Don't Ditch Our Lodes
EAST CAMBRIDGESHIRE DISTRICT COUNCIL has given a great boost to the 'Don't Ditch Our Lodes!' campaign. The Council last night passed unanimously a special motion as follows:
"That this Council, conscious that the Cambridgeshire Lodes represent an important historical and recreational feature of the District of East Cambridgeshire, deplores any moves that might lead to the Environment Agency lowering or ditching any of the Lodes. And urges the Agency, following its current review of options for the future, to continue its policy of maintaining all of the Lodes as at present."
The proposal was made by Councillor Allen Alderson (Conservative, The Swaffhams) and it was seconded by Councillor Hazel Williams (Liberal Democrat, Burwell). Councillor after Councillor spoke in favour, and the result was a massive and unanimous expression of support for the continued maintenance of The Cambridgeshire Lodes, more particularly Bottisham Lode, Swaffham Bulbeck Lode, Reach Lode, Burwell Lode and Wicken Lode.
Geoffrey Woollard, a former County and District Councillor and a leader of the 'Don't Ditch Our Lodes!' campaign, said afterwards:
"This was a marvellous result for a momentous motion and I cannot recall any earlier occasion when a special motion has been passed unanimously and in this way. I pay tribute to the diligence and eloquence of Councillors Allen Alderson and Hazel Williams who have both done sterling work in persuading their colleagues to support the cause: they did a great job.
"It would be good now to get Cambridgeshire County Council to give their support for keeping The Cambridgeshire Lodes. I hope that our County Councillors can get cracking, and the sooner the better. We already have the support of Mr James Paice, M.P. for South East Cambridgeshire.
"Of course, there was an elephant in the room last night and nobody dared mention its name. I dare. Its name is The National Trust. In my opinion, if it had not been for The National Trust's plans to buy up and partially to flood some 10,000 acres of rich fen land in the Swaffham Internal Drainage Board's area, this issue would not be causing so much concern to so many people. The National Trust says that 'lowering' some of The Lodes would be 'acceptable.' Lowering is much the same as ditching. And ditching The Lodes is what we are against.
"In The Environment Agency's £200,000 'Scoping Report,' it is clearly stated: 'The strategy [for the future of The Cambridgeshire Lodes] will be influenced by the National Trust's long term plan to acquire 3,700 hectares of land ......... Known as the Wicken Vision, the project will cover all of the land through which the lodes pass.' And, 'The lodes themselves are major infrastructure features, and it should be noted that stability of the lodes may become an increasing problem as the groundwater levels rise under the Wicken Vision.'
"I was also very pleased to hear Councillors urging others to sign the on-line EPetition, which is to be found at -
and reads as follows:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure that the Cambridgeshire Lodes don't get ditched! Some 30 years ago, a successful campaign was waged to save The Cambridgeshire Lodes, ancient canals of probable Roman origin - principally Bottisham, Swaffham Bulbeck, Reach, Burwell and Wicken Lodes - which were threatened by the then authorities. A decision was made to maintain and to preserve The Lodes. Such is the situation today: The Lodes have been maintained and preserved. But new documents indicate that The Environment Agency has commissioned a 'scoping report' costing some £200,000 and that it is looking critically at The Lodes, an option again being that of converting all or some of them into ditches. The old campaign slogan - 'Don't Ditch Our Lodes!' - is just as relevant now as it was in the 1970s. A new factor is The National Trust's plans to buy up and partially to flood some 10,000 acres of rich fen land and the Trust says that 'lowering' some of The Lodes would be 'acceptable.' Lowering is much the same as ditching. The Swaffham Internal Drainage Board and Swaffham Prior Parish Council support The Lodes being maintained. But the Philistines could be triumphant if their opponents are inactive. So, this is a call to those with influence to use it!"