Barrage Consultation for Residents - of Preston
Councillor Jack Davenport, the Labour Councillor for Riversway Ward in Preston, is again spearheading an independent consultation with local residents - this time about the Ribble barrage proposal.
This is as a direct result of local people's anger that these irresponsible and dangerous proposals are being pursued by Preston City Council and the unelected Vision Board - without even asking us if this is what WE want.
Councillor Davenport told the Lancashire Evening Post today that 'The key concern' Preston Labour group members have 'is people are being asked after, instead of before, about things like the barrage'.
The aim is to send out consultation leaflets to 7,000 homes in key Riverside Wards of Preston - Riversway, Fishwick, Frenchwood, Larches, and the Town Centre - at the beginning of next month, to ask local residents in Preston for their opinion of the Ribble barrage scheme. Jack Davenport said 'We've had to increase the scale of the consultation because the barrage is far more controversial than the docklands ever was', and has also said that 'We're going to be as balanced as we can be, giving people both sides and letting them make up their own minds, then at least we have got something to take back to Council'.
Save The Ribble Campaign very much welcome these moves as it is one of the important arguments we have been making: that local residents should be consulted about the barrage sooner rather than later -
BUT it is clearly nowhere near enough to only consult what is effectively only ONE OF MANY Ribbleside communities that will be affected by these proposals.
At the very least, this forthcoming consultation should include similar areas of Penwortham, who will be affected in exactly the same way as the Preston communities on the North bank of the River.
All Ribbleside communities who will be affected by the barrage proposals should be consulted - NOW. Save The Ribble Campaign can assure local residents all along the Ribble that we will keep the pressure on in our campaign which aims to ensure that ALL residents are consulted, and that Environmental organisations who have also raised serious concerns about the barrage proposal are also consulted sooner rather than later.
Important though the consultation of ALL Ribbleside communities is, however, it is still not the whole issue:
Whilst the recent LEP Poll showed an overwhelming
81% of respondents AGAINST the barrage proposal - a figure echoed by the huge number of residents who have contacted us - nonetheless, we have also consistently argued that even had this vote shown the opposite, the River CAN’T VOTE, and as such, relies on us to make decisions which safeguard rather than threaten its environmental integrity.
The River Ribble is not "ours" to mess with - contrary to Preston City Council's view, the Ribble is not an 'underutilised resource' to be exploited for economic gain, but an Internationally important Wetland ecosystem which supports nearly 1 million birds and who knows how many hundreds of thousands of fish who don't have the luxury of a vote.
Yet this is not a "Birds vs People" argument as the Environment is something which benefits humans as well.
- The Ribble is one of the longest rivers in Britain, and acts as a drain for a massive area from North Yorkshire to the Irish Sea - in one of the highest rainfall-areas of the country;
- The Ribble's intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes protect Ribbleside communities from flooding;
- The Ribble, as a natural and unimpeded river, provides us with peace and tranquillity and an incredibly beautiful and irreplaceable open space - proven to be a measure of the quality of our lives;
- and The Ribble also offers us a fantastic opportunity to create and maintain a genuinely sustainable future.
As Michael Jack, MP for the Fylde, said very succinctly: “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.”(The Lytham St Annes Express, on April 19th 2007).
Even if the entire population of Preston, South Ribble, Fylde, and Sefton WANTED a barrage on the Ribble, it still wouldn’t be anything other than disastrous for the environment. As custodians and guardians of this precious habitat and its environs of associated habitats such as riverside green spaces and wildlife corridors, we have a responsibility to ensure that our actions are not detrimental to it.
If you don't live in one of the areas of Preston that Jack Davenport is consulting, contact your local Councillor and ask when YOUR community will be consulted.
Where do YOU live? What is YOUR opinion of the barrage proposal?
Contact us with your views at email@example.com or the comments link below...