Saltford Environment Group
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Disruptive climate change is already affecting the UK
Extreme weather events arising from climate change that are increasingly affecting the UK, specifically increased rainfall, sunshine, and temperatures, and have been predicted by scientists for several decades, are here now.
The "State of the UK Climate 2020" report from the Royal Meteorological Society using Met Office data states that the year 2020 was the 3rd warmest, 5th wettest and 8th sunniest on record. The report provides an authoritative and up-to-date assessment of UK climate trends, variations and extremes based on the most up to date observational datasets of climate quality.
The report also states that:
How can we here in Saltford adapt and be more resilient to these climate change impacts? Check out our Climate Change page where we provide tips that householders and local businesses can take including tips from the Environment Agency for making properties better prepared for flooding.
B&NES installs new NO MOORING signs in Mead Lane
During July B&NES Council installed additional and more prominent new NO MOORING signs in the "No Mooring" zone at the east end of Mead Lane. As can be seen from the example photograph taken a few days later, the signs were not having an immediate effect.
This area was originally a 48-hour mooring zone but in October 2020 B&NES decided to make this a NO MOORING zone on a permanent basis, so that this part of the riverbank can be reallocated as open space (a green space) for other leisure purposes by the general public visiting Mead Lane.
14-day moorings remain further down Mead Lane, in a sign posted area, for the present time. B&NES Council has an ambition to remove moorings from Mead Lane by the end of 2022 and will review moorings in Mead Lane before then.
Big butterfly count (16 Jul - 8 Aug)
The Big Butterfly Count is a UK-wide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) we see.
This year's big butterfly count is from 16 July to 8 August and could be something to also get younger members of the family engaged in over the summer holidays. Participants choose a place to spot butterflies and moths. Watch for 15 minutes. Then record which species they see.
There's even a free smartphone app for the big butterfly count so that you can carry out and submit your count all in one go while out and about watching butterflies. Details at www.bigbutterflycount.org.
To coincide with this year's big butterfly count SEG has updated its wildlife page so that it now has photographs of all 25 butterflies that occur and have been observed in Saltford in recent years - see wildlife page - butterflies.
Safety concerns as B&NES defers winter mooring ban in Mead Lane
Following a Judicial Review challenge by Community Law Partnership (CLP) on behalf of a liveaboard boater concerning the way the B&NES Cabinet resolved on 8 October 2020 to close the 14-day moorings during winter months a decision has been made by the Cabinet member for Neighbourhood Services Cllr David Wood in consultation with the Director of Environment to defer the decision to close the winter moorings. It is not yet known when B&NES Council will review moorings in Mead Lane but it has an ambition to end moorings in Mead Lane by the end of 2022.
This decision to end the winter mooring ban will be of concern to those boaters who have visited Mead Lane in the winter months and Saltford residents who are well aware of the dangers of winter flooding in Mead Lane (see photographs from January and February 2020) and the high river flow rates at times, usually in autumn and winter, when the river is in spate after prolonged rainfall. The flow rates have previously caused considerable erosion in Mead Lane, hence the riverbank repairs and bio-engineered stabilisation works by B&NES Council in 2005 which it then overlooked when the Council encouraged moorings in Mead Lane for a mooring trial during 2017 and 2018.
The trial came about after moorings started to occur in Mead Lane from 2015 when boats first started to moor there due to a loss of moorings in Bath and other factors. Furthermore, the Canal and River Trust (CRT) has continued to issue more continuous cruising licences despite the lack of facilities on the Kennet & Avon Canal and River Avon.
Climate change is already widely acknowledged to be increasing the frequency of severe and prolonged rainstorms, you only need to see the news reports of the present devastating floods in Western Europe to recognise this - and those are summer rainstorms.
This decision to defer the winter mooring ban therefore raises questions over B&NES Council's commitment to its own declaration of a climate emergency. Adapting to climate change so that communities, including the liveaboard community, are more resilient and less vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events surely has to be an urgent priority. Safe moorings in appropriate locations that are safe all year round needs to be part of how Local Councils with riparian ownership on navigable rivers respond to climate change impacts.
SPC to help brighten Saltford whilst supporting bees
At its meeting on 6th July Saltford Parish Council agreed in principle to develop an environmental project to create wildflower public spaces using seedballs with the aim of enhancing Saltford's green spaces for the enjoyment of all, whilst supporting pollinating insects. Details and delivery of the project will be decided at a future meeting, with an aim to work with local children and young people. It was agreed that SPC would fund aspects of the project with a request for support from the B&NES Ward Councillor Empowerment Fund.
