2015 – December Discussions

Well informed people such as yourselves are well aware of the special nature of the Chiltern’s chalk streams and that our river Misbourne is one of only 216 in the world – (there are 5 times this number of wild pandas!). More, you know the river through the Chalfonts and up to Amersham provides a vital environmental corridor between the perennially flowing sections up and down stream, which is prone to becoming blocked by overgrowth and debris. Many of you have worked hard to maintain this corridor and cherish the fragile flow. It is good to know that several recent petitioners have been carrying this information to the discussions at the HS2 Parliamentary Select Committee.

In their presentations they have attempted to alert the “powers-that-be” to the risk – however small – that construction local to the river presents to its sustainability. They have also advised how appropriate mitigation of that risk – at no great cost – can be provided by environmentally sensitive lining of vulnerable sections. This safeguard, based on the proposals used in the unsuccessful appeal for Lottery funds a couple of years ago, uses techniques and materials endorsed at the time by all functions within the Environment Agency. These arguments were also put to representatives of one of HS2’s consultants last week during a visit to meet Chalfont St Giles Parish Councillors. Discussion beside the river enabled us to clearly set out the total inadequacy and utter impracticability of HS2’s mantra that they “… would monitor flows and, if necessary take retrospective remedial action …..”.

Knowing what you know about the Misbourne, can you imagine the amount of discussion it would take among the lawyers to agree whether or not any lack of, or reduction in, flow after tunnelling was a consequence of the construction or not? And how much more between consultants as to what corrective measures to put in hand? The seeds have been sown: let us now take every opportunity to ensure the Environment Agency requires substantial advance mitigation of the potential increase in porosity of the substrata under the river as a pre-condition of their approval of construction.

Throughout this year there has been regular discussion as to whether or not it was likely that we would get to winter without the river drying up through the Chalfonts. Well, I now maintain that we have reached winter! And, if you will allow me to disregard maybe three isolated days in September/October when things looked rather dehydrated around Chalfont St Peter, we seem to have made it. Followers of the “Quickview” data on our website will recognise this as quite a milestone. Groundwater levels and rainfall have been consistently similar to, or even less favourable than, those of 2011 when we last suffered significant loss of flow.

I will shortly leave you to resume writing Christmas cards and preparing for festivities but, first, a thought about 2016. During your annual discussion on the topic of New Year resolutions, if you are not one of our regular volunteers, please consider setting aside a day for just one of our work parties………… and, if you are one of our regular volunteers, you can be assured of everyone’s appreciation for your continuing efforts!

I have e-mailed menus to all those – (more than 20) – who I believe have booked to date for our Annual Dinner at The Greyhound on Tuesday week – the 15th. So, if you haven’t received yours and think you booked, please contact me asap. Discussion on the 15th is by no means restricted to matters fluvial and if you now feel like joining us for a very friendly, relaxed evening (there are no speeches) and didn’t previously contact me, never fear: I’m happy to add you in if you contact me anytime up to Thursday this coming week – we would love to see you.

However, if we are not to see you on 15th, I close with many thanks on behalf of MRA and your local communities for all your work and support in 2015, and with warmest wishes that you and yours may enjoy a Very Happy and Peaceful Christmas,

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