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, July 29, 2006

Preston - Capital City of Undemocratic Planning

Preston residents, and Save The Ribble members have been criticising Preston City Councils' whole approach to planning in the City.

Yesterday two biting letters from Aiden Turner-Bishop and David Whittle were published in the Lancashire Evening Post:

In Aiden's letter he describes the councils approach to city planning, with Riverworks, the Tithebarn project and now plans for Friargate, an approach that is "not only arrogant, but it's incompetent and careless ... in other words, wait until it's all stitched up and we'll pretend to listen to you".

David Whittle, of the Flag Market Debating Society weighs in too - "planners beware what you do when you use your pencil, with 'destroy' written on the right hand."

A common theme throughout all recent council planning announcements, and particularly those made by the "self-appointed grandees of the Vision Board" is that the council has been planning for rather than with local people - listening to the whims of profit hungry developers rather than asking the local people what they want or need. Aiden points out that "thoughtless errors will happen because the planners only listen to themselves".

If Preston continues on this course of destruction of everything that local people find valuable, our green spaces, our allotments, our football fields and recreation grounds, the mistakes and scandals of the 1980's will look like a vicars' tea party in comparison.

Residents Against Northern Trust

In other news of local people standing up to developers, the people of Lea turned out in force4 to oppose a development between Riversway, Finney Park Drive and Stoney Butts. They have set up 'RANT': 'Residents against Northern Trust' - who have put forward plans to build on land subject to subsidence, and swimming in all kinds of noxious substances.

The reality is that in Preston, all the good places to build housing have already been built on - there are usually very good reasons why vacant land has not yet been developed.

The green spaces that are left in this city are very precious to Preston people,and to wildlife, they're part of what makes Preston a decent place to live in - lets stick together to keep hold of them.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Preston Tourism - Ideas For A Vibrant City in Touch With its History

If Preston City Council listened to its residents, rather than the greedy developers, they would be surprised at the creativity and imagination of the ideas that people would come up with. Here Terry - a member of the Save The Ribble Campaign puts forward his ideas for making Preston attractive to tourists and a better place to live, without wrecking the river or the green spaces around it. We are still waiting for Preston City Councils 'consultation exercise' on the Riverworks proposals, but anyone with good ideas like Terrys' can send them to the Save The Ribble Blog:

These are some thoughts on how Preston could evolve as a City using its River and Meadowland environment without losing the very aspects that make it unique in a British City.

As these are just three initial suggestions and are from an amateur’s dreaming no costs are attempted but they are put as cheap, medium and expensive. But let’s not forget that the Riverworks project is talking of sums of £100 million plus so let’s presume the money could be found.

Museum Weekends.
There is nowhere in the North West, other than Liverpool, which has Museums to rival those of, for instance, York or Glasgow. Manchester has the Science Museum but that’s not quite the same thing. I don’t think of Manchester as a museum city.

Tourists like museums. We already have the National Football Museum which, in my opinion, is not that well pushed as an attraction. There is also the County Museum which could be re housed in a more attractive and better located environment. We have a Steam Engine Centre which could be helped with, perhaps, a link to the mainline Preston Station. We have no remembrance of Preston as a Mill Town and that could be addressed. We could, at a pinch, include Ribchester and the Roman connection.

However, the main part of this section is to push for two more attractions that at present don’t exist. The minor one would be a tourist trail and/or building exploring the fascinating discovery of the Cuerdale Hoard. This could be where it was discovered or if that is not possible then it could be next to a building around the Shaws Inn area that will be mentioned below. It could include a history of treasure hunting, how to use metal detectors etc.

Then the main additional historical museum would be a museum to commemorate the Battle of Preston in 1648. These are quotes from ‘Bloody Preston’ by Stephen Ball and Mike Seed.

“Preston was arguably the most important battle of the English Civil Wars. Upon its outcome hinged the political future of three nations…The Battlefield of Preston is not marked in any way and many local and national histories give scant mention of this momentous battle… in the view of the Establishment and the bureaucrats charged with the history of such things the most significant British battle of the seventeenth Century does not even exist.”

And it’s here on the banks of the Ribble. And what’s more, one of the major turning points of the battle took place in an area that still exists almost as it did then. Watery Lane where elements of the Lancashire Militia using their local knowledge came down from the heights of Ribbleton to Fishwick Bottoms to attack the Royalists trying to cross the Walton Bridge.

With a bit of imagination and special effects a trail could be developed up through the woodland and then down the Lane back to a purpose built Civil War Centre around Shaws Inn. I’m sure that the English Civil War Society and The Sealed Knot would be delighted to have a Northern Headquarters there.

The battlefield of Culloden outside Inverness shows what can be done with such an event. It could be unique in England.

