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.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Allotments gaining in popularity

The BBC News magazine has recently reported on the increasingly popularity of allotments, which in some areas have 10 year waiting lists. There is now a new breed of allotment enthusiast – more likely to be young, female and bringing the children along.

In Penwortham this trend is also apparent. On the plots near to my own 5 are rented by young women, although we still have many older men and couples that are happy to help with advice and expertise.



Claire Willis of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) says ‘ Its becoming much more of a community activity’

Allotments are also being used to improve health – with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers running “Green Gyms” where gardening skills are used as a form of exercise. In Penwortham there are plans for the council to adopt an allotment and use it to help educate secondary school children about the environment, food and health.

But in spite of their growing popularity and valued place in society the future for allotments remains uncertain. Allotments have protected status, and a spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government is quoted in the BBC report as saying it aims “to deliver and protect allotments” and that “planning policy guidance is clear that new housing development should not be at the expense of losing recreational open space”

But it still can be a struggle to save the land from development. NSALG’s Claire Willis says ‘People pay lip service to wanting green space – but with the building programme going on at the moment, it looks as though we wont stop until everything is concreted over’

From BBC News Magazine at Can You Dig It?

Previous articles on the Riverworks threat to local allotments:
Weekend on the Allotment
Tales From the Riverbank and Local Allotments
Allotments - Ten Reasons Why Preston City Council Should Not Build Over Them

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Worldwide Blog Coverage For "Save The Ribble"

The 'Save The Ribble' blog has had a big impact since we started it 4 months ago, and not just in the corridoors and smoke filled rooms of Preston Town Hall.

Bloggers all over the world are interested in our technique of using blogging to publicise our campaign. They are inspired by the beauty of the River Ribble, and by the commitment displayed by local people to keeping its banks green and beautiful, its mudflats a muddy paradise for wading birds and other wildlife and the tidal flow of the river unimpeded as it goes down to the sea.

See 'Trashing a Monet' below

Here are a few of the 98 (so far) blogs that have recently linked to the 'Save The Ribble' Campaign:

Jane Perrone at Horticultural is an allotment keeper who was interested in our report on the Penwortham Holme Allotments

Jane writes:
I've been meaning to write about this blog for ages - it's a campaign to save the beauty of the River Ribble in Preston from a "development" (I use the word with heavy irony) scheme. The plan includes the rather wonderful sounding Penwortham Holme allotments that are packed full of wildlife and are situated close to the river.

There are loads of reasons why these plots should be saved - not least because there have been allotments there since 1913, and because the land is a natural flood defence.


The same article was covered by The Joyful Gardener

Camden Kiwi is a 'Green blogger' who hosted the recent Fortieth Edition of the Carnival of the Green where she linked to our article A guide to the pro-Ribble response to the Preston Riverworks Proposals.

The Carnival of Community Campaigns at Humantide covers the question Will Ribbleside residents voices be heard?

The Owners Manual links to our post Tales from the Riverbank

Railbridge at high tide from Avenham & Miller Park


Random Thoughts Notes and Incidents covers our report on the Riverworks Housing Sums that don't add up in the Second Edition of the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy

a development going into an environmentally sensitive area where all local government agrees there is an "over-supply" of housing.




More of our coverage of Preston City Council Politics is linked to by The Disillusioned Kid who hosts the 42nd Carnival of the Green which features our report on The Vague Promises of Preston Riversway Councillors

The 'Dave's Not Here' Blog covers our Ribble Pub Debate Primer at His Showcase Carnival

The Carnival of Socialism covers our Letter To Local Councillors this is what they said about the letter:

Save the Ribble gives a clear example of local activism. a sample letter to city councillors ... explains the issue and also serves as a model for how to affect concrete change at the local level.


Even pagans are linking to us: the Carnival of Paganism picked up our report Sikh's Seek Ribble Funeral Permission, the same article being linked to by the "North West Enquirer's" North West Blogwatch which keeps an eye on many of the best Blogs from the North West of England.