SPC has approached B&NES Council to agree site selection in Saltford for this initiative. As the seedballs would be scattered on agreed parcels of public land in the village that are predominately subjected to a reduced grass mowing regime.
SEG has provided advice on this project concerning seed selection and is looking at how it can further support this worthwhile project.
Seedballs need no particular gardening skill and can be scattered straight onto open ground at any time of the year. Some will flower in year one but most will not come out until year two.
The use of seedballs is an ancient planting method that can increase germination rates. Used throughout the world for centuries, these provide an effective method to help #bringthebeesback whilst benefiting other pollinating insects.
Broken Saltford Lock and the winter mooring ban
The broken lock at Saltford Lock (by the Jolly Sailor PH) is closed to navigation and currently awaiting repair by the Canal and River Trust (see CRT boat by the broken lock gate above). This is a reminder of why the winter mooring ban (November to February inclusive) in Mead Lane is so important on safety grounds. It was for reasons of safety that the B&NES Council Cabinet approved the winter ban at its 8th October 2020 meeting at which it decided the future of moorings in Mead Lane.
When the river is in spate during winter months not only can the river overflow the riverbank, an increasing occurrence in recent years, but boats moored in Mead Lane can be either washed away and/or capsize with potentially catastrophic outcome for any occupants, damage to other boats downstream with again, a potentially catastrophic outcome for any occupants, and damage to bridges, locks and weirs. Or, if stranded on the riverbank, this then blocks the access to Wessex Water sewage treatment works that requires 24/7 access as well as to homes and businesses in the lane. The possibility of contamination of the river by fuel, oil and sewage from capsized/sunken boats is a further risk.
As an example of those dangers, in February 2019 a relatively small boat moored with other larger and also inappropriately moored boats in Mead Lane sunk and broke free when the river was in spate and was washed downstream where it was stuck at Saltford Lock. Fortunately there were no casualties or damage at the time to the lock.
At the B&NES Council Cabinet meeting in October last year, specific actions were agreed by the Cabinet and these included to identify alternative sites for 14-day moorings along the watercourse before ending 14-day moorings in Mead Lane and to create a joint River Warden post with the Canal and River Trust (CRT). SEG made the following response on our website on the B&NES Cabinet decision:-
SEG RESPONSE (October 2020)
The Atkins survey of the riverbank lacked a full condition survey of the rock armour below the water level so whilst Atkins found that the riverbank was stable at present (from only a visual surface inspection) it is not known how long it will hold throughout its full length. It is inevitable that the mooring of boats including narrow boats will gradually damage and reduce the lifespan of a rock armour stabilisation scheme designed and installed at a 45o angle.
As was acknowledged by Cllr Crossley at the meeting, the Mead Lane riverbank is very close to a narrow single-track road and to residential housing whilst the lane provides sole road access to Wessex Water's Sewage Treatment Works including Wessex Water's Scientific Services laboratory for testing drinking water and wastewater/effluent samples where 24/7 access is essential. Those factors together with the design aspects of the bio-engineered rock armour stabilisation scheme that protects the roadway and key utility service pipes including a pumped sewer main beneath the road, means that Mead Lane is unsuitable for moorings; B&NES Cabinet has by its mooring ban decision unanimously accepted that.
SEG supports B&NES Council's objective to identify alternative 14-day mooring sites for the live-aboard community along the watercourse before ending 14-day moorings in Mead Lane. However the 2+ year timescale does mean a prolonged period of risk to the riverbank's rock armour and stability and other factors that have made this such a contentious issue that has been difficult to resolve. The continuation of the parking ban should help keep the lane open at all times.
The effectiveness of the new River Warden will therefore be key to ensuring the temporary re-commencement of 14-day moorings from 1.3.2021 does not lead to the problems caused by a minority of boaters since moorings started to occur in Mead Lane from 2015 when boats first started to moor there and then became much more numerous from the B&NES 2017 mooring trial that served to attract more boat moorings at this location.
It is therefore to be hoped that rapid progress can be made in finding new and suitable moorings for boaters well before 31.12.2022, preferably in 2021, so that moorings can end in Mead Lane and the riverbank can revert to being an open space sooner rather than later - including as a Local Nature Reserve as SEG and others have called for - and the rock armour can be repaired and be the subject of a regular inspection, care and maintenance programme.
A positive outcome from all this can be more and better mooring provisions for the live-aboard community whilst Mead Lane riverbank reverts to being a public open space with excellent wildlife habitat enjoyed by the local community and visitors alike.