Lancashire Coastal Path
The Lancashire Coastal Path ( LCP ) may not be the Pennine Way or the Lakes but for local people or those from further afield who view walking as one of the best forms of exercise it is a very acceptable substitute with fantastic views and varying interests from Arnside to Preston. Unfortunately from Freckleton to Preston there are two problems. The first is that it is not Coastal and the second is that it’s not a Path. It doesn’t exist.

But it could be a real bonus to the LCP with some investment. Of course most of it is outside Preston Council’s control but let’s assume co-operation from the other bodies and if there is a problem with ownership of land let’s presume the technical ability to, maybe, bypass the land with a sort of Pontoon on the river itself.

This would make a stretch of proper coastal path going past Warton Airport, Freckleton Docks, a major bird habitat, before reaching the canal. That is a canal extended again and developed into a river/canal link with a boating centre with café, marina and small workshops.

The walk would then continue to the Steam Engine Centre where, perhaps, steam trains could take tired walkers direct to a Bus/Mainline integrated transport link at Preston Station.

Preston Marina

This option is probably unrealistic. But with £100 million who knows?

The plan would be to completely drain the Marina and clean it to the extent that Salford has done with its Quay where swimming took place in the recent Commonwealth Games.

Then at the lock end reinstate the Marina. It’s a beautiful site when all the boats are there. Then about half way down dam it off and then ( and here we go into fantasy land ) create a beach at the city end for all the people of Preston to enjoy. Make the water swimmable. Get rid off those useless office blocks and make a seaside environment. Paris has done it to a lesser extent.

Or if that’s too whacky build a Lido there. We need an open air swimming area for kids ( and adults ) to enjoy the outside life. In my younger days there were plenty of Lidos and most of my memories of my teens are of whiling away the Summer swimming. And in Winter it could be frozen for skating. The technology is there for that to happen. All we need is imagination.

And that’s been the purpose of this small consultation exercise. Using imagination to create a Preston that keeps the best without stagnating or bricking over what makes the City different from all the other towns and cities of the UK.


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Monday, July 24, 2006


Middleforth Ward has received a windfall of £36,762, as a result of the new housing development at the bottom of Stricklands lane. This money must be used to improve green space within the local area, including parks and open spaces by the river.
Residents are being asked to forward any suggestions for improvements to their local councillors. Ideas could include promotion of the footpaths to town, removal of the Himalayan Balsalm and replacing with native species, planting wild flower meadows or trees. Any ideas should be sent to your councillors who are..

Middleforth Ward

David Bretherton Gaynor Bretherton
11 Hollywood Avenue 11 Hollywood Avenue
Penwortham Penwortham

Gillian Holt
Highfield Farm
Bee Lane

Kingsfold Ward

Howard Gore Jim Patten
2 Pendlebury Close 1 Monks Walk
Longton Penwortham
Preston Preston

Carol Wooldridge David Wooldridge
16 Bramble Court 16 Bramble Court
Penwortham Penwortham
Preston Preston

Charnock Ward

Kevin Pownall Robert Taylor
1 Almond Cottages 9 Lilac Avenue
Watkin Lane Penwortham
Lostock Hall Preston
Preston PR1 9BP

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Will Ribbleside Residents’ Voices Be Heard?

As the driving force behind the Riverworks vision, Preston City Council’s adoption of the Statement of Community Involvement in April of this year has been welcomed by Ribbleside residents concerned about the future of the Ribble and local green belt.

Preston City Council state that:
‘Effective community involvement is a fundamental part of preparing the Local Development Framework. The Statement of Community Involvement sets out how the Council aims to achieve continuous community involvement in the preparation of local development documents and in dealing with planning applications. The Council aims to engage with as many people and organisations as possible in order to ensure community ownership of the Local Development Framework. Following public consultation and examination by the Secretary of State, the Statement of Community Involvement was adopted by the Council on 12th April 2006’.

The Save The Ribble Campaign is an organisation formed by and for local residents, all along the Ribble corridor. Our aims are to:

- raise awareness of issues which concern local residents about the Riverworks proposals for the Ribble corridor;

- raise awareness about the broader implications of building a barrage on the internationally significant Ribble, and housing and business developments on our green belt;

- raise awareness of the unique nature of the Ribble and adjoining green belt for the environment, for tourism, and for local people.

