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.

Monday, December 17, 2007

'Urgent Action' Needed on Flooding

The Flooding Review by Sir Michael Pitt into this year's unprecedented flooding in Britain has now been published and strongly recommended that 'planning for flooding should have the same priority as terrorism or flu prevention' from the Government downwards, and also 'urged local government and emergency services to improve their knowledge and practices'.

As the BBC report:

'The review looked at the lessons to be learnt from the floods and highlights a long list of failings.

They include:

- no national flood emergency plan

- no clear responsibility for dealing with urban flooding

- no systematic stockpiling of emergency equipment, such as boats.

According to the report, the floods in June and July led to the biggest loss of critical infrastructure since World War II.

It said flooding is only likely to get worse and society needs to adapt.'

"We're all facing up to climate change and there are all sorts of implications for the country in terms of having to adapt to that change," Sir Michael Pitt said.

"As the report explains, during May, June and July this was the highest level of rainfall we've ever recorded in this country since the 18th Century, so understandably there were very high volumes of water and big implications for emergency services."

'The drainage systems were overloaded, and there needed to be an urgent review of underwater rescue attempts as there was "ambiguity" surrounding procedures. '

"That needs to be sorted out and that is one of our urgent recommendations".

This Report is a timely one indeed for Ribbleside residents concerned about our existing floodrisk...

...and a time when local residents in Penwortham are concerned that the new proposals just announced to build 400 new houses on Factory Lane in Penwortham must not include any intention to build on an area of Sports pitches on Vernon Carus (which we understand are intended to be kept) NOR on any of the Green Belt and operational floodplain helping to protect our local communities from flooding...

...and at a time when Riversway Councillor Jack Davenport is to raise the issue of the need to assess the state of the drainage system in Preston at this week's full Council meeting - a meeting where Council Leader Ken Hudson is also due to make an official announcement about the Council's decision not to pursue the Ribble barrage...

You can read the Pitt Interim flooding report in full
or see the Pitt Review Executive Summary here.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

THE RIBBLE IS SAVED! - for now...

Following Preston City Council Leader Ken Hudson's declaration that the current Preston administration will not be pursuing the Ribble barrage scheme ("at this moment in time"), nothing has so far emerged from Preston Council to contradict this statement, apart from what looks like a magazine deadline missing the current news...

Since his initial announcement at the Public Meeting organised by Save The Ribble and Riversway councillors on 20th November, Cllr Hudson has since made statements to the Lancashire Evening Post, and to Radio Lancashire just this week, which confirm this position.

Today, the Lancashire Evening Post report on the confusion about the December edition of the council's Prestonian magazine which has just landed on tens of thousands of doormats this week, and features an article about Riverworks which states that "one aspect of the Riverworks exercise will be to look into the feasibility... of constructing a barrage across the river".

The LEP do, however, quote Preston City Council Chief Executive Jim Carr as saying that "Deadlines are to blame here. The magazine was sent to the printers on November 16th and the article reflects the position at that time".

Cllr Hudson, of course, made his initial statement that the barrage is not now being pursued ("at the present time") on 20th November...

During the Radio Lancashire interview on Tuesday of this week, Cllr Hudson, Jane Brunning of Save The Ribble, and Dave Dunlop of the Wildlife Trust were asked about the Riverworks scheme.

Cllr Hudson stated:

"Riverworks is a totally visionary concept for the whole of this part of Preston: unfortunately it has been hi-jacked by one single thing, the barrage, so we've moved away from that and are concentrating on Quayside [the Docks] and Canalside. We will leave Riverside to South Ribble's vision of the future for the river".

When being questioned about whether this scaling down of Riverworks is as a result of pressure from Save The Ribble and environmentalists, Cllr Hudson replied:

"It has been scaled down: we've listened to people and their concerns. We would have liked some form of study to find out whether any of these concerns were justified but we've said that... [this administration] wouldn't do anything about Riverside, we'd concentrate at this moment in time on the Docks and the Canal..."

(Hmmm, that "at this moment in time" proviso again...)

During his interview, Cllr Hudson also said that they had felt at the time that a barrage would have a flood defence mechanism like London so that the barrage can be shut to stop the tide coming in, allowing fresh water to get out...

