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, December 28, 2006

Brockholes Target Reached!

A HUGE THANKS to all contributors to the Wildlife Trust Brockholes Wetland Appeal as you ensured the Wildlife Trust raised the £50,000 needed to release a further £1.5 million to purchase and improve this vital wildlife habitat!
The Wildlife Trust are now trying to purchase Brockholes Wetland, to turn this fantastic area into a Nature Reserve, and we will keep you up-to-date with progress... You can find out more at the Wildlife Trust's website.

The enormous success of this appeal shows that ordinary people do have a voice and the power to influence what happens in their local environment.

PLEASE SEE THE ARTICLE BELOW FOR HOW YOU CAN MAKE YOUR VIEWS KNOWN ABOUT YOUR ENVIRONMENT, AND HOW YOU CAN HELP PROTECT THE RIVER RIBBLE AND OUR GREEN SPACES OVER THE C0MING YEARS, helping to ensure that new developments are appropriate developments, sustainable developments, and ensure they only take place in appropriate places!
And a very Happy New Year to all of you!

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Register YOUR Local Green Spaces NOW to Protect them from Development!

YOU are being asked to submit ideas for land which can be utilised in forthcoming developments for the next decade or so - INCLUDING land which you want to PROTECT FROM DEVELOPMENT!

Local residents can submit recommendations to protect land as well as develop it, and you can submit the details about your open spaces - green fields, parks, play areas, allotments, sports pitches and any open space you value - and recommend that these are PROTECTED FROM DEVELOPMENT.

The form has to be returned to the LDF BY 3rd AUGUST however, so don't delay, DO IT TODAY!!

You can find out more details about this part of the LDF consultation HERE;

You can download the form to be completed here - DOWNLOAD NUMBER 11, and send it FREEPOST to:

“FREEPOST Central Lancashire City LDF”

If you want to know more about why our Open Spaces are so important, see Planning Policy Guidance 17 - Sports, Open Space and Recreation for more information.

More Details about the LDF are here and below:

Chorley, Preston and South Ribble Councils are 'working together on big planning issues' a phrase which suggests their discussions will include such major development issues as a Ribble Barrage and large housing developments in it's floodplain. They aim to develop a core strategy for their Local Development Frameworks.



They have called this joint planning initiative the 'The Central Lancashire City'.

This is a choice of name which in itself suggests that the priorities of this initiative are to do with urbanising and commercialising rather than defending our environment or our valuable green spaces and community facilities.

It also implies that the partnership may be rather unequal, with the leaders of the City of Preston's priorities taking precedence over those of people in the towns and villages of Chorley and South Ribble - which look as if they are destined, in the minds of our council leaderships at least, to become mere suburbs of some great Central Lancashire conurbation, centering on Preston.

If you find this vision to be totally the wrong road for our beautiful area, then it is very important that local people who want to keep it beautiful and green to get involved in the LDF Consultations which are running periodically for the next few years.

This is an excellent opportunity for local people to tell their councils that they do not want 'expansion and growth at any price': - that there are parts of our beautiful countryside, and living green areas near our towns and cities that are too valued by local people to be handed over to greedy developers, and that our River Ribble is far too precious an environmental resource to be tamed and turned into a sterile playground for jetskiers.

You can email consultation@centrallancscity.org.uk

or phone 01772 625384 if you have any queries about the LDF.

or you can visit the Central Lancashire City Website at http://www.centrallancscity.org.uk/index.asp

Contact us at savetheribble@tiscali.co.uk

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Riversway Riverworks Consultation - Ignoring the Questions That Most Concern Residents

The Labour Party in Riversway, a Preston ward that borders the River Ribble has launched a long awaited 'consultation' into one aspect of the Riverworks proposals.

This is clearly a response to the issues raised by the 'Save The Ribble' Campaign and local residents around the dangers of a Ribble Barrage, and of a huge housing development in the Ribble's floodplain.

