Saltford Environment Group
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SEG comments on planning application for 9 houses between Keynsham & Saltford
On 6th November 2019 SEG submitted comments to B&NES Council concerning the planning application ref. 19/04542/FUL from the developer Churnmead Ltd submitted by their agent Pegasus Group for 9 dwellings at Parcel 8108, Bath Road, Keynsham. The land in question is part of the Strategic Site Allocation at Keynsham East for 250 houses and is located west of the new Crest Nicholson development "Hygge Park".
SEG understands that the ownership of this parcel of land is (or was) separate from other land parcels in the B&NES 2014 Core Strategy's Strategic Site Allocation for 250 dwellings at Keynsham East hence it is being brought forward separately from Crest Nicholson's Hygge Park development.
SEG's self-explanatory response was as follows:-
Saltford Environment Group notes at paragraph 5.6 of the Planning Statement associated with this planning application the statement that the provision of affordable housing "should not be sought" for smaller developments. This strongly suggests that (a) this development of 9 dwellings is planned to be additional to the 250 houses allocated in the 2014 Core Strategy for the Strategic Site Allocation at this location, and (b) that a piecemeal approach to sub-developments like this is being used to reduce the affordable housing provision within the overall strategic site as intended by the policies within the Core Strategy (30%) and/or the forthcoming Local Plan.
The local community is already concerned about the implications and prospect of 250 new houses at Keynsham East that would put undue pressure on transport infrastructure and public services which affects neighbouring communities including Saltford. Those services and infrastructure already struggle or increasingly fail to cope with the existing housing density in the local and wider area before the proposed Core Strategy developments have been completed and supporting infrastructure for those developments put in place.
It is prudent therefore for B&NES Council to: (a) prevent smaller housing developments within this strategic site being used to exceed the overall plans set out in the Core Strategy (i.e. if this approach is permitted other developments at the same strategic site will need a corresponding reduction), and (b) prevent a piecemeal approach to sub-developments like this being used to reduce the affordable housing provision within the overall strategic site thereby missing both the NPPF (2018) objective of creating mixed and balanced communities and the affordable housing needs of the area.
The close proximity of retained vegetation, as identified in the Core Strategy, to this proposed development is also a consideration. SEG reminds B&NES Council of the NPPF (2018) policy for new developments to achieve net environmental gains.
Anyone wishing to comment on this planning application (deadline is Thursday 14th November 2019) can follow this link and key 19/04542/FUL into the search box: B&NES Development Control. If you encounter difficulties with the B&NES website you can email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org but make sure you include the reference number for this planning application (19/04542/FUL).
The B&NES target decision date for this planning application is 19.12.2019.
Saltford Calendar 2020 - supporting SCA, SEG & Saltford Community PO/Library
The SCA/SEG Saltford Calandar for 2020 makes a great gift whilst enabling purchasers to support local community initiatives.
Parish Council responds to SEG discovery of Mead Lane stabilisation technical design info.
At its monthly meeting on the evening of 5th November, Saltford Parish Council discussed the new information dated 20.10.2019 from SEG concerning the extensive riverbank stabilisation work that was undertaken in Mead Lane in September 2005. SPC agreed the following response to be sent to B&NES Council:-
Saltford Parish Council refers to the new information submitted by Saltford Environment Group to B&NES Council on 20.10.2019 concerning the 2005 bio-engineering work to stabilise the riverbank in Mead Lane to protect the highway from becoming dangerous. SPC urges B&NES Council to consider the implications of that information without delay now that the Mead Lane consultation has ended.
Further to SPC's response to the Mead Lane consultation agreed on 1.10.2019, SPC asks B&NES Council with its responsibilities as Highway Authority and riparian owner to urgently (i) implement a mooring ban commencing with an immediate winter mooring ban, and (ii) implement effective physical measures to prevent vehicles parking on the riverbank accompanied by the renewal of white lines to prevent parked vehicles obstructing the lane. SPC asks B&NES Council to simultaneously pursue the creation of a Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane to help secure the 2005 riverbank stabilisation scheme. SPC asks that SPC, SEG, Mead Lane residents and Wessex Water are consulted and kept informed of progress for implementing a mooring ban and a Local Nature Reserve.
The consultation report to B&NES Council from Lemon Gazelle should help highlight a wide range of River Avon mooring issues that need to be addressed on social and environmental grounds. Those should be reviewed by B&NES Council with relevant agencies but separately from the unique situation in Mead Lane where there are serious implications for the highway, key infrastructure and the stability of the riverbank if mooring is allowed to continue.
You can read more about the bio-engineering works at Mead Lane from our earlier news story Mead Lane riverbank stabilisation scheme and boat moorings published in October.
Government ends support for fracking
You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet...
