Ribble Rivers Trust has taken, and continues to take a significant number of actions in response to the COVID 19 Pandemic. We have effectively shut our office, staff not on furlough are working from home, implemented all procedures as required by the Government, and delaying a significant number of projects that were due to commence in the next 3- 12 weeks.
This has placed us at significant risk, as delivery of our projects is core to our existence, but we are managing this risk. In the interest of doing the right thing for our local communities and in line with the government guidance we think this is the right think to do.
Previously there were two exceptions to this, our works at Primrose Lodge and peat restoration on Pendle Hill. As these two projects fall within the activities that the government have permitted to continue, and we were not in a position where all of our funders could confirm that we could delay these projects, as such if we stopped work we would face a financial penalty that would threaten the continuity of the Trust. And where we delayed other projects the difference was that this was not a risk. Subsequently we have clarified with funders, and we have now ceased work on Pendle Hill until further notice. However, work continues at Primrose Lodge, we continue to monitor and liaise with the contractors (who are a small local company, whose livelihoods are dependant on the project) to ensure that they continue to monitor the situation, understand the issues and precautions they have to take, both personally and professionally. We continue to work with them to ensure that they comply with government guidance on social distancing, and other precautions required by the Construction Leadership Council.
Since our last update we have also reviewed government guidance, and clarification on the guidance, alongside our financial position, and future funding. It has been identified that a further project can commence shortly, safely and crucial to both Ribble Rivers Trust and the contractor undertaking the works – Wade Group.
This project is the deconstruction of Samlesbury Weir. We have discussed carefully the works, and requirements of the project with Wade Group, as well as landowners and tenants at the site, and agreed to progress the project as it can be delivered safely, a decision taken together.
John Wade of wade group has stated “This project has economic, social and environmental benefits for the community and for Wade Group. In these unprecedented and uncertain times, projects such as this will help Wade Group to retain staff. Despite the job retention scheme, we believe the only economically sustainable way to ensure the long-term employment of our staff is to undertake works (in a professional manner, whilst strictly adhering to the relevant and industry specific guidance managing COVID-19). As the income from this project will be shared along the full length of the local supply chain, so too are the benefits of employment retention for many companies and local individuals.
Managing the risk and spread of COVID-19 is of paramount importance at this time. Operations will strictly adhere to the Government’s advice, observing social distancing and following industry specific guidance issued by the Construction Leadership Council.”
Furthermore, it has been identified that the current low river levels and favourable forecast present an opportunity to complete this project within a shorter time frame, thus benefitting many of the local stakeholders. In addition, the low river levels significantly reduce the risk to the operatives that will be required to enter the channel, enabling us to keep the work force safer.
We also continue to closely monitor the government guidance and respond swiftly and accordingly.
Refer to gov.uk/coronavirus for up to date information and guidance.
We will come through this and our environment and rivers will still need your support.
Thank you for your understanding,
Ribble Rivers Trust