Riverworks Debate at Ribble Forum
At yesterday's annual Ribble Forum - a conference organised by the Mersey Basin and Action Ribble Estuary for interested parties along the Ribble corridor including the RSPB, fisheries bodies, the Environment Agency, Wildlife Trust, and local Councils - the Riverworks Barrage proposal formed a key component.
LOCAL RESIDENTS WILL ALSO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO LISTEN TO THE ARGUMENTS AND DEBATE THE ISSUES ON TUESDAY 20TH NOVEMBER IN PRESTON TOWN HALL, ROOMS A & B, FROM 7-9PM.
The Forum had a series of presentations followed by a discussion session.
The presentations included:
- the Riverworks proposals by Mike Brogan and John Dalton of Preston City Council and South Ribble Borough Council respectively;
- Councillor Tom Sharratt of Walton le Dale raising the concerns of his residents about the flood risk issues of the Ribble barrage;
- and Jane Brunning of Save The Ribble Campaign who outlined the key issues of concern about the barrage scheme.
The Riverworks presentation outlined the key ideas of reinstating the Lancaster canal into Preston, improving the Docks, and ideas to barrage the River Ribble and develop on a number of undeveloped areas along the Ribble corridor.
Mr Brogan was at pains to point out that he has no desire to flood South Ribble, and that the pink blocks on the site maps in his presentation did not necessarily denote housing...
Councillor Sharratt's concerns were chiefly to do with asking what the effect of raising the water level by building a barrage would be on flood risks in the area...
Jane Brunning discussed the damage a barrage would do to the ecosystem of the River Ribble's intertidal habitats, and the subsequent threat to the wildlife supported by this Internationally-important wetland, as well as also raising concerns about increases in floodrisk a barrage could cause.
Unfortunately some of the presentation times were very short so Jane was not able to address the issues of building on the riverbanks and floodplains in Penwortham...
...but she was able to explain why keeping the River Ribble a free-flowing inter-tidal habitat was important:
- for the benefit of wildlife and local communities by providing fantastic wildlife habitats and leisure facilities;
- and by offering excellent opportunities for the growing eco-tourism industry - particularly the Ribble Coast & Wetlands Regional Park;
- and by providing effective and sustainable flood defences for all our communities.
The Ribble barrage promoted a number of pertinent questions, not least what possible reason there could be for wishing to pursue the idea in the first place, given the overwhelming evidence of the potential damage - not to mention exhorbitant economic costs - of the scheme?
The answer appeared to be that we need to look into the feasibility of a barrage on the River Ribble to see if it will protect us from flooding...
...which is rather strange when ALL the evidence and knowledge we have of the River Ribble is that:
a. a large amount of silt flows downriver (as well as up on the incoming tide) to be deposited mainly on the Estuary;
b. a large amount of water drains down the 75 mile/110 km length of the Ribble, draining approximately 1,490 square km of the North West;
c. the surface drains of all Ribbleside communities drain into the river;
d. slowing the water flow will cause the silts to drop to the river bed and silt build up;
e. maintaining artificially high water levels will reduce the capacity of the river to cope with spate waters;
f. it rains alot in these parts.
Jane also made it clear that Save The Ribble Campaign are supportive of the ideas for the canal and the Docks - and share with Jack Davenport's concerns that these schemes are pursued for the benefit of leisure opportunities rather than an excuse for more housing developments.
You can read more about why wetlands are important for wildlife and flood defences and why the Ribble should remain a free-flowing intertidal habitat and why barrages are a bad idea and why building on the riverbanks and floodplains is a bad idea too.
There were also presentations on Brockholes Wetland, Hesketh Out Marsh, and the Ribble Coast & Wetlands Regional Park, details of which will be blogged soon...
...and other presentations at the Ribble Forum included the re-development of Blackpool, the campaign against further commercial development of the Lytham foreshore (Lytham St Annes Civic Society), and the threat of pollution in the Ribble Catchment waters...
...but in the meantime, come and LISTEN TO THE ARGUMENTS AND DEBATE THE ISSUES ABOUT RIVERWORKS ON TUESDAY 20TH NOVEMBER IN PRESTON TOWN HALL, ROOMS A & B, FROM 7-9PM.
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