The poetry posted on these pages has caused ripples too: The Carnival of Part Time Poets featuring the excellent pro-Ribble poem 'Trashing a Monet' The French Poet, Jonathon Penetti warns;
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,


The full poem is here: Pictures, Poems and Songs from the Riverbank



I have to mention here the excellent page of beautiful Ribble Photographs put together and posted at www.angst.org.uk - I am inspired every time I look at them.

There are so many blogs linking to us, that many have been left out here - we appreciate every link that we get, as it helps us reach new supporters and build our campaign - if you have a blog or a website, why not put up a link to our site?

UPDATE 6th September


The Westmorland Gazette has recommended 'Save The Ribble' as a good site for people thinking about which university to choose - we hope plenty of Cumbrian students decide to support our campaign as a result!

UPDATE 27th October


Birdwatchers, twitchers and avian enthusiasts of all kinds have noticed our blog, and included it in the 'I and The Bird' Blog Carnival at Migrations a blog by a biologist with a special interest in avifauna.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Saving Iceland

The 'Save The River Ribble Campaign' received an important email today from Iceland.

Just as we, who live by the Ribble are resisting proposals to put a barrage across our River, that would cause untold damage to our environment (including the 250.000 birds living in the Ribble Estuary), and raise the risk of flooding to those of us living near the area where the water level would be permanently raised to become a 'water sports park' for jet-skiing yuppies, the people of Iceland are resisting plans to build a set of dams in the eastern highlands to power US owned ALCOA aluminium smelting plant which is being built in the beautiful Reydarfjordur fjord on the eastern coast.


Here is the Guardian Report on the plans which states:
"Environmentalists in Iceland and abroad have looked on in disbelief as the project has proceeded, sidestepping one obstacle after another, driven by a government seemingly determined to push it through, whatever the cost to nature or the economy"


This is the kind of beautiful landscape that would be destroyed if the project is allowed to go ahead, in one of the world's last true wildernesses:
langsisjor

"Incredibly, some areas earmarked for destruction - such as Kringilsárrani and Thjórsárver in the southern highlands - are protected under Icelandic and international law. All are of outstanding natural beauty and their unique botanical, geological, biological and ecological characteristics are of universal scientific importance."


Save The Ribble campaigners will be watching developments in Iceland closely, including the innovative and determined tactics used by local Icelandic campaigners, and their international allies, to prevent this dam from proceeding.

Icelandic Government officials have described the Kárahnjúkar area as 'only gravel and sand', just as officials in Preston City Council have described the River Ribble area as 'bleak, barren and underdeveloped'

Find out more about the Icelandic Campaign from: Saving Iceland

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Fishwick Bottoms - aiming for Local Nature Reserve status!



Fishwick Bottoms is one of our green spaces alongside the Ribble in Preston which offers local residents vital space to breathe, and The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and N. Merseyside are aiming for a significant part of this diverse countryside habitat to attain Local Nature Reserve status.

Fishwick Bottoms has been recognised as locally significant for wildlife in the 1992 Preston Wildlife Survey and consultation with the local community is currently underway regarding its future management when the site is designated as an LNR.
See The Wildlife Trust , who are working alongside Lancashire County Council , English Nature, and other organisations on this project.

Preston City Council are also involved - presumably not the department who have earmarked Fishwick Bottoms as ripe for building development as part of the Riverworks Project (Document 05: Riverside East) as here Fishwick Bottoms is envisaged as having 'commercial office uses' and 'residential development' alongside the more positive uses for this green space. Riverworks also aims to concretise the wildife-important riverbanks all along Fishwick Bottoms to Lower Brockholes, for boat moorings.

As Lancashire County Council recognise, 'the natural escarpment of the site is mainly woodland and shrubs, whilst the floodplain area is part scrub, swamp, grassland and wildflower meadow', and as such, offers diverse wildlife habitats and recreation for local people.