Riverworks claims to be ‘A purpose driven vision for the people of Preston, delivered by a powerful working partnership, providing opportunities for new prestigious waterfront developments’
(PCC Riverworks: "Quality Riverside" )

This is centred on the ‘vision’ to build a barrage on the Ribble to maintain ‘a constant water level’ which, PCC claim, ‘will stimulate interest, aid re-discovery and enhance the river functionality by creating many new opportunities for river usage ranging from angling, boating and general water-based recreational activities to bird-watching, walking, horse riding and cycling’ and ‘will also make large areas of the riverside into more attractive places and will enhance both the natural and the built environment’
(Riverworks: "Quality Riverside" )

Residents are pointing out that:

- the Ribble is already valued locally for its beauty and biodiversity, and the peace, quiet and relaxation it offers to local residents;

- the Ribble is valued nationally and internationally for its significant ecosystem which supports over ¼ million birds, and numerous fish species – including the Atlantic Salmon, the 10th most threatened animal species in Europe;

- the Ribble already offers over 32,000 Lancashire anglers excellent fishing, an industry and a past-time which a barrage on the Ribble would put at risk according to both the Lancashire and the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Associations;

- the Ribble already offers boating opportunities to boat users happy to wait for the rhythms of the tide;

- bird watchers, cyclists, horse-riders, and walkers already enjoy the biodiversity, access to nature in its unspoilt beauty, and the peace and tranquillity of the Ribble and adjoining green belt.

Mudflats replenished twice a day by the tide. This protected mudflat habitat runs right into the heart of Preston and South Ribble, allowing bird watchers, walkers, and ordinary residents in the Penwortham and Broadgate areas to enjoy the birds, who wait for the tide to go out so they can feast! On the left of the picture, this new housing development in Broadgate is already eating into one of our cricket grounds.

Mudflats are a nationally and internationally protected habitat - including those running right into Preston and Penwortham, as can be seen here on English Nature's UK Priority Biodiversity Action Plan Habitats.

The Heron and the swans are amongst the regular feathered residents of Broadgate and Penwortham.

Goose feeding at low tide near Penwortham Old Bridge.

Black Headed Gull, Riverside, Penwortham.

Riverworks also includes a ‘vision’ to build housing and business developments on green belt both sides of the river, land which currently comprises meadows, fields, woodland, public footpaths, allotments, amateur league football fields, and provides enjoyment, relaxation, and space to breathe to largely urbanised areas of Preston and South Ribble.

Penwortham - Walton le Dale green belt, 5 minutes from Fishergate in the city centre, and earmarked for the "Central Park" housing and business park development.

These and other areas earmarked for potential development in PCC’s Composite Masterplan give many residents cause for concern.

Preston City Council Composite Masterplan for potential development, including the Fishwick Bottoms, and "Central Park" building developments.

Residents are concerned that building a barrage will damage the environment on a local, national and international level as it will interfere with the free-flow of silts, nutrients and water, drowning, starving, and eroding vital mudflats and salt marsh: the life-blood of the Ribble’s entire ecosystem.

Residents are concerned that developing on our green belt will be detrimental to the environment, causing loss of biodiversity through the loss of habitat of countless bird, mammal, insect and plant species, some of which are already under threat on a national and international level.

Residents are concerned that our quality of life will be damaged by the loss of our green spaces, access to wildlife and nature, and local green amenities, and by the noise, crowds and pollution of a water sports park on our beautiful, peaceful river.

Starlings are now on the RSPB Red List of birds in serious decline, relying in this area on the farmland, open woodland and hedgerows of the Ribbleside green belt.

Common Blue butterfly: clouds of these can be seen here every June.

Residents are concerned a Ribble barrage and building developments on the green belt – which is also the Ribble’s floodplain - will exacerbate flood risk in areas already considered at “significant risk” of flooding by the Environment Agency.

Residents are NOT engaging in “scaremongering” but raising legitimate concerns which arise from Riverworks’ own documentation and stated ‘vision’.

Residents are NOT claiming that the Riverworks proposals “are going ahead without proper consultation”, we are concerned that this ‘purpose driven vision for the people of Preston’ has not seen fit to consult with the people of Preston – or, indeed, residents from other communities along the Ribble corridor who will be affected by these proposals - BEFORE the time and expense of drawing up proposals for a project which has a prominant position in several key strategic documents which directly relate to the future of this area.
See for example:
Lancashire Economic Strategy Draft v2.1, esp p11;
Central Lancashire City Sub-Regional Spatial Strategy, particularly pages 7, 14, and 19 through 25, focusing on the development and barraging of the Ribble, including a potential road across the river as part of this barrage, and the 'review of green belt boundaries south of the River Ribble, through the Local Development Framework process' (p19) in order to allow its development; and the
Preston Strategic Partnership

Local residents have a right to a voice in the vision for their own future: this should be a shared vision for and by local people, not one imposed by ‘a powerful working partnership’ which comprises Council officials, development consultants, and economic and business partnerships.

We welcome PCC’s Statement of Community Involvement, and are disappointed that our last letter to Preston City Council, sent in May, which outlines our full concerns, remains, 2 months later, as yet unanswered and unacknowledged.

Save The Ribble Campaign remain committed to promoting the River Ribble and adjoining green belt for its local, national and international importance to the environment and biodiversity, its vital ‘space to breathe’ for local residents, and its unique potential for sustainable tourism for the Ribble corridor.