SPC backs Wessex Water's bridge & wetland habitat proposals
On the evening of 1st June Saltford Parish Council approved its supportive response to B&NES Council on Wessex Water's planning application, reference 21/02322/FUL, to construct a new permanent access route into their sewage treatment and water recycling works in Mead Lane. The SPC response agreed was as follows:-
SUPPORT: Saltford Parish Council is supportive in principle of this planning application. As these proposals keep Green Belt loss to a minimum and taking account of environmental and sustainable development considerations, we strongly prefer this proposed route including a bridge over the River Avon connecting the site to the A431 compared to alternative proposals considered by Wessex Water before this application was submitted. The Bath Road (A4) already has severe traffic congestion at peak periods arising from new housing developments in the area; sharing the volume of vehicles travelling to and from this important infrastructure facility between the existing access from the A4 and the A431 should help spread the load on local roads more evenly.
Saltford Parish Council also supports the proposals for wildlife enhancement to be provided by the wetland scrape that, if implemented successfully and taking account of our further comments below, should result in a welcome net gain in biodiversity for the overall project. This would be seen as a useful example of B&NES Council implementing a planning policy response to its declaration in July 2020 of the ecological emergency.
Saltford Parish Council wishes to emphasise that to avoid compromising the new habitat's value to wetland birds, a habitat that has previously been lost in this part of the Avon floodplain, it will be important to ensure disturbance to wildlife from the adjacent public footpaths is minimised and avoided wherever possible. Suitable screening and fencing together with management of existing or new trees to an appropriately low height, i.e. a regular pollarding regime, around the margins of the wetland area will also be essential to ensure wetland birds are not deterred from using the wetland habitat. Saltford Parish Council is confident that appropriate professional ecological advice for the finer design and management details of those aspects prior to the creation of the new habitat can reduce their effects greatly.
If the case officer is minded to refuse this planning application Saltford Parish Council requests that it be referred to the Development Management Committee for determination.
SEG will be submitting to B&NES Council a similar supportive response soon. We reported in May why SEG will be supporting this planning application. Balancing the ability for the general public to observe wildlife at a safe and screened distance without disturbing and thus deterring shy water birds etc. has to be planned carefully hence SEG will be commenting on that aspect in its response.
SEG members and others wishing to support and comment on this planning application (deadline is 21 June 2021) can follow this link and key 21/02322/FUL into the B&NES Development Control web page search box: Development Control link >>.
If you encounter difficulties with the B&NES website, you can email your objection/comments to: [email link] but make sure you include the reference number for this planning application (21/02322/FUL).
For more news stories from SEG visit our
Current areas of local volunteer assistance sought by SEG
Whilst our partner organisations such as Saltford Wombles (for tackling litter) and the Fairtrade Group always welcome volunteer assistance, SEG sometimes has specific roles or posts that need filling. Here are the current vacancies:-
Website skills wanted!
Updated January 2021
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-obligation chat on possible volunteer help.
Executive Committee: Want to help steer SEG?
Updated January 2021
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 (except during Covid-19 restrictions) 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.
Saltford Heritage Centre's next scheduled public opening will be announced here.
"Think global, act local"
All general, membership & urgent (e.g. Press) enquiries by email to our Chairman please from whom SEG's postal address, if required, can be obtained on authenticated* request *(to avoid junk mailing etc.).
HOW TO JOIN SEG: If you live, work or have a particular interest in Saltford & wish to join our email membership list please send an email to our Chairman. Please include your name, address & contact telephone number in your email application. NOTE: We provide information about membership including our simple code of conduct for members and personal data protection by SEG on our "About Us page".
Secretary: Vacant Position
Treasurer: Andrew Stainer
SEG Green Belt Campaign: - contact our Chairman (contact details above)
Saltford Station Campaign: Chris Warren
Saltford Fairtrade Group:
Saltford Heritage Centre
Saltford Wombles is independent of SEG but contact details can be found on our Less Waste page.
*EDITORIAL POLICY including SEO, web design and marketing for www.saltfordenvironmentgroup.org.uk
As a general rule our editorial content is sourced locally in Saltford and NE Somerset or from reputable non-commercial organisations based in the UK.
Will Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), website design, "content providers" and other similar companies please note that this website has all the SEO ranking, social media links, and smartphone compatibility that it requires to meet its specific objectives and enquiry emails on this topic including link requests will not receive a reply to save your time and ours.
SEG is not a commercial enterprise therefore companies that produce bespoke marketing materials or sponsored editorial content should also note that marketing emails or requests for placing links to other websites will not receive a reply as it is our policy not to reply to marketing emails of this nature unless they are from a Saltford-based organisation seeking to assist SEG.
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