Saltford Environment Group
Recent News (click on links or scroll down this page)
STOP PRESS! Decision on premature planning application 18/01509/OUT for another 200 houses on safeguarded Green Belt between Keynsham & Saltford delayed again - to 28th September! We reported in April that on 30th April SEG submitted a strong planning objection to B&NES Council (see our News Archive for details). Over 330 objections were submitted.
You can find more news in our News Archive.
Saltford's Green Belt to be discussed at SEG's October AGM
The map above shows all Saltford Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) sites that are being considered/assessed in order to inform preparation of the B&NES Local Plan. Those 9 site are all on Saltford's Green Belt and were submitted to B&NES by developers/land owners following a call for sites in early 2017.
SEG members will shortly be receiving an invitation to our AGM on 8th October where we will discuss and engage with members on how together we can help the village protect its Green Belt in 2019, a crucial year for our village as the West of England Joint Spatial Plan and B&NES Local Plan reach important stages towards their completion and adoption.
We know that protection of the Green Belt matters to our members so look out for the invitation email that will be arriving soon. If you want to keep the Green Belt green we hope you will be able to attend.
SEG takes the sustainable development view that there are no genuine 'exceptional circumstances' that could support a case for building on Saltford's Green Belt when taking account of ecological, environmental, transport, economic, social and employment factors. It is our strong wish that sites in Saltford's Green Belt are not identified for potential development in the draft Local Plan.
World Textile Day comes to Saltford Hall, 6th Oct
Bringing fair trade to a fair trade village
On 6th 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.
Autumn Season: Wombles update
Thank you to everyone for keeping the village so tidy across the summer and especially to those who joined in with Canoe Avon at the annual River Clean. On a sunny late July afternoon 11 volunteers from Wombles and Canoe Avon met up, the canoeists tackling the river whilst we Wombles covered the river banks. In 2 hours, we collected 13 bags of litter (some are pictured below) and some very unusual pieces of rubbish including a traffic cone, a flag, a bike wheel, a large, empty herbicide plastic container and a washing up bowl.
Monthly Litter pick dates
These will be on the last Sunday of each month from 2-4 pm. Please note the change in time to account for shorter days. Meeting places will vary depending on the hot spot area - details will be emailed to those on the Wombles mailing list and posted on this website beforehand. Dates are:
Sunday 30 Sept
Sunday 28 Oct
Sunday 25 Nov
No monthly pick in December
If you are coming please email email@example.com to give us an idea of numbers. 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/guardian.
New 'Historic Maps of Saltford' display - Saltford Heritage Centre open 16th Sept (2.30 - 4.30pm)
Saltford Heritage Centre will next be open to the public from 2.30pm to 4.30pm on the afternoon of Sunday 16th September as part of the B&NES Heritage Days initiative (6-16 Sept). Saltford Brassmill will also be open that day (10am - 4pm) so why not make it your local heritage day and visit both venues?
New! Historic Maps of Saltford
In addition to our displays describing Saltford's fascinating past and examples of local artefacts on show will be our new display of Historic Maps of Saltford from 1742 including 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.
Saltford Post Office opening date: 24th September
We have seen confirmation from the Post Office that Saltford Post Office will be re-opening on Monday 24th September at Saltford Library, 478a Bath Road, Saltford BS31 3DJ. Congratulations to all concerned at Saltford Community Association for their dedication and hard work in rescuing this important community facility.
Consulation on B&NES Local Plan options delayed to winter
We gave an update in June on the forthcoming B&NES Local Plan that could have a significant impact on Saltford's Green Belt as 9 sites have been put forward by developers/landowners in response to the HELAA (Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment) call for sites. It does not follow that B&NES Council will accept all, some or any of those as suitable sites for development, but it has to assess them. That assessment is to satisfy the HMG Inspector that the process has considered all "reasonable alternatives".
The Chair and Vice Chair of Saltford's Parish Council Planning Committee have been in discussions with planning policy staff at B&NES during August. SEG members will be aware that the Parish Council shares SEG's policy to protect from development the Green Belt surrounding Saltford.
