Saltford Environment Group
Recent News (click on links or scroll down this page)
You can find more news in our News Archive.
Saltford Wombles: Litter Pick Sunday 27 January
Our first monthly litter pick for this year is on Sunday 27th, 2 - 4 pm.If you are coming, please email Jo on firstname.lastname@example.org for the meeting points as the focus for our litter picks will vary depending on our numbers. Thank you.
If you have litter pickers and gloves please do bring them, but if not we can provide them. We have bags provided by B&NES Council.
Also, please let us know whether you have a car you would be happy to use to ferry a group to a start point.
As with any Saltford Wombles litter pick, everyone takes part at their own risk and it is essential that children are supervised at all times by a parent/carer.
Government Minister: "Don't build over the Green Belt to hit housing targets"
On 12th January 2019 during the BBC Radio 4 programme "Any Questions", the Communities Secretary the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said the following:-
"We want to see up to 300,000 homes built a year by the mid-2020s... I think that we can actually maximise the space, for example in places like our High Streets, actually ensuring that we're getting building over our shops where that's possible, seeing that we use some of the vacant spaces..."
In response to the question from Jonathan Dimbleby, the programme's Chairman, "Have you not in fact made it easier for developers to build on green field sites because of the alleged shortage that they claim there is, the planning laws have been eased have they not?" he replied, after making the point that the Government had created a plan led system where councils are able to set their local plans working with local communities:-
"On the Green Belt, absolutely that needs to be protected, that needs to be safeguarded. I am not one who is advocating that we should be, effectively, building all over our Green Belt in order to hit those housing targets. I think we can do this creatively, how we use the existing built environment and indeed brown field sites that are there, and actually the protections that are around Green Belt have been upheld and strengthened through our planning guidance to ensure that is the focus."
Big Garden Birdwatch 26 - 28 January
The RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch will be from 26 to 28 January 2019. It's a great chance to sit back, relax and watch birds and other wildlife for an hour - and to encourage younger members of your family to develop an interest in the local wildlife. By taking part, you'll find out all about the fascinating wildlife that flutters, crawls and hops in your garden or local area. And with a simple hour of mindful watching, you could have an hour to yourself, too.
Details including a free pack can be found on the RSPB website from this link:- RSPB Birdwatch. You can also find more information on social media using the hashtag #BigGardenBirdWatch.
Good news to end 2018 as B&NES refuses 200 houses on safeguarded former Green Belt between Keynsham and Saltford
We are pleased to report that on 28th December B&NES Council refused premature planning application 18/01509/OUT by Mactaggart and Mickel Homes Ltd for 200 houses on safeguarded Green Belt between Keynsham & Saltford. Both SEG and Saltford Parish Council had submitted strong objections to this planning application.
The reasons for the refusal given by B&NES Council were:-
1 The application site is safeguarded land and is not allocated for development at the current time. The development of the site has not been proposed for development following a review of the Local Plan. There are no material considerations that would indicate that permission should be granted at this time. The proposed development is therefore contrary to Development Plan polices, including Core Strategy Policies DW1, KE1 and KE3b. The development is also contrary to paragraph 139 of the National Planning Policy Framework which confirms that planning permission for permanent development of safeguarded land should only be granted following a Local Plan Review.
2 The existing road network in the vicinity of the site has insufficient capacity to accommodate the increase in traffic likely to be generated by the proposed development. In future scenarios, there would be significant delays at several locations, and it is likely that queues would block back across adjacent junctions. The proposed development would contribute towards these problems, and no mitigation measures are proposed to help alleviate the predicted delays on the network. The proposed development would result in a severe residual cumulative impact on the road network. The development is therefore considered to be contrary to policy ST7 of the Bath and North East Somerset Placemaking Plan, and contrary to paragraph 109 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
3 The planning application has failed to demonstrate that the required education infrastructure can be delivered in a timely fashion in order to accommodate the children of primary school age generated by the proposed development. There is no school in reasonable distance that has sufficient spare capacity or is able to be expanded in a timely manner to create additional capacity to accommodate the pupil needs arising from the development. The development is therefore contrary to Placemaking Plan policy LCR3A.
SEG is aware that the developer may appeal against this planning decision however there is no good reason in planning terms why such an appeal would succeed.
Government Minister confirms local planning authority should ULTIMATELY decide where houses are built
On 2nd November 2018 a detailed case was put by the Chair of Saltford Parish Council's Planning Committee (and Chair of SEG) Phil Harding to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) via North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg concerning the role of developers and the decision making process for where new housing should be located. Jake Berry MP, the Minister for Local Growth at MHCLG made the following statement in his reply of 3rd December 2018 to Jacob Rees-Mogg:-
"Allocation of land for development will ultimately be made by the local planning authority, following public consultation on the options available. The technical assessment provides information on the range of sites which are available to meet need, but it is for the local planning authority to determine which of those sites are the most suitable to meet those needs."
