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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Great Wall of Preston: Dock's Vision Muddying the Water?



The Lancashire Evening Post report today that one of the proposals being considered by Preston Council for the Riverworks Quayside Docks development is a huge wall dividing the Dock basin into two sections from top to bottom through the entire depth of the 20-30ft deep basin which, it is suggested, they hope could potentially solve the blue-green algae problem...

Apparently by mixing contaminated silts from the bottom of the dock basin with cement to construct this dividing wall, and then, according to Council Leader Ken Hudson, "lifting all the silt from one side of the dock and setting it at the back of the wall so you fill the dock with its own sludge", it is hoped that the water quality on the non-sludged side of the wall would be of 'bathing quality' and therefore water sports could take place on that section of the dock basin.

What exactly this will mean for the sludge-filled side, and the visual and olfactory results of having one half of the dock basin back-filled with sludge isn't clear...

- Not to mention what relationship this has with the associated idea of building floating homes not only on the Docks basin but alongside the Ribble itself - destroying the biodiversity of sections of the Ribble corridor and the effectiveness of areas of floodplain which are essential for protecting already-existing communities and a no-go area for new development, according to the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment to which all Councils and developers are now bound...

These ideas for the Dock basin wall are clearly ideas only at this stage, forming "one of several options being considered in a feasibility study on Preston Council's Quayside Project", as there would need to be a detailed assessment of the economic and environmental costs of such a procedure, not to mention the huge reduction in the navigable area of the Dock basin (- one of the largest single dock basins in Europe we believe - at the moment anyway!), and the scheme is intended to include the floating homes idea which has been raised before - presumably on the sludgy half?!

... all of which leaves us wondering:

- why the blue-green algae would suddenly choose to occupy only one half of the Dock basin when silts themselves aren't the sole cause of the problem, lack of oxygen caused by standing water is;

- what options are being considered which would protect the current size of the basin and oxygenate the water to discourage blue-green algae in the first place, and therefore make the whole dock basin a useable - and fantastic - water-sports facility (- it's a shame to make it so much smaller!);

- why redeveloping the docks appears to mean losing so much of its space and therefore its potential by building floating homes instead of pursuing options which keep it a public domain, and retain that vast open space, AND solve the algae problem;

- how such a huge structure as this "mudcrete" wall would be can be an asset rather than an eyesore;

- how the silted-up half of the basin will look and smell!

- What these proposals will mean for the associated ideas for developing the Ribble corridor - presumably the Preston side anyway as South Ribble Borough Council have pledged to protect the Ribble banks and Green Belt areas from development.

You can contact us at savetheribble@tiscali.co.uk

Thursday, January 08, 2009

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.'

Sue


- 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!

You can contact us at savetheribble@tiscali.co.uk

"The care of rivers is not a question of rivers, but of the human heart" Tanako Shozo Save The Ribble Logo