On 2nd November the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) published a report that concludes that it is not possible with current technology to accurately predict the probability of tremors associated with fracking and that separate proposals to change the planning process for fracking sites will no longer be taken forward at this time.
In the light of that "new" scientific analysis the government announced that fracking will not be allowed to proceed in England.
On the basis of the current scientific evidence, the government confirmed on 2nd November that it will take a presumption against issuing any further Hydraulic Fracturing Consents and that this position will be maintained unless compelling new evidence is provided. While future applications for Hydraulic Fracturing Consent will be considered on their own merits by the Secretary of State, in accordance with the law, the shale gas industry has been told it should take the government's position into account when considering new developments.
The OGA has advised the government that until further studies can provide clarity, they will not be able to say with confidence that further hydraulic fracturing would meet the government's policy aims of ensuring it is safe, sustainable and of minimal disturbance to those living and working nearby.
Commenting on this welcome news, the Countryside Charity CPRE said
"Fracking was never a good idea. Its large-scale adoption could have industrialised our countryside, pushed communities out of decision-making, and worsened the climate crisis. And it carried the risk of causing earthquakes near where people live. The government must now focus on new policies to tackle the climate crisis, from investing in renewables and sustainable public transport, to improving the energy efficiency of our homes and restoring nature to remove carbon emissions from the air. This is a significant win for local democracy, our environment and our beautiful countryside that we all love so much."
"Time will tell how this plays out and we will need to keep on our toes, but today we can celebrate seeing the back of the fracking industry in England."
Mead Lane riverbank stabilisation scheme and boat moorings
(Last updated 25 October 2019)
SEG has discovered technical design information concerning the Mead Lane riverbank stabilisation work undertaken in September 2005. The bio-engineering solution implemented then was in order "to protect the highway from becoming dangerous". It was estimated at the time that if action had not been taken the erosion to the riverbank was likely "to lead to include loss of part of the road within the next 5-10 years". The Mead Lane riverbank was being "actively scoured at the toe, causing localised bank failures and threatening the stability of the carriageway" where "tension cracks could clearly be seen".
Within 48 hours of seeing this information, on 20th October SEG urgently made this available to B&NES Council at Director and Cabinet Member level by email letter (a pdf copy is available lower down in this news article).
The bio-engineering solution used was rock armour with vegetation to secure granular and other material on the riverbank immediately behind the rock on the riverbank (see photograph from the 2005 construction above). This had a 40-50 year lifespan but there was no mention of any provision for moorings in Mead Lane in the design report and construction plan before or after the works to rebuild and stabilise the riverbank.
This expensive but very necessary infrastructure protection work was to protect and maintain road access to residential properties and local businesses in the lane as well as Wessex Water's sewage treatment works at Saltford; a vital infrastructure site with 24/7 operation that processes all of Bath's sewage (population c.89,000 + c.300,000 visitors p.a.) and where road access is therefore required at all times.
This highlights problems caused by the mooring of large boats themselves that are unrelated to other issues that have raised concerns about mooring in Mead Lane. Moorings only started to become more frequent from 2014; before 2005 the uneven nature of the riverbank due to erosion made moorings only an occasional occurrence at this location. That is likely to explain why the arrival of moored boats, an unforeseen consequence of the stabilisation work, was not taken into account for the design of the protection scheme.
SEG does not know the extent of damage already done to the Mead Lane riverbank stabilisation scheme below the water's surface, or by how much the scheme's lifespan has been reduced, but we are well aware that damage to vegetation has been continuous in recent years. This will have financial implications for the public purse but the timescale is unknown; autumn and winter flood events are becoming increasingly common and more severe due to climate change. It is incumbent on B&NES Council therefore to implement a mooring ban as soon as possible to mitigate safety risks and to avoid the extreme inconvenience that would follow from the future partial loss of the highway due to erosion from sudden riverbank failure.
SEG's letter to B&NES Council can be downloaded here: Mead Lane riverbank stabilisation letter (pdf opens in new window).
UPDATE 25th OCTOBER:-
On 24th October Wessex Water informed B&NES Council that it was aware of and shared SEG's concerns re. the 2005 stabilisation works to the riverbank along Mead Lane consisting of bio-engineering defences that were not designed for moorings. Mead Lane accommodates a large strategic pumped sewer and is currently their principle access to the sewage treatment works serving Bath and Saltford; Wessex Water has therefore urged B&NES to carefully review the bank stabilisation works undertaken in 2005. Wessex Water is favourably disposed towards SEG's suggestion of establishing a Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane.
MEAD LANE CONSULATION 1-31 OCTOBER
Following on from the 2017 and 2018 mooring trial B&NES Council is consulting on the future of Mead Lane until 31st October. See our earlier news story Bid for Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane about the consultation and SEG's case for a Local Nature Reserve which, we now know, would help secure the riverbank stabilisation scheme.
