Saltford Environment Group
HAPPY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR
Recent News (click on links or scroll down this page)
You can find more news in our News Archive.
Big Garden Bidwatch 27 - 29 January
The RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch will be from 27 to 29 January 2018. 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.
Saltford School earns recognition for promoting sustainable travel
SEG is delighted to report that on 21 November Saltford Church of England Primary School received the top prize as The Primary School of The Year 2017 in B&NES for their work on promoting sustainable travel at the school. This was during an award ceremony in Swindon when the school collected its Modeshift STARS Silver Award.
We reported in July how the school had become the first in the B&NES area to achieve a Modeshift STARS Silver Award (free active travel breakfasts for those who walk, scoot or cycle to school; new bike racks and scooter pods; bikeability training etc.). The school is currently working towards achieving a Gold Award and would like as many children, parents and carers as possible to support their weekly WOW days (Walk on Wednesday). The school encourages parents and children to walk, scoot or cycle to school whenever possible.
"Living in harmony: Food, health and planet" - Keynsham, 6th December
Is it possible to choose a diet which is good for our own personal health, but also protects the environment and helps prevent climate change at the same time?
The speaker at this evening event orgainsed by Transition Keynsham will be Patrick Holden who has over 40 years experience on this topic. Former director of the Soil Association (for 15 years), Patrick is now chief executive of the Sustainable Food Trust.
Patrick is passionate in his desire to connect the health of people with the health of our farms, their soils, plants and animals and ultimately the planet we call home. The event will be held at 7pm on Wednesday 6th December at The Space, Keynsham.
See www.keynshamtickets.cloudvenue.co.uk for tickets (£5.50, under 18's £1 or £6 and £2 on the door). Followed by a Fairtrade drinks Reception.
Highlighting the dangers of discarded dog poo bags
The above photograph of a notice posted on facebook highlights the dangers that arise from the irresponsible actions of a small minority of dog owners. If you see someone throwing their dog poo bags into the hedge in Saltford perhaps you could refer them to the implications highlighted by this notice.
Fairtrade Christmas Shopping On Your Doorstep! - It's Easy
We look forward to seeing you on December 2nd at the Saltford Christmas Fair in Saltford Hall where we will have a large variety of Traidcraft artisan gifts for sale. Every gift has a story of hope for the craftsman and their families, turning lives around with a guaranteed income. From stocking fillers to beautiful glasses, for young and old, there is a gift for everyone.
The Christmas Fair is a fun day out for all the family with a great Fairtrade cafe serving tea and coffee and all the lovely 'Saltford Hall Specials' which we all know and love. It's a lovely way to get you in the mood for Christmas.
But there is more - you don't even have to leave home - all the lovely Traidcraft gifts along with festive foods, great everyday tea and coffee and a few surprises like jars of curry sauce can be found on line. There will be details of this along with Traidcraft catalogues at the Fair but if you want to get ahead we have an easy way to get you started.
Orders are free of delivery if over £50 but the Saltford Fairtrade Group has started a once monthly service when you can put in your order of under £50 and it will be delivered centrally to Kath. Payment can be made upfront and goods can be delivered or collected. It takes around 5 days to be delivered and orders go in on the 4th Thursday in the month - EASY. Take a look at the Traidcraft website (www.traidcraft.co.uk) to find out what Fairtrade really looks like, 'it's not just coffee, tea and bananas'. Ring Kath on 01225 344066 to find out more.
Happy shopping everyone.
How much is Bath & NE Somerset built on?
On 9th November 2017 the BBC posted on its website research findings which show exactly how the land is used in each local authority area.
For B&NES the following data is revealed:-
The four categories are drawn from 44 different land use codes used by the Co-ordination of Information on the Environment (Corine) project initiated by the European Commission in 1985. The data has been produced with the help of Dr Alasdair Rae from the University of Sheffield.
