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SALFORD COMPANY ACCUSED OF ECOCIDE AS WEASTE WATER OASIS DRAINED
 

Star date: 10th July 2017

FISH, FROGS, BATS AND DRAINAGE ENDANGERED AS WINTERBOTTOM'S RESERVOIR DRAINED

Last week, Action Properties began draining a pond in the middle of Weaste known as Winterbottom's Reservoir, believed to have been used by Friedrich Engels' old mill.

Residents are accusing the company of ecocide as they say that the pond was full of frogs and fish, and was used as a feeding ground for bats. The pond is also part of the local watercourse and drainage could lead to flooding. The company told the Salford Star that residents and 'furious' local councillors are 'misguided' and that its actions are 'responsible'.

Full details here...


Winterbottom's Reservoir Salford Being Drained Winterbottom's Reservoir Salford Being Drained Winterbottom's Reservoir Salford Being Drained
Winterbottom's Reservoir Salford Being Drained Winterbottom's Reservoir Salford Being Drained Winterbottom's Reservoir Salford Being Drained
Winterbottom's Reservoir Salford Being Drained
click image to enlarge

Local residents were horrified last week when they discovered that a pond, which has over the years become home to fish, frogs, flora and fauna, was being drained by Action Properties to be filled in for development.

The pond, off Liverpool Street in Weaste, is known as Winterbottom's Reservoir as it is believed to have serviced Friedrich Engels' bleaching mill nearby, and, although now unused and closed off to the public, has become an oasis in the centre of urban Salford.

"The reservoir is part of the feeding ground for the area's local bat populations; they come from all around as the flies that spawn in the water act as a major food source over the summer months and allow them to survive hibernation in colder months" explains resident Karl Davison "Bats are seen all over the area as they head to it in the evenings. If they fill it in they cut off their major feeding ground in the area.

"There are also kingfishers which visit the place, something rare as they are not really seen in many urban areas" he adds "It's a miniature oasis for wildlife which has reclaimed it. Locals facing it are furious that they were not informed it was being drained. The place is full of frogs and toads in spawning months, they feed fish and birds alike, as well as sustain amphibian populations within the city which are in huge decline globally."

The draining of the pond began last Wednesday and councillors were alerted who, in turn, informed Urban Vision, which confirmed that no planning permission had been applied for, and contacted the company to advise that the reservoir formed part of the watercourse network. Drainage and 'inappropriate works' could lead to the flooding of local properties.

Residents and councillor objections had previously stopped development on a similar reservoir across the road, near Dodd Street...

"I'm really unhappy that the current owners have taken this action and we will do everything in our power to ensure the wildlife is preserved and the watercourse is unaffected" local Councillor Paul Wilson told the Salford Star "The reservoir is essential to maintain drainage system. It's messing around with wildlife and the drainage system. It's impossible to say what wildlife has been damaged, I'm furious."

On Friday, the Salford Star visited the fenced off site and seventy per cent of the pond had already been drained, with trees chopped down and dried lily pads scattering what was the waterbed. The Star was also sent a screenshot of a resident's video clearly showing fish swimming and trying to survive in the remaining water.

The Star contacted Action Properties director, Helenya Jones, who is also Financial Director of Full Circle Events Ltd, which create exhibition stands; including one last month at the 3rd European Climate Change Adaptation, Climate Ready Future, Conference in Glasgow. Part of its remit was to 'enhance the environment'...

We asked Helenya Jones... 'Were you aware of the consequences of draining the land for the local wildlife and watercourse? Why did you not seek planning permission before work started? Do you think you are guilty of ecocide?'

She didn't respond but fellow Action Properties director, Stephen Barratt, who is also a Lead Partner at Full Circle Events Ltd, did a full phone interview, insisting that the company had done nothing wrong. He argued that local residents and councillors were "misguided"...

"When we bought the site the information was that it's not a reservoir, it's a man made pond that has no drainage in it from any road system, and has its own drainage system into the water system" he said "We've had two environment surveys on the land, none of which alarmed us to any wildlife, bird nesting or flowers..."

What about fish?..."We can't tell on the fish until we've drained down" he said "We've got people with waders in the pond daily and we haven't found any sign of fish..."

We've got photos and a video of fish in the pond...

"We've got a fish sanctuary who may be willing to take the fish when we find out what they are" he responded "We have no intention of filling in the land until our architects have surveyed it, which they can't do until it's dry. Planning permission will be submitted within the next few weeks to build units which will bring seventy full time jobs into the area. It's not anything to do with the eco system or the water in that area."

Local councillors and residents are saying different...

"Local residents and councillors have not asked us any questions, so it's hearsay" he insisted "Urban Vision called the office yesterday and we told them what we were doing, which was draining it level by level to do some more work on it and submit planning permission. But it's a completely man made reservoir or pond, not part of any water system or drainage according to any reports we've got...

"I don't see what the issue is" he added "We're not willy nilly draining it or developing it, and there's no intention of filling it in until we've got planning permission. But to investigate it we have to drain a certain amount of the pond. I don't need any permission to drain the pond for research, because two environmental surveys said there was no danger to wildlife. It states that we should drain it in stages to see if there is any other life in there."

But aren't you killing wildlife as you are draining it? There's lily pads and frogs...

"What are you saying, my responsibility is to lily pads and frogs?" he asked

Yep, to protect them...

"There are certain things that are protected and certain things that aren't" he explained "I could drain that pond in a day but we're doing it stage by stage, so we have been pretty responsible. Any irresponsible developer would have drained the pond from the deep end. Residents' cameras will show we started at shallow end, then the mid section. It's only in the last two days that we've gone into the deep end where we can access what's in there.

"Environment studies show no reason for not going ahead" he added "There's no newts, no bats, no nesting birds or endangered species. It does say 'please be aware of fish'...All in all I think we've been pretty responsible and if any residents have an issue with what we are doing I will give them full consultation.

"I am not a developer, I have a business that is expanding and have chosen to expand in that area" he explained "We're putting manufacturing units on there and bringing jobs. We've paid a lot of money for the site but wouldn't do anything to upset local people..."

Local people, however, remain unconvinced... "If the developers continue to attempt to get this passed by planning then it will be met with strong opposition locally, and petitions will be sent into the Council along with letters of objection" says Karl Davison "The place is home to thousands of frogs, toads and other wildlife..."

Salford lad wrote
at 07:06:47 on 13 July 2017
Homes for frogs or people! It was a pool of stagnant water should have been drained and filled in long ago!

steve lynch wrote
at 19:40:06 on 10 July 2017
I have now reported this to the Environment Agency who will be investigating the incident. The incident number is 1538492.

Steve Lynch wrote
at 15:55:53 on 10 July 2017
Typical reaction from a developer that think they can do whatever they want because they own the land. Where there are fish in a pond/reservoir etc. then lowering the water levels will eventually kill all fish present. Has this company informed the Environment Agency that they are undertaking drainage of a water course that contains aquatic life? I doubt it very much. The developers need permission to move fish from their current location to another location as there is a possibility of cross contamination and infection if there are any diseases present.Has this permission been sought and agreement given from the EA? Doubtful. However, I will be informing the EA of what is happening at the site and will ask them to investigate with a view to prosecution if the correct permissions and risk assessments are not in place.

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