Cumbria park in bid to spark MPs debate on dredging
Fears for the future of Cumbria’s tourism industry have prompted the owner of an award-winning Pooley Bridge holiday park to launch an online Parliamentary petition.
Barbara Allen, director of Park Foot Caravan and Camping Park, hopes to try and force a debate among MPs on the halt of river dredging in the UK.
If her petition passes the 100,000 signature mark, it’s likely that the House of Commons will examine if blocked river beds are at the bottom of Cumbria’s flooding problems.
Park Foot, which was named as Britain’s top holiday park by the AA in 2015, is among many tourism businesses in the Lake District hit hard by December’s deluges. With the bridge at Pooley Bridge washed away, says Barbara, access to her 40-acre park on the side of Ullswater has been made extremely difficult. Park Foot provides 130 caravan holiday homes and 400 pitches for campers and caravanners.
Barbara fears visitors avoiding Cumbria could represent a huge blow for many of the smaller firms which rely on visitor spending for their survival. Now, she hopes, her petition will result in a debate about the real causes of Cumbria’s woes:
“For hundreds of years, we’ve known in Cumbria that our rivers have had to be kept clear of the huge quantities of gravel which are washed down from the fells,” said Barbara. “We always took this task extremely seriously and prepared for violent inundations by continually deepening and embanking the rivers – but all that suddenly changed at the turn of the century.
“In 2000, the UK adopted the EU’s European Water Framework Directive which reversed dredging policies by demanding that our national rivers should remain largely undisturbed. “To comply with this directive, we’ve stopped dredging and embanking in areas such as the Solway estuary which affects Carlisle – and the subsequent build-up of gravel is at the heart of our current nightmare. We’re busy ticking the EU’s box of not interfering with the flow of rivers in their beds, and ignoring the simple fact that rainwater comes from the sea and needs to flow back there.
“I hope we can achieve the signatures we need for a debate before the referendum in June as we are unable to reverse this directive whilst we remain members of the EU,” said Barbara.
The Allen family came to Pooley Bridge as farmers almost 120 years ago, and first began welcoming campers in the early 1950s. The online petition calling for the abandoning of the European Water Framework Directive can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/117672
There is also a link to the petition on the park’s Facebook page which can be accessed from its website at www.parkfootullswater.co.uk/
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