Saltford Environment Group
2021 News Archive
The latest stories are on our home page.
As this is an archive some older links may no longer connect due to changes in web page URL addresses etc.
An early story in 2021 was about residents' access to the parkland at Saltford Golf Club for recreational walks during lockdown.
Click on each story link or scroll down the page (most recent appears first):-
News stories start here (most recent appears first):-
Support for Wessex Water's new bridge will help protect the Green Belt and local wildlife
We reported in April SEG's supportive pre-application response to Wessex Water's new access bridge and wetland habitat proposals. Wessex Water need to construct a new permanent access route into their sewage treatment and water recycling works in Mead Lane. This is to facilitate construction work to enable the site to meet tighter regulations, which will improve river water quality, and to accommodate projected growth within Bath and the surrounding area. Mead Lane is subject to flooding and the narrow High Street and Mead Lane restricts access for heavy lorries and tankers visiting the site making such access problematic.
Having explored several alternative routes including the construction of a new 1.6 km road through Saltford's Green Belt just north of Saltford's Conservation Area that would have a significant impact on the Avon Valley landscape and putting much of the area under threat of future inappropriate development, on 13th May Wessex Water submitted its planning application, reference 21/02322/FUL, for a new bridge route over the River Avon with the addition of a new wetland habitat in Saltford Mead (on Wessex Water land).
Saltford Parish Council will be discussing its response to Wessex Water's planning application at its meeting of the full Council on 1st June. SEG will submit its response to B&NES Council after the SPC response.
SEG members and others wishing to support and comment on this planning application (deadline is 21 June 2021) can follow this link and key 21/02322/FUL into the B&NES Development Control web page search box: Development Control link >>.
If you encounter difficulties with the B&NES website, you can email your objection/comments to: [email link] but make sure you include the reference number for this planning application (21/02322/FUL).
The three main reasons for supporting the planning application are:-
*The Transport Statement by Atkins accompanying the planning application forecasts a post-construction increase in traffic on the A431 of just 1% eastbound and 2% westbound whereas the redistributed traffic impact on Norman Road routing through the High Street and Mead Lane (all residential side-roads) will be a 20% decrease of existing traffic.
Vehicular use of the new bridge will be for the Wessex Water site only. Proposals include a footpath on the bridge providing a new access route for walkers to and from the existing riverbank footpath. The Mead Lane access to the site will remain open for light vehicles etc. after the new access route is built as an alternative means of access so that those who visit or commute to the site including the laboratory will still be able to get access where Saltford provides a shorter and more direct route than from the A431.
In view of the existing overloading of the Bath Road (A4) with traffic at peak periods, there should be advantages from sharing the traffic load for Wessex Water between the A4 and the A431. The proposals also mean heavier vehicles can avoid the narrow single lane streets of Saltford whilst the loss of Green Belt land will be considerably less than other options considered.
Due to the need to minimise overall impacts on residents living on both sides of the River Avon and to minimise loss of Green Belt land whilst enabling the improvement of sewage treatment and water recycling capabilities of this important strategic infrastructure facility, SEG supports the planning application for the new bridge access as the most viable and sensible option. Having a new wetland habitat in Saltford as part of the project, a habitat no longer present in this part of the Avon floodplain, will be an excellent outcome for the natural environment. A net gain for biodiversity!
Plant a (suitable) Tree for the Jubilee
The Queen's Green Canopy (QGC) is a tree planting initiative to mark Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee in 2022. People from across the UK are invited to "Plant a Tree for the Jubilee."
Everyone from individuals to Scout and Girl Guide groups, villages, cities, counties, schools and corporates will be encouraged to play their part to enhance our environment by planting trees from October, when the tree planting season begins, through to the end of the Jubilee year in 2022 and have a share of 3 million free saplings from the Woodland Trust as part of the project.
With a focus on planting sustainably, the QGC will encourage planting of trees to create a legacy in honour of The Queen's leadership of the Nation, which will benefit future generations.
SEG is mindful of the need to plant "the right trees in the right places". It is much better for supporting our local wildlife to plant trees from our list of native tree species ecologically appropriate to Saltford on our wildlife page (link to list) which also gives guidance on the long term viability of the tree(s) and for benefitting wildlife where possible.
New parking restrictions to help protect riverside access
Following responses giving overwhelming support from Saltford's residents, Saltford Parish Council and our B&NES Ward Councillors for proposals in the recent consultation on Traffic Regulation Order reference 20-014 affecting The Shallows and Mead Lane in Saltford as reported in our March 2021 news story, work by contractors for B&NES Council to install parking restriction measures (primarily double yellow lines) was completed between 10th and 25th May.
