FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT....
A local resident came forward with photographs which had been taken when the previous lakes, H/I, J and P, were being dug out. The depth of the pits, which were supposed to be dug to a certain depth, were, from the pictures on display, clearly much deeper. NPower's answer to this query was that they had to dig down to get to the clay with which to line the lakes - However, this meant a much deeper hole into which they could put even more of their low-cost coal option fuel ash. Surprise, Surprise!
The plans attached to that planning application don't bear any relationship to what actually happened; the ground levels are cock-eyed. A huge clay bund of ash rising six feet in the air is supposed, if you look at the plan, to have the same level as the River Thames, yet when the River Thames Flooded in January 2003 and Lower Radley Residents had water lapping round their doors for the first time in hundreds of years, people wondered why. The huge clay bund had stopped ground water permeating into the area round the new ash-fill lagoons. A visit to Lake H and I by our informant revealed the level inside Lake H/I higher than the water outside which was lapping at the "flood defences" which were supposed to relieve the pressure on that part of the flood plain.
This showed that Oxford County Council's decision to allow NPower to impinge of the flood-plain would set problems in store for future generations to come. You might think that the County Council and the Environment Agency, are supposed to protect the public interest. However, it seems they barely looked at the construction process, instead leaving it to NPower's contractors to do whatever was felt necessary. The County Wildlife Officer made requests for "mitigation" a euphemism for tarting up the area after destruction, and allowed trees to be planted which were not indigenous to the area. (but we suppose they might survive the alkaline environment which fuel ash generates)
One hundred and twenty other photographs were on display to show the diversity of wild-life available in the area around the two threatened lakes. The photographers presented a stunning set of images which captured many unidentified species, and led to visitors who were wildlife conservationists lending their support to the campaign when they realised the extent of the wildlife on the site. The Exhibitors received many congratulatory comments from the visitors.
The close-up pictures of spiders were amazing. These often-feared creatures are things of beauty in their own right when viewed with a photographer's eye. There were several unidentified crickets and grasshoppers which do not appear in any of the usual reference books and some exceptional pictures of bees which are also discovered to be rare.
The "Beautiful Lakes" pictures were worthy of being made into picture-postcards. Abingdon has its very own "Lake District" on its doorstep and as a result of our campaign, many more people now realise the beauty that is threatened.
Another local resident brought in copies of letters their two children, eight and eleven years old had decided to write themselves to HRH The Prince of Wales, and The Rt Hon Tony Blair. These letters were very poignant and the feelings of these youngsters came across very powerfully.
The interest in the exhibition was enormous and extremely gratifying. The Parish Council generously arranged for the printing of flyers to all residents in the Parish and also for flyers to go to houses on the boundaries of the Parish.
From amongst the visitors, Save Radley Lakes were able to recruit sixty new members who generously donated to our Campaign.
The Refreshments were home made cakes, scones, tea-breads, etc, all beautifully cooked and presented by the team of helpers whose efforts provided a welcome boost of funds to the Campaign Chest.
The Bric-a-Brac and Plant Stall also raised funds, and the toy stall provided added interest for the junior visitors.
To match the NPower exhibition, Save Radley Lakes also had samples of Fuel Ash, Slurry and Cenospheres. We would like the Chief Orc of NPower to put these where the sun doesn't shine, as we have said before. Down a salt mine in Cheshire is one option. And for all the people who think we are "Nimbys", we already have about 4 million tonnes of fuel ash on our doorstep. Enough is Enough. (Suppose that makes us EIEIMBY's)