This blog is a forum for local residents to discuss issues raised in the Riverworks documents: to access information, raise issues, and share their concerns and love for the Ribble and adjoining green spaces, and we research and source all our information so that residents can access both the Riverworks documents and alternative perspectives of the Ribble, and thus make an informed decision about these issues in both local and national terms.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006


GreenSTAT is a system that gives local residents the opportunity to comment on the quality of their open spaces and how well they feel they are being managed and maintained. It allows site managers to compare the results with others up and down the country to give a truly national voice of what we think about our open spaces.

Why not log on and give your opinion on our local green spaces. The questionnaire is quite detailed and provides opportunities for you to include your own comments. Hopefully it will provide a good forum for residents to say what they would like to happen in their local area, and we all like that idea!

Log on to

Monday, July 17, 2006


Promote what you love about living in South Ribble.

A photography competition has been launched to celebrate the diverse nature of the borough by South Ribble Partnership. They are looking for photos of real people to be entered in the following categories

Living in south Ribble
Working in South Ribble
Visiting South Ribble
Playing in South Ribble.

The photo should be accompanied by a caption which explains what you think is great about South Ribble.

Closing date is 18 August 2006.

For more information and entry details phone 01772 625302 or email

Prize is £100 voucher for photographic equipment but more importantly the winning photos will form part of an exhibition and will be used in promotional materials for member organisations within the partnership.

An opportunity for all you budding photographers that have been sending such good work to the blog to reach a bigger audience and promote our beautiful river ribble!

Good luck!

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Mouth Of The Ribble

The Save The Ribble blog was set up to voice the views of ordinary people in Preston, South Ribble and all along the banks of our beautiful river.

Now we need your help.

We want to hear from all the people who use and enjoy the Ribble, the sports pitches, allotments, green fields, cycle paths and ramblers routes around it.

If you are a footballer, a football dad or a football coach that uses the pitches at Penwortham Holme, Vernons or Frenchwood we want to hear from you.

If you are an angler who doesn't want to see the fishes' route up the river blocked, we want to hear from you.

If you are a bird watcher, who enjoys the rich birdlife of the estuary, we want to hear from you.

If you are a rambler, walking the gentle green banks of our river, who does not want to see them encased in concrete to make moorings for yachts, we want to hear from you.

If you care for an allotment, we want to hear from you.

If you are a photographer, an artist, or a poet, we want to hear from you.

If you use the river in any way, and want to register your protest at the way Preston City Council is spending your money on feasibility studies into the Riverworks proposals - to build a barrage across the river, and over 4000 houses on greenbelt land - then post your pro-river views to us.

If you care about the River Ribble, then this is your blog - tell us all about why you love your river - we would love to publish it.

You can post your contributions as comments below, or email them to:

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Architecture for A Living Preston Community

A leading architect has lambasted Preston City Council's year zero approach to architecture and development.

Sally Stone, a Senior Lecturer in Architecture at Manchester School of Architecture and co-author of Re-readings: Interior Architecture and the Design Principles of Remodelling Existing Buildings has written an impassioned plea in defence of Preston's "unique character" - warning that council proposals could transform Preston into a city that is "ordinary and bland" - "a soulless mid-European city".

In Monday's Lancashire Evening Post Stone defends Preston's green spaces in a way that directly echoes the arguments posted by local people on the 'Save The Ribble' blog:

What other place has cows grazing so close to the city centre? How many cities have as much green space?

The Winckley Square – Avenham Park – Tram Road corridor is incredible, a unique succession of green spaces spanning the river.

It is an asset to Preston, our green city

Cows graze within minutes of Preston City Centre : Originally posted here

This is almost certainly a criticism of the Riverworks proposals - which include proposals to build housing estates on crucial green spaces near the river.

She speaks too in defence of Friargate - one of Preston's most ancient thoroughfares - threatened with total obliteration if Council Planners get their way.

Preston City Council would do well to listen to people like Sally Stone, who believe in development that is sympathetic to the existing character of the City, that fits in with the lifestyles of the people who live here, respects the existing, organically grown pattern of streets and buildings, and which celebrates the rich heritage of Preston and it's surrounding area.

Instead the council looks determined to repeat all the mistakes of the 1960's 70's and 80's - with wholesale development that is imposed on local people, out of character with the area, environmentally disastrous, and driven by profit rather than local people's wishes or needs.

Residents of Preston have seen successive council schemes wreck and re-wreck the Town Centre, and feel it would be a terrible and needless tragedy if this were to be perpetrated yet again. We feel too that to wreck our beautiful river with a barrage that would starve the estuary of its nutrient silts, and drown mudbanks, to build housing estates over green belt, floodplain, allotments and sports pitches, to concrete over riverbanks and to artificially block the life-giving tides, would be more than a tragedy - it would be irreparable environmental vandalism of criminal proportions.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Mudflats and Salt Marsh: vital habitats, and effective flood defence

Coastal salt marsh and mudflats are vital habitats and effective flood defences - it's official!