Saltford's residents are all too well aware of the long-standing road blockage issues arising from the parking of visitor's vehicles in Mead Lane and The Shallows which are mainly single carriageways and where the parking of cars and vans prevent larger vehicles including emergency vehicles from getting past whilst blocking access for residents needing to travel by car. The permanent parking bans seeks to help address these safety issues for the benefit of the local community and visitors.
Concerns had been raised by residents, visitors, the police and the Fire Brigade regarding safety and access; last year the problems reached such a peak that to ensure safety and access the police had to close roads but this had been a growing and persistent problem for at least the previous 5 years during busy periods.
SEG agrees with SPC that the measures should help protect the amenity value of the Saltford riverbank for residents and visitors whilst also helping to reduce incidents of damage to the riverbank and breaking up of the roadside edge itself in Mead Lane from vehicles attempting to park partly on the riverbank; the riverbank's structure is not designed to accept vehicle parking.
A residents parking scheme element has been incorporated in The Shallows to maintain and improve parking access for residents without off road parking; this is viewed as necessary due to the high number of vehicle-using visitors to The Shallows.
The Shallows and Mead Lane are residential areas. It is a matter of balancing the needs of residents, nature and visitors. Other measures to protect the local riverside environment will still be necessary and discussions between SEG, SPC and B&NES Council will continue. B&NES Council has an ambition to remove moorings from Mead Lane, which is not designed to accept boat moorings due to the nature of the bio-engineered stabilisation of the riverbank in 2005, by the end of 2022. B&NES Council is intending to identify alternative 14-day mooring sites for the live-aboard community along the watercourse.
The wonder of hedgerows
If you have got a hedge of native species, and especially one that is 150+ years old, nurture it. Whatever you do, don't replace it with something else.
Hedges can originate in different ways. Some may be woodland hedges, formed out of woodland trees/shrubs left as remnants after woodland clearance. Some may originate from scrub growing on boundaries between cultivated fields or they may be planted with single or a mix of species, whilst some may be a combination of different origins.
Hedgerows are part of our cultural heritage and historical record, in addition to their great value to wildlife and the landscape. They are increasingly valued too for the major role they have in helping to prevent soil loss and reduce pollution, and for their potential to store carbon, regulate water supply and to reduce flooding.
Long-standing hedgerows have an important key role supporting and allowing the mobility of invertebrates as well as for supporting plants and fungi. They tend to support the greatest diversity of plants and animals so we need to value, protect and retain them.
Further information on hedgerows can be found from these links:-
This article is also published on our wildlife and gardening pages.
International Dawn Chorus Day (2 May)
Spring is the best time of year for listening to bird song and the dawn chorus is a sound that heralds the approach of warmer summer days. In the colder air at dawn, bird song can carry a lot further than later in the day and with less competing human sounds like traffic it really can be an uplifting experience just listening to our tuneful local birdlife at dawn. Different birds start up at different times, with Robins and Blackbirds amongst the first to start singing.
You can join the RSPB online live at 5am - 9am on 2nd May for International Dawn Chorus Day - just follow this link: RSPB Dawn Chorus Day.
If you want help identifying different bird song visit the RSPB website from this link which takes you to their bird song identifier.
Pandemic & research proves need to re-think strategic planning for green spaces
The following is based on an article from SEG for the May/June edition of Saltford Community Association News (SCAN). The photograph above shows a peaceful scene at The Shallows during lockdown, May 2020, before the visitor influx.
The COVID-19 lockdowns raised a greater awareness of the importance and value of the natural world and the open, green spaces where we live. The rural countryside that (still) surrounds Bath and rural villages like Saltford is critical not just for nature and the wildlife attracted to the Avon Valley, but for our own well-being too. An increase in home working and taking exercise locally that is likely to follow the COVID-19 pandemic will increase that awareness still further.
As the first lockdown eased in summer 2020 large influxes of visitors descended on riverside areas along the River Avon, including Saltford. Do we need more evidence that the new residential developments built on the east side of Bristol in recent years were not given an adequate provision of new green open spaces and public parks?
As SEG enters its second decade, COVID-19 and the growing use of riverside areas and the countryside for recreation has raised the importance for SEG to further develop the case for protecting the Green Belt and local wildlife habitat from development. This is at a time when many in the UK now recognise from the serious decline in wildlife that there is an "ecological emergency". Never has protection of the local Green Belt been more relevant than it is now.
Protecting the Green Belt from development to benefit wildlife and nature whilst providing green space for low environmental impact recreation is a key priority for SEG.
As we reported in March (Planners asked for space for wildlife & nature), like other communities, Saltford is already paying the price of over-development in the wider area. This is not just from congestion on local roads but our community is losing access to its local green spaces to increasing visitor influxes whilst river and riverside wildlife and habitat also take a heavy toll.