LCC claim the proposed Local Nature Reserve (LNR) area to the North of the Fishwick Bottoms site (parts of the Western area is already a designated LNR) will offer many benefits: 'As an LNR the site will be managed for use by both people and wildlife. The site will offer an opportunity for people to study and learn about nature as well as enjoy it. There are over 1,000 LNRs in England including former landfill sites like Fishwick. LNRs make an important contribution to biodiversity.

Wildlife management of the site will involve woodland management, protection of veteran trees, scrub removal and removal of invasive species like Japanese Knotweed. Where necessary new planting will be introduced to enhance habitats and encourage biodiversity. A wetland area is proposed for the Fishwick Terrace Swamp area. Other measures to enhance the wildlife habitat will include the introduction of bat boxes and improvements to drainage ditches to encourage water vole habitats.

The management of the site as an LNR will also involve the opening up of the site for public access. New pathways into the site are proposed which will allow access into the site from most directions. Existing access points include steps from Brockholes View and informal access from Fishwick Bottoms. Trodden paths have been created into the site from Walton View and Watery Lane. The exact route of the new pathways will be subject to public consultation and ecological advice'.

The Wildlife Trust are instigating the development of Fishwick Bottoms as an LNR (which will be considered for official designation by English Nature) and are currently consulting local residents about these plans. As the LNR designation is running alongside the development of an athletics track on the Western side, there are some concerns about noise from the tannoy system and traffic problems, but over 90% of local residents are strongly in favour of protecting wildlife and habitats at Fishwick Bottoms.

The final consultation sesssion is being held by The Wildlife Trust on Thursday 24th August at the YMCA on Samuel Street, Preston, 6-9pm. Come along and support Fishwick Bottoms as your newest Local Nature Reserve!

Let us know what you think - contact savetheribble@tiscali.co.uk

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Riversway Councillors Make Vague Promises of Riverworks Consultation

Preston Riversway's three Labour Councillors, Linda Crompton, Jack Davenport and Bhikhu Patel have issued a statement about a consultation they are planning on the Riverworks proposals.

The statement comes in the Summer 2006 edition of the 'Riversway Labour Rose', and is titled "Riverworks: Residents To Get Their Say".

In their statement they say "Not all the ideas may be appropriate to this area" and that "many of the ideas look promising, while others seem barely feasible".

These councillors are right to be beginning to ask questions about the contents of Riverworks, and they have stepped well away from the council's official 'line' that the Riverworks proposals are the best thing since sliced bread, perhaps because so many local people have told them that the ideas stink. But does their statement go far enough?

The full statement is below, with additional comments in italics from 'Riversider' of the 'Save The Ribble' Campaign.


"Riverworks: Residents To Get Their Say".



The issue of the Riverworks proposals has begun to gather interest from residents (concern, incredulity and outrage might be better words to describe how we feel!)

The scheme provides an opportunity for massive improvements along the River Ribble and the Docks area (who says that building over beautiful green belt areas and sports pitches is an improvement?). However not all the ideas may be appropriate to this area. (Which ones - why not be specific about what you are for and what you are against?)

Your Labour Councillors are committed to ensuring that your voice is heard. With this in mind we will begin a consultation programme of our own (good - but when?), independent of anything Preston City Council will do of its own accord (why hasn't Preston City Council even bothered to ask our opinions yet, when they have been promoting the Riverworks proposals for several years now?)

The purpose is to ensure that the development and plans are influenced by residents wishes, to avoid the difficulties that often come with major developments when they are proposed.(This is what Save The Ribble wants too - but we need to start sooner rather than later - leave things too late and there will too much money and power behind the proposals for local voices to make a difference)

Many of the ideas suggested look promising while others look barely feasible (which ones?). We are awaiting a deliverability survey (which will cost how much of council tax payers money?) and only then will we be able to consider any form of consultation. (why can you not find out and represent our views now?). This consultation will come as soon as possible, so we ask that you be patient.


