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Saltford Environment Group
  towards a sustainable future for our village

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Recent News (click on links or scroll down this page)

LATEST!

Bid for Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane

Fairtrade Christmas Extravaganza, Larkall, Bath (8th Nov)

Big B&NES Community Clean-up & Saltford Wombles : Litter Pick Sunday 27 October

OTHER NEWS

Saltford Weather Station

Council sets path to re-opening Saltford Station

New boilers at Saltford Hall reduce gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

State of Nature 2019 - UK's loss continues unabated

World Textile Day comes to Saltford Hall, 5th Oct

This year's archaeological dig in Saltford

Saltford Wombles : Litter Pick Sunday 29 September

The value of ponds & why the Weeping Willows by the medieval ponds were removed

West of England Joint Spatial Plan in limbo

Saltford Heritage Centre open, Sunday 22nd Sept (2.30 - 4.30pm)


You can find more news in our News Archive.


Current VOLUNTEER assistance sought by SEG >>




Bid for Local Nature Reserve at Mead Lane

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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".

Background information

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.

October 2019

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Fairtrade Christmas Extravaganza, Larkall, Bath (8th Nov)

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St Saviour's website is at https://stsaviours.org.uk where directions can be found (at the bottom of the home page).

October 2019

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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: saltfordwombles@gmail.com.

October 2019

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Saltford Weather Station

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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).

October 2019

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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."

October 2019

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New boilers at Saltford Hall reduce gas consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

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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).

October 2019

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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.

October 2019

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World Textile Day comes to Saltford Hall, 5th Oct

Inspired to Create - with special guest artist Isabella Whitworth

On 5th October, 10 am - 4.30 pm, there will be FREE admission at Saltford Hall in Wedmore Road to an exhibition of woven, printed and embroidered textiles from makers, workshops and villages around the world. More information can be found from this link worldtextileday.co.uk/venues/west-of-england.

This year, the highlight of the day will be an exhibition and presentation by natural dyeing expert and artist Isabella Whitworth. Thirty years ago, exploring Indonesia and India, her hand went into the dye pot - where it has stayed ever since!

Refreshments will be available throughout the day, courtesy of the hosts Saltford Community Association - including (apparently) "the best bacon butties in the world", plus glorious cakes galore.

September 2019

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This year's archaeological dig in Saltford

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Roman coffin field dig underway

Following last year's trial excavation in the Roman coffin field on the south side of Saltford, SEG once again joined forces with BACAS (Bath and Counties Archaeological Society) in September to investigate whether there were any buildings. A geophysical survey carried out in 2015 and 2016 had indicated that there was a possibility of buildings in a field where a Roman stone coffin complete with skeleton had been discovered by a farm worker in 1948.

About 25 people worked on the site over the week in generally fine weather. We had the huge benefit of an excavator kindly loaned for the week by villager Clive Shipley, who gave generously of his time and that of a colleague. This enabled us to scrape off the top soil in layers, without potentially damaging anything underneath.

Three main trenches of varying sizes were opened up as well as several smaller trenches around the site. In the first trench a large 'pavement' of the local lias stone natural bedrock was found. In the cracks we found many pottery sherds and some hobnails, suggesting that it had been exposed in Roman times. The other two trenches cut across a very large and deep ditch that had been identified by the geophysical survey. This contained large quantities of pottery sherds (of many different types) and sawn animal bones, indicating that they had been butchered.

Some half-a-dozen Roman coins were found during the course of the dig, but no buildings. All of the trenches hit shallow bedrock without finding any evidence of stone structures.

It will take some time for the findings from the trenches to be interpreted by the archaeological experts at BACAS and for the artefacts found to be identified and dated. We will announce and publish a copy of the BACAS report on our Online Museum when it is available.

Whilst the overall outcome of the dig was disappointing (no floors or stone wall foundations were discovered), all those involved enjoyed the week's work, and there were at least many 'finds' - many thought to be of Roman origin as have been found at this location previously. The search for buildings in the general area is likely to continue in future years; it is indicative from the large (and long) ditches and from the large quantity of pottery sherds and bones, not to mention the coffin, that people were in residence in Roman times nearby. The many Roman finds in Saltford on both sides of the A4 Bath Road is clear evidence of Roman habitation in this general area.

In view of the large number of Roman finds at this location it is of course possible that wooden agricultural buildings of Roman origin, e.g. for keeping livestock and related light industrial purposes, were in place in this particular field for which archaeological evidence has long disappeared.

Our thanks go to the experts from BACAS, to Clive Shipley and his assistant Phil, and to all those who took part in the 2019 excavation.

September 2019

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Saltford Wombles : Litter Pick Sunday 29 September

Beauty dies where litter lies

Our next monthly litter pick will be on Sunday 29 September from 2-4pm, meeting at the Shallows car park. Our focus will be The Shallows, river and Railway path, as a post-summer clean up, ready for the autumn/winter months.

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: saltfordwombles@gmail.com.