The recent and ongoing construction of many more homes in the West of England without increasing green recreational space (i.e. large public parks) for the inhabitants of new housing means existing green spaces are inundated with visitors more often and wildlife increasingly "removed" from our environment.
Where are all the new and existing residents in the West of England supposed to relax and take outdoor exercise when they need a break from their homes? And, as Sir David Attenborough crucially once asked, "Can a growing human population leave space for wildlife?"
ONS report: How has lockdown changed our relationship with nature?
Using data from several sources looking at the impact of lockdown on exercise levels, usage of public green spaces and the link between nature and wellbeing, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in a report* this month highlighted the importance of natural spaces for well-being during the pandemic. From its review of surveys and data on the role of nature and green spaces in the past year, ONS said changes in personal behaviour and corporate attitudes could mean that after the lockdown the UK will value and interact with nature on a much greater scale than before.
Looking at research data from Natural England, ONS reported that during the pandemic 41% of adults felt that visiting local green and natural spaces was even more important. 38% felt that nature/wildlife was more important than ever whilst 33% were visiting local green and natural spaces more than before the pandemic. ONS reported that the closer people were to their nearest park, the more likely they were to visit during lockdown.
Whether these changes in personal behaviour brought on by the lockdowns are temporary or a new way of life remains to be seen but it seems likely that such a raising of awareness of the importance of nature and green spaces for our physical and mental well-being will have a lasting effect after the significant challenges to people's personal values and lifestyles posed by the pandemic.
*NOTE: The ONS report (26.4.2021) "How has lockdown changed our relationship with nature?" can be found on the ONS website from this link: ONS report 26.4.2021.
Prince Philip (1921-2021) - A champion for the environment
"The conservation of nature, the proper care for the human environment and a general concern for the long-term future of the whole of our planet are absolutely vital if future generations are to have a chance to enjoy their existence on this earth"
SEG members will be saddened to have learnt of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, today (9th April). He was a champion of environmental causes, an environmentalist, long before wider acknowledgement of the threat from mankind to the natural world had become widely accepted and warned of the "greedy and senseless exploitation of nature."
The Duke of Edinburgh was the patron of many organisations, including WWF and the Duke of Edinburgh Award that "equips and empowers young people from all communities to build the skills, confidence, and resilience they need to make the most out of life". The Duke was the first President of WWF-UK from its foundation in 1961 to 1982, and President of WWF-International from 1981 to 1996 and then President Emeritus of WWF International.
Pavan Sukhdev, President of WWF International, said:
"The Duke of Edinburgh has been a tireless champion for the environmental cause and a passionate ambassador for conservation issues around the world for decades. His Royal Highness helped chart the course of WWF from its very beginning and has truly made enormous contributions to the organization.
"Across more than 50 years, His Royal Highness, Prince Philip's efforts on behalf of WWF have been inestimable - visiting WWF projects in over fifty countries on five continents, promoting conservation issues at the highest government and corporate levels, and helping with essential fundraising and awareness promotion.
"On behalf of all of us at WWF, I extend my sincere sympathies to Her Majesty the Queen, to the Royal Family and to the family of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip at this very sad time."
SEG respectfully shares and extends those sympathies.
2021 Big Garden Birdwatch results
The results for the 2021 Big Garden Birdwatch held on the weekend of 29 - 31 January are now published by the RSPB. Do they match what was in your garden? The top ten most commonly observed birds across the UK were (change on 2020 position in brackets):-
1. House Sparrow (=)
Top spot goes to the House Sparrow for the 18th year running! Blackbirds and Robins have also done well this year, both moving up the table and coming in at 4th and 6th place respectively.
While House Sparrows and Blue Tits may be the UK's most commonly sighted in this year's Birdwatch, data shows that numbers have in fact dropped dramatically since the Birdwatch began in 1979. Over the last 50 years, since 1970, 40 million birds have vanished from the UK's skies. And it's not just birds that are suffering according to the RSPB. The latest State of Nature 2019 report (link to report) found that around two-fifths of UK species are in decline including Turtle Doves, Red Squirrels and Water Voles.
The reasons behind these declines are complex. The State of Nature 2019 report states that "agricultural management, climate change, hydrological change, urbanisation, pollution, woodland management and invasive non-native species" are among the most significant of pressures acting upon terrestrial and freshwater wildlife. It also reports "At sea, climate change and fishing are having the most significant impact upon marine biodiversity."
More information on the results of the 2021 Birdwatch can be found on the RSPB website. You can also find more information on social media using the hashtag #BigGardenBirdWatch.
