Tales and Pictures from the Riverbank
A selection of the many emails, photographs and pictures sent to Save The Ribble over recent weeks, edited here and there for space so apologies - You obviously have alot to say!
Some of the letters have also been published in the Lancashire Evening Post...
All photos by Greg, from dawn til dusk, including the fantastic opening picture above, taken from the Tram Bridge at dawn - well worth clicking on this one for a closer look...
Another fabulous picture from "I", who "does not like noisy and fast jet-skis and knows the swans on the Ribble won't like them either". I's mum "R" says: "People want to hear the Ribble river when they are walking beside it and not machines. They can go into town for that. I love the sound of water moving..."
Greg S, Broadgate resident, says...
"I appreciated the fairness of [LEP] leader article of 3rd January although I felt the news coverage in the same issue relied over much on the viewpoints, language and press releases of Mike Brogan and the Preston Vision Board.
Ever since I first heard of the Riverworks Project I (as a riverside resident) have been convinced of two things : Firstly that any barrage or weir that destroys the flowing stream and the tidal nature of the Ribble would be an environmental disaster, especially for the precious wildlife living there. Secondly that destroying the greenbelt on the Penwortham side by the injudicious building of housing on the floodplain would rob us of one of the greatest attractions of our neighbourhood.
Open country so close to our city is probably the greatest environmental asset we have (and my dog and hundred's of others agree!).
It's a dog's life...
There may well be a number of good ideas for useful urban regeneration to be found elsewhere in the Riverworks report. We could certainly make more of the River Corridor, Canal and Docks in economically beneficial and environmentally sensitive ways. How about for example developing the docks rail corridor into a tram system with a huge new park and ride at the western edge of the city...?
...However, it is hard to judge the value of the proposals since until now the report appears to have been treated as a top secret document....
...the unelected Vision Board who most probably represent big business, and well paid planning consultants and senior council officers much more than local residents, have shot themeslves in the foot by denying us the chance for proper consultation at an early stage.
They may not wish "to raise false hopes or fears" over a pre-feasility study, but they have achieved just that in a remarkable way by their cowardly secrecy. An early consultation would make it clear from the outset what the public will or will not stomach. It would probably knock on the head any crazy ideas such as a barrage, without the need to waste further public money on investigating the idea. And it might generate a number of exciting and more feasible suggestions for improvement from the people who know the neighbourhood far better than any of the external consultants.
At least some of our local councillors... have not yet sold out to the Vision Board's ideas and are engaging in the debate. I am no fan of New Labour either at the national or local level, but it is to the credit of the local members for Riversway ward that they have invited residents to contribute, in a fairly open ended way to a consultation exercise covering at least a part of the Riverworks proposal. It is to be hoped that many local people will make their views heard, that the council will listen carefully and respond to the good sense of the majority of local people who oppose much of the scheme.
The Bible tells us that "without a vision the people perish". I fear that with the mistaken and blurred vision of the Vision Board it will be Preston's people who suffer, and the river Ribble that will die."
Aidan TB pointedly asks significant questions about Preston Vision Board in his letter - also published in the LEP 15th January...
"Who are the Preston Vision Board? What right to they have to plan to build on our Green Belt and to increase flood risk to my riverside home?
Who are the Board’s members? How many are they? Do any members have interests with architects and development companies? Do any of the Board manage large property portfolios in the city? Are any Board members directors of local companies? Are the interests of the Board members declared on a public register? Are Board members subject to Local Government Standards regulations? Who selected them and on what basis? How can they be dismissed or replaced? Can I be one please? How many Board members are women, disabled, below 30 or from Preston’s ethnic groups? Are there any representatives from environmental and community groups on the Board? Are there any elected councillors on the Board? Who are they? Are Board members all Preston residents or do some live outside the City Council area? What right do non-Prestonians have to plan the future of our city?
Why are the minutes and reports of meetings secret? Why are their Plans not published? Why do they seem to avoid Freedom of Information requests? If their Vision for Preston is so good why not publish it on a web site? Why don’t they list their membership and contact details on the internet? Why do they avoid public debate and open information? Why do Preston planners seem to hide behind the Board claiming confidentiality for very important strategic planning proposals?
Are they paid expenses? How much are they paid? Who pays them? How much have they been paid so far? Are their meetings serviced by Preston City Council officers? For how many hours a month and at what cost is the Board supported by Council Tax payers?
Is the Board working with consultants and developers drafting the Riverworks proposals? Who are these companies? How much have they been paid so far?
What is the legal status of the Vision Board? Does it have a constitution and published remit? Is it a charity, a local authority agency, a limited company or what? Does it report to the whole Council or a specific cabinet member? Which one? Are Board members liable for damage and loss as a result of their plans? If the value of my house is reduced because the Board wants to build houses on Frenchwood Recreation Ground and on Green Belt outside Preston can I sue them for damages caused by planning blight? Are their plans available for conveyancing properties and for House Information Packs?