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched its first major wetlands creation project at Wallasea Island in Essex, aiming to ensure the survival of Coastal Salt Marsh and Mudflats as internationally important habitats and as the most effective and sustainable form of flood defence for the local human population.

Defra said this week that 'Wetlands, including salt marsh and mud flats, are some of the last natural wilderness areas left in England.
They provide breeding and roosting places for important bird species, as well as habitat for rare plants, insects and fish. They are also breeding and nursery areas for aquatic wildlife, such as bass, mullet, flatfish and herring.
They act as buffer zones that absorb wave energy and protect the coast from storm damage and flooding.' (see Defra and wetland habitats )

Inappropriate developments such as the Cardiff Bay barrage have ensured that such wetland provision in Britain has been significantly depleted - inappropriate developments which clearly must cease if we are to ensure the survival of these unique habitats and the wider ecosystem they support and protect.

To create the UK's largest man-made (or sea-reclaimed!) marine wetland to date, on 4th July 2006 the sea defences at Wallasea Island were deliberately breached and by the evening, 'the sea was covering 115 hectares of former wheatfields, which from now on will be saltmarsh and mudflats on which migratory wildfowl and wading birds can find shelter. It will also improve flood defences, provide for better fish nurseries, and create opportunities for recreation, said officials from Defra.

Barry Gardiner, the Government's Biodiversity Minister said: "Saltmarsh is rarer than rainforest and is important to people, particularly as a flood and storm defence, and to wildlife. Hundreds of thousands of wetland birds rely entirely on the Essex saltmarsh for their food each winter".
"The wetlands will also provide additional flood and storm protection. Damaging storm waves lose their energy as they pass over the area, and the new sea defences will provide better protection than the old ones, which were in very poor condition,"
Mr Gardiner added. (see The Independent)

Mud, mud, glorious mud!
Salt marsh and mudflats are a vital and internationally important habitat, supporting diverse species from invertebrates upwards through the foodchain. The Ribble's mud forms the basis of its intertidal ecosystem, which supports numerous bird species (over 1/4 million birds every year) and fish species including Atlantic Salmon, the 10th most threatened animal species in Europe - and these mudflats and salt marsh dissipate wave energy, thus reduce the risk of flooding to the low-lying land along the Ribble corridor.

Both salt marsh and mudflats are UK Priority Biodiversity Action Plan habitats, and are at risk from inappropriate developments such as barrages and from sea level rises. In view of sea level rises alone, the onus is on creating more of these vitally important areas just to maintain the status quo.

English Nature, Defra, and other organisations and Government bodies are working to protect and enhance mudflat and salt marsh habitat provision.

English Nature's Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for mudflats and salt marsh estuarine habitats states that human 'land claim... has removed about 25% of Great Britain's estuarine intertidal flats and up to 80% in some estuaries...

'Many other factors affect/will affect this habitat, e.g. sea level rise, barrage schemes, discharges from agriculture, industry and urban areas...

'As with most marine habitats, the best form of management is prevention of damage as little can be done to help the habitat be restored.'

The BAP map and the Ribble mudflats...
English Nature's Biodiversity Action Plan map of the Ribble shows its areas of UK Priority habitat mudflats - including those which run right into the centre of Preston and South Ribble, as far as Frenchwood and Walton le Dale as well as Penwortham - as well as other UK Priority BAP habitats in the Ribble area including Coastal and Flood Plain Grazing Marsh areas such as the Penwortham/Walton le Dale green belt, Fishwick Bottoms, and Lower Brockholes...

Read more about the wildlife supported by coastal salt marsh and mudflats.

The Government's £7.5m Wallasea Wetlands Creation Project is an example of "managed realignment" - coastal engineering to accommodate the sea-level rise that is being brought about by global warming.
Essex originally had 35,000 hectares of saltmarsh but enclosure for agriculture and development over many years has destroyed much of that habitat. Only 2,000 hectares remain, including the newly recreated Wallasea Island wetland.

Just to put this into perspective, the Ribble Estuary SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) is 9,226 hectares (22,798 acres) of combined mudflats, sandflats, and salt marsh. This is what makes the Ribble Estuary the 2nd most important wetland site in the UK, protected under the International RAMSAR wetlands convention, and a designated Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive and the UK Conservation (Habitats &c) Regulations 1994.

