Tide Flows Against The Ribble Barrage and Green Belt Development Proposals
Yesterday showed a resounding pro-Ribble and pro-Green Belt result in the local elections in both Preston and South Ribble...
... and a resounding NO to the Ribble Barrage vote in the LEP poll!
These results reflect the impact our campaign has had in countering the developer's propaganda, and the common sense of ordinary Preston and South Ribble people.
In Preston, Bhikhu Patel, John Swindells, and Michael Lavalette were all re-elected as local Councillors, and all vociferously opposed the Ribble Barrage as part of their campaign.
They have all made it clear they are deeply concerned about the environmental implications of the barrage proposal, and have raised their concerns about the Riverworks building developments proposed for our green spaces and flood plain.
In South Ribble, the Conservatives made massive gains – taking overall majority of the Council – after their strong campaign which included the core promise that they ‘are committed to fighting ANY moves to build on [South Ribble] green fields and open spaces’.
They also promised to oppose any moves to merge South Ribble with Preston – clearly well aware of the strong concerns about what such a merger would mean for the Riverside areas which would effectively become part of Preston City Centre. This is a “vision” PCC have consistently shown they are pursuing in numerous documents, including the Central Lancashire City Sub-Regional Strategy (LDF see Doc 05) which forms a core document in the on-going Local Development Framework process (which will eventually replace the current Local Plans for the area), where they state the objective that:
- Preston City Centre ‘in spatial plannning terms… becomes one contiguous urban area… the broad area between Blackpool Road in Preston … and the A582 in South Ribble will become the principal focus for investment resources throughout the Core area, including the review of green belt boundaries south of the River Ribble, through the Local Development Framework process’ (p17, with similar statements made on pages 18-19);
- ‘the major location for growth within the Strategy will be in the wider Preston area, which “straddles” the River Ribble. Thus the Ribble becomes the central binding feature that contributes to the creation of a new sustainable community supporting the growth of the city centre’ (p24).
A ‘new… community’ we know to be the so-called “Central Park” housing and business park development, which is anything BUT sustainable as it destroys an area of Green Belt and operational flood plain, and states its objective to be:
‘an opportunity to create a new community… in walking distance of the city centre’ … a ‘new residential development on the southern banks of the Ribble’ … of such a ‘size’ that it ‘will warrant investment in essential community facilities including retail and community meeting space’ … its ‘Buildings will be oriented to frame the proposed Central Park and to create a sense of enclosure’ (Riverworks Document 04: “Central Park”).
Now these Councillors have won the votes of local people, they must keep their promises about opposing the Ribble barrage and not allowing building on the green belt - otherwise Save The Ribble will be the first to point out any discrepancy between their words and their actions.
The Lancashire Evening Post yesterday ran the news we reported on Tuesday that Preston City Council are to move on to the next stage in their pursuit of a Ribble barrage by bidding for funding for £235,000 from the North West Development Agency for a feasibility Study into the barrage proposal.
As part of their story, the LEP ran a poll asking whether the public think a barrage should be built on the Ribble. At the time of writing this article this morning, the results so far show a resounding NO vote – 77% of respondents AGAINST a Ribble barrage, which is a resounding victory for the Ribble.
UPDATE: in fact, the LEP reported on Saturday 5th May that 81% voted against the barrage:
Nonetheless, 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.
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.