This statement is far too vague from people who are responsible for representing the interests of the people of this area.

The ideas in the Riverworks proposals have been published and in the public domain for long enough for intelligent public representatives to start scrutinising the details, forming their opinions and explaining them to their electors.

Ideas such as; a barrage that would raise the river level to permanently high tide levels, turning the Ribble into a water sports park, building 4000 houses on the greenbelt land that lines the Ribble's banks, developing housing estates over our local sports pitches like Penwortham Holme, Vernons and Frenchwood Rec, and over our local allotments would all have a direct impact on people who live in the Broadgate and Riversway area (and on people of many other areas up and down the Ribble - who will be consulting them?).

It is not much to ask that our councillors should be able to express a clear opinion on these matters, one way or the other - that is what democratic accountability and leadership is all about - local councillors have had the courage to begin to think independently from the council leadership and to admit that some of the major proposals are 'not appropriate for our area' - now they must draw some conclusions from this thinking, rather than asking us to wait till later to tell them how much these proposals stink.

'Save The Ribble' says that spending our money on 'deliverability' surveys for development ideas that we do not want is wasting our money - we are glad that councillors are beginning to start listening to their constituents, but feel they should be prepared to tie their colours to the mast, rather than fobbing us off and telling us to 'be patient', while developers' money, power and momentum gathers all the time behind the Riverworks ideas.

Why should we be patient, when the leadership of the council is promoting policies that would be so disastrous for our area, and for the ecology of our river, and is already spending our money on pursuing these policies?

The leadership of the council seems intent on pushing through policies that are driven by profit opportunities for developers rather than the interests of local people or our environment - where do our local councillors stand on this?

While consultation is vital, Vague statements promising consultation at some undetermined time in the future are nowhere near enough...


We invite the Riversway Councillors, and any other councillors or residents of areas affected by Riverworks to get in touch with the Save The Ribble Campaign, we will be happy to provide you with information on the Riverworks barrage and housing proposals and their potential consequences for local people and the environment, and to work with you in opposing them.


See also:

Will Ribbleside Residents Voices Be Heard?

Riverworks: Pub Debate Primer

Threat To Frenchwood Recreation Ground

Allotments: 10 Reasons Why Preston City Council Should Not Build Over Them

City Councillor Promises That Residents Will Be Consulted

Residents Concerns for The Environment and Loss of Quality of Life

and

The Dangers of the Riverworks Barrage and Flood Plain Housing Proposals

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bicycology Roadshow - Break the Cycle of Pollution!

Here's a big event for all those people who love to cycle along the banks of the Ribble:

The Bicycology Roadshow is arriving in Lancaster (having cycled from London) on Friday the 25th of August!

A big event for cyclists and non-cyclists alike! You don't even need to wear lycra shorts!

You can see them in Market Square from 10 until 4 (if it rains too much you will find them in the Friend's Meeting House-next to train station), with a wide range of information and entertainment.

'Dr. Bike' is there ready to provide therapy to your ailing bike, and whilst you're waiting, you can relax in the bicycology tandem-couch for a bit of Cycle-Analysis.

You should also get the chance to Watch films about bikes and the environment, play around with some pedal powered gadgets, decorate your bike, check out alternative energy supplies and sound-system.

Take a crash course in becoming a Bicycologist, and you could win yourself some wonderful bike specs, a badge, a puncture repair kit...or even a bike!
There's something for everyone, so bring kids along!!

In the evening there is an event upstairs at the Gregson - come along for more films, music, quizzes...and help celebrate the end of the bicycle tour.

Bicycology is a collective formed by riders who wanted to build on their shared experience of the 2005 G8 Bike Ride and organise future events of a similar nature.
Using creative methods to encourage environmental responsibilty.
Promoting cycling as a healthy, practical and enjoyable to high-carbon lifestyles.

