FYLDE COMMUNITY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST RIBBLE BARRAGE PROPOSAL
In a week when Preston City Council has been branded “Nobby No Mates” over its failure to persuade South Ribble Borough Council to join its unitary status bid, key members of another neighbouring community have spoken out against Preston City Council’s barrage scheme and are demanding to know why they have not been consulted about the proposals.
In their leading articles, both the Kirkham and Fylde Express, and the Lytham St Annes Express, (April 19th 2007) reported on the Riverworks proposals to build a barrage on the River Ribble “as part of an £800m project to make Preston the third city of the North West, with 4,000 new homes, leisure, offices and shops around the new waterways, rivalling other prestigious marinas like Salford Quays”. The papers report that one possible location for the barrage is near Freckleton, just three miles from Lytham.
River Douglas (Asland) joins the Ribble, taken from Freckleton Naze - at one of the potential sites for Preston City Council's proposed barrage.
Commenting on the barrage proposals, Fylde MP Michael Jack said: “Mankind has an enormous responsibility to look after the estuary and its wildlife and I don’t think we should be monkeying around with that for the sake of making money. You play around with nature at your peril. I remain deeply sceptical about this proposal.”
Commenting on the lack of consultation about the barrage proposal, Fred Moor, secretary of Fylde Civic Awareness Group, said “it could have implications for Warton and Freckleton and even downstream in St Annes. It could lead to silt building up at the mouth of the estuary….”
It is no surprise that neighbouring communities should be so concerned about Preston City Council’s proposals. As we have argued, the way the River Ribble works means that the environmental impact of a barrage will effect all the communities along the Ribble corridor (See Barrages and Wetland Ecosystems and How the Ribble Works) and that therefore any consultation on the Riverworks proposals would have to include all the communities effected by the options under consideration (See also Save The Ribble Archives: June 5th 2006).
As Arnold Summer, coordinator for St Annes Chamber of Trade puts it : “Are you content to see Preston City control the amount of water coming down the Ribble in front of Lytham St Annes?”.
Preston City Council needs to understand that the River Ribble is not theirs to interfere with to serve their own economic development strategies and the financial and commercial interests represented by the Preston Vision Board) - particularly when such interference will have such far reaching consequences for the Ribble ecosytem and the wildlife which depends on it.
As we have argued, the SUSTAINABLE economic potential of the River Ribble lies in the Development of the Ribble Coast and Wetlands Regional Park, which would be a huge asset for all the communities along the Ribble corridor whilst also protecting the Ribble’s inter-tidal ecosytems for now and for future generations.
The beautiful Ribble intertidal habitats on the Fylde Coast.
See more about the Ribble Coast & Wetlands Regional Park here and here.
This point is reflected in the leader comment of the Kirkham and Fylde Express (19th April), which is clear in its condemnation of Preston City Council’s proposals.
Recognising the importance of the Ribble as “one of the prime wildlife locations in the UK” and its value to both locals and tourists alike the paper says “it would, therefore, seem a great shame if all this was jeopardised in order for Preston to improve its financial fortunes.”
The paper urges its readers to write to Preston City Council to voice their concerns before it's too late.
We would also urge concerned residents in Fylde and other Ribble communities to contact Save the Ribble and join our campaign.
RSPB ARGUE THAT THE BARRAGE IDEA WOULD ‘DESTROY’ RIBBLE WILDLIFE
The Kirkham and Fylde Express (April 19th 2007) also reported the concerns of environmental groups that a barrage across the Ribble would have grave consequences for the environment.
Laurence Rose, regional director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said the idea of a barrage could destroy one of Britain’s most delicate ecosystems. Mr Rose commented to the Express that: “we are extremely concerned about a barrage across a protected estuary because anything that interferes with the hydrology of the estuary is prima facie bad news.”
Waders at Lytham St Annes.
During the Winter months alone, the Ribble estuary supports some 250,000 birds from Russia, Scandinavia and Iceland which make the area their winter home each year, including species like Whooper, Bewick Swans, Pink Footed Geese, Dunlins, Sanderlings and Bar-Tailed and Black-tailed Godwits. The Ribble supports a massive 1 million birds throughout the whole year, which is why it is Internationally important.
In response to the newspaper article, Preston City Council repeated their claim that the barrage is an idea only – not a proposal. Yet they continue to promote the barrage scheme and it remains central to their Economic Regeneration Strategy and Prioritised Action Plan which states that “key project proposals include the development of a barrage across the river providing a range of economic and environmental benefits…”.
But as the Save the Ribble Campaign and other environmental groups have argued, there are no environmental benefits arising from a proposal to barrage an inter-tidal river whilst genuine economic benefits will arise in preserving the Ribble ecosystem as part of the Regional Park.
This is clearly a fact that is becoming increasingly appreciated by all the communities along the Ribble corridor.
Unfortunately, for Preston City Council, until they drop their ideas to barrage the Ribble, they are likely to lose even more friends amongst local residents and neighbouring communities.
Further to this, Dave Dunlop of the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside has reiterated the Trust's serious concerns about the barrage proposal to us, emphasising that 'any development that would further constrain [the Ribble's] natural functioning is a bad idea, and would presumably be in breach of the UK Government's obligations under international convention and law.' For Dave Dunlop's full comment, click on the comments links below.
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