Midwinter Tales from the Riverbank - Ribblesiders Still Watching
Whilst things are quiet on the Save The Ribble front, as the Penwortham Green Belt and floodplain has been saved from the Riverworks proposals for a huge housing estate, designated instead a new Country Park by South Ribble Borough Council - exactly what local people were asking for! - and the Ribble barrage proposal "off the agenda" at Preston Borough Council - for the time being at least, Ribblesiders are free to enjoy the unspoilt pleasures of life by the Ribble - pleasures that money can't buy.
Even in the depths of winter, the Ribble is a beautiful habitat for people, and an essential habitat for wildlife.
As the RSPB emphasise, the Ribble and other West coast estuaries are VITAL for wildlife on an international scale, particularly in freezing temperatures such as we have at the moment.
A walk alongside the mudflats in Broadgate and Penwortham at low tide will reward you with the sights and sounds of just some of the birdlife the Ribble supports through the winter, from Teal to Goosander to gulls to my personal favourites the Redshank feeding by the water's edge, their melancholic tew-tew-tew echoing along the water.
Chris of Penwortham has sent in a few pictures he has taken along the Ribble during these cold wintry weeks...
looking upriver on a day thick with frost and fog
the elms along the Tram Road
a pair of Lapwings on the fields opposite Avenham and Miller Parks...
...which take to the air...
...and fly upriver.
Nonetheless, the underlying fear that the barrage proposal could be resurrected still lingers in Ribblesiders' minds, and the knowledge of what we would lose is pertinently described by Sue of Savick...
'My parents still live near Savick Brook. I spent hours,days and years down there as a child and teenager and I still walk and run there whenever I can. I went to Savick school and have vivid memories of gazing out of the upper windows at the swollen brook in winter rain, of trying to decipher the contours of its older courses in other weathers and seasons.
The canalisation of the brook has been a complete waste of money and a small environmental disaster destroying tidal flows and wildlife habitats along its length. It's no longer a place where children from the Lea and Savick estates could play (PE), observe wildlife (Biology), see nature at work in the form of water erosion (Geography), or wonder at the different textures of sand and mud (Geology). Nothing to do now but hang out at the lock gates, grafitti the thoughtfully supplied information boards (suppose that's Art) or trudge along tarmac paths - subjects for someone else's study of Sociology instead of active learners. And I've seen just one boat in how ever many years since it was opened (Economics).
The barrage [would] promise disaster for the environment and us on a vaster scale. From the purely subjective point of view of one small human being, one of my great joys coming home to Preston from life in exile in Yorkshire is coming over the Ribble: by train is good , but - against my better judgement - by car inspires and uplifts me. Driving over Penwortham Bridge I'm keen to see the state of the tide and the height of the river. It gives me a taste of the sea, the tides, the moon, of the cycles of life. I weave vague histories about the old hulk, rotting upstream to the left. I look for birds on the mudflats and promise again to bring my binoculars and park. I would be devastated to lose all this to our rulers' quest for yet more uniformity, predictability, certainty. What a Vision for Preston.'
- thanks Sue.
Diane has sent in a comment about the lack of urgency in tackling flooding along the Ribble:
'The problem with not only our council preston, is that all councils seem to have their head in their sand. It does not matter how many people phone up and say about drains not working properly, the council do not seem to act until it is to late. A lot of the floodings can be stopped if the councils looked after the drainage problem properly and put into action a proper flooding plan and spend money where needed. We have not seen the last of the floodings and the council need to understand this and start spending money and take action to stop serious damage being caused'
- thanks Diane: of course, by not barraging rivers or building on the floodplains will certainly help prevent flooding worsening!
Penwortham wetlands overlooked by the Preston Junction Nature Reserve, still beautiful in Winter, and birds of prey can often be seen hunting here - thanks Chris!
Also, you can read about how Preston Junction Nature Reserve is currently being considered for a REMADE in Lancashire facelift, hoping to improve access to and from Bamber Bridge and Preston - directly into Fishergate Centre car park and the train station - by bike and walking, whilst preserving and enhancing the wildlife facilities of the Nature Reserve and its adjoining habitats!
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