The Ribble's wetland habitat is a dynamic system which changes, but comprises approximately 20% saltmarsh and 80% mudflats and sandflats. 6,730 hectares of this habitat are in Lancashire and 2,501 hectares in Merseyside.
This estuarine wetland habitat is created and supported by the free-flowing tidal nature of the Ribble. Any changes in the free-flow of water, silts and nutrients - such as a Ribble barrage would cause - would put this internationally important habitat at risk, and deplete its flood defence capabilities.

Sustainable habitat and sustainable communities.
The new Wallasea Island wetland creation will be a huge tourist attraction, will help to mitigate the effects of wetland depletion caused by sea level rises and previous developments on this vital and protected habitat, and provides the area with an effective flood defence, being 115 hectares and costing a modest £7.5m... a drop in the ocean compared to the £914 million (at last estimate) for Riverworks (Lancashire Economic Strategy), at least £60 million of which is for the barrage alone (see Riverworks 01: Quality Riverside)...

Sustainability is the key, as the cost of the Wallasea Island saltmarsh and mudflat habitat creation is even more impressive when we reflect on the £20+ million the Welsh Assembly have to fork out EVERY YEAR to try to address the environmental problems the Cardiff Bay Barrage has created for the environment and local communities, including water quality problems in the impounded river basin and rising water levels underneath people's homes.
On top of this, the £10 million it cost to create the supposed "alternative habitat" for wildlife near Cardiff - in order to try to mitigate some of the effects of the loss of the tidal habitat in Cardiff's Bay of Tigers - has been wasted as the majority of the birds displaced by the Cardiff Bay barrage have not turned up there... see The Real Price of the Cardiff Bay Barrage.

The RSPB are currently aiming to reclaim a section of Coastal Salt Marsh from farmland at Hesketh Out Marsh just downriver from Preston. This will ensure that this vitally important wetland habitat in the Ribble Estuary is at the very least maintained against sea level rises, and will contribute further wetland flood defences for communities along the Ribble over the coming decades.

As sea levels rise and rainfall continues to increase in Lancashire, we will hopefully see more salt marsh recreation on the Ribble Estuary to offset the risk of flooding to communities along the Ribble corridor and the threat to wildlife through loss of habitat to the sea, creating a massive draw for tourism at the same time as providing effective, and both environmentally and economically sustainable flood defence measures...

... as well as implementing Government Policy...

DEFRA's policy is to promote the further (re)creation of salt marsh and mudflat habitats, and the Environment Agency is required under the terms of the Biodiversity Action Plan to create 2,000 hectares of new habitat every year at the same time as ensuring that no habitats are lost through flood risk management projects , and have established the Regional Habitat Creation Programme to implement this.

In Lancashire, we now have our own Biodiversity Action Plan, and you can view the draft document on salt marsh on the Lancashire Biodiversity Action Plan website.

You can read more on Coastal Saltmarsh and mudflats and their vital importance to wildlife and human communities on the RSPB website.

Contact us on

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Brockholes: The Quarry, The Birds and The Bees, and the Barrage...

Lower Brockholes is a beautiful ancient farmland on the Preston side of the M6, and is bordered by several Biological Heritage Sites including the ancient Brockholes Wood, Brockholes Meadow, and the River Ribble.
As such, this farmland is part of a broader ecosystem and itself offers diverse habitats, including mixed grasslands, hedgerows, small streams, and mature trees, supporting numerous bird, mammal, and insect species – including several species of bird on the RSPB Red List of farmland birds considered at serious risk due to the dramatic ongoing decline in their numbers.

Lower Brockholes 17th Century farmhouse in its historic farmland setting.

Lower Brockholes also offers local people access to a beautiful and safe area of historic English countryside within the motorway boundary. This ancient farmland with its Grade II listed 17th Century farmhouse is an important part of our local heritage, Brockholes having been farmed by local people for at least 400 years. Brockholes is also the site of a skirmish with the Scots in the 14th Century, during which Scottish troops attacked the ferry near Brockholes and burned down Samlesbury church.

Since the Brockholes estate was split into two by the motorway, in the usual “new road = new development” scenario, the first quarry on the east side has gone ahead, contributing to the further decline of this estate. Now the integrity and character of the site next to Preston is under threat from another proposed gravel quarry, which will destroy most of what remains of the last intact section of this ancient estate. See our post Concrete, Concrete Everywhere

The Birds and the Bees.
Whilst the existing quarry is proving a draw to river-based birds, it is at the expense of the farmland birds and other animal species which have had their habitats depleted as a result.

Lower Brockholes supports a diverse ecosystem, at the top of the food chain are its Birds of Prey such as Hobby, Buzzards, Barn Owls, and Kestrels. Barn Owls, Hobby and Buzzards rely on the open farmland interspersed with mature trees, and all these birds between them feed on the insects, small birds, and small mammals which are abundantly supported here.

