Drainage channel campaign hots up

PUBLISHED: 16:08 07 June 2007 | UPDATED: 12:32 04 May 2010

MAKING A STAND. Parish councillor Geoffrey Woollard ready to fight again to save the historic Lodes. Photo: HELEN DRAKE

MAKING A STAND. Parish councillor Geoffrey Woollard ready to fight again to save the historic Lodes. Photo: HELEN DRAKE

CAMPAIGNERS have signed a petition to save the county s ancient drainage channels. Dozens of people, including MP Jim Paice and East Cambridgeshire District Council leader, Cllr Brian Ashton, have added their names to the on-line e-petition which will be

CAMPAIGNERS have signed a petition to save the county's ancient drainage channels.

Dozens of people, including MP Jim Paice and East Cambridgeshire District Council leader, Cllr Brian Ashton, have added their names to the on-line e-petition which will be sent to Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

It urges the Premier to "ensure that the Cambridgeshire Lodes don't get ditched."

Campaigners fear the Ely Ouse Lodes, which probably date back to Roman times, will be downgraded changing the face of them forever.

Thirty years ago the same battle was fought and won but now campaigners are worried that the threat has reared its head again.

"The old campaign 'Don't ditch our Lodes' is just as relevant now as it was in the 1970s," said one of the original campaigners, Swaffham Prior Parish Councillor, Geoffrey Woollard, who lives at River Bank near Upware.

"I don't want to see the disappearance of this important recreational and historical feature.

"Thirty years ago there was a plan to do away with the Lodes and let the water drain into the Fen drainage system and then pump it out again. That seemed incredibly wasteful of power and energy and detrimental to this historical facility.

"Eventually the Lodes were patched and repaired and they carried on. These are local features which are internationally known."

South East Cambridgeshire MP, Jim Paice, has given his support to retaining the Lodes in their present form.

He said: "I would certainly not support any downgrading of our Lodes if the Environment Agency ever came up with such a proposal."

The future of the Lodes is under review as part of Anglian regional flood defence management.

A £1.2 million budget is available over the next year for a programme of schemes which will include a strategy for the Ely Ouse Lodes.

Their future is being discussed in relation to the National Trust's Great Fen Project which aims to flood thousands of acres of fenland over the next 100 years.


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