Another Councillor Concerned about Environmental Impact of Riverworks
Save the Ribble welcome Councillor Jack Davenport's letter in the LEP on 8th February in which he expresses his concerns about the potential environmental impact of aspects of the Riverworks project on 'the wildlife and natural splendour of one of Preston's most glorious jewels': The River Ribble.
Jack Davenport's concerns echo fellow Preston Councillor John Swindells' concerns about the potential impact on our precious environment, as, whilst Jack Davenport does not explicitly express opposition to the Barrage proposal, he welcomes some of the 'benefits that [Riverworks] could bring, especially... regeneration, leisure and community facilities' (as we all do - in the right place!!) and he warns that 'development of the River Ribble itself needs much more thought than has currently been given. The environmental consequences if it goes wrong are too awful to contemplate’.
We heartily agree with Jack Davenport’s important points that:
‘Flood defences must be updated, especially in the face of climate change, especially as the Ribble is a tidal river. This does not mean though, that we should endanger the environment in doing so. It is no good sacrificing one area’s environment to save another. A solution must be found that protects residents from the risk of flooding, but maintains as much as possible of the wildlife and natural splendour of one of Preston’s most glorious jewels’.
It is timely indeed that Jack Davenport’s letter should coincide with the announcement today that work is to begin on Hesketh Out Marsh within the next month, a project to return this drained marsh to the tides and the wildlife of the Ribble at the same time as the resultant Nature Reserve of saltmarsh and mudflats will effectively and directly increase the area’s protection against flooding! The newly-created 168 hectares of mudflats and saltmarsh area will increase the flood defences for Preston and South Ribble, West Lancashire and even the Fylde coast!
The Ribble Shoreline Management Plan, Defra and the Environment Agency have all identified the further creation of saltmarsh and mudflat wetland habitats as the most environmentally and economically sustainable – and most effective – means of protecting our Ribble communities from flooding in the long term.
The Ribble Shoreline Management Plan DOES NOT ADVOCATE THE NECESSITY FOR A BARRAGE ON THE RIBBLE TO PROTECT ANY COMMUNITIES FROM FLOODING.
It does, however, advocate the further creation of new saltmarsh and mudflat wetlands on the Ribble as the most effective, sustainable, and cost-effective means of DEFENDING ALL RIBBLE COMMUNITIES FROM RISING SEA LEVELS.
David Borrow, MP for South Ribble, raised the issue of Hesketh Out Marsh at Prime Minister's Questions this week, and Tony Blair commended the scheme.
Jack Davenport concludes his letter by saying that Riverworks ‘must happen in a way that strives to increase protection of the city, encourages development and investment, but does not sacrifice the environment and natural beauty of an important part of Preston’s heritage’.
- Sentiments with which we agree – for the sake of all the communities who live alongside the Ribble, and for the sake of this glorious jewel!
While we warmly welcome our councillors concern for the potential environmental impact of some of the Riverworks proposals, we remind them however that local people will ultimately judge them on the position they take on the barrage proposals and the proposals to build over 4000 houses in the floodplain - issues that apart from Councillor Swindells, few others have yet taken a clear position on.
Jack Davenport is keen that local people should be consulted about the different aspects of the Riverworks proposals, however, and you can contact him about the current local Preston Riverside Labour group's consultations about the Docks proposals at email@example.com
You can read more about the long-term proposals for the ongoing creation of saltmarsh flood defences for the Ribble
and more about why saltmarsh and mudflats are so important!
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org