The farmland birds species at Lower Brockholes include Tree and House Sparrows, on the RSPB Red List of species currently in serious decline, and who rely on open farmland with free standing trees and hedgerows; Starlings, also on the RSPB Red List, favour arable fields and pasture, open woodland and hedgerows (and the flock which inhabits this area has itself been reducing in number over recent years); Swifts, House Martins and Swallows – Swallows are on the RSPB Amber list as these birds are in decline and also favour open pasture and traditional farmland near water; both Willow Warbler and Sedge Warbler, favouring hedgerows and tangled undergrowth and scrubland near water; both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Green Woodpeckers specifically favour farmland and open woodland; and Heron are amongst a number of river-based birds who also feed or breed on this farmland.

Starlings at Lower Brockholes this summer.

There are numerous bats, mice, voles, shrews, and other mammals, between them relying on the mature trees, hedgerows, grassland, and the insects, seeds and berries they find there.

The significance of the ongoing depletion of insects is finally being realised (see ), and the countless species supporting the ecosystem here include various species of bees, butterflies and moths, beetles and flies, some of which are also under threat nationally (see ).

Hedgerows, mature trees, mixed grasslands, wildflowers, and streams ensure this historic farmland offers a diverse habitat to our native bird, animal, and insect species...

Flood Defences.
Lower Brockholes is also on the Ribble floodplain, and just as Coastal Saltmarsh provides effective flood protection for coastal areas from exceptionally high tides and sea level rises, green belt land on floodplains provide a safety area during heavy rains and high tides, absorbing and holding a significant amount of water both on and beneath the surface of the land and as such, a lake here instead of farmland will contribute to the already “significant flood risk” (Environment Agency) to communities on the Ribble floodplain.
A lake here could affect the water table in the area in the long term, particularly if added to a permanently raised river level if the Ribble barrage is ever built, potentially contributing to higher water levels across the rest of this floodplain area, putting local housing – including the Grade II listed 17th Century Lower Brockholes farmhouse - at risk as well as decreasing the area’s capacity to deal with high rainfall and river flooding.

Riverworks, The Ribble Barrage, and Brockholes.
The lake this quarry will leave is intended to complement the Riverworks barrage scheme as the contractors, Hargreave Ash Marketing Ltd, claim ‘the site is able to offer Lancashire an additional recreational or nature conservation facility that will contribute positively to the aims of Preston City Council’s “Riverworks” Project… centred on the development of a River Ribble barrage that will maintain a constant water level and provide an environment attractive to inward investors’ (Non-Technical Summary ).

They suggest this lake may be used for fishing – although there is something horribly farcical in promoting the creation of a fishing lake achieved by extracting the gravel to build the barrage which will put the Ribble’s fish species at risk…!

Preston City Council’s “Riverworks” document for the Riverside East development (document 05) which states the intention for East Preston is to establish ‘a major outdoor leisure resource’ which will include riverside ‘connection with the former Brockholes Quarry site’, and ‘will offer water-based recreation pursuits, enabled and supported by the barrage’ (Riverworks “Riverside East” 05).

Yes, fishing is popular… but is it the ‘major’ draw to Brockholes PCC are suggesting…? Or are we looking at a potential water-sports facility here…? Once the lake exists, who is to say we won’t then see an application to run a water-sports leisure complex here, or build a marina…?

Regardless of its final use, destroying a significant section of ancient farmland habitat to create a quarry and lake will cause adverse environmental impact, both immediately and in the long term.

When aggregate is needed for appropriate developments, surely all contractors should be forced to follow the example of the enlightened few and ease the constant pressure on our natural resources by using recycled aggregate for new building projects rather than continue to destroy our ever-depleting green belt by quarrying for our limited resource of primary aggregates?

Another gravel quarry at Lower Brockholes would destroy a significant section of ancient traditional farmland and green belt which contributes to the ecosystem of the broader area, contributes a valuable local amenity and flood defence, and is an important remaining piece of our local and national heritage which should be preserved.

Click to view the Hargreaves Ash Brockholes Quarry Planning Application and map of the proposed quarry site.
Any objections to this Planning Application should be with Jonathan Haine, Planning Officer, Lancashire County Council Environment Directorate, Guild House, Cross St, Preston PR1 8RD by 8th August.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Pictures, Poems and Songs From the Riverbank

These photographs and the drawing are by a local child with autism who loves this area, and finds walking here with family, and taking photographs of the birds, the river and the trees, very therapeutic...

I's Castle through the trees.

I's Birds.

Save the birds!
Thanks to "I" and mum for sending these in for the blog!

