Saltford Environment Group
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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.
Saltford Wombles: Litter Pick Sunday 25 November
Our last monthly litter pick for this year is on Sunday, 2 - 4 pm. Please note the earlier times owing to shorter days. 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.
Monthly litter picks will resume on Sunday 27 January 2019.
Saltford Parish Council seeks progress on station
On 19th November Saltford Parish Council sent a public letter to a wide range of recipients including B&NES Council Leaders, our MP, First Great Western, Network Rail, West of England Combined Authority (WECA), and the local media expressing its frustration at the lack of information and misinformation from B&NES Council and WECA concerning the future re-opening of Saltford Station. This lack of progress is despite the excellent business case in the 2014 'Saltford Station: Feasibility Study' prepared by CH2MHill.
The letter can be downloaded here: SPC station letter 19.11.2018 (pdf, opens in new window).
B&NES Local Plan Options Consultation (12 Nov - 7 Jan) - possible incursion into Saltford's Green Belt
In the run up to the launch of the B&NES Local Plan Options Consultation we have reported previously about the 9 plots of land on Saltford's Green Belt put forward by developers and landowners for development. The main options document from B&NES does not include any of those plots for housing development but we anticipate that this will be challenged by developers during 2019.
The Strategic Development Location (SDL) option proposed at North Keynsham is immediately adjacent to Saltford's Green Belt and in the draft outline map overlaps onto Saltford's Green Belt north of the A4. Whilst accepting that the North Keynsham SDL site boundary has not been set at this stage, SEG would strongly resist such an incursion. It would have negative consequences for both communities whilst breaking the commitment from B&NES Council not to allow development on Saltford's Green Belt.
Just as Saltford is a rural village that is set within and surrounded by an open landscape with the Green Belt designation to protect that landscape from unsuitable development, the same can be said for our neighbouring rural town, Keynsham.
Whether people 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 natural or semi-natural land provides to farmland and thus towards our food security. Our health and well-being really does depend on easy access to green open spaces. SEG is therefore of the opinion that a rural town like Keynsham has good reason to retain its own Green Belt buffer surrounding the town and within its own boundary.
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 will be held in the Civic Centre Community Space, Temple Street on Thurs 22nd November (3.30pm - 7.30pm).
Saltford Parish Council will be discussing and approving its response to the B&NES Local Plan Options consultation at its meeting on 4th December and SEG will be submitting its response during December also.
Progress on MetroWest infrastructure
The business case for re-opening Saltford station depends on the success of the MetroWest rail project which is planned to bring half-hourly train services criss-crossing the Bristol-Bath sub-region. An essential piece of infrastructure to give capacity for MetroWest has now been put in place. This is the re-instatement of 4 tracks at Filton Bank between Bristol Temple Meads station and Bristol Parkway station (see photograph above). The additional track will allow local commuter trains to run alongside faster inter-city and cross-country services.
Twenty bag hoops gifted to Saltford Wombles in one clean sweep!
A huge thanks to Nathan Sheppard, of Saltford Building Services saltfordbuildingservices.com, for donating all 20 of the bag hoops we requested on our Amazon wish list!
These hoops will be used by the volunteers when out on the regular litter picks around Saltford; it will certainly make the refuse sacks easier to hold and control on windy days!
Nathan's support, and recognition, of the role Saltford Wombles play in the local community is much appreciated.
SEG responds to fracking consultation by Government
You can have a healthy fossil-fuel balance sheet, or a relatively healthy planet...
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government is seeking views 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). Representative groups are asked to give a summary of the people and organisations they represent, and where relevant, who else they have consulted in reaching their conclusions when they respond.
The consultation, launched on 31 October 2018 and closing on 7 January 2019, seeks views on whether applicants should be required to conduct pre-application consultation with the local community prior to submitting a planning application for shale gas development. It covers the following areas:
Further details are on the gov.uk website from this link: shale gas consultation.
SEG made its online response on 14th November. We responded that community pre-application consultation be compulsory prior to applying for planning permission for shale gas development, and gave the following explanation:-
For the reasons given below, on democratic and ethical grounds a community should not be expected to host a new fossil fuel based energy production facility like fracking without its democratically elected representatives, the local authority, having the right of veto for such planning applications. It should therefore be for the local authority, not the prospective applicant, to consult the community it represents in any way that it considers appropriate including placing a requirement on any prospective applicants to conduct community pre-application consultations under the supervision and any specific requirements of the local authority. This should enable the local authority to take into account any relevant electoral mandates of its elected members, i.e. manifesto commitments at the most recent local election.
We agree 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."
Fracking for shale gas does not meet environmental, economic (in net terms) or social objectives when the UK should be actively pursuing clean renewable energy sources and new battery storage technologies to meet its international commitments to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and avoid dangerous runaway climate change. The inclusion of shale development or production projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects Regime would significantly reduce the value and participation of local views in the decision-making process, a move opposed by a range of organisations, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Local Government Association and, it is reasonable to suggest, an overwhelming majority of informed public opinion.*
*Fracking is overwhelmingly unpopular with the British public, with a recent BEIS poll showing support of only 18%: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/
In response to the question "What (if any) shale gas development should be subject to compulsory community pre-application consultation? All shale gas development requiring a planning application/ Where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required/Other criteria or threshold (please specify)" SEG's response was:
All shale gas developments should require a planning application AND an Environmental Impact Assessment.