I think I'll be putting on my trouser clips and pedalling over...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sikhs Seek Ribble Funeral Permission

Sikhs are currently seeking permission to use the River Ribble as a place to scatter the ashes of their departed loved ones.

The Sikhs concerned have clearly responded to the quiet beauty of the river - the lush greenery that lines its banks helps people feel directly connected to nature, as do the tides, that echo the ebb and flow of life itself.

A peaceful last resting place?

The Ribble is a place that has been seen as sacred by local people for thousands of years - the name of the river itself comes from the name of the ancient Celtic Goddess Reigh Belisama.

Belisama

In earlier posts we have pointed out the significance of the Ribble to other religious groups, such as The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who regularly visit the site of the first Mormon baptisms in Britain - a site that would be submerged if the barrage that is being promoted so vigorously by some elements in Preston City Council were to be built.

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



Charanjit Singh Heera explained why Sikhism favours rivers as a place for the departed person's ashes in today's Daily Mirror: "We believe people should be put back into the water as all water flows as one. We would love a place to say our goodbyes."

A Sikh funeral in India

People who follow the Sikh religion simply wish to scatter the ashes of their departed in the river following Cremation, in a quiet respectful ceremony perfectly in keeping with the natural surroundings. This seems a very appropriate way to use our beautiful river, and, if permission is granted, I am sure that many people of many other religions (as well as atheists and humanists who love nature too!) will also be requesting that their ashes be scattered in the Ribble.

It is certainly a far more appropriate and sustainable way to use the river than to turn it into a playground for speedboats and jetskis - as suggested in the Riverworks proposals.

Link to Times of India Article

Link to article on Sikh Religious Philosophy

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Preston Riverworks - A Guide to the Pro-Ribble Response

The 'Save the Ribble' Blog was launched over 4 months ago, in response to Preston City Council's 'Riverworks' proposals. Ordinary people from across Preston, Penwortham, South Ribble and the towns and villages that line our beautiful River Ribble were angered at the dangerous ideas contained in these proposals - including the idea of putting a barrage across the Ribble that would raise its level to permanent high-tide, and the idea of building over 4000 houses in the River's flood plain, over land that is currently used for farming, allotments and football fields.



Since the blog was launched we have had a far better response than we could have imagined, with thousands of people visiting our site - over 6000 'hits' since we started counting them in the middle of May.

We have posted over 50 posts in total, and have received numerous comments, poems, stories and photographs from pro-river readers.

This post is intended to guide you through some of the most important posts on this blog - offering quick access to some of the key arguments against the Riverworks ideas.

Flood Risk

When we first launched, we were concerned to show the threat that some of the Riverworks ideas posed to local people and the environment - the increased dangers of flooding to local housing, for example, where we published this map from the Environment Agency showing the extent of the Ribble Floodplain in the area suggested by Riverworks for house-building:
















Here's a picture taken on March 28th 2006 of the Ribble in Penwortham, breaking its banks after heavy rain.

If a barrage is built, the River level will be permanently higher. Instead of being regularly 'flushed' through by the rivers' tidal action, silts will gather behind the barrage and will progressively accumulate on the River bed - reducing the capacity of the River and its ability to deal with heavy rains.

Rainfall run-off will also increase if thousands of new houses are built on this floodplain, and a permanently high river level will cause groundwater to rise beneath both new and existing homes.

Consultation

In Riverworks Proposals - The Story So Far we pointed out that


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

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


Four months since we raised these objections - and several years since the Riverworks ideas were first mooted, local residents and environmental organisations have still not seen any form of consultation - are we to wait until there is so much developers money behind these proposals that they are a foregone conclusion, and then have a tokenistic consultation where local people are asked for their views which are subsequently ignored?

In an effort to raise the issues among local councillors we sent out this Letter to local councillors which we emailed to members of South Ribble, Preston, and Lancashire County Councils (plus a few others).