The councillors admit that
"The development will have a major impact on Preston, in particular on local residents living close to, or even on the River Ribble itself".
They say that
"Your local Labour Councillors will support and only support the views of our constituents. We will do this by presenting you with the facts and letting your views guide us. Contrary to scaremongering from some quarters, no decision has been made yet"

1. The Save The Ribble Campaign has not been 'scaremongering' - all the facts we have presented about Riverworks come from Preston City Council's and the City Vision Boards own publications. We challenge the councillors to find a single post on this blog that asserts that any decision has yet been made. What we are objecting to is that the council is even THINKING about such patently stupid, irresponsible and dangerous ideas as a barrage or a floodplain housing development.

2. The consultation they have released misses the point - it concentrates solely on development proposals for the docks - which were (we are told) the subject matter of the recent pre-feasiblity study undertaken for the Vision Board, and ignores the concerns that are uppermost in local residents minds, about the barrage and the greenbelt housing ideas - instead of addressing these issues, our councillors have skirted round them, promising more consultation at some undetermined point in the future, even though the barrage and the housing proposals are the issues that will obviously have the most "impact on Preston, in particular on local residents living close to, or even on the River Ribble itself".

3. We have NOT been 'presented with the facts' - Save The Ribble asked to see this pre-feasibility study when it was first published weeks and weeks ago - but we were not allowed to see it, even when we used the Freedom of Information Act. The report is still being kept secret from local people (although we have been assured by those that belong to the exclusive group of those the council trusts enough to see it that there is 'nothing contraversial' in it)
We therefore have the farcical situation where local councillors are trying to consult local residents on an issue where we are not even being allowed by the council to read their report concerning the very proposals we are being consulted about!

Nor does the consultation document tell us anything about what is actually being proposed for the docks - we residents are being asked to make our comments entirely in the dark - I am sure if our councillors were asked for their opinion, they would demand the fullest information possible, and find it unacceptable to have such important information withheld from them.

If a more comprehensive consultation on the Riverworks proposals had been published, the council would quickly learn that local people do not want a barrage or a huge housing development in our green belt. They could then save themselves the expense of commissioning any further studies into these aspects of their proposals and put residents minds at rest, by dropping them from the 'Riverworks' package. We wonder whether this is why we have not been asked these questions.

It is nice to be 'consulted' - but next time, give us the information we need, and ask us the right questions, otherwise people will suspect that the consultation exercise is just a PR gimmick.


And if you are one of the tens of thousands of people outside Riversway who would also be subject to the environmental and flood risk consequences of the Riverworks barrage, both up and down the river and find yourself still not included in any consultation, perhaps you should be asking Preston City Council why your views are not being sought.

Update: The Riverworks Consultation in Full (Added 20/12/2006)



Here is page 1 of the Labour Leaflet (click on the picture to see it in full size).

You will notice that it contains glaring inaccuracies about the bid for Unitary Authority Status - it states that the bid is being made jointly with South Ribble Borough Council, even though South Ribble pulled out of this bid over two weeks ago under pressure from local residents. This embarrassing mistake has not prevented our councillors from distributing this misleading leaflet (mine came through my letterbox on the 17th December):




Page 2:
The page that contains the false implication that 'Save the Ribble' has been 'scaremongering' - in fact it is the council's own documents and press releases that have caused concern and consternation to local people. It also contains the promise to give residents full information on the Riverworks proposals (though the leaflet seems remarkably free of any such information, and the most recent document published on these proposals is being kept secret from local people)



Page 3:

Here are the actual questions - which completely ignore the burning questions about the Riverworks Barrage or the idea of building over 4000 houses in the floodplain, they ask us for our comments on the development ideas for the docks, while keeping us completely in the dark about what these ideas actually are (apart from a hint about 'floating platforms' - where are the documents that contain these ideas? When can we see them?).



