Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Abberton public enquiry "likely" - DEFRA

A public enquiry into a massive water transfer scheme, which the PAC fears could harm historically-important pike fisheries in the Fens, is "likely" to be ordered, it emerged tonight.

That's the response from the government's Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to concerns the club has raised about the plan.

Essex & Suffolk Water (ESW) wants to increase the size of Abberton Reservoir, near Colchester, to safeguard water supplies to drought-hit Essex.

But it needs to increase abstraction from the Ely Ouse at Denver, Norfolk, to supply the water.

The PAC is calling for a public enquiry into the plan, because it fears reduced flows in the tidal Ouse could harm internationally-important nature reserves and increase the risk of saline incursion into the lower reaches of the Delph, Old Bedford River and Well Creek.


What you can do:

Write to David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, urging him to call a public enquiry when ESW applies to increase its abstraction licence to enlarge Abberton.

Letters should be sent to:

The Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

More information on the scheme and it's possible impact on the Fens are on ESW's website Abberton Expansion Scheme.

The preliminary environmental studies can be viewed and downloaded here:

ESW Presentation

Consultants Report

EA Presentation


Our letter to the Minister:
The Rt Hon David Miliband MP
Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR

August 13, 2006

Dear Secretary of State,

We are writing to urge you to order a full public enquiry into Essex and Suffolk Water's proposals to enlargen Abberton Reservoir and the impacts such a scheme might have on the ecology of the Fens.

We enclose preliminary environmental assessments, which show that the increased abstraction of water from the River Ouse, which is part and parcel of the scheme, could reduce flows in the tidal river, increase salt encroachment and threaten both historic coarse fisheries and internationally-important bird reserves.

We fear this scheme could alter the entire ecology of parts of the Fens, heighten risks to endangered species and threaten populations of coarse fish and birds which are already at grave threat from climate change.

Both fish and birds play a vital role in the tourism economy of the area. Along with the thousands of anglers who travel from all over the country to fish the Fens, tens of thousands visit the Ouse Washes and Wildfowl and Wetland Trust reserves.

The Abberton Expansion Scheme has potential to create controversy on both a national and international scale, since the Ouse Washes, which would be placed at increased risk of becoming saline, are a Ramsar site.

We would request you give this matter your urgent consideration and hope that you will action this enquiry as soon as the relevant applications to increase abstraction from the Ouse and extend Abberton Reservoir have been placed on file.

As the club which represents Britain's pike anglers and campaigns for the preservation of their quarry, we would request you include us in the list of parties from whom evidence would be taken at the enquiry.

Yours Sincerely,

Mark Barrett, General Secretary,
The Pike Anglers Club of Great Britain