I challenge the Preston Vision Board to reply to my questions."
A Ribble Autumn...
Local people like Mike W understand the nature of the Ribble, in all seasons, weather, and moods, and raise seriously important questions about just some of the impacts of a Ribble barrage...
"...I'm concerned about the practicalities of the height of the barrage and hence the length of the 'lake' above it... I'm not that sure that [the planners] know what the Ribble is really capable of, both in terms of spate water coming down from the hills, and coming up the estuary on a big spring tide.
For example, I was fishing down at Walton Le Dale early in September on the day of the biggest spring tide of the year and the river level there was raised by a good 6 feet, so much so that another 4 or 5 foot and it would have reached the top of its banks, yet there was absolutely no extra water in the river at the time as there was no rain higher up...
...where will the end of the lake above the barrage be? As far as I can see, it will be completely swamped by a big tide, plus if it's really enormous you've got to consider the volume of water coming down river and up with the tide that now has to go somewhere else (is it the idea that the marshes lower down will somehow take the extra tide water? Where will the spate water go?)... as far as I can see no one has been considering this sort of issue. It's always very much what is happening on dry land, which is what you might very much expect from people that are not in touch with the Ribble as a river and its many moods... have any of these people ever seen the river in spate? You can be fishing at the waters edge in the summer then happen to glance up, and see rubbish in the tree branches 10 or more feet above your head from where it's been left from major floods e.g. like this November.
I would love to know how the barrage is going to cope with this, because at certain times it's going to be as if it's not there... it doesn't have the capacity to cope with all the water coming down...the barrage can't be higher than the current river bank, surely? ...why bother building it, and taking the risk of affecting the environment, especially down river of the barrage?
What is the idea of concretising the banks of the river all the way up to Lower Brockholes all about?... and at what cost? ...To moor boats at Fishwick Bottoms, say the 200/300 yard straight stretch above London Road before you reach the first set of rapids, the river will need to permanently raised as from about half way up it's only a few inches deep on the inside due to gravel deposition (the deeper water is all on the Walton Le Dale side)...A big spring tide can raise the level there by up to 6 feet...[but] most tides only affect London Road by a few inches, and some not at all...
The height of the barrage must be enough so that boats can be moored at the bottom end of Fishwick Bottoms, yet a 'lake' that seriously raises the level at the bottom of Mellings Wood would be overlapping the banks down at London Road due to the drop in the river, while any plans to moor boats at Lower Brockholes are a pure pipe-dream, for the same reason.
...plus there is the issue of where does all the water go that would otherwise go upstream of the barrage, raising the level of the river by an average of several feet for several miles on a big tide? (Personally I think this issue is enough to rule out the idea of a flood relief type barrier further up river as there'll be nowhere for the water to go, except over the barrier and onto a river that's already held at spring tide level, plus there's the question of flood water coming down as well...)
Also, re concretising the banks for boats, do they know about the trees that regularly come down in the floods? Any moorings are going to have to enclosed marina types to protect the boats from trees otherwise they'll simply get smashed up, plus the 'lake' will still be flowing very quickly indeed in flood type conditions. It's still got to go somewhere and I would recommend the people putting the plans together go down to London Road when there's a serious spate on, and think how they're going to persuade boat owners to moor their boats in such a flow of water.
I've been fishing the river for over 25 years now. Currently the river is dominated by species that thrive in faster flowing water. What will happen is that there will be a migration of species preferring slower water to the miles immediately above the barrage, while the Ribble's faster water species would move to where the natural river starts again. There might be a temporary boost to barbel fishing above this point, but further down the river would be fairly devoid of fish because the river simply doesn't have that many slower water type species...
I'm not a salmon angler at all, but I would be worried about the effect on the salmon fishing. Any fish that become disorientated because of the lack of flow most of the time, would not make it up river, and slowly but surely the salmon fishing would die. The Ribble is a very fine salmon river indeed. It may not get the publicity of other rivers but for those that are in the know it is very good indeed -you see enough of them leaping about the place when you're coarse fishing... and the Ribble is also apparently a superb river for sea trout, which I also believe are an endangered species."
As Save The Ribble have pointed out, Atlantic Salmon is the 10th Most Threatened animal species in Europe, and, whilst a barrage on the Ribble would need to accommodate this and other migratory fish species by including fish runs, this does not fully mitigate the risk that the barrage itself presents to one of the most important Salmon habitats in Europe as many other factors than passage will also be affected, such as water flow, predation, habitat, water quality, and siltation...
Thanks for all your beautiful pictures and pertinent comments
You can see here for more Tales and Pictures of the Riverbank here, and here and here and here!