Our Message To Local Councillors


If our councillors truly want to represent the interests of Riversway residents, then their place is alongside the Save The Ribble Campaign, campaigning against the Floodplain Housing and Ribble Barrage ideas contained in the Riverworks proposals.

The place of anyone who wants to defend the interests of people living alongside the Ribble, or of anyone who loves the birdlife of the Ribble estuary or the ecology of our river is with our campaign.

We will work with ANYONE, even people who in the past have accused us of 'scaremongering' to make sure that the Ribble barrage and floodplain housing ideas never happen.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

5 Days left to SAVE BROCKHOLES!

The Wildlife Trust only have until this Friday, 15th December, to save Brockholes Wetland from development! They have now raised £42,000 of the £50,000 they need but the clock is ticking...

Stuck for an interesting and unusual present for someone you love? Donate to the Brockholes Appeal and your money will directly contribute to saving Wildlife!


And remember, every £10 donated is turned into a massive £300 for the Wildlife Trust under the terms of "match funding"... Every £20 becomes £600!! And EVERY donation is added to the Roll of Honour to be kept on site - a lasting memorial to your generosity or to the person whose name you donation represents!

BUT ACT NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!
See second part of article below for details of how to donate...

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Friday, December 08, 2006

South Ribble say NO to Unitary Merger! And Brockholes Appeal Deadline Approaches

The surprise news of the day is that the merger between Preston and South Ribble Councils is off. South Ribble Borough Council voted last night not to go ahead, after listening to the overwhelming pressure of public opinion.

We can only salute the councillors of South Ribble for being brave enough to admit that they were wrong to support this merger idea, and for representing public opinion by rejecting it.


Without the merger it will be far more difficult for Preston to push ahead its 'Riverworks' ideas, as their advocates will now need to push them through three planning committees instead of just one.

This sudden and unexpected change of heart is an immense blow to Preston City Council’s leaders, who now see their big business inspired ‘expansion and growth at any cost’ agenda overwhelmingly rejected by ordinary people. Suspicion of the ‘Riverworks’ proposals and fear for what they might mean for the greenbelt between Preston and South Ribble was one of several factors that led many people to oppose this merger.

Almost 90% of local residents who responded to South Ribble Borough Council's consultation process REJECTED the potential merger, and for a broad range of reasons.

Save The Ribble Campaign asked several pertinent questions about what a merger and Unitary Status might mean (see 15th October article) for the Ribble and Green Belt areas if the overall control of the River Ribble and its green belt was in the hands of Preston City Council (keen to pursue their Ribble barrage and green belt building developments) rather than shared between themselves, South Ribble Borough Council, and Lancashire County Council, as it is at present.

Save The Ribble Campaign are pleased that local democracy is alive and kicking in South Ribble, the Borough Council clearly listening to residents' concerns.

It is time for Preston City Council to start listening to public opinion too, and be big enough to admit that they were wrong to think about such irresponsible and dangerous ideas as putting a barrage across the Ribble and building over 4000 new houses in its floodplain.

There are lots of lessons here for both Preston City Council and for those of us who wish to defend our river from the Riverworks ideas:

* Public pressure, if it is large enough and determined enough can make a difference.

* People are not prepared to accept ‘growth at any cost’ – our green spaces and our river are precious to us.

* Politicians and officials who are brave enough to admit they were wrong, and listen to ordinary people are almost as endangered as the Ribble’s Atlantic Salmon – let’s celebrate such brave people when we find them!


BROCKHOLES WETLAND APPEAL.
A huge WELL DONE to all those who have responded so generously and sent donations in to the Wildlife Trust Brockholes Wetland Appeal -

but THE WILDLIFE TRUST ARE STILL JUST £16,500 SHORT OF THE TOTAL NEEDED and the DEADLINE IS FAST APPROACHING!

