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, March 08, 2007

Flood Defence Lies Nailed

Advocates of the Riverworks Ribble Barrage idea have been busy making the false claim that somehow a barrage designed to raise the river level can also protect us against floods. This idea has even been slipped into the Local Development Framework documents, when all the evidence shows the opposite.

Readers of tonight's Lancashire Evening Post will have seen Mike Winrow of Longton's letter where he exposes the flood defence myth - he points out that the proposed barrage would be totally useless against flooding when the river is in spate:

"What if there were a Carlisle-style flood... would the sluices be closed when the tide came in?.. No, they'd be wide open, no matter how high the tide, and then it would be in the lap of the gods whether flooding occurred. It only makes sense to close the sluices when there is more water coming upriver than going down, but this will only occur when there's relatively small amounts of water in the river, and no flood risk, no matter how high the tide"

Click on the picture to read the letter in full

Mike Winrow's arguments echo those in the River Ribble Weir Appraisal, written in 1986 by expert consultants Halcrow who were commissioned by the council the last time they wanted to barrage our river. Their in-depth study points out that barrages and weirs in the river INCREASE the risk of flooding when the river is in spate, and gives a long list of reasons why barraging the Ribble to turn it over to 'leisure use' would be totally impractical and raise the flood risk to local people.

There are two possibilities. The people who are making claims that the barrage will defend us from flooding have read the Halcrow River Ribble Weir Appraisal, in which case they are knowingly telling lies when they claim that the barrage would be a flood defence, or else they have not read this key document, in which case they are proving themselves to be unprofessional and lacking the competence to plan the future of our city.

Meanwhile, another blogger, Ken who writes South Ribble Tales has hit out at the Riverworks scheme, and the arguments of property developer Tarquin Scott, here is what Ken wrote so eloquently on his excellent local blog:

Now then , the Ribble Barrier will bring wonderful benefits to South Ribble and Preston will it? A power station, waterbuses, a new road, and 4000 houses, cor blimey!
Some folk just do not get it or at least only see the £ signs. All those proposed benefits seem like a disaster for the enviroment around the river and beyond.
Why would building a new road link down a quiet counrty lane across farmland be a benefit? How are building 4000 homes within walking and cyling distance of Preston going to make people walk and cycle? There are already 1000's of homes within that distance and I do not notice the roads bursting with bikes and the footpaths overflowing with pedestrians. Lets get that plan going first so proving it could work that way.
The best one though is the waterbus. How big is this going to be, how many do they plan to use, how fast will they travel? Do the planners seriously think commuters would use them? Forgive me but the last time I looked the river does not pass any major factories or schools or anything else that people would commute too. Presumabley they would also employ an icebreaker for winter as a slow flowing waterway would regularly freeze over. Why are tourists are going to be attracted to this? There is nothing in our parks that make them that attractive to a visitor. Beautiful as our parks are they are not a tourist attraction. They would need facilities, a cafe, toilets, bike hire, shops, carparking etc etc as well as the infrestructure associated with the buses themselves. In any case any tourists would increase traffic along with the other 4000 homes rapidly filling the new roads.

The Ribble is a fast flowing river with a burden of mud and silt. If a barrage is built this will be dropped in the Preston area, in turn this will lead to erosion elsewhere. I am not an expert but if more silt is laid down upstream surely this must lead to increases flooding risks so more protection would be needed for any buildings on the natural floodplain.
There is an abundance of wildlife that will have its environment changed forever.
I have seen as many as 30 herons fishing in the rising and ebbing tide on the silt at the bullnose. That would be lost forever. (just one small example of the impact)
The peace and tranquility of a large area west of the docks would be destroyed with roads and industrial development.
Remember the Ribble Bore, what an impressive sight that is. What would happen to this?
Look at the amount of flotsam and jetsam (rubbish) on the banks. What will happen to this if there is no tide? Maybe it will eventually collect at the new power station and jam it up.

Yes, I say develop the river, encourage people to use the open spaces and natural environment provided by our river, there is much potential there. But no, a barrage is not a development for me.
It looks like another docklands type plan. Good on paper in money terms, but in reality a big disappointment to the people who saw the potential lost to car dealerships, stores and distinctly smelly water.

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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