The River Kent flows through the heart of the town of Kendal and has the highest level of protection afforded to a river in Britain, being both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. It is also just outside of the Lake District National Park, and is often billed as the “Gateway to the Southern Lakes”. A number of features that the river Kent has been designated for are likely to be impacted by Kendal Flood Risk Management Scheme.
On June 13th Save Our Rivers attended the National Trust's information day for their proposed Afon Bodesi hydro scheme in the Ogwen Valley.
Where is it:
The scheme is proposed in the heart of the Ogwen Valley on the Afon Bodesi as it flows from the southern flanks of the Carneddau, just behind the Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue base directly opposite Tryfan. This is one of the most important mountain landscapes in the UK, is designated a SAC (special area of conservation) and sits within a National Park.
Afon Bodesi is one of only 3 free flowing streams left on the Carneddau massive. With all the other south flowing streams captured by the leat to fill Llyn Cowlyd, the streams to the east captured in a series of reservoirs and leats that feed the RWE hydro at Dolgarrog and the North following streams all already containing manmade barriers (1 being another National Trust hydro).
The scheme will have an installed capacity of 85Kw and will run with a capacity of around 30-40% of that. For equivalence a single modern windturbines off the North Wales coast are 8MW, (8000Kw).
Why are they building it:
The National Trust are (hopefully) not naïve enough to believe that the building of small scale hydro will have any impact on climate change. What they are aiming to do is to fulfil a self-imposed target of generating 50% of their energy consumption through renewables. This is to be seen to be doing something (even if nothing meaningful is achieved). We are looking at the destruction of Welsh streams and rivers to greenwash the running of stately homes in England.
Most of the National Trust’s greenhouse emissions come not from their properties (19,800 tonnes of CO2) but from their agricultural holdings (equivalent to 667,567 tonnes of CO2), small changes in agricultural practice could have a large effect. Removing agriculture from areas of land and replacing with native tree planting could have a massive effect. So why aren’t they doing this? The simple answer is money, FIT payments to be precise.
Do they need the money?
As a charity the NT don’t make profit, but they do have an operating margin which is a bit like, well it’s a bit like profit.
This has nearly doubled in the last 4 years from £59.1 million to £101.1 million in 2017.
The Kaunertal Hydropower Expansion Project. The most destructive engineering project planned for the European Alps and opposed by over 30 environmental organisations.
The Oetztal Alps with its numerous glaciers, rich biodiversity, unspoilt alpine meadows, and powerful rivers hold the last water reserves of the Eastern Alps. This stunning area is under threat from the enormous Kaunertal hydropower expansion project. A project that threatens rare habitats, functional river ecosystems, high value agricultural land and the recreational value of both the mountain area and white-water rivers.
This mega project consists of:
4 dams built within the Oetz valley, cutting off 272km of wild river catchment and draining up to 80% of the water from the Oetzteraler Ache. A river famous for over 70km of world-famous white-water and home to the Oetz trophy world and European championships, that see hundreds of international competitors race the famous Wellerbruecke rapids each year.
The building of a 120m high dam in the Platzer valley that will flood 63,000m2 of ecologically critical moorland sited in an unspoilt alpine value.
The digging of 4 huge tunnels totally 47km in length that spread the projects impact across 4 river valleys
The ecological destruction of over 4km of the river Inn due to hydropeaking (rapid and destructive changes in water flow and temperature).
The impacting of 20 separate alpine communities.
This mega project is one being built for a different age. To negatively impact the water supply of an entire river system at a time when climate change is already threatening continuity of supply, and to rely so heavily on hydropower when the glaciers and snowfield that feed the plants are rapidly shrinking is madness. The environmental, recreational, and economic value of the Oetztal Alps and its remaining intact sections of river are far too valuable to be squandered on such a project.
A Hydropower Sustainability Assessment of the project showed up several significant gaps between the planned project and best practice including:
There is no corporate policy addressing stakeholder engagement, transparency, and disclosure, nor processes to ascertain if stakeholder information and interests are being met.
There is insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the KXP will avoid, minimise, mitigate or compensate all negative permanent social and environmental impacts.
Save Our Rivers and WET Tirol have joined forces with 30 other environmental organisations in supporting WWF’s Kaunertal declaration calling for:
The immediate stop of the Kaunertal power plant expansion project
The comprehensive protection of the last ecologically intact Alpine rivers
The preservation of Alpine natural landscapes such as the Platzertal
An energy transition that is compatible with nature
The rapid elimination of the burdens caused by existing hydropower plants on river ecosystems.
On Saturday September 24th September we'll be joining river lovers from all corners of the planet in a Home River Bio Blitz. In it's 3rd year, the HRBB has grown and grown, and is a chance for citizen scientists of all ages and experiences to join together and record a snapshot of the biodiversity in their local rivers.
For the third year at KMF, river lovers took to the water and banks of the River Kent in Kendal for the Palm / Pyranha Paddle Pick Up. It's been heartening to see the event grow year on year, driven on by the enthusiasm of Dan Wilkinson, and highlights just why we are all involved in fighting to protect the places we play. As well as kayakers, canoeists and rafters, we were joined along the banks by terrestrial trash enthusiasts from Trash Free Trails and the local community, and under the water by Angus the Frogman from Lake District Diving.