A fantastic £33,500 of the £50,000 target has been raised so far - in just a couple of weeks - but the Wildlife Trust still urgently need £16,500 before 15th December 2006 to SAVE BROCKHOLES WETLAND, on the banks of the River Ribble, from development, and preserve this irreplaceable wildlife habitat for the environment and for local people FOREVER!!

Buy a Gift of Wildlife and support the Brockholes Appeal for yourself or a loved one - what a fabulous present that would make! No matter how large or small the donation, IT WILL ALL COUNT! And all donations will be recorded on a special Roll of Honour to be kept at the Brockholes site.

You can download the Donation form here and send it with your cheque -
made payable to "Birchall Blackburn Escrow Account (Brockholes)" - to:

BROCKHOLES APPEAL,
FREEPOST PR983,
PRESTON
PR5 6BR

If you wish, you can write Save The Ribble on the form so that the Wildlife Trust can see which route your donation has come from.

Your £10 donation will bring the Wildlife Trust another £300 towards the purchase and improvement of the site, under the terms of the "match funding" criteria whereby the £50,000 raised by 15th December will release a further £1.5 MILLION from other funding sources!!!

£20 will release a further £600...

If you give £100 you will be invited to a special celebration event (and the Wildlife Trust will get a net £3,000 towards Brockholes!);

£10,000 will enable you to name a birdwatching hide after yourself or a loved one;
PLEASE SEND IN YOUR DONATION TODAY - THERE IS LESS THAN A WEEK REMAINING TO SAVE BROCKHOLES FROM DEVELOPMENT.

Read more about the
Brockholes Wetland Appeal.

Contact us at savetheribble@tiscali.co.uk

Article by Riversider and Reigh Belisama.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Planning Review: A New Threat to the River Ribble and Our local Green Belt?


Pink-footed geese at RSPB Marshside.

Save the Ribble Campaign are concerned that recommendations contained in the HM Treasury-commissioned Planning Review could further threaten our River and Green Belt by making it easier for Preston City Council to pursue its Riverworks project.

Not surprisingly for a report written by the Bank of England policy maker Kate Barker, the emphasis of the review is on removing uncertainties to accelerate decision-making around major planning projects to the benefit of business interests and economic growth. It recommends that planning applications should be approved unless there are strong reasons against them, and that streamlining the planning process could save businesses and local authorities hundreds of millions of pounds.
The Institute of Directors has welcomed the report as “one of the most sensible things to have come out of the Treasury in years.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England is concerned that, in the Review, “overall there is a worryingly strong emphasis on enabling local councils and communities to reap more financial rewards from new development – in the belief that this will make them adopt more pro-growth and pro-development attitudes” (Campaign to Protect Rural England ).

As The Guardian points out in its own coverage of the impact of the Barker report, environmental organisations are concerned that its proposals 'would have a "devastating impact on the environment and local democracy" if they allowed more out-of-town shopping developments or house building to proceed on land protected for more than 40 years by strict planning laws'.

The Guardian illustrates these concerns in a case study of the Save The Ribble Campaign: see today's Guardian story Ripples of Discontent on the Ribble.



Penwortham - Walton le Dale Green Belt, an oasis of peace and tranquility 5 minutes walk from Preston City Centre.

The Report has also called for a review of urban green belt boundaries to allow for socially and environmentally “friendly” developments – it is unclear, however, what the criteria for ascertaining this is.


A misty January morning at high tide in Preston, picture by Bob W.

This emphasis in the Review is also at odds with the Governments stated aims for sustainable development, and for Biodiversity Action Plan targets.


Mud, mud, glorious mud... low tide in Penwortham.

Preston City Council may be delighted at several aspects of this review, particularly as some of the recommendations could create a planning environment which would make it easier for them to realise their Riverworks project, despite the threat it poses to local communities and wildlife on an international scale.