Radio Lancashire asked Jane Brunning how she felt about the news that the barrage has been taken off the agenda, and she replied:

"Anything which puts the Ribble barrage in the bin rather than on the back-burner is to be welcomed", and said "we need to work with nature rather than against nature in terms of what developments we take forwards into the future".

Jane said that the flooding risks on the Ribble are not from the sea but from rainwater, so a Thames-style flood defence would not help here, and pointed out why a barrage would actually increase floodrisks as well as impact on an internationally important intertidal ecosystem.

She also pointed out that for many local people, the river and riverside areas are already an important leisure resource, as well as an important floodplain (which is another reason it should never be developed on) and that we should make the most of what we've got, ensuring great facilities for local people and even providing attractions for the new Ribble Coast & Wetlands Regional Park.

Dave Dunlop of the Wildlife Trust told Radio Lancashire about many of the important habitats and species that depend on the Ribble, and also said that returning some of the Green Belt into Blue Belt - Wetland marshes - would improve the river's function, increase floodplain provision, and provide great facilities.

Cllr Hudson is due to make an official statement to the next full council meeting on 20th December: we will, of course, report what happens here.

Over the coming weeks and months, Save The Ribble Campaign will continue to monitor events, and will continue to campaign to Save The Ribble - FOR EVER.

Watch this space to see whether the hopes and aspirations of local people for our river and riverside spaces will come to fruition: so many Ribblesiders have told us what THEY would like to see happen to the river and riverside spaces - keeping Nature green and clean and accessible to us all!

We will also keep you informed about any other Ribbleside issues such as flooding...


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Monday, December 03, 2007

Flooding Concerns for Ribbleside Residents

At the Broadgate Open Area Forum, the Environment Agency explained their new flood warning scheme and the floodrisks faced by a number of Ribbleside communities - all in high risk flood zones due to the potential for fluvial flooding events (i.e. river-based rainfall spate waters and land run-off and drain problems rather than from the sea), and emphasised that:

"The key message is that flooding is a risk and people who live in this area should start now to prepare for what they would do if their property was flooded."

Whilst, as the Lancashire Evening Post report, the risks of a serious flood event in Broadgate and Penwortham are deemed to be approximately a one-in-75 year risk, this does mean we are at high risk - and that such an event may not wait 75 years before it arrives!

Lower Penwortham residents will also have a chance to find out about the new flood warning scheme from the Environment Agency at the Penwortham Area Committee in Kingsfold Community Centre Tuesday 4th December at 7pm.
If you miss either forum, the Environment Agency will be sending letters out to local residents explaining how you can register for the scheme, or you can click on the link here to find out more.

After this year of unprecedented rainfall in the North West, our higher than average and faster than average flowing river HAS taken the strain as it is a free-flowing, natural drain which copes with the rainfall from 1,490 square miles of the North West.

Luckily for Broadgate and Penwortham residents, the early summer flash floods coincided with low tide and so the Ribble was able to quickly and safely drain the rising waters before too much damage was caused. As the lake of water on Leyland Road was within 6 inches of my own front door, no-one was more relieved than me...

As any local resident will also tell you, the green belt and floodplains both sides of the Ribble in Penwortham and Broadgate have remained sodden all year:
if these were mainly covered with the houses and concrete of roads and driveways and car parks for the "Central Park" building development being proposed for the Riverworks scheme, these large areas of valuable green space would not have been able to hold the many millions of gallons of water they are still coping with and releasing slowly into the river - all of our communities would have undoubtedly suffered greater flooding and the Ribble would have struggled to cope with the faster run-off of these rain waters.

As the winter months are living up to predictions with yet more rainfall, Ribbleside communities are at even higher floodrisk this Winter - so register for the Environment Agency's flood warning scheme NOW and make a plan of action.

Get sandbags just in case, plot a quick plan of action for getting the children and the cat upstairs, and your most precious belongings: hopefully we won't need to take any action as the Ribble and our floodplains have served us well this year but with the excessive levels of rainfall, the Environment Agency have given us a timely warning that it doesn't pay to be complacent.

If you want to hear more about the Riverworks scheme, tune in to Radio Lancashire at lunchtime on Tuesday 4th December at around 1pm as representatives from Preston City Council, Preston Vision Board, Save The Ribble Campaign, and the Wildlife Trust, will be discussing the scheme...

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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