The consultation report to B&NES Council from their consultants Lemon Gazelle should help illuminate a wide range of River Avon mooring issues that need addressing on social and environmental grounds over and above the unique situation in Mead Lane where there are serious implications if mooring is allowed to continue.
Credits: SEG is grateful to the Bath resident who has made photographs he took in 2005 of the stabilisation works available for use by SEG.
Bid for Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane
B&NES Council held a mooring trial in Mead Lane in 2017 and 2018 which led to increasing levels of mooring infringements, anti-social behaviour and damage to the riverbank and in particular the flora and fauna it supports. The issues there have continued unabated since the trial ended in 2018.
SEG and Saltford Parish Council, supported by Mead Lane residents, are now asking B&NES Council to create a Local Nature Reserve there in response to B&NES Council's online consultation on the future of Mead Lane being held during October.
At its meeting on 1st October Saltford Parish Council agreed its consultation response. This was that the trial mooring had clearly demonstrated that Mead Lane as a hitherto unspoilt beauty spot in the Green Belt and in close proximity to residential housing is unsuitable and impracticable for moorings which are having a detrimental effect on the natural environment for one of Saltford's most important amenity locations for viewing and appreciating the local landscape, the Cotswold AONB.
SPC concluded that in order to protect the riverbank for the majority of visitors and residents who value this important and iconic location, a mooring ban should be implemented without delay commencing with, on health and safety grounds, an immediate winter mooring ban. As a positive outcome from the trial, SPC supported the case that has been made by Saltford Environment Group for the creation of a Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane. You can download the paper "Case for Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane" at the end of this news item.
Make your views known
SEG members and other Saltford residents now have an opportunity to help protect the riverbank and wildlife at Mead Lane, an important part of Saltford's Green Belt, for the overwhelming majority of visitors and river users by responding to the consultation by no later than 31st October and asking B&NES Council to create a Local Nature Reserve accompanied by a mooring ban, i.e. closure of the riverbank in Mead Lane to all moorings to enable the Local Nature Reserve to function. B&NES has stated that key to the success of this consultation will be the extent of public participation. The consultation can be found from this link: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/MeadLane. The related B&NES web page about this topic can be found from this link: Mead Lane (external site). See the end of this article to download SEG's paper "Case for Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane".
Before the riverbank vegetation was cleared during improvements to the lane and the riverbank was stabilised in autumn 2005, boats only occasionally moored in Mead Lane. It is apparent that free uncontrolled moorings at Mead Lane attracts an influx of boats that would otherwise moor elsewhere and hence the problems encountered specifically at Mead Lane made worse by the mooring trial. There are 6 marinas on the B&NES stretch of the River Avon and over 3,300 metres of private moorings. In addition to that there is a large provision of moorings at Bristol Docks and on the Kennet and Avon Canal. As was made clear by Saltford Parish Council at its June 2019 meeting, Mead Lane does not have the amenities or facilities normally associated with a marina that would typically be remote from residential properties. The problems may have been caused by a minority of boaters but their effect has been considerable.
Information from Mead Lane Neighbourhood Watch on the issues that arose and that has been reported to B&NES Council on a regular basis can be summarised as follows:-
For the 2-year mooring trial, Mead Lane NHW recorded in 2017 331 boats mooring in Mead Lane of which 22% overstayed in the 14 day area and 12% overstayed in the 48 hour area. In 2018 the NHW figures showed a sharp increase with 342 boats mooring of which 36% overstayed in the 14 day area and 34% in the 48 hour area - that is in excess of a third of all moored boats overstaying in Mead Lane. Following the end of the trial during 2019 (up to 23 September only) the percentage of boats overstaying was higher again with 46% of those moored for more than 48 hours overstaying in the 14 day area and 44% in the 48 hour area. Some boats have stayed for weeks and months on end - often left unattended for most of the time as a free mooring thus excluding others from use of the riverbank.
Apart from damage to trees and parking bollards arising from incorrect mooring practices, there have been many problems of anti-social and other unsuitable behaviour in Mead Lane caused by a minority of boaters during and since the mooring trial. These are too numerous to list and many have necessitated police involvement. These include drug use, use of the riverbank as a general waste dump and toilet, threatening behaviour, and dog fouling to excessive noise and fumes from generators, river pollution, and use of the lane and riverbank for major boat and vehicle repairs (including welding). No residential lane or street should be expected to tolerate such an ongoing stressful situation.
SEG wishes to stress that this is not about stigmatising boaters, the majority do of course operate and moor their boats within the law, but rescuing Saltford's riverbank at Mead Lane from abuse by a minority and protecting the wildlife and this iconic location for the benefit of the majority.