Whilst B&NES has above the UK average of farmland (81%) compared to the UK average (57%), it is the small percentage of natural or semi-natural land (heathland, natural grassland etc.) that remains in B&NES at just 5% compared to 35% nationally. Natural land is important for providing eco-system support/habitat (e.g. hosting the biodiversity necessary to enable pollination) that enables crops to grow on farmland.
This shortage of natural land underlines the case for not building on the Green Belt in our area. Natural land and the scope for recreating more is too precious if we are to have any reasonable prospect of food security in the future and for supporting the continuing existence of healthy and diverse wildlife. Leaving wild areas for nature to flourish in our gardens is one small way we can help to reduce the deficit.
The BBC web page containing the data is at: www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-41901294.
HELAA: SEG makes case to B&NES that our Green Belt is not appropriate for development
B&NES Council is carrying out a Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) review and SEG submitted its response to the B&NES report on 9th November 2017. HELAA is required in order to identify and assess land that could be considered for allocation in the Local Plan (previously known as the Core Strategy Review) that will cover the period 2016-2036. The primary purpose of the Local Plan 2016-2036 is to identify and allocate sites to meet the housing and economic development requirements established by the West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP).
The council undertook a call for sites (CFS) between January and March 2017 requesting land to be identified and submitted to the council for assessment through the HELAA process. Anyone could submit land for consideration, but part of the assessment relates to the availability of the land and therefore land normally needs to be owned by someone who is willing to develop it or to sell the land to a third party who is willing to do so. Apart from availability, it was stated that the assessment would consider both the suitability and the achievability of land.
As SEG predicted, developers have identified Green Belt land on the south and west side of Saltford that they would like to build on. SEG and the Parish Council have responded accordingly, SEG on 9th November, and both responses were strongly against such development for a range of planning and sustainable development reasons including traffic congestion, new developments should be close to the sources of employment to reduce the need to travel for commuting and that it is unsustainable to build on the Green Belt which would be contrary also to national planning policy (known as NPPF).
Furthermore at the public meeting held at Saltford Golf Club on 1 December 2016 the Leader of B&NES Council, Tim Warren, said that the "current B&NES administration had no intention to allow housing development on Saltford's Green Belt in the Joint Spatial Plan".
You can download SEG's response here:- SEG HELAA response 9.11.2017 (pdf, opens in new window).
Heritage Centre to be open on 25th November (10am-12 noon)
Saltford Heritage Centre will be open during the St Mary's Christmas Market on Saturday 25th November from 10am until 12 noon. The Heritage Centre, on the first floor of the Church Hall, Queen Square, Saltford BS31 3EL, is only opened for special occasions and school visits so this is a rare opportunity to pay it a visit and see some of the displays illustrating and describing Saltford's amazing past. We have produced some new information display panels since the opening of the Heritage Centre in June.
Refreshments will be available at the Christmas Market where, in addition to visiting the Heritage Centre you will be able to browse craft and market stalls organised by St Mary's PCC. For more information on the market or to book a stall contact the Rector, Daile, on 01225-355910.
Anyone for Guerrilla Pruning?
You may have heard about Guerrilla Gardening, the "improvement" of public spaces by planting shrubs and flowers without the permission of the local authorities that own them. Such action can have legal consequences and is something Saltford Environment Group would frown upon as there are so many non-native alien plants, shrubs and trees sold in Garden Centres and other outlets that have virtually no ecological value or can be damaging to the natural environment. But what about Guerrilla Pruning?
When I was working in Bristol the wife of a colleague almost lost the sight in one eye as a result of a simple encounter with a house plant. She had only very lightly scratched her eye but the resulting bacterial infection was so serious she was in very real danger of losing the sight in the affected eye.
How often do we just walk round the many brambles, branches and other vegetation that overhang our footpaths in Saltford, sometimes stepping into the road to avoid them? We might think that we wish the householder or B&NES Council would do something about it but why not on your regular walks carry some secateurs in your pocket and snip off the offending twig, branch or bramble? It's all too easy to blame the householder, landowner or B&NES Council but that doesn't save the sight of a child or person who accidentally walks into offending vegetation.