There is some slippage on timing for the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) consultation and B&NES Local Plan options consultation. These will now coincide during November/December and not September (for Local Plan options) as previously predicted.
As we reported in June, the B&NES website, Housing Land Supply page, lists and maps 9 sites on Saltford's Green Belt that have been submitted by developers/land owners. Saltford Parish Council (SPC) has made its case to B&NES regarding those 9 sites and the planning policy and related reasons why those sites are not suitable for development.
We have more background information on this topic on our Green Belt page.
Sustrans to lead Railway Path Habitat Restoration Project
We are pleased to report that Sustrans (link), as part of its Greenways initiative, is now leading on maintaining the previously opened area of our Railway Path Habitat Restoration Project, and, if person-power allows, perhaps even expanding it.
On Saturday 15 September from 10.30am - 12.30pm Sustrans will be holding a working party session on the SEG 'habitat bank'. This session will focus on removing brambles etc. by the roots, which have started to reinvade the opened area. If you would like to participate please bring a full-size garden fork or spade if you have them. Wear stout shoes, gardening glove are advised. Other activities will include removing regrowth shoots from woody stumps - so if you wish to help with that aspect please being secateurs. And do bring your own refreshments. If you wish to participate there is no need to register, just turn up on the day.
Andy Richman is co-ordinating this project for Sustrans. If you wish to volunteer with Sustrans visit: www.sustrans.org.uk/volunteer-sustrans.
Archaeological Dig: Trial trench unearths Roman artefacts
SEG and BACAS (Bath and Counties Archaeological Society) have jointly completed a trial excavation at a site on the south side of Saltford where geophysical surveys had indicated the possible presence of a Roman building. Originally planned for October, the dig had to be brought forward to August and scaled back because access to the field was required earlier than anticipated in order to prepare the field for sowing the next crop. The change in the farmer's schedule was due to the summer heatwave.
A limited dig involving the excavation of one trial trench was carried out over 3 days from 13-15 August. This was undertaken by a small team of volunteers.
The trial trench measured approximately 3 metres wide by 4 metres long. An uneven limestone floor was discovered below the top soil with a thin layer of soil between the limestone floor and the bedrock beneath, the bedrock being less than 1 metre below the surface. Immediately above and within the limestone floor top surface the following was found: two small bronze Roman coins, numerous pottery sherds dating mainly from the Roman period, hobnails and roofing nails and a variety of bones mostly from cattle and sheep, some of which had clearly been butchered (clean cut). A third Roman coin was later found in the spoil heap.
Those items and previous finds suggest that the site may have been used for various purposes including farming, livestock holding and/or meat processing, and possible light industry supporting agricultural and other activities. It is also possible that the site's use changed several times during the Roman occupation and that another area of this very large site was used as a dwelling.
It will take some time for the findings from the trench 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.
SEG is very grateful to the team from BACAS and local volunteers for taking part in this trial dig which had to be organised hurriedly before we lost the August time window.
The real value of wasps
Whilst many find wasps annoying and associate them mainly with the risk of being stung, it is important to regard them not simply as pests that can sting, but as an important part of our ecosystem (the community of animals and plants) and thus our economy.
Wasps as a group help protect farm crops by predating insects and, like bees, they are important pollinators. Wasps also play a valuable clean-up role by scavenging vast amounts of waste organic material as they gather protein to feed to their larvae. It is not clear whether, if all wasps were eliminated, that other parts of the ecosystem would expand to take over their roles. The well-established fact that pollinators, as a group, are under severe decline in England suggests a high risk that if the wasps disappeared, their pollination services would not be replaced in full by other means.
There are many species (about 9,000!) of wasp in the UK. The vast majority of these species are solitary, cannot sting people, and perform, in total, an amazing variety of ecosystem services. All these species cause no upset to us humans.
Many are strikingly beautiful (such as the iridescent ruby-tailed wasps Chrysis, a genus readily observable in Saltford) and many have remarkable natural history, often involving extraordinarily specific parasitic relationships with other insects. For example Cotesia glomerata develops inside the caterpillars of a cabbage white butterfly, the Large White; by killing up to 70% of the caterpillar population this wasp provides enormous economic benefit to cabbage-growers. This species is also common in Saltford.