The Case for a Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane
You can download SEG's paper here: Case for Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane (pdf opens in new window).
Don't forget to respond to the B&NES consultation by 31st October and ask for a Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane supported by a mooring ban!
As a reminder of the importance of protecting nature, see our news story State of Nature 2019.
Fairtrade Christmas Extravaganza, Larkall, Bath (8th Nov)
St Saviour's website is at https://stsaviours.org.uk where directions can be found (at the bottom of the home page).
Big B&NES Community Clean-up & Saltford Wombles : Litter Pick Sunday 27 October
Our next litter pick is on Sunday 27 October, 2.00-4.00pm, meeting outside The Little Coffee Shop on Manor Road. It is part of the Big B&NES Community Clean-up week so please do come along to support this great initiative.
If you have litter pickers, gloves and high viz vest please do bring them, but if not we can provide them. We have bags provided by B&NES Council.
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.
If you would like to attend this litter pick, or find out more about the Saltford Wombles, please contact Barbara at the following email address: email@example.com.
Saltford Weather Station
SEG has moved its online Saltford Weather Station from the climate change page to the home page of our website (top RH side). We hope this will make it more readily available for visitors to our website.
This allows members, residents, local businesses and visitors to easily find in one place the weather forecasts, flood warnings and the river level for Saltford - the latter is particularly useful for observing when the river may be moving towards or away from breaking its banks here. All river side residents in Saltford are advised to sign up to the Environment Agency's Floodline 24-hour Service (0345 988 1188).
Council sets path to re-opening Saltford Station
Bath and North East Somerset Council has given overwhelming backing to a re-built Saltford Station and has set out a path to achieve it. The Liberal Democrats tabled amendments to a Conservative motion which were accepted and voted through at the meeting of the Council at the Guildhall on 10th October. If the Greater Bristol Rail Feasibility study due this year confirms that Saltford Station is a potentially viable project, the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) will be asked by B&NES Council to take the project forward and consider how it might be funded. Saltford Parish Council will be kept fully informed of developments.
A Higher Level Output Assessment on Saltford Station received by the previous Lib Dem run Council in 2014 concluded that there we would be at least £770,000 annual revenue from a Saltford Station on the current site and room for 144 car parking spaces.
Cllr Neil Butters, Lib Dem joint cabinet member for transport services, said "You can be sure we will be pursuing this project at the West of England Transport Board with full vigour."
Cllr Duncan Hounsell (Lib Dem, Saltford) said "A re-opened station is not just about providing Saltford's commuters a gateway to the awaited half-hourly Metro West services but also playing a part in reducing road traffic and pollution in Bath, and helping to address the climate emergency by reducing car use. There is a strong case for a Saltford Station to be championed by WECA."
New boilers at Saltford Hall reduce gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions
Saltford Community Association has thanked SEG for our letter of support for SCA's successful application for grants from the EU Rural Development Programme and from the Enovert Trust towards the cost of modernising the heating system at Saltford Hall.
Two new replacement boilers were installed during September. These more efficient boilers can be controlled remotely by smartphone to enable greater flexibility and control so that the use of the heating system more closely matches the requirements of hall users. SCA anticipate gas and greenhouse gas (CO2) emission savings of up to a third compared to the old system. SEG applauds SCA's continued commitment to reducing the environmental impact of Saltford's community hall. Members will recall the installation of a 30kWp solar PV system on the hall roof in March 2018 (see photo).
State of Nature 2019 - UK's loss continues unabated
The State of Nature 2019 report published on 3 October has been produced by a partnership of over 70 partners drawn from conservation NGOs, research institutes, and the UK and national governments. It shows that in recent decades there has been no let-up in the net loss of nature in the UK.
Our biodiversity, the variety of plant and animal life, is reducing and the rate of change has accelerated in the past 10 years. An alarming 15% of species are threatened with extinction from Britain. Since 1970 41% of species have decreased and 26% have increased in abundance, with the remaining 33% showing little change.
We have seen big changes in where the UK's wildlife is found with, since 1970, over a quarter (27%) of UK species found in fewer places.
Long-term decreases in average abundance in butterflies since 1976 (16%) and moths since 1970 (25%) have not slowed. The mammal indicator shows little change since 1994; while an increase of 43% in the bird indicator has been driven by recovery of some species from very low numbers, conservation successes and colonising species, as well as increasing numbers of wintering water birds. These increases mask abundance declines in common and widespread breeding species; the total number of breeding birds in the UK fell by 44 million between 1967 and 2009.
The report (with a lot more statistics!) can be found on the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) website nbn.org.uk.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
SUPPORT FROM BUSINESS:
'Saltford Weather Station'
Saltford Heritage Centre's next scheduled public opening will be announced here.
"Think global, act local"