Lodes battle won - for now

PUBLISHED: 11:00 18 October 2007 | UPDATED: 12:57 04 May 2010

Campaigner Geoffrey Woollard.

Campaigner Geoffrey Woollard.

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save East Cambridgeshire s ancient Ro-man drainage channels have won their battle for the time being. Almost 1,000 people signed a petition to protect the Lodes after fears that they may be lowered, ditched or destroyed. But the El

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save East Cambridgeshire's ancient Ro-man drainage channels have won their battle for the time being.

Almost 1,000 people signed a petition to protect the Lodes after fears that they may be lowered, ditched or destroyed.

But the Ely Standard has discovered that the Environment Agency plans to go public next month with an option to "maintain the lodes at the current level by carrying out repairs as and when required".

It has been given exclusive access to the Ely Ouse Lodes Strategy Study options before its release date in November.

The document, which will go out to consultation before a final decision is made, says the Lodes will be reviewed in five years time.

In the meantime the National Trust is pushing ahead with its 100 Year Vision to flood farmland and extend the Wicken Fen nature reserve which campaigners fear will have a long-term effect on the Lodes.

The document is good news for the campaigners, who fought to save the Lodes 30 years ago, and are now celebrating a five-year reprieve in their latest battle.

Campaigner Geoffrey Woollard, who successfully fought both battles, said: "I am very grateful to the Environment Agency for producing what appears to be a five-year reprieve for my beloved Cambridgeshire Lodes and to the hundreds of supporters who have obviously influenced the outcome of the first round of the study.

"My fear now is that the National Trust will still go ahead with its attempts to buy up more of these Fens and that, after five years, with the further threat of land being flooded near to the Lodes, the Environment Agency will be compelled again to look critically at the longer-term future of The Lodes and their banks."

But the Environment Agency states in the study that "if there is an increased risk of bank failure the recommendation would be to carry out advance works to reduce the risk of failure."

The National Trust has always maintained that its plans for Wicken Fen do not threaten the future of the Lodes.

National Trust communications manager, Nick Champion, said: "The Wicken Fen Vision will create many benefits for an area under increasing development pressures. The benefits to the 7,000 plus species of wildlife already present, to people in terms of sustainable access, towards flood alleviation and reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere which contributes to climate change can only be good news for the local area, and the region as a whole.


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