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...
LONG LIVE THE RIBBLE WILD!
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