Thus it can be seen from this response that in the Government's view the ultimate decision on what land should be used for development rests with the local planning authority not with a Planning Inspector examining a draft Local Plan, or a developer seeking to push through a speculative planning application through an appeal.
Commenting on the reply on behalf of SEG Phil Harding said:
"We welcome this acknowledgement from HM Government that the ultimate allocation of land for development rests with the local planning authority. What we have here is official confirmation that this ultimate role is not for developers making speculative or opportunistic planning applications during the drafting of Local Plans or even a Government Inspector examining a draft Local Plan. Let's hope that this means we get a planning system that is plan led so that housing is built in the right place to meet genuine need and not at the convenience of vested interests."
SEG comments on safeguarded Green Belt planning decision (Keynsham East)
The decision on premature planning application 18/01509/OUT by Mactaggart and Mickel Homes Ltd for 200 houses on safeguarded Green Belt between Keynsham & Saltford has been delayed yet again until 31st December. On 11th December SEG submitted a further objection comment to B&NES referring to SEG's response to the Local Plan Options consultation and proposals affecting Keynsham.
Our comments included support for Saltford Parish Council's recommendation and request in its (and SEG's) Local Plan Options consultation response that no further development be permitted at East Keynsham until and not before the effects caused by existing plans for development of the Green Belt in the B&NES Core Strategy have been experienced, assessed and remedied where found to be negative.
SEG welcomed the West of England Joint Spatial Plan commitment (in WED 004A) that no housing will be completed at the North Keynsham Strategic Development Location (SDL) ahead of the Avon Mill Lane to A4 link, Keynsham rail station improvements and completion of the Metrobus route from Bristol to Keynsham on the A4 corridor. SEG agreed with Saltford Parish Council's recommendation that after the proposed transport improvements are implemented and are in use, the North Keynsham SDL should be carefully developed using an incremental approach with the two safeguarded East Keynsham sites developed last, if at all, in response to need, not demand, for new housing.
That approach can help ensure transport and other infrastructure is coping satisfactorily with new developments added in increments before additional and relatively significant volumes of new houses are built.
We have reported in our earlier news coverage on SEG's original planning objection to this planning application.
SEG submits its response to B&NES Local Plan Options
On 11th December SEG submitted to B&NES Council its response to the B&NES Local Plan Options consultation. We have reported previously concerning the similar response on 4th December from Saltford Parish Council produced jointly with SEG.
Key points in SEG's detailed response included the following:-
A website version of SEG's response can be downloaded here: SEG LP Options response (pdf opens in new window).
We will keep members updated via this news page of developments in our campaign to protect the Green Belt surrounding Saltford in the context of the draft B&NES Local Plan that is due to be published in 2019.
Why the Green Belt in B&NES is so important
If you missed the article "Why the Green Belt in B&NES is so important" by our Chairman Phil Harding in the 5th December edition of The Week In or want to read it again, you can read the text of the article here: Green Belt article (pdf opens in new window).
As B&NES Council consults on and works up its proposals for the B&NES Local Plan to determine where housing and other infrastructure should be developed for the 2016-2036 period, the Green Belt comes back into the forefront of the debate about where we should build new homes.
With the growing pressures on the natural environment and the land that sustains life from the interlinked problems associated with manmade climate change, plastics, poor waste management, consumerism, and unhindered population growth leading to habitat and wildlife species loss, Phil makes the convincing case for why whether we live in villages, towns or cities, we all benefit from the local green open spaces surrounding the area where we live for rest, recreation and the ecological support such land can provide to farmland and thus towards our food security.
New CPRE report highlights the damage to our soils
The thin layer of soil covering the earth's surface is the difference between survival and extinction for most terrestrial life. We rely for almost all of our food - 95% according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) - on rainfall falling on a thin layer of soil, often only a few centimetres thick. This living planetary skin is proportionally 10,000 times thinner than our own.
But we're taking soils for granted.
Our ignorance about soil biology is profound. Soils have been abused and squandered throughout history. In our era (since the last century), the use of agricultural chemistry and the plough have become conventional in farming. This system ignores soil's biological complexity and fails to nurture other important functions. Soils have been regarded as a resource that can last forever.
Fortunately, nature is resilient and we can, with care and skill, protect, regenerate and restore soils to health. There is an urgent need to do so.
A new report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England explores why soils are so important and sets out the key threats they face. It also tells the inspiring stories of farmers who are employing innovative solutions to bring their soils back to life.
Soils support plants that provide food, fibre, fuel and much besides. They retain and release excess water, clean and filter it - removing pollutants and pathogens - to recharge underground stocks. They emit CO2 and absorb it from the atmosphere. The web of organisms in soil are a primary food source for wildlife above. Most fundamentally, soil is the ultimate digestive system, decomposing all that lived and recycling it to enable new life. Soil is both the end and beginning of life.
