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, June 06, 2006

Renowned Environmentalists Express Concerns about Barrage Proposals

Sir David Attenborough has written to us saying that he well understands our concerns about the threat to the Ribble.

Sir David’s most recent BBC TV series made a clear argument that evidence of climate change is now indisputable. In “The State of the Planet” he echoes our concerns when he states:

‘The future of Life on Earth depends on our ability to take action. Many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and our economies, and in our politics. I have been lucky enough in my lifetime to see some of the greatest spectacles that the natural world has to offer. Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy and inhabitable by all species.’

Professor John Whitelegg, environmentalist and sustainability expert, who recently presented a lecture at UCLAN, has lent his support to the Save the Ribble Campaign and has stated categorically that he ‘would not support a tidal barrage’.

Likewise, Dr Ron Freethy, Communications, Environmental and Tourism consultant, has expressed concerns about the barrage proposal.

One of the consequences of global warming and climate change is the likely rise in sea levels over the coming years and decades. Fragile ecosystems such as the Ribble are already vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and low lying flood plain areas will be at increased risk of flooding as sea levels rise. Building a barrage on the Ribble will exacerbate these risks at a time when we should be considering ways to protect our environment from the effects of global warming: a barrage on the Ribble will increase flood risk both sides of the barrage, and deplete our natural and sustainable sea defences that the mudflats and salt marsh of the estuary provide.

The Environment Agency is warning against building on floodplain as this puts ‘new development at risk from flooding or [is] likely to exacerbate flooding elsewhere’ which alone should prohibit the Riverworks housing and business building development proposals on both Preston and South Ribble flood plain.

In addition, this so called ‘Central Park’ building development, alongside those earmarked for Frenchwood and Fishwick Bottoms, will result in the loss of a broad range of natural habitats which support diverse wildlife species. Once our Green Belt is developed and built on it will be lost forever.

At the Save The Ribble Campaign, we will continue to do as much as we can to protect our local environment, and we believe that success will only be achieved when City planners embrace a new vision for the future of our area: one which compliments and enhances our natural environment in a way that is sustainable for future generations and supports the habitats of all species.


At 3:38 pm, Blogger Lord Elpus said...

It's a little disingenuous to say "Sir David Attenborough has written to us saying that he well understands our concerns about the threat to the Ribble" and then use a quote from his TV series as if it applies directly to the Ribble Barrage idea.

And is Prof Whitelegg really saying that there's no need to build a barrage to flood the Ribble, because global warming will do that job soon enough?

At 9:29 am, Blogger Atlantic Salmon said...

Sir David's broad point does apply to protecting our local environment, and we have made it clear that his quote echoes our concerns.
You misunderstand the views of Professor Whitelegg and other environmentalists, and the nature of global warming. The danger from global warming is that sea levels will rise, therefore a river barrage and building on flood plain are both likely to exacerbate the problems these rising water levels will cause.
The environment is fragile and at risk, so we need to act to protect it rather than cause further damage.
The disingenuity is all yours.

At 11:19 am, Blogger Lord Elpus said...

Well, just what has Sir David said in his letter?

I'm with you about building homes on floodplains - it's barmy - but the Riverworks idea has many facets to it. It's not take it or leave it, it is just possible that bits of it are a good idea, and bits of it are not.

However, environments - by their very nature - change. We just don't know how extensive global warming will be, or what the long term consequences will be. However, if sea levels are set to rise dramatically, that makes the idea of a barrage across the Ribble more important, not less, in order to control river levels up stream at the highest tides.

At 5:45 pm, Blogger Riversider said...

Sir David Attenborough said in his letter exactly what we say he said; that he well understands our concerns about a barrage across the river.

You are implying that we have deliberately misrepresented Attenborough's views - as a small local campaign, the last thing we want to do is to alienate important potential points of support such as prominent naturalists like Sir David. We are therefore very careful about our use of quotes and attributions.

If you look properly at our original posting, you will see that it is quite clear which words came from his letter to us, and which came from his TV series - your first message to us shows that you too could just as easily discern which quote came from which source as any other of our readers.

You are absolutely correct that the idea of building 4000 houses on beautiful green land in the floodplain is "barmy" - it is also quite clear that Preston and South Ribble people neither want nor need such a large amount of housing.

Your point about a barrage being a potential flood defence is interesting - though the people who live in the villages downstream from the barrage might object to it raising their risk of flooding.