Preston City Council’s Riverwork’s Project includes proposals to:
- build a barrage on the River Ribble to create an artificially high water
level to create a water sports park;
- build over 4,000 new houses and businesses on the Ribble’s green belt/floodplain on both the Penwortham and Preston sides, and develop on what they consider to be an “under-utilised river valley” (PCC Lottery Bid). This area includes an existing nature reserve, meadows, woodland, allotments and amateur league football fields.


Summer wildflower meadows full of birds, butterflies, and the hum of bees.

Preston City Council uses economic arguments to justify its Riverworks project, arguing that without the barrage and massive housing development and business park, Preston and the surrounding area will enter a “spiral of decline” and become a centre “for the retired, the disadvantaged and the unemployed” (PCC Lottery Bid).

Arguments have also been made for the strategic release of green belt to enable the creation of urban development along the River valley (Central Lancashire Sub-Regional Spatial Strategy p24).
This is all despite Preston and South Ribble already being economic growth areas:

- South Ribble is already “one of the most prosperous districts in Lancashire in terms of employment potential and wealth” (PCC Submission to Boundaries Committee for England: Proposal for a New City of Preston Council).

- Preston is already “experienc[ing] one of the fastest rates of employment growth across all NW districts in the last 4 years (+35%)… Economic forecasts for this …area suggest a growth rate over the next 10 years well in excess of the regional average” (Lancashire Economic Partnership and The Northern Way Central Lancashire City Region Development Programme p.7)

and all without causing potentially disastrous consequences to the River Ribble and surrounding Green Belt. (See Unitary Threat).


The Ribble in Autumn.


Ribble mudflats are a vital feeding ground at low tide.

Whilst the Riverworks proposals may be welcomed by business interests, the Save the Ribble Campaign considers them to be neither socially nor environmentally friendly, nor economically sustainable.

A barrage on the Ribble will threaten the most important estuarine river in Britain, if not Europe, home to internationally significant numbers of bird species, many under threat both nationally and globally, aswell as numerous fish species, including Atlantic Salmon, the tenth most threatened animal species in Europe.

The Ribble's international significance is recognised in its Specially Protected status under the Ramsar Convention and the Conservation Habitats Regulations 1994.

It will also threaten the natural flood defences of the entire Ribble estuary.
Also see DEFRA on the importance of Britains wetland habitats.


Saltmarsh on the Ribble Estuary - an internationally important habitat rarer than rainforest and under threat from sea level rises.

Building new housing and business developments on the Ribble’s green belt not only destroys valuable local amenities and wildlife habitats, such as our football fields, allotments, nature reserves, river banks, fields, meadows and woodlands, it directly threatens the safety and economic viability of the existing (and new) housing and businesses by removing the natural flood plain which currently protects the area: see also the Environment Agency

Whilst it is recognised that continuing economic growth is important, economic development which is so detrimental to the environment is not sustainable development and will cost more in the long term trying to put right the damage caused (the environmental impacts of the Cardiff Bay Barrage currently costs the Welsh Assembly more than £20 million every year).

Economic wealth is also not the only determinant of quality of life, and it is increasingly recognised that quality of life is determined and measured by access to our natural and unspoilt environment (Government Quality of Life Counts Report).

We do share CPRE’s welcome of some aspects of Kate Barkers Review, as, ‘despite the economic bias of its remit, it recognises that the planning system does have a critical, multi-faceted role in protecting the environment. It also makes the case for continuing to focus new development on under-used or derelict land within our existing towns and cities.’ (CPRE ). The fact remains, however, that what constitutes ‘under-used land’ for a developer isn’t necessarily under-used by the local community or by wildlife.

Much of this Review appears to reflect the worst aspects of the decades of unsustainable developments which have pushed our local communities, and the sustainability of our global, national, and local environment to the brink of disaster – and as such, echoes Preston City Council’s approach to the Ribble and green belt NOT as the richest intertidal habitat in the UK but as “bleak, barren, and undeveloped” (Riverworks 01) and therefore ripe for development.