September 2019

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The value of ponds & why the Weeping Willows by the medieval ponds were removed

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2013 photograph of the Medieval Pond and Weeping Willow

The conservation of ponds faces significant challenges but also offers many opportunities which can be used to sustainably address some of the most important issues of our time, including habitat degradation, species extinctions, water resource management and climate change.

Ponds are vital for many rare and endangered species, both at national and European levels, supporting populations of many aquatic species including amphibians, invertebrates and wetland plants. Ponds are particularly important at the landscape scale: they have been shown to contribute as much to regional biodiversity as rivers or lakes, and they provide stepping-stones and increased connectivity between other freshwater habitats.

Ponds face many threats from human activities but receive little protection under European and national legislation. In addition, there are significant gaps in our knowledge of pond ecosystems, especially compared to rivers and lakes, which have been intensively studied for many years.

Some residents may have noticed the removal of Weeping Willow trees by the medieval ponds at the side of a field behind St Mary's church. This is part of an ecological restoration project to support local wildlife by the landowner with advice from SEG's Wildlife Adviser. Whilst we all regret the loss of trees, it is necessary to look at the bigger ecological picture when determining what trees are appropriate and where they should be located.

Here is the ecological explanation for the removal of the Weeping Willows from our adviser Will Duckworth for the two major problems caused by the trees:-

1. Between them they had developed such a large canopy they prevented sunlight getting to most of the pond most of the day (some of the pond all of the day). This has reduced the suitability for many species of typical pond wildlife, particularly many pond-associated insects that use only sunlit areas.

2. The enormous leaf fall each autumn going into the pond consumes so much oxygen in rotting that little wildlife can tolerate the low-oxygen conditions. This would be less problematic in a fast-flowing situation where incoming water replenishes the oxygen levels and sweeps away the leaves, but this does not happen here. Oxygen loss is exacerbated by the stone barrier (which keeps the water level high) preventing the water sweeping out the rotting leaves (which happens in a normal forest stream).

Ponds outside gardens are in very short supply in Saltford - each one that is in good condition makes a genuine, material contribution to local wildlife values. Most of this pond's potential value has been forfeited in recent years.

So that was the problem: what are the downsides of removing the trees?

Basically, none. Weeping Willow is not native so is of no intrinsic value as a species. Indeed, it is not a true species but is a garden hybrid between White Willow Salix alba and the Asian S. babylonica (probably native to China rather than Babylon). Non-native trees can, however, contribute substantial wildlife values through structural features. But these two Weeping Willows are so young (they were planted in the mid or late 1980s) that they contained no cavities, no extensive rot, and no other special microhabitat.

As a member of the willow genus Salix, which contains many species long established in Britain, Weeping Willow probably supports a fairly rich invertebrate community. This is because it is presumably chemically very similar to the ordinary willows along the river, so the many species of leaf-eating invertebrates using these willows are probably mostly just as happy to use Weeping Willow. But because the willows of other species remain abundant in Saltford there is no need for individual willows in otherwise problematic situations to be retained.

While large-canopied water-shading trees are severely problematic for small ponds like this pond, one or two appropriately positioned nearby small trees or bushes are apt, for a dozen or more microhabitat functions, e.g. perching places for newly emerged insects with aquatic larvae. We have specifically left a couple of such trees, the taller one (a Field Maple) being positioned to the north of the pond so is not problematic in shading terms. Released from the dense shading of the willows, it may expand its canopy in future years and need reduction.

If you want to read more about the importance of ponds visit the Freshwater Habitats Trust website at freshwaterhabitats.org.uk.

September 2019

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West of England Joint Spatial Plan in limbo

We reported in August the cancellation by Government Inspectors of the examination hearings for the Strategic Development Locations (SDLs) including the North Keynsham SDL that had been scheduled for September 2019 due to their significant concerns about the selection of SDLs for the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP). The inspectors issued a letter to the councils drawing up the West of England JSP on 11 September setting out in detail their concerns.

The inspectors felt that the SDLs had been selected on the basic presumption that any candidate SDL anywhere within the plan area could meet the plan area's housing needs just as well as any other candidate, an approach the inspectors could not agree with as the JSP was intended to meet the needs of two housing market areas, wider Bristol and Bath.

One particular comment concerning the Green Belt from the inspectors was that although the JSP contended that exceptional circumstances existed to remove land from the Green Belt for five of the proposed SDLs, on the stated basis that any candidate SDL could meet the plan area's housing needs just as well as any other, there would, on the face of it according to the inspectors, "be little justification to select SDLs in land currently designated as Green Belt when there are reasonable alternatives outside the Green Belt". However, the inspectors recognised "that early Sustainability Appraisal work identified that a strategy of entirely avoiding the Green Belt would be likely to result in unsustainable patterns of development".

The inspectors said they had not definitively reached the view that any of the individual SDLs proposed in the JSP could not, in principle, form a sound part of a plan for the West of England or for any of the individual local authority areas. However, they concluded that robust evidence had not been provided to demonstrate that the 12 SDLs proposed in the plan had been selected against reasonable alternatives on a robust, consistent and objective basis.