The Ribble Link Trust Chairman Cliff Fazackerly has suggested that the barrage will be more like a weir - with the river able to pass across it at high tide - such a weir would be no use at all in defending from tidal floods.

The reality is is that the kind of barrage the council is proposing is nothing to do with flood defences, but everything to do with creating a 'water sports park', artificially raising the river to permanent high tide levels - this will increase the risk of flooding to neighbouring houses as it will tend to raise the water table beneath them, and because silts will accumulate behind the barrage.

The 350,000 wild birds in the Ribble Estuary depend on the silts that are being washed down the river for their habitat - any kind of barrage will disrupt this flow of silts and destroy one of the most important habitats for birdlife in Europe.

At 11:02 am, Blogger Lord Elpus said...

Riversider: "Sir David Attenborough said in his letter exactly what we say he said; that he well understands our concerns about a barrage across the river."

He doesn't say that in the quotes you have used, which do not specifically mention the barrage or indeed the Ribble at all.

If he's said he is specifically against the barrage idea, let's have the quotes; otherwise stop claiming specific support for your cause when in fact all you've had is a standard form letter that Sir David no doubt sends out to hundreds of people who contact him.

So far the only quote attributed to him that you have included comes from his TV show, and is as woolly and general and vague as it's possible to get.

Sir David says that there needs to be a fundamental root-and-branch change in human society, and in the way that human society operates on a macro-economic level, in order to safeguard the environment as a whole (without suggesting how or in what way such a revolution can come about).

While such a shift may - or may not - change some or all of the proposals for the barrage, it's hardly a specific message of support, is it? I could equally claim to have Sir David Attenborough's support because I plan to do a bit of organic gardening, change my brand of breakfast cereal or join the RSPB!

So what have you got - support ... or spin? It's put up or shut up time.

At 9:19 pm, Blogger Riversider said...


I don't know how to help you Lord Elpus, I have explained to you in very simple terms exactly what Sir David said in his letter.

If you persist in (deliberately?) misunderstanding what is patently obvious to everyone else, there isn't much we can do.

Could it be possible that you are raising spurious debating points on unrelated matters in an attempt to distract from the main points of this blog - that the Riverworks barrage and housing plans would be disastrous for local people and wildlife?

At 11:05 am, Blogger Lord Elpus said...

I've asked twice that you quote from the so-called "letter of support". You refuse. I'll leave it to other readers of this blog (if there are any) to draw their own conclusions as to why.

You've refused to put up - that only leaves you one option of the subject of Sir David.

At 1:49 am, Blogger Riversider said...

I have told you twice what the letter said.

Sir David said in the letter that he well understands our concerns about the barrage.

We said in the article that Sir David said he well understands our concerns about the barrage.

We have not stated any more or less than this.

We have not put words into Sir Davids mouth.

I have scrutinised the text and cannot find the source of your misunderstanding, which I now feel is almost definitely deliberate on your part.

Can we start debating the real issues now - the effects the barrage and housing plans will have on local people and wildlife?

At 10:09 am, Blogger Reigh Belisama said...

Just to clear this matter up, so we can discuss the real issues here, the actual word-for-word quote from Sir David Attenborough is as follows:
"I can well understand your concern about the threat to the Ribble estuary."
The rest of his letter is discussing his current work on amphibians and reptiles, which, as a great lover of amphibians, I am very much looking forward to seeing when it is finished.

At 4:01 am, Anonymous Fly Fishing Ebook said...

The UK Government has made a commitment to reduce national greenhouse gas emissions by 10% from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. This commitment was made as an ‘Annex I country’ as stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol. It is estimated that much of this reduction could be met by the implementation of renewable energy technology. Up to 7% of the total UK electricity demand could be provided with clean, renewable energy by a barrage on the Severn alone

At 8:44 am, Blogger Reigh Belisama said...

Hmmm... problem there Fly Fisher is that barrages are not clean renewable energy as they actually create more greenhouse gases in their construction and the wetland loss. Did you know that wetlands store CO2, and that standing water (particularly with rotting vegetation beneath it) gives OFF Co2? And that's without taking the huge amounts of Co2 in the construction of a barrage into account.
Tidal energy IS a great way forward, but tidal lagoons and other ideas create as much renewable energy as barrages AT A FRACTION OF THE COST and without causing damage to the environment. We can't save the environment by destroying the environment - that's a bit mad don't you think?
Google Tidal Lagoons and check it out for yourself.


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