Redshank in Broadgate, Preston, picture by Greg.

You can contact us at savetheribble@tiscali.co.uk

Unite to Save Our River Ribble

At a time when the government is planning to make it easier for developers to build over green belt land and a time when our council leaders seem determined to ignore local views on unitary authority status, we feel that it has never been more important for the people who live near the River Ribble to stand up and defend our beautiful river.

Preston City Council has irresponsible and dangerous ideas to build a barrage across the River Ribble and over 4000 houses in its floodplain, on the beautiful green belt land that divides Preston from South Ribble. These ideas are contained in the councils over-hyped and under-scrutinised Riverworks Proposals.

Local people love the Ribble and our green spaces, in all seasons, at all tides, and in all nature's moods...



Save The Ribble has been campaigning since the launch of our blog to give the pro-Ribble Response of local people to these proposals.

Our members and supporters include (in no particular order):

* Anglers, who want to keep the river tidal and fast flowing because it this makes it an ideal habitat for barbel (and the Atlantic Salmon, one of the most endangered species in Europe)

*Allotment Keepers who do not want to see their historic allotments built over

*Dog walkers who find the river a great place to walk with their faithful companions

*Ramblers who love walking along a beautiful everchanging tidal river.

*Bird lovers who understand the mortal threat that a barrage would pose to the Ribble Estuary, an internationally important home to over 250,000 birds, which all rely on the nutrient rich silts washed down the river

*Local householders, who do not want to see the Ribble turned into a race track for jet-skiers, and who fear that raising the water level to permanent high-tide and extensive development in the floodplain will increase the flood risk to their homes.

Environmentalists who understand the key importance of our tidal river and its estuary to a huge variety of flora and fauna, and that a barrage and marina would turn the Ribble into a concrete-lined sterile imitation of a river.

*Footballers, who do not wish to see precious pitches like Penwortham Holme, Vernons or Frenchwood Recreation Ground turned over to the developers

Frenchwood Recreation Ground

We are not opposed to progress, but we are opposed to wanton destruction of beautiful green spaces, environmentally sensitive areas and precious community facilities like allotments and football pitches.

Preston City Council could put local people's minds at rest today, by simply promising never to barrage the Ribble or to build more housing in its floodplain - until we receive such assurances, we will continue to build locally and nationally to resist these crazy proposals - proposals which were dreamt up over two years ago, which have had huge amounts of public money and council officer time spent on them, but which were never been asked for by local people, and on which local people have never yet been consulted.

We are certain that if the council had ever come to local people for ideas, they would have come up with much more creative, responsible and sustainable ideas than this overblown and dangerous project, a project that seems driven by the potential profits of greedy developers rather than by the wishes or needs of local people.

Join Us!



If you want to join our campaign, please write to: 'Save The Ribble' PO Box 1104. Penwortham, Preston, Lancashire, PR2 0DB or email us at savetheribble@tiscali.co.uk

Feel free to download our window poster and stick it in your window or on your noticeboard at work.

John Sawhill said that "in the end, our society will be defined not only by what we create but by what we refuse to destroy" - we must unite to defend one of the last truly beautiful parts of Preston, a precious part of Lancashire, an asset to North West England, the richest inter-tidal habitat in the UK and an internationally important area for birdlife - the River Ribble.

UPDATE


Much to our surprise, South Ribble Borough Council has listened to local people and opposed a merger and joint unitary authority bid with Preston.

This shows that if we make our views heard strongly enough, we can make a difference - the barrage and floodplain housing ideas can still be stopped!

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Mersey Basin Week Blog Plug

The Mersey Basin Week Blog have given a big plug to the Save The Ribble blog.

It only seems fair to give the Mersey Basin Campaign guys a big plug back - visit their blog HERE.

We all have the interests of the River Ribble and the Ribble Estuary at heart - so lets keep campaigning and working for this beautiful environment, and the people who live here.

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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