A Royal visit and a summer of celebration at Grafham Water

Fifty years after its construction, Prince Philip returns to open expanded facilities.

grafham07:56 Wednesday 25th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: A royal visitor is returning to Cambridgeshire today, returning to Grafham Water, 50 years after officially opening the reservoir there.
(ARCHIVE TAPE) (MUSIC)
ANNOUNCER: The opning of Grafham Water by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh was the climax of years of planning, to meet the future demands for water in the Anglian region. This need for additional water storage in one of the driest parts of the country was identified in the early 1950s, after water shortages were experienced in the Northampton and Cambridgeshire areas.
DOTTY MCLEOD: I just love listening to that archive. I think it really evokes a completely different era. Prince Philip then back again today, unveiling a £28 million storage reservoir and pumping station at Grafham. Emma Staples is from Anglian Water and joins me now. So Emma what was it exactly that Prince Philip opened back then?
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Eastern Region water companies planning for growth

We need to understand how much industry needs, and how much will it need in a hundred years; how much will agriculture need in a hundred years; what will the population be in a hundred years.

rutland07:07 Wednesday 6th April 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: Water. We take it for granted. You turn on the tap. You go for a shower. You flush the loo. You water the garden. It’s always there. But we live in the driest part of the country, and we’re due to build many thousands more homes over the next couple of decades, full of people who will also want water. How to keep the taps running in the future was the question at an event in Peterborough organised by the watchdog, The Consumer Council for Water. Our reporter Katy Prickett went along.
RICHARD POWELL: We are the driest part of the country. Most of the Fens, as you know, is under sea level, so we could be flooded if there is an event. This part of the world has to look at the way it uses water, stores water, manages water, and this is incredibly important. We’re the fastest growing region outside London, so there are lots of houses, and businesses and jobs growth. They all need water. So water is an incredibly important part of the East of England, and how the companies manage that resource for the next fifty years is quite an important part of their role.
KATY PRICKETT: Richard Powell, a local customer advocate for the Consumer Council for Water, talking about water use in Cambridgeshire. The watchdog represents water company customers and was holding its first ever meeting in the Eastern Region at the Bull in Peterborough. It focused on efforts needed to protect water supplies for future generations. After all, Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire are scheduled to have a further 33,000 new homes by 2030, while just last week we heard Wisbech might be developed as a Garden Town with an extra 10,000 new homes, that will all want access to clean water. Bernard Crump is the watchdog’s Regional Chair for our area, and says customers are telling him they know water is a precious resource.
BERNARD CRUMP: With climate change, with growth in housing, and with the fact that this area is quite arid, expect to see water companies planning to make sure that the taps will always turn on, whatever comes along. We can act as the kind of bridge between that conversation we have with customers through our research and our contacts with them, and the companies, to make sure that that ambition to get the balance right is delivered.
KATY PRICKETT: During the lunch break he told me it’s all about supply and demand.
BERNARD CRUMP: In terms of supply, we need to make sure that we have the arrangements to store and to clean water in sufficient amounts to deal not just with the everyday, but within periods when we have a need to increase our use of water, because of weather, or because of drought or whatever that might be. And at the same time we need to look at ways that we can reduce demand for water, and that might be in our homes, it might be in areas of industry, agriculture being an important one we’ve been talking about, logical developments that can help crops to be able to give their yields with lower water dependency.
KATY PRICKETT: Water companies including Anglian Water and the Cambridge Water Company gave presentations at the meeting. Bernard Crump says he’s impressed by the way they’re collaborating with others to try to meet the rising demand for water in our area.
BERNARD CRUMP: That planning is standing us in good stead, so that when times get really tough with water towards the end of the 2020s, the planning has already been done to make sure that the solutions are in place. And you can rest assured we’ll be watching this area like a hawk over the next decade, to make sure that these plans get turned into reality.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Katy Prickett there, reporting from the Bull Hotel in Peterborough. Well listening to that is Emma Staples from Anglian Water. Morning Emma.
EMMA STAPLES: Morning Dotty.
DOTTY MCLEOD: I wonder if first of all you can just clear up a little bit of confusion for me. Because when I hear that gentleman saying Cambridgeshire is one of the driest parts of the country, but at the same time the Fens are nearly always flooded, what makes sense of that contradiction?
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Housing development and sustainable water supply in the Cambridge area