Varied land uses, and especially farming, have shaped the landscape but the underlying soils are fundamental to landscape and the habitats and ecosystems it supports.
Healthy soil hosts an incredible diversity of life from tiny, single-celled organisms like bacteria and protozoa to fungi, insects and invertebrates and animals like moles and badgers. Land management that changes the physical and chemical properties of the soil will have an impact on soil biodiversity. In farming the most damaging activities are:
One third of UK soils are thought to be degraded, with 1 million hectares - 36% of all arable land - at risk of erosion. Up to 2.9 million tonnes of topsoil are estimated to be lost to wind and water erosion annually in the UK. The use of undeveloped land for building has more than tripled from 4,500ha a year in the 2000s to 15,800ha (2013-2017). At current rates around 1% of England's farmland is converted to built development each decade.
The natural environment acts as a regulator of climate with oceans, forests and soils acting as critical carbon sinks. But land use changes, particularly agriculture, have undermined this over a long period of time. Cultivation of rich organic forest and grassland soils to feed people and livestock continues to cause greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through various forms of soil degradation. On one estimate, most arable soils have already lost 40-60% of their organic carbon.
The report from CPRE can be found on the CPRE website from this link.
Good news update on Bristol Airport: 2nd Water bottle filling point
"We use plastic with total abandon without any care or concern about where it's going to go and what it might do"
You may wish to know that if you take an empty water bottle through security, following public feedback, there are now two water bottle filling points within the airport. They are:
The information desk can give directions if you forget where they are.
Parish Council agrees response to B&NES Local Plan Options
Saltford Parish Council agreed its response to the B&NES Local Plan Options consultation at its meeting on Tuesday 4th December. The response, produced jointly with SEG, makes a number of recommendations concerning protecting the Green Belt around both Keynsham and Saltford, raises the question of "net environmental gain", and makes specific recommendations concerning the proposals for relocating Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park eastwards to encroach on Saltford's Green Belt.
The SPC's agreed response can be downloaded here: SPC LP Options response (pdf opens in new window).
Organisations and members of the public can comment on the Local Plan Options document until 7th January 2019 via the dedicated B&NES Local Plan web page (link). The Keynsham staffed exhibition was held on Thurs 22nd November.
B&NES has said it will make hard copies of the document available to be viewed at the following locations during opening hours:-
Work is underway preparing SEG's similar response which will be submitted before Christmas.
Parish Council agrees response to fracking consultation by Government
At its December meeting held on 4th December Saltford Parish Council (SPC) agreed its response to the Government's consultation on whether applicants in England should be required to conduct pre-application consultation with the local community prior to submitting a planning application for shale gas development (fracking). SPC agreed to submit a similar response to SEG's recent response of 14th November on which we reported last month.
Like SEG, SPC agreed with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee report: "Planning Guidance on Fracking", Paragraph 91, July 2018 that stated "Shale gas development of any type should not be classed as a permitted development. Given the contentious nature of fracking, local communities should be able to have a say on whether this type of development takes place, particularly as concerns about the construction, locations and cumulative impact of drill pads are yet to be assuaged by the Government."
Further details concerning the consultation are on the gov.uk website from this link: shale gas consultation. The consultation closes on 7th January 2019.
Background information on this controversial topic can be found on our fracking page.
More and older news stories from SEG
Our 'Newsletter' archive page features most of our past and recently published news stories (click on image):-
Current areas of local volunteer assistance sought by SEG
In addition to volunteer assistance with projects such as Saltford Wombles (tackling litter), Fairtrade Group, and our Railway path habitat restoration project we sometimes have specific roles or posts that need filling.
Here are the current vacancies:-
Website skills wanted!
Our website is a popular resource for our members and others which means that in addition to keeping it relevant we want to make sure it continues to function as it should.
If you live in or near Saltford, care about your local environment and have current knowledge of website design and might be interested in using your IT skills for a bit of IT volunteering to help us behind the scenes please get in touch with our Chairman by email to email@example.com for a no-obligation chat on possible volunteer help.
First published June 2018
Want to get more involved with SEG?
SEG is seeking new Executive Committee members to help steer and develop SEG's future as we address the environmental concerns of our members at the local level. If you think you might like to get involved and join our Executive Committee (enthusiasm is more important than expertise!), please contact our Chairman, Phil Harding, for an informal non-committal chat.
The Executive Committee only meets 4 times a year and its working method is more about sharing ideas and getting things done in a friendly and productive atmosphere than being bogged down with time-consuming administration.
First published February 2018, updated April 2018
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Saltford Heritage Centre's next scheduled public opening will be announced here. Want a private viewing? We can also open the Heritage Centre for 1-hour private viewings by small groups on request (see the Heritage Centre web page for details).
"Think global, act local"