Jack from Dewerstone was on hand to capture the action. Check out his video below.
The process of floating and strolling down the river in the Sunday afternoon sunshine gave time to reflect how all of our actions can be greater than the sum of their parts. As well as the key thing, removing a third of a tonne of pollution from the river, the event brings communities together, provides a shared goal and focus for a group of individuals, offers a platform for catching up with old friends, forging new relationships, and allows everyone to feel part of something bigger.
The weekend at Kendal Mountain Festival is always inspiring, tiring and nourishing in equal measure, and this one was no different. I hope everyone who got involved feels inspired to take action to protect a place they play, and we look forward to hearing about it in future years.
We're really grateful to all the brands and individuals who supported the river clean, Palm Equipment and Pyranha Kayaks leading the paddlesports charge at KMF, NRS and WRS International for bringing down rafts and getting so many more people out on the water, as well as support as always from Patagonia, Radical Rider, Dewerstone and Waterskills Academy. You don't need a massive crew and an international festival to get out and give your local lap a clean.
We're stoked to be heading back to Kendal Mountain Festival for 2021. As a melting pot for forging new ideas, and catching up with fellow adventurers and activists it's hard to beat.
We'll once again be heading up with River Kent clean up, this time taking place on Sunday 21st at 12 noon, helped by our friends at Palm Equipment and Pyranha. We'll also be propping up a few bars, taking in some talks and shows, and sneaking espressos at the Dewerstone stand at basecamp.
The lovely people at Castle Street Garage (just over the road) have given us permission to drop off boats there, and Kirbie Kendal Primary School have offered their car park to leave cars in while we’re on the water!
Drop your boat at Castle St Garage, and if you are bringing a vehicle, drive downstream and drop it off at the school and walk back upstream.
What? We'll be making our way downstream, clearing anything that shouldn't be in the river. At the end of the section, we'll sort, record and recycle everything we can. The council have even said they'll take it all away for us!
Who? Everyone! We'd love as many people as possible to join us on the water and along the banks to celebrate and protect the river that is the heart of Kendal. If you are not a paddler, join one of the rafts or get involved from the bank. A short briefing will be given at the start to ensure that everyone stays safe through the event.
Check out what we got up to in 2019.
The River Kent in Kendal is under threat. Find out more here.
Things we can do together, that will make a difference.
The team at Save The Heart Of Kendal want to encourage you all to join us in taking a step forward and helping us make a change. The documents about the Kendal Flood Risk Management Scheme proposal may make you feel like you cannot enact change. But, we are here to tell you that it is the complete opposite, we are inviting everyone in our local community and online community to take part in these Simple Actions.
SLDC (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Cumbria County Council (DMandLLFA_south@cumbria.gov.uk)
Your MP (https://www.mysociety.org/wehelpyou/who-is-your-mp/)
The Environment Agency (KendalFRMS@environment-agency.gov.uk & email@example.com)
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (email@example.com)
3. Share wide and far - our blogs, website, social posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and use the hashtag #SaveTheHeartOfKendal
4. Turn Up. We understand and respect that will all things COVID related many folk will not want to in a crowd, which as a group we support and understand But, if you feel safe to do so please come along to show your support, listen and educate. When you are attending please respect everyone’s social distance and wear a mask.
Thank you for taking the time to read, and we hope to see you on Saturday 4th September at Midday, the link for the event is below. https://fb.me/e/5NCQmWhae
We are indebted to Raymond Coombe who has chosen to share his thoughts on the trees that will be lost on Aynam Road.
I am writing this letter to express my concern over the removal of so many trees alongside the River Kent in Kendal especially along the Aynam Road area. As you are perhaps unaware most of the trees were planted after the Boer War and Zulu Wars which took place in South Africa between 1770s and 1902. They are there to commemorate the loss and sacrifice of those men; Kendal Men, in the cause of Freedom.
My Great Greatt Uncle Matthew Travis who was born in Kirkland, Kendal was in the Battle of Gingindlovu on the 2nd April 1879 where he and his Regiment, The 91st Foot fought the Zulu Chief Butelezhi and his warriors. They won the day but alas Matthew was badly injured and was eventually pensioned out of the Regiment, the events sadly shortened his life. He fought what he thought was right , and our freedom. What would he think now? In the Kendal Parish Church there is a plaque commemorating the Kendal dead from the Boer Wars. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion Border Regiment and Kendal's St John's Ambulance Brigade. These family names are still in Kendal now, descendants of these heroes, there is also a plaque in the assembly hall of the old Grammar School; Old Boys who gave all.
In conclusion I am very sad at the felling of what is a War Memorial honouring our Kendal lads ..most came home and carried on with their lives as normal..but would often think of their pals that never..and I think we should not forget them either ..for what is the point of given all when nothing us remembered?
Your Sincerely Raymond Michael Coombe,
Writing on behalf of my great great Uncle Matthew Travis, Soldier,War Hero and Kendalian.