9 March 2022
Cambridge Green Party activists have branded a proposed art installation on the River Cam “a farce”.
The artwork, commissioned by Cambridge City Council and funded by developer contributions, would encase about 50 metres of riverbank in “subtle gold-coloured metal”.
But the Greens want local authorities to spend more time tackling the area’s water crisis and less on frivolous projects.
Matt Howard, Green Community Lead in Abbey ward, said: “Clean water supply is so essential for any healthy community, yet it's often taken for granted.
“Recent storms have brought flooding along the Cam, yet come the summers, the ongoing challenge is lack of water.
“Generally we’re taking too much out of the aquifer - just like we're taking too many other limited resources out of the ground.
“This is not the time for a vanity project 'gilding' a section of riverbank in gold. It’s a farce.
“People are suffering. The planet is suffering.
“We need to prioritise money and effort towards finding ways to rehabilitate our water and our rivers, not extract more from them.”
The East of England is classified as seriously water-stressed and Water Resources East, a membership organisation for the water authorities in the region, recently consulted on a draft plan to tackle the problem.
Proposed solutions ranged from fixing leaks and encouraging residents to take shorter showers, through to building a large reservoir in the Fens and developing desalinisation technology.
Naomi Bennett, Green Party councillor for Abbey ward, added: “We need urgent action on water supply and water quality.
“There has rightly been outrage at revelations of sewage contamination of our rivers across the country, not to mention the recent scare about a toxin in the water supply of some Cambridgeshire villages – although thankfully it appears that no one’s health was put at risk on this occasion.
“First and foremost, we need to pause plans for further large-scale development in our region, as the Cambridge Green Party has repeatedly pointed out (see our recent responses to consultations on the Local Plan and water strategy).
“Until we have enough water to keep our rivers healthy and provide for the needs of the people living and working here already, and have robust systems to manage our waste, it makes no sense to add thousands more homes and businesses.”
Image: Matt Howard (left) and Councillor Naomi Bennett