I regularly walk my young grandson to school in Keynsham and the footpaths have been so overgrown with dangerous brambles etc. that I now take a pair of secateurs with me and snip off anything overhanging the footpath putting the cut branch back within the property boundary. According to gov.uk one can trim branches up to the property boundary. This small action is much to the interest and amusement of my grandson but is to the gratitude of older school children walking to Wellsway School and young Mums who are fed up with snagging their clothing or getting wet brushing against the branches on rainy days as they push their pushchairs down narrow hitherto overgrown footpaths.
Of course we could complain to B&NES Council or the householder, but if a child loses the use of an eye when we could have easily helped prevent such an unfortunate accident it would be on our conscience that we saw a problem with an easy solution and left it to someone else to sort out.
Perhaps other folk in Saltford would like to become Guerrilla Pruners too? And if your garden vegetation is intruding onto public footpaths, please think of others and prune it back.
Phil Harding, Chairman, Saltford Environment Group
Saltford Carthaginian Coin at the SEG AGM and Social Event (16th Oct)
One of the oldest coins found in Britain from the Iron Age, the Saltford Carthaginian Coin (300-264 BC) will be available for members to see at our AGM alongside some new history project display panels we are have created (for the Heritage Centre).
Commencing at 7.30pm on Monday 16th October at The Crown Public House, our 15-minute AGM will be followed by a social time to enable members to get to know SEG's Committee members and find out more about what we do. Soft drinks and nibbles will be provided; alcoholic drinks will be available to purchase from the bar, of course.
We have sent the agenda and further details of the event to members by email.
Give cyclists space when passing
B&NES Council, in partnership with Avon & Somerset Police, is launching a campaign aimed at improving the safety of cyclists. A highly visible display on a bus is to be used to raise awareness of the space motorists need to give cyclists when overtaking. It serves as a reminder that our roads are as much for cyclists as they are for cars, vans and lorries.
The Council reports that over the last five years there has been a significant reduction in the number of people injured in road traffic collisions across Bath and North East Somerset. However, the number of cyclist casualties has remained relatively consistent over this period.
Commenting on the campaign, Chief Inspector Kevan Rowlands, Head of Road Safety at Avon and Somerset Police, said:
"Since the beginning of 2017 we've received more than 350 reports of near misses, which suggests that people aren't aware of how much space they should leave when overtaking, or perhaps choose to ignore this advice. Anyone failing to leave enough space puts cyclists at risk and could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention."
Help Waitrose support Saltford Heritage Centre
Waitrose in Keynsham has kindly offered SEG a green token 'Community Matters' box for the SEG/PCC Saltford Heritage Centre project in September.
When shopping at Waitrose in Keynsham during September please show us your support by taking a green token from the person serving you at the till and putting it in our box (don't mind asking for a token if they forget to offer you one!).
The more tokens we get the larger our share of the £1,000 split between three community organisations/schemes in the monthly collection. More information about the Heritage Centre can be found here: Saltford Heritage Centre
Climate change data dashboard
If you ever want to see or use a visualisation of climate data, have a look at the Carbon Brief's data dashboard. Interactive graphs based on information from a group of global datasets include temperature, carbon dioxide, sea ice and sea level rise. Here's an example:
Click here for the: Data Dashboard from Carbon Brief.
Wake up & smell the coffee! Chatham House report on food security
The following is from the Chatham House Report "Chokepoints and Vulnerabilities in Global Food Trade" (Rob Bailey and Laura Wellesley, June 2017):-
"Global food security rests upon international trade in a handful of crops. Maize, wheat, rice and soybean together provide around two-thirds of the world's harvested crop calories. While production of these crops is concentrated in a few 'breadbasket' regions, demand is ubiquitous and reliance on imports is rising."