Amongst the very few species of wasps in the UK that can be problematic for people, it is the familiar "social wasps" in particular the Common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) with its black and yellow stripes and the very similar, slightly larger, German wasp (Vespula germanica), that cause the most upset. These species occur almost throughout the UK. Their stings allow them to capture and immobilise their prey (e.g. aphids, caterpillars, flies and spiders) and they may also sting to defend their nest or themselves if they feel threatened - if you just ignore them they will often just fly off (unless you're consuming sugar-rich foods in which case they probably won't!) whereas flapping at them can provoke them and make a sting more likely.
But even these species perform valuable ecological services. The exact same species can readily be observed foraging at nectar-rich flowers, during which they pollinate these plants. This is especially so in late September to October, when insects which overwinter as adults (such as Vespula wasps) are foraging intensively to make provision for the winter.
That is a good way to move beyond seeing wasps as nothing more than a nuisance, but to come to value and appreciate their role in helping to maintain balance in the natural environment and supporting the productivity of many species of plants, including some that provide the food that we eat.
Cigarette butts in the environment
"Please discard your cigarette butts responsibly - stub it, bin it!"
A Keep Britain Tidy survey in 2014/15 found smoking related litter to be the most common littered items; cigarette butts being the most prevalent. Many do not realise that cigarette butts are made of non-biodegradable plastic (cellulose acetate - a type of plastic; some have added charcoal) and therefore persist in the environment when dropped/flicked away.
While ultraviolet rays from the sun will eventually break them into smaller pieces, the toxic material never disappears. The e-cigarettes now widely used by smokers may be a new source of environmental contamination, with the batteries and used nicotine cartridges being carelessly discarded.
Toxin-filled cigarette butts work their way into our waterways primarily through storm drains that empty into our rivers. Although the damage done to our bodies by cigarettes is well known, we still don't yet fully understand the health implications for our oceans, beyond that other forms of micro-plastics and microfibres pose a serious risk to marine organisms. A scientific study from San Diego State University (2011) suggests one smoked cigarette butt in a single litre of water is sufficient to kill both marine and freshwater fish.
Whilst more research is needed to assess the impact of butt consumption among wild animals, there are anecdotal reports of butt consumption by dogs, fish, turtles, birds, and other marine life. 5.5 trillion cigarettes are consumed globally every year. Of these, 4.95 trillion have filters, deposited somewhere in the environment.
As Keep Britain Tidy says, "cigarette butts are a unique type of litter - small, smelly, on fire and sadly commonplace on the ground. Even smokers don't like them much, and together these little butts add up to a very big problem."
Want to stop smoking? According to the NHS wherever you live in the UK, there is easy access to a free service proven to help you stop smoking. Here in Saltford our local pharmacy Day Lewis Pharmacy (497 Bath Rd) provides a stop smoking service including advice on vaping with a qualified adviser and can issue prescription vouchers for nicotine replacement therapy (e.g. nicotine patches and other products).
B&NES Council confirms its opposition to the Government's proposals on fracking
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 are pleased to report that the B&NES Council Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Development, Cllr Bob Goodman, confirmed to SEG in August 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".
SEG objects to premature planning application for another 80 houses between Keynsham and Saltford
On 4th August SEG submitted a strong objection to B&NES Council concerning planning application 18/02899/OUT for up to 80 houses etc. on Green Belt land safeguarded in the B&NES Core Strategy, i.e. land "safeguarded to meet longer term development needs". This land is adjacent (south) to the site where 250 new houses are about to be built by the A4 and Wellsway School.
SEG's objection included the following:-
SEG strongly objects to this outline planning application for up to 80 dwellings on Green Belt land safeguarded in the B&NES Core Strategy, i.e. land "safeguarded to meet longer term development needs". The purpose of safeguarded land has been to consider it for development (i) AFTER the other developments identified in the Core Strategy have been completed, not before, and thus when infrastructure is already in place and found to be coping with existing and new demands placed on it, AND (ii) if a genuine demand for additional new housing remains after the other Core Strategy developments have been completed.