Consequently, given that the SDLs are an integral part of the plan's spatial strategy, they could not conclude that the spatial strategy was itself sound.

The inspectors also made the point that the absence of a robust SDL selection process or a strategy which is not based on specific SDLs means that there is not a clear basis on which to select alternative/additional SDLs should that become due to deliverability problems or if development needs were to change over time.

The process of preparing and examining the suite of plans and strategies could be very complex, potentially confusing to the public and unwieldy and would be likely to delay, rather than accelerate, the planning and delivery of new development across the Combined Authority area and North Somerset. With that in mind, the inspectors thought it might be an appropriate time for the councils and Combined Authority to consider whether the currently envisaged approach in respect of the Spatial Development Strategy, JSP and local plans continues to be the most appropriate.

What next?

The inspectors recognised that the councils/Combined Authority may need some time to consider their response and therefore they set no deadline for a response. The councils are now reviewing the many points made by the inspectors. No timetable has been given by the inspectors or the councils for what happens next.

The reminder from the inspectors that any loss of Green Belt can only be in exceptional circumstances and that the protection of the Green Belt "is a strong element of national policy" is welcomed by SEG. We cannot predict how B&NES will respond and how the different Local Plans including the B&NES Local Plan will be amended, re-focused or simply continue to proceed towards finalisation regardless of the JSP process.

SEG will continue to monitor developments closely and alert members to any attempt to change plans to develop Saltford's Green Belt and disadvantage the local and wider community.

The Joint Inspectors' post-hearing letter of 11.9.2019 and other JSP Examination News can be found on this web page: www.hwa.uk.com/projects/west-of-england-joint-spatial-plan/ (select the "Examination News" link).

September 2019

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Saltford Heritage Centre open, Sunday 22nd Sept (2.30 - 4.30pm)

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Saltford Heritage Centre will next be open to the public from 2.30pm to 4.30pm on the afternoon of Sunday 22nd September as part of the B&NES Heritage Days initiative (13-22 Sept). Saltford Brassmill will also be open that day (10am - 4pm) so why not make it your local heritage day and visit both venues?

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In addition to our displays describing Saltford's fascinating past and examples of local artefacts on show including the fascinating 11th Century bronze Saltford Viking Buckle we will display Historic Maps of Saltford from 1742. These include the first OS map showing Saltford (1817) and the 1837 Tithe Map showing the original field names. We shall also have an internet linked display screen so that we can show visitors how to access our comprehensive online material.

Admission free. You can find out more about the Heritage Centre here: Saltford Heritage Centre.

September 2019

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More and older news stories from SEG

Our 'Newsletter' archive page features most of our past and recently published news stories (click on image):-

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Current areas of local volunteer assistance sought by SEG

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In addition to volunteer assistance with projects such as Saltford Wombles (tackling litter) and the Fairtrade Group 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 phil@philharding.net for a no-obligation chat on possible volunteer help.

First published June 2018

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Want to get more involved with SEG?

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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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Contact SEG

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You can contact Saltford Environment Group by email as follows:-


All general, membership & urgent (e.g. Press) enquiries to our Chairman please.

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 personal data protection by SEG on our "About Us page".


CONTACTS:

Chairman & Website Editor*: Phil Harding phil@philharding.net (07814--720763)

Secretary: Vacant Position

Treasurer: Andrew Stainer andrew.stainer@btinternet.com

SEG Green Belt Campaign: - contact our Chairman (contact details above)

Saltford Station Campaign: Chris Warren cherokee1883@live.com

Saltford Fairtrade Group: saltfordfairtrade@hotmail.co.uk

Saltford Wombles: Barbara Turner saltfordwombles@gmail.com

Saltford Heritage Centre
Curators: Phil Harding & Andrew Stainer (contact details above).

Cookies and Privacy Policy Statement
SEG respects the privacy of visitors to our website. We do not use cookies to collect personal or other data about visitors to our website; the only data we collect via our ISP's hosting service, and without the use of cookies, is the number of visits to each of our web pages but not who the individual visitors are.

* EDITORIAL POLICY INCLUDING SEO AND MARKETING FOR THE www.saltfordenvironmentgroup.org.uk WEBSITE
Will Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), website design and other similar companies please note that this website has all the SEO ranking (1st), social media links, & smartphone compatibility that it requires to meet its specific objectives. The same applies to companies that produce bespoke marketing materials. We are not a commercial enterprise so please do not send marketing emails or requests for placing links to other websites which 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. 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.
 


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For our news archive click here:-
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'Saltford Weather Station'
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(Corston has the nearest Met Office station to Saltford.)

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Flood Warning Information Service: Saltford

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River Avon level in Saltford - station 3043

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Saltford Heritage Centre's next scheduled public opening will be announced here.

Special Features:

   Fracking

   Geology, Saltford's

   Green Belt Inquiry 2013

   HISTORY OF SALTFORD

   Railway Path Habitat Project

   Saltford Wombles (tackling litter)


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