In it we said:
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.


We have continued putting forward calls for open, democratic consultation, rather than small cabals cooking up plans for Preston behind closed doors, most recently in Will Ribbleside residents voices be heard?

Football Pitches and Sports Fields

Football pitches and sports fields earmarked in the Riverworks Composite Masterplan to have housing and business built over them include Penwortham Holme, Fishwick Bottoms, Vernons and Frenchwood Recreation Ground


Preston City Council's Composite Masterplan, republished on the blogsite on Views from the Riverbank of a Genuinely Sustainable Future, shows that land north of the river, in Preston itself, is being considered for development. If you look closely at the Taylor Young plan you can see the orange "New housing" area covering most of Frenchwood Recreation Ground from close to the Old Tram Bridge to the Esplanade.

Development here would not only destroy a fine green space below Frenchwood Knoll but it would build over very popular playing fields used by amateur league soccer teams. This is at a time when greater participation in sport is being encouraged for health reasons by Sport England; when the UK is to host the Olympics in 2012; when many health workers and parents are concerned about child (and adult) obesity; and in Preston, the home of the National Football Museum. The increase in traffic along the Boulevard and Malvern Avenue to the new estate would mean more congestion and accidents at the bottleneck junction of London Road and Ashworth Grove (unless the riverside path is opened up for car traffic through Avenham Park? I guess nothing is sacred in Riverworks).


More on the threat to local football pitches here: Football Pitches and Sports Grounds At Risk From Riverworks

Allotments

We have had a lot to say in defence of our local allotments!

In Weekend on the Allotment 'Allotment Plotter' points out

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

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


In Further Tales and Pictures from the RIverbank and Allotments Elaine, another local allotment keeper points out:

'I am seriously concerned that the proposed development threatens our allotment site. At 139 plots Penwortham Holme West is one of the largest allotment sites in Preston and also one of the oldest. There has been allotments on this site since circa 1913. Our site has a rich and valuable heritage and history. And it is not just Penwortham Holme West which would be affected but the allotment site at Penwortham Holme East as well.

The health and social benefits of allotments and of gardening and growing your own vegetables are well known. Promotion of these benefits has finally being given support and is being widely advertised by government, local and health authorities. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has endorsed its support of allotment gardening and provision of allotment sites. Thanks to short-sited and commercially orientated decisions of many of our local authorities and the depredations of property developers many allotment sites have been sold off and built on. Once these sites go they are lost forever. Currently there is a national shortage of allotments and increased awareness of the value of sites.


We also put forward a list of Ten Reasons Why Preston City Council Should Not Build Over Our Allotments.

Housing




It is very contradictory that the Riverworks proposals should put forward the idea of building 4000 new houses, at a time when both Preston and South Ribble councils say they have a 'surplus' of housing in their areas. We explore this contradiction further in Riverworks - The Housing Sums That Don't Add Up.

Lets get this straight - Preston City Council think there is 'enough' housing in Preston, and South Ribble Council think there is an 'oversupply' of housing in South Ribble - so why on earth do the Riverworks proposals suggest building 4000 houses?

Where exactly did these ideas come from? These housing proposals are clearly neither wanted, nor needed, by Preston residents, so how did they come to be included in Riverworks? Who suggested it, and why is the council spending money on feasibility studies, and asking for much more money from the national lottery to push these ideas forward?

The Save The Ribble campaign will be working hard to find out the answers to these questions.

One thing is clear, the Riverworks housing and barrage proposals are ideas that are being driven by the potential profits of developers, rather than by the wishes or needs of residents of Preston and South Ribble

Mud and Silts

Much of the argument about the barrage is concerned with the behaviour of River water, the carriage of silts and their importance to the birdlife of the Ribble Estuary, and the interaction between tides, rainwater, marshes and mudflats - a precious balance that nourishes wildlife and protects us from floods.



