Should we be throwing stuff into the river at the Lewes Newhaven Raft Race?

I would like to say a few words about the Raft race/Regatta advertised in the latest edition of the Sussex Express.

I was particularly upset by the organiser who is encouraging folk to gather at bridges etc along route to bombarde the rafters with eggs and flower bombs.

I phoned him and explained that I was concerned that this may be detrimental to water quality and aquatic life, not just the ingredients mentioned but who knows what else the public might chuck in (not to mention the plastic bags that the flour may be in and the rubber balloons of the water bombs). It was pointed out to me that its been going on, albeit in a lesser scale of event, for 40 years without doing any harm (no evidence for that) and anyway it’s a tidal river so it gets a wash out once a day by sea water. You couldn’t make it up haha!

I didn’t lose my rag but chatted for a while and tried to explain a river is a delicate eco system. The Ouse looks like a muddy drain but it is far more complex than that and neither is it a kiddies paddling pool where crazy adults can go mad for a day without being somewhat respectful of the fact that its home to a huge collection of wildlife right there under the surface.

Now that the Ouse is within a National Park and given that ‘we’ know better than we did 40 years ago, I feel that planners of such events should be more careful about what they say and what they encourage others to do. Yes, people should be able to use and enjoy the river, quite boating is of course acceptable and hugely beneficial to folk. Jet skis and wacky races with crowds hurling missiles, plastic and damaging food stuffs into the water is not. The National Park was formed to protect this important place, not to turn it into a theme park. If people want to have a blow out and let off steam fine, go to Disneyland.

Steve Homewood