denversluice08:08 Tuesday 5th January 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: The headlines have been dominated by the devastation that flood waters have brought to the North of England over the last few weeks. Cambridgeshire has been spared the heavy rainfall this year, but one Cambridge academic has warned that instead of floods, the greatest challenge facing this county could be chronic water shortages in the coming years. Of course Cambridgeshire hasn’t always escaped flooding. In 1947 much of Fenland was inundated as rivers and drains broke their banks. These people remember what happened.
ONE: The Sunday night was very bad. Wind, the men had to rope themselves together on the banks to stop from falling into the river. Yes I were out on them banks and breaching them up with sandbags.
TWO: I went up to Earith because I’d heard rumours the bank had blown. When I got there it was really frightening. The bank was really shaking.
THREE: The one journey that I really recollect is the night that I was called out to go to Hilgay. The water in the river was so high that it was coming over.
DOTTY MCLEOD: There were also of course the terrible East Coast floods of 1953, when 300 people died, and as a result of that, a large scale flood protection scheme was introduced. Since then the flooding we’ve experienced in Cambridgeshire, although it’s always awful for anyone whose home is affected, it has normally been fairly localised. Dr Bob Evans is a Visiting Fellow at the Global Sustainability Unit at Anglia Ruskin University. Morning Bob.
BOB EVANS: Good morning.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Are we prepared then for the kind of deluge that we’ve seen in the North of England here in Cambridgeshire?
BOB EVANS: Well the North of England has had about three times its average rainfall in December. That is fairly rare.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Its average annual rainfall?
BOB EVANS: No no. Average for December.
DOTTY MCLEOD: OK.
BOB EVANS: So it’s an enormous amount of rainfall. We’ve had just over the average. So one of the reasons is we’ve had a lot less rainfall, and at the moment we’re coping. The river levels, I cross Jesus Green nearly every day and they’re not very up at all. And that’s been so for quite a long time.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Suppose we did have that kind of level of rain that they’ve seen in places like Cumbria, three times the average. Would we just be inundated here?
BOB EVANS: We would I think be more like what you’ve just been saying on the radio, that it would be local. Because it would be a question of how quickly you could shift the water through the system. And generally when we’ve had big floods it’s because the water can’t get out quickly, because the sluice at Denver is not allowing the water to go out to sea, because the tidal levels are very high. So you’d usually need two things to get really massive flooding. So I think you’ll just get local flooding, which as you say is fairly horrendous for the people who are affected. It won’t be massively around the Fens.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Now you say that actually water shortages are something that we’re more at risk of in the long term.
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Anglian Water bills coming down and staying down

grafham_water11:43 Tuesday 3rd February 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Yesterday we were asking why energy prices haven’t fallen in line with the falling cost of oil. Today gas and electricity firms have been hammered by Which magazine who say they’ve not passed on the sharp fall in wholesale energy prices, and they could have helped families save £145 over the past year. Well, there’s a chink of good news this morning regarding many of our water bills. Anglian Water have announced their charges will drop by 7%. The average annual bill will drop by £29. Emma Staples is from Anglian Water. Emma Morning. Why the drop now?
EMMA STAPLES: Well we’ve been planning this next five year period for what seems like a lot longer than two years. But about two years ago we spoke to around 50,000 customers to ask them what was really important to them, how they wanted us to spend their money. And we’ve based this plan, over the next five years, on that feedback. So it’s a balancing act between keeping bills as low as we can, and investing in the areas that are important to people, things like reducing leakage, protecting the environment, reducing the risk of flooding. So this has been a long time in the making, but today we’re able to say what the bill reduction will be including inflation. So people really know what things are going to look like in terms of what’s coming through the letterbox.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. You mentioned leakages, which are a particular problem in Peterborough, aren’t they? Continue reading “Anglian Water bills coming down and staying down”