Mudflats and Saltmarsh Vital Habitats and Flood Defences explains these crucial environmental issues, that Preston City Council and their developer friends have failed to understand. (Why let the facts get in the way of a profitable opportunity?)

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.




Residents Views

It has always been important for us to turn our blog into a forum where local people can post their opinions - so often ordinary people are ignored by councils and media in favour of the wealthy and powerful development companies - blogging is a way to counteract this, and make local people's voices more potent. We know our blog is minutely scrutinised by some people in Preston Town Hall - so your views go directly to the decision makers.

Examples of posts where we have gathered together local people's views include:

Local People Who Care about the River Ribble and Local Councils Who Don't
Residents Concerns for the Environment and Quality Of Life
Residents Continue to Voice Concerns about Riverworks
Tales from the Riverbank
More Tales from the Riverbank and
Views from the Riverbank for a Genuinely Sustainable Future

Debating Tools

There are a few ideas and myths floating round about Riverworks - that we debunk in Riverworks - Pub Debate Primer We hope that anyone that reads this will be able to argue the pro-river case in any beer-fuelled pub conversation!

I have only pointed out a few of the really interesting and informative posts you can find on this blog - perhaps you have a personal favourite that you think I should have included - if so post about it below!

There are as many reasons to save the ribble from these Riverworks ideas as there are people who love their local river, who appreciate wildlife and who are concerned about keeping their houses safe from flooding - we want more of your opinions, ideas and arguments so that our blog continues to represent your views and to build the movement against the Riverworks ideas.

PS You can now download our window poster direct from this blog.

Just click on the image below, then print out your result.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Deliberate Pollution of Ribble Continues

The pollution incident we reported yesterday has been compounded with a second, disastrous discharge, probably from a reckless tanker driver who has poured cooking oil, raw batter and detergent into a drain on the A59 at Smithies Bridge near Chatburn. The pollution continued into Swanside Beck near Sawley and has killed thousands of Ribble fish and other aquatic life.

Click here for the full report from Clitheroe Today

Mr Fred Higham, chairman of Ribblesdale Angling Association and pollution officer for Ribble Fisheries Consultative described the incident as the "worst deliberate act of pollution" he had ever witnessed.
"Not only fish have been lost, but undoubtedly much aquatic river life has also been wiped out. It breaks my heart when I see crows ripping into dying fish."
The latest pollution incident comes three weeks after an unknown substance was leaked into Barrow Brook, killing hundreds of trout, eels and other fish and insects. At the time, someone illegally emptied a tanker into a road drain on the A59 – about 300 yards north of the A671 roundabout – which caused the deadly pollution in the waterway.


Link to photograph at Keeper's Blog of the effects of the pollution on fish stocks

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Pollution Incident At the River Ribble Below Clitheroe

Ian Fleming at Keeper's Blog has reported this Pollution incident in the River Ribble.
He reports how the pollution passed down the river from the bridge near Grindleton, and on finding high numbers of dead salmon and sea trout at the bridge near Brungerley.

He is grateful to the Environment Agency, the Ribble Fisheries Association and the Manchester Anglers for their work on monitoring and mitigating this event:

The EA together with the RFCA are monitoring the situation and doing what is necessary to minimise the impact of these incidents and we owe a debt of thanks particularly to David Hinks RFCA Chair and MAA member and his colleagues for all the time they have spent on this.


In a later post on his blog, he gives the official tally for the environmental casualties of this single incident:
!
the less good news is the number of fish deaths. So far the tally is:

3 eels
457 brown trout (5oz to 2lb) mostly breeding age
102 sea trout (majority 4 to 8lb but some 14lb)
16 salmon (12 to 14lb)
129 salmon parr
15 grayling (1 to 1.5lb)


If you have spotted dead fish or birds in the Ribble, or know anything more about this, or other pollution incidents, please tell us here, and make sure you also tell the Environment Agency, on their incident hotline: 0800 807060.

Let's unite together to protect our river

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