"Population growth, shifting dietary preferences and growing demand for biofuels are driving up demand for grain - for food, animal feed and fuel. Global crop production will need to double by 2050 to keep pace with this demand. But a combination of biophysical and socioeconomic factors - including heat stress, water scarcity, declining soil fertility, soil erosion, intensive cultivation practices and poor nutrient management - is slowing global growth in crop yields. These supply challenges are heightened by the fact that opportunities for the expansion of cropland are limited: agriculture already uses 12 per cent of the world's ice-free land; should this share surpass 15 per cent, we risk triggering abrupt, potentially catastrophic environmental change."
Whilst the report looks at chokepoints, critical junctures on transport routes through which exceptional volumes of trade pass, it also highlights the fact that "climate change is increasing the threat of disruption. It will increase the frequency and severity of extreme weather, leading to more regular closures of chokepoints and greater wear and tear on infrastructure. Rising sea levels will threaten the integrity of port operations and coastal storage infrastructure, and will increase their vulnerability to storm surges. Climate change is expected to aggravate drivers of conflict and instability. It will also lead to more frequent harvest failures, increasing the risk of governments imposing ad hoc export controls."
It is reports like this that remind us of the fundamental importance of protecting our Green Belt from the short term economic gain but long term economic loss of development on land of such increasing value (that is value in its widest sense). Who can accurately predict when reduced food security, food scarcity and rising food prices will start to impact on the nation's social and economic well-being?
Our Green Belt does much more than support our quality of life, so important for good mental health whether we live close by it or gain recreational access to it from our towns and cities. At a more basic level it supports our food security as the rest of the world will struggle to feed itself let alone supply food to meet our needs, currently approximately 40% (net) of the food we in the UK consume (source Defra). It follows that in addition to its current purpose its future role will become ever more important for future generations.
In addition to helping to absorb heavy rainfall and reducing soil erosion during flash floods (an increasing occurrence as a result of climate change), it would appear from the lack of attention from our politicians that its key role for supporting the UK's food security is still underestimated. Whether Green Belt land itself is or can be used for food production, it has an equally important role of supporting food production on neighbouring farmland that relies on surrounding natural habitats that support pollinating insects and the wider ecosystem necessary for a healthy environment that sustains all life forms.
It is that important ecological purpose of supporting food security in an uncertain future that organisations like SEG need to communicate as the dangers posed by climate change to our food security become ever more apparent.
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:-
Future SEG website development - can you help?
Our website has become a very popular resource for our members and others, with over 2,000 unique visitors per month, typically opening over 5,000 pages. Using a relatively simple design and basic html approach, it has grown organically since 2011 into an extensive library of articles, themes, links etc.
Thinking of our ongoing ability to maintain and develop our website we are looking for someone who could give some time to support our Chairman Phil Harding with the html website in the short term, and potentially help us to transfer the site across to a new system such as WordPress in the future, as well as maintaining and developing our presence on social media. Do you have the relevant experience, interest and time to get involved? If so, please get in touch with our Secretary at email@example.com to talk further. You'll be at the heart of SEG's activities and a valued member of our team of volunteers.
First published March 2017
Opportunity to coordinate local habitat project
Just a reminder that Saltford Environment Group is looking for a new volunteer to be our railway path habitat restoration project coordinator as our existing coordinator, who did a great job getting things organised, has had to step down due to other commitments. This local project has seen some notable successes:
The area needs some concerted effort over the next 2-3 years to prevent the area from reverting back to scrub and trees: obscuring views and shading some of the rare sun-loving plants that have so recently returned. This work is likely to involve:
This is a great opportunity for someone with good organisational skills to help deliver a really exciting project: restoring a rare and beautiful habitat and bringing members of the community together through fun, practical activities.
No prior experience of wildlife conservation projects is required and there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about the rare and beautiful plants and animals which would otherwise disappear from our area, to make new friends and learn new skills along the way. We are looking for someone with a can-do attitude and the enthusiasm to engage with volunteers and provide more of a social side to this worthwhile activity.
If this opportunity to manage and develop a small yet interesting and local outdoor project appeals to you, to express an interest please contact our Vice-Chairman Chris Warren (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
The project has its own webpage: link >>
First published February 2017
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