City centre congestion in Cambridge and Peterborough a cause for concern

10:23 Tuesday 13th January 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: We’re also talking about congestion in our city centres, in Peterborough and Cambridge, and asking whether you’re being put off venturing into both cities because of the terrible traffic. Does it put you off? Yesterday Margaret in Peterborough got in touch with us about the traffic along Bourges Boulevard in Peterborough. She had this to say.
(TAPE)
CALLER: Bourges Boulevard is not as good as it used to be. You could go down Bourges Boulevard, be into town in a few minutes. Now you’re just sitting in queues of traffic. The journey down from Werrington to Queensgate shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon, it was awful. I caught the Delaine bus. I felt quite sorry for the driver really. We got to B&Q just over the roundabout and it was two lanes of traffic. Luckily the bus driver turned off at the Toys ‘R Us roundabout and went round the back street, and he must have only had about five minutes before he then had to drive the bus back to Stamford. With the roadworks, there’s too many traffic lights. I’m just wondering whether the Council seem to be deterring people, deterring them from coming into the shopping centre, because it will be a little while before I go down there again. It’s awful.
(LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well that was Margaret on the Show yesterday. But it’s not just Peterborough of course. Cambridge experienced some of the most congested traffic it’s ever seen just before Christmas. And joining me now is Andy Campbell. He’s Managing Director of Stagecoach in the East. Morning Andy.
ANDY CAMPBELL: Morning.
PAUL STAINTON: How difficult is it in Peterborough and Cambridge for your bus drivers at the moment?
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Cambridgeshire MP calls for Network Rail to be opened up to scrutiny

railway_line09:20 Friday 5th September 2014
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: The MP for North East Cambridgeshire Stephen Barclay wants David Cameron to confirm when Network Rail will be accountable to the public. At the moment it’s not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and according to the MP, with £34 billion added to the national debt this week from Network Rail at a stroke, that needs to change. So what do you think about giving a company billions of pounds, when there’s no way of finding out publicly how where or when the money is spent? Well Stephen Barclay is here. Stephen morning.
STEPHEN BARCLAY: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: It’s almost inconceivable that can be right.
STEPHEN BARCLAY: It is, and I think it’s a matter of time that those paying their rail fares will want to see this done quickly. It’s not just the Freedom of Information that we need opening Network Rail up to, it’s also to give the National Audit Office unfettered access. At the moment, the National Auditors have to go through the Rail Regulator, which creates a barrier in terms of the scrutiny that our public money is under. So I think we do need to let the public have access to information, and really open up the challenge that informed people in the community, particularly those with a knowledge of railways, or engineering, someone who perhaps has had a lifetime as an engineer, allow them to start looking at some of the infrastructure projects, and see whether we can deliver them in a more cost-effective way.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. It’s almost like it’s been all done behind closed doors, with billions and billions of pounds of our money.
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Nightingales At Grafham Water

08:54 Monday 1st July 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: Protecting the rare nightingale bird has moved a step closer thanks to the work of Anglian Water and the Wildlife Trust. Last year they fitted ten of these birds with special GPS tracking devices to see where they went. You would have thought they weighed them down a bit, but .. Now two thirds of the creatures have returned to Grafham Water, and our reported Johnny D is at Grafham Water this morning. Morning Johnny.
JOHN DEVINE: Good morning Paul. I’m in a beautiful wild flower meadow here on the banks of the Grafham Water reserve, and what a fantastic scene it is. I’ve got with me Mike Drew from Anglian Water. Where do the nightingales go to? You track them.
MIKE DREW: Yes. We have been tracking them. Nightingales leave the UK, and they fly down to Senegal and the Gambia in West Africa.
JOHN DEVINE: What’s the scale of the decline? Continue reading “Nightingales At Grafham Water”

Jesus Lane Dig Proves Tricky For Anglian Water

jesus_lane17:54 Thursday 24th January 2013
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: The major sewer works in central Cambridge beneath Jesus Lane have had to be temporarily suspended, but Anglian Water still expect the project to be completed in the scheduled twelve weeks, as Anthony Innes explained to me earlier. (TAPE) Continue reading “Jesus Lane Dig Proves Tricky For Anglian Water”