prefer to locate the barrage) and saw significantly more than 17 birds, hundreds in fact, including numerous wading birds such as Icelandic Godwit, Oyster Catcher, Red Shank, and Lapwing, as well as Shelduck, Wheatear, Sky Larks, Swallows, Swifts, Geese, Herons, Swans……….

The Save the Ribble Campaign will continue to campaign, not only for a full environmental impact assessment of the Riverworks proposals to be undertaken sooner rather than later, but also for that assessment to be taken seriously by Preston City Council and other organisations which promote the construction of a barrage on the Ribble.


The Save the Ribble Campaign has been arguing for some time that Preston City Council are pursuing their Riverworks plans without any public consultation and that they have already made a decision to go ahead with building their barrage and developing our green belt (see The Story So Far on this blog).
This view appears to be confirmed by comments made by Mr Fazackerley, Chairman of the Ribble Link Trust.

For Mr Fazackerley (Lancashire Evening Post letters 28/4/06) the issue is not whether but where the barrage will be built.
And he even seems to have some idea of how high the barrage (or weir as he prefers to call it) will be – 7.9 metres.

Mr Fazackerley believes the barrage will profit the general public (28/4/06).
Obviously, the Ribble Link Trust has an interest in promoting the barrage as they want the River Ribble kept at an artificially high level so that they can navigate their boats from the canal onto the River without having to wait for high tide.
But they should not assume that that a minority of boat owners, who can’t be bothered to wait for the tide to change, are representative of the general public interest.

Local residents value the Ribble and its adjoining green belt area as a community amenity, which include open countryside, a nature reserve, local league football fields, and allotments (all of which Preston City Council has proposals to develop on with houses and businesses as part of Riverworks) and our interests would be best served by abandoning the Riverworks plans.

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The RSPB understand that the Ribble estuary ‘is the UK’s most important river estuary for wintering birds such as Whooper and Bewick’s Swans, Pink-footed Geese, Wigeons, Knots, Dunlins, Sanderlings, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits’.

According to the RSPB, ‘An incredible 250,000 birds make the estuary their winter home every year’.

The Ribble is also ‘home to the UK’s pilot project for delivery of the EU’s Water Framework Directive, the most significant piece of European water legislation for over 20 years, which aims to enhance the ecology of our lakes, rivers, groundwater, estuaries and coastal waters’.

The RSPB also claim ‘This is an important time for the Ribble. The RSPB is working with a range of partners and communities to protect and restore this wonderful area through the creation of a new reserve and innovative projects for people and wildlife’.

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