We've received a number of emails and messages from people from all over the world, the following is from Jonathan in France... Salut Jonathan!
'One of my favoured poems is "September 1 1939 " by W H Auden which has guided me and which was pointed out to me by a teacher at school-he wrote it in New York 1939 about his feelings about the coming Nazi darkness. My French understanding is probably different but I get the message. The darkness is now not Nazi but ourselves with our capitalist Happiness.
The final verse:

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

Let us all be up to these these signal makers on all Fragrances and frequencies. Or at least try.
I was a student at Preston at the university of Central Lancashire in 2003. I am French. Excuse my English if you can for it goes bad when I am not in England. I enjoyed the stay in Preston and made many Gentle friends. I was told it is the Northern Happiness you have there. I think about your town and Lancashire a lot.
I looked the internet recently to find out the town information and was unhappy to see that the area I walked through was going to be built on for the development and houses. I walked and cycled there when having to the difficult time with my studies to help me think. It settled my mind away from the urban. That countryside was near my student house and from the bridges and the trees by the Tram Road I found very beautiful. It reminded me of the town near my own town that is called Argenteuil. Monet, he painted the bridges when they were countryside but now it is not Gentle like your side of river. We have urban problems for their light drugs and driving Joy cars that are burnt-out by the riverside. I think about it a lot more. Flowers in those Preston fields were so Gentle in the warm Spring day.The cows were good near the town.
I looked at your good website and have decided to send you my song to protest.
Music is my passion and my belief. It changes hearts. We now protest a lot more in my France to change society that we do not like. We have to fight "the Suits" who make all grey for money and take joy. This music of hurt people is my passion and again my belief.
Please listen to my song a 'Trashing A Monet' that I written to protest at the building near the Ribble river.My good friend Maxime helped. I hope it changes some hearts!!! It is my gift to help.
Bonne Chance !’
Jonathan Penetti

Trashing A Monet

They will trash Monet
They will steal beauty

Why do we pave paradise?
Turn it to Concrete,
Green places beautiful,
To my heart sweet,
I hear the business man wants,
A place like that,
Near where I was a student,
I lived in a flat,
I was taken by the place,
I went to walk there for the quiet,
I escaped the city pace,
Flew my soul as a kite,
It was beautifully England,
Down by Ribble river,
In its morning mists,
I enjoyed the Winter!
Now the song of its birds,
Will be run over,
By a blind man,
In a bulldozer.

Busy City at my back,
I walked across the bridges,
Into the silence,
In the nature so rich,
That It could be painted,
by the Impressionist,
Also tainted,
By the industrialist,
And found as I walked,
In the green so kind,
It was time to take,
The sadness off my mind,
We all need open space,
To ease the heart pain,
The Ribble was beautiful,
In November rains,
The money mad world,
My soul drains,
To watch the Ribble hurl,
I felt my soul regain.

This situation
Is the microcosm
Of the Earth’s peril
We must save her.

In this life we have a choice,
To turn away the head,
Or use the strong voice,
To say something said,
About a place so sweet,
For Ribble-Land
They will drown it in concrete,
They will pave paradise,
To the green tree tunnel
It will be 'Au revoir'
To be left with the housing scar,
All will be left with,
Is memories,
You sad where you live,
I sad overseas,
So I am rousing,
People in my song,
To say the new housing,
By the Ribble it is wrong,

Please don't touch, businessman,
Don't come again,
Any day,
You take beauty,
Throw it away,
Like trashing,
A Monet!

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Riverworks Snubbed By Lottery

This report, on the failure of Preston City Council's bid to get money from the National Lottery to fund a feasibility study into their Riverworks Proposals, was published in yesterday's 'Lancashire Evening Post'.

Readers of the 'Save The Ribble' blog already learned about this news from this report on 16th June.

Lots of council officer time and council tax payers money was spent preparing this failed bid. The bid failed because the council had failed to consult local people in the design of these ideas, and because local people found so much to object to in the Riverworks proposals - the Ribble barrage that would do terrible damage to an internationally protected environment and the terrible housing proposals - to build over 4000 houses and businesses on 3 different sets of football pitches - at Penwortham Holme, Vernons and Frenchwood, and over local people's allotments and on land that is both beautiful green belt and in the Ribble flood plain.

Local people are angry at the devious language of the council - suggesting that building over our sports fields and allotments somehow 'expands our range of leisure options'.

We hope this setback for the council will make our democratically elected representatives start asking some searching questions about Riverworks - this project has been over-hyped and under-scrutinised.

Council Officers and Leaders seem determined to press ahead with these proposals despite the objections of local people and the fact that the lottery would not touch them with a bargepole - we have argued that these proposals are being driven by the potential profits of developers, rather than the wishes or needs of local people.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Children's Colouring Competition

Here's something for all the children that love their local river!

Click on this picture and print it off. All your child has to do is colour it in, then send it to our P.O. Box address:

Save The Ribble Campaign
PO Box 1104

We will scan the winning entries and post them up on this blog!

NOTE (Added 6th July 2007) A few people have had trouble printing off the picture - We will accept pictures that children have designed themselves as entries too!

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