The revised NPPF (2018) requires 'exceptional circumstances' for releasing land from the Green Belt. Whilst in this case this is land that has already been released by B&NES Council from the Green Belt in the Core Strategy, that release was safeguarded for later development. No exceptional circumstances for releasing the land for development early have been given in the planning application.
To allow this to proceed before other developments that were allowed in the B&NES Core Strategy on Keynsham's Green Belt would put undue and additional pressure on transport infrastructure and public services. Those services and infrastructure already struggle or fail to cope with the existing housing density before the proposed Core Strategy developments have been built and supporting infrastructure for those developments put in place beforehand. Those transport problems affect people travelling to, from and through Saltford and increasingly grid lock local roads leading towards Keynsham Town Centre, Saltford's closest town.
SEG agrees with comments from the B&NES Senior Highways Development Control Engineer who referred to the fact that the Inspector for the B&NES Core Strategy was clear that the development here should only come forward after the Local Plan review and that traffic impacts of any scheme at this location need to be "properly assessed".
SEG also agrees with the Senior Highways Development Control Engineer's objection to this proposed development as "The existing road network in the vicinity of the site has insufficient capacity to accommodate the increase in traffic likely to be generated by the proposed development. The proposal is therefore considered to be contrary to Policies KE3b and ST7 of the Bath & North East Somerset Placemaking Plan, and contrary to paragraph 32 of the National Planning Policy Framework."
It is thus far too premature to even consider giving outline planning permission to this application and to permit this would overrule the whole purpose for safeguarding land in the Core Strategy for longer term development needs when those needs have not yet been assessed and the effects caused by existing plans for development of the Green Belt have not been experienced, assessed and remedied where found to be negative.
In addition to the above, SEG said that this development would be contrary to the principle of sustainable development and referred to the lack of natural or semi-natural land in B&NES that is required to provide ecosystem support for local farmland for food security, i.e. our local Green Belt should be protected from development. SEG also reminded B&NES of the principle of "net environmental gain" for housing and infrastructure development announced by the Prime Minister when launching the Government's 25 year plan for the environment in January 2018 and referred to the need for "net environmental gain" for new developments in the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) published recently in July 2018.
SEG members and others wishing to comment on this planning application (deadline is Monday 6th August 2018) can follow this link and key 18/02899/OUT into the search box: B&NES Development Control. If you encounter difficulties with the B&NES website you can email your objection/comments to firstname.lastname@example.org but make sure you include the reference number for this planning application (18/02899/OUT).
The B&NES target decision date for this planning application is 4th October 2018. Saltford Parish Council will be considering its response to this planning application at its 4th September meeting. UPDATE: Saltford Parish Council agreed to submit a strong objection to this planning application at its 4th September meeting.
August 2018 (updated September 2018)
Air quality improving
Wide-ranging work to improve air quality across Bath and North East Somerset has been outlined in an annual status report published on 1st August by B&NES Council which shows decreases in harmful levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (measured in micrograms per cubic metre, µg/m3) across the district. The detailed report says the average decrease in nitrogen dioxide across the district was 10 per cent in 2017 compared with eight per cent the previous year. In Saltford all the monitoring sites are below the objective of 40µg/m3.
That is encouraging news (that we reported in March) but SEG is naturally concerned that the additional 250 houses about to be built on former Green Belt land in Keynsham East (by the A4 before the Waitrose roundabout) allowed under the B&NES Core Strategy will further increase traffic congestion and thus air pollution on the A4 through Saltford.
The Saltford monitoring stations are The Crown and 562 Bath Road. Saltford Library is no longer monitored as it has been below 40 µg/m3 at this location for several years.
In Keynsham High Street there has been a 15% decrease in NO2 concentrations following the introduction of a trial one-way system. For Bath, the report details a series of actions already in place to improve air quality as part of the council's Clean Air Plan called Bath BreATHes 2021 as well as proposals for a charging Clean Air Zone in Bath. For further information about air quality in Bath go to www.bathnes.gov.uk/bath-breathes-2021 and for the B&NES Air Quality Report news announcement report on the B&NES website click this link to air quality annual report news where there is also a link to the Air Quality Action Plan for Saltford.
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"