We reported in July the Government's proposals to streamline the planning process for fracking and reduce the ability of local communities to influence fracking applications. This is by treating non-hydraulic exploratory drilling as 'permitted development' as well as proposals to designate fracking projects as 'Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects'.
We then reported in August that the B&NES Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Development, Cllr Bob Goodman, confirmed to SEG in response to our seeking the Council's support for opposition to the Government's proposals that "the Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council has written to the Secretary of State, Greg Clark to strongly object to the proposals".
Saltford shows its respect on Remembrance Day & WWI Armistice Centenary
Young people featured in Saltford's marking of Remembrance Day on Sunday 11th November and the centenary of the end of WWI with a large turnout of Scouts and Guides at the morning service at St Mary's followed by a procession and laying of wreaths at Saltford War Memorial.
In the afternoon the WWI centenary village event in Saltford Hall included a specially produced Saltford Heritage Centre WWI display, a display from the Parish Council and Bath Record Office on the results of the WWI genealogy research commissioned by SPC for residents, a display from Keynsham and Saltford Local History Society, and a superb display (see bottom picture above) by Saltford School children on their work depicting and describing WWI. A representative from the Avon Branch of the Western Front Association was present to give advice to residents on WWI artefacts etc. that they brought along to the event.
About 300 residents attended the afternoon event that was organised by SCA, SEG and the Parish Council. The refreshments, kindly provided by SCA volunteers, included "1918 War Cake" (which proved very popular!). Local band "Then and Now" played and led a sing-a-long of popular and topical songs. Just over £250 in donations for the Royal British Legion was raised.
B&NES Local Plan: Options & Transport Studies: winter consultation
The consultation on Options and Transport Studies for the draft B&NES Local Plan (2016-2036) is between 12th November and 7th January 2019.
During the B&NES Cabinet discussion on 31 October about this consultation, the importance of the Green Belt between Keynsham and Bristol and between Keynsham and Saltford was emphasised by Cabinet members and the Liberal Democrat opposition. The webcast of the Cabinet meeting can be found from this link (item 13 on the agenda).
Organisations and members of the public can comment on the Local Plan Options document via the dedicated B&NES Local Plan web page (link). Dates and venues for a number of staffed exhibitions throughout B&NES (all 3.30pm - 7.30pm) are:-
Whitchurch (Community Centre, Large Hall) Mon 19th Nov.
B&NES has said it will make hard copies of the document available to be viewed at the following locations during opening hours:-
We will publish further information here on our website when SEG's response has been produced. Background information on the Local Plan and our campaign to protect the Green Belt can be found on our Green Belt page.
SEG's members will be aware of our wish to protect the Green Belt surrounding Saltford from development including from developers and land owners that are seeking to include 9 parcels of Saltford's Green Belt in the Local Plan. SEG's Green Belt Campaign is keeping a close watching brief on this issue and we will provide advice to members and residents on how to respond to Local Plan consultations as appropriate.
At the Saltford Parish Council meeting on 6th November SPC Councillors unanimously agreed that there should be a close working relationship between SEG and SPC for defending the Green Belt in the B&NES Local Plan.
November 2018 (updated 10 & 12 Nov 2018)
Local Lib Dems support for Saltford's Green Belt
SEG received a letter on 4th November from Duncan Hounsell and Alastair Singleton, the Liberal Democrat spokespersons for the Saltford Ward, expressing the importance of the Green Belt: essential agricultural land, habitats for wild-life, natural carbon capture, recreational activity, a haven of peace and well-being, as well as preserving the essential character of our towns and villages.
They made the point that "exceptional circumstances" have to be demonstrated to build on green belt land and that the word exceptional should not be replaced by convenient. They also said that housing needs to be built on brown-field sites first. Housing needs to be built where jobs and facilities exist to minimise the need for travel. If village communities desire small-scale housing development with affordable housing to meet their needs, that is fine. What is unacceptable is imposed large scale development changing the character of our villages.
A spokesperson from SEG said:
SEG reminds members and residents of Saltford that it remains politically neutral and works with all political parties in seeking the best for Saltford and the surrounding area.
A Saltford Fairtrade Christmas
It is always good to get a head start running up to Christmas and it's great to know that there are Fairtrade products to provide the essential ingredients to help you. Look out for the Fairtrade logo on sugar and spice and all things nice for your Christmas cake and Christmas puddings, lovely wrapping paper, Christmas cards and lots of great ideas for presents, oh and also herbs for your sausage rolls.
Come along to our colourful Fairtrade Traidcraft stall at the Christmas Fair on 1st December to start your Christmas shopping early. Oxfam shops and supermarkets also stock a good range of Fairtrade products and remember, each time you buy anything that has the Fairtrade logo, you will be supporting the producers and ensuring that they receive a fair price for their produce which will improve their lives and that of their communities. Christmas is about sharing and Fairtrade gives us all that chance.
We have one more date for your diary, 8th March, a long way off but worth waiting for. As part of Fairtrade Fortnight we we will be hosting Dr Roy Maconachie, Reader in International Development, Dept of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath who will be showing us a film he produced entitled 'Gender and Fairtrade - The Stories of Women Cocoa Farmers in Ghana'. This gives us a powerful insight into these women's lives and issues that are rarely discussed, but have been tackled by belonging to Fairtrade co-operatives. To find out more about our group and ordering from Fairtrade supplier Traidcraft take a look at our Fairtrade page.
We look forward to seeing you at the Christmas Market on 1st December and do have a chat with us (a great day out for our community) and also on March 8th.
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"