Saltford Parish Council's new "Policy Overview" backed by Ward Councillors
At its monthly meeting on 6th April Saltford Parish Council updated its "Policy Overview" to guide the work of the Council; this was to reflect the urgency now widely accepted for meeting the twin challenges of climate change and the threat to nature and our ecosytems. The new policy unanimously adopted by the Council was as follows:-
Saltford Parish Council endorses the need to respond to the climate and ecological emergencies. SPC's decisions and policies will take account of whether they are good for the climate, the ecology of Saltford and for residents. SPC is in favour of protecting the Green Belt around Saltford from development including from a road bypass (that would be infilled with housing); reopening the railway station on the existing site; Fairtrade; and that Saltford should continue to be an inclusive and caring community.
In response to the updated policy, Saltford Ward Councillors for B&NES Council, Cllr Duncan Hounsell and Cllr Alastair Singleton, said "As Ward Councillors for Saltford, we fully support Saltford Parish Council's principled stance in addressing the threats we all face through the Climate and Ecological Emergencies. We join SPC in putting these threats at the heart of all of our work."
For more about this focus by SPC on the environment including recent environmental actions and initiatives by SPC (some in partnership with B&NES Council), see SPC's website from this link: SPC's new policy overview.
SEG responds to Wessex Water's new access bridge & wetland habitat proposals
Over Easter SEG submitted a pre-planning application response to Wessex Water on the company's proposals to build a new access route to the Saltford Water Recycling Centre, including the welcome proposals for wildlife habitat enhancements.
On environmental grounds, SEG strongly prefers the currently proposed route, from the A431 just east of Swineford, over alternative proposals involving lengthy road construction through Saltford's Green Belt to connect with the A4, particularly as those proposals keep Green Belt loss to a minimum.
SEG advised Wessex Water that it was delighted that the package will include wildlife habitat enhancement as this provides an excellent opportunity to benefit local wetland ecology through habitats no longer present in this part of the Avon floodplain. SEG sees this as a rare opportunity to make a major Net Gain to local biodiversity and therefore an appropriate response to B&NES Council's July 2020 declaration of an ecological emergency.
At this pre-planning stage, and after consultation with our wildlife advisor, who is in regular discussions with Wessex Water, SEG made two points at this stage. These relate to maximising the ability of existing and any newly constructed wetland habitat to attract multiple wetland bird species which at present occur in Saltford only as stragglers or not at all. The birds require specific attention additional to that for wetland plants and invertebrates in two ways :-
Firstly, the need to ensure public access in that area does not have a negative effect on wildlife attracted to the habitat. If there is any further public access allowed into the field in question, this disturbance will reduce the use by waterbirds of the field and the wetland habitat created within it. Frequent public access, particularly with dogs, could even prevent any wetland bird species not already of regular occurrence here using the created habitat. It is therefore of particular importance that public access between the riverbank and the west end of the bridge follows either the existing public right of way round the field edge, or a new permissive path through the existing planted woodland in the north-west corner of the field.
Secondly, the numbers and distribution of trees envisaged for the site. The more tree cover (particularly from tall species like poplars) around the existing and new wetland habitat, the less it will be used by waterbirds. Existing trees around the pools in the NE of the works are already so tall and broad of crown that few waterbird species now use these pools (significantly more species did so when these trees were still small saplings). To maximise wildlife gain, SEG hopes that (i) as many of the existing trees around the pools' margins can removed or at least pollarded; (ii) few if any trees will be planted in the bridge field outside the existing, currently spaced line of trees; and (iii) any trees that are planted will be of species relatively low-growing (to minimise reduction of use by shy wetland bird species), native and ecologically appropriate to the site. Alder and sallows seem the obvious choices.
SEG has offered to assist Wessex Water, after plans are finalised, in communicating to residents the expectations of the net gain for biodiversity and the agreed access/viewing opportunities for it.
An overview of Wessex Water's proposals for the new access bridge, biodiversity gain and environmental improvements can be found on the Wessex Water website from this link: Saltford Water Recycling Centre where comments on the proposals are also invited.
The submission by Wessex Water of a formal planning application to B&NES Council is expected to be made in May 2021.
VE75 Oak trees plaque
The plaque marking the planting of two English Oak trees (last autumn - see photo below) to mark VE75 Day is now in place at Saltford Hall. The English Oak (Quercus robur) is a keystone species hosting hundreds of insect species, supplying many birds with an important food source. In autumn squirrels, badgers and deer feed on acorns. Great initiative by all those mentioned on the plaque and backed with species choice advice from SEG.
Our website (wildlife page) lists tree species ecologically appropriate to Saltford so when you want to plant a tree that supports local wildlife you know where to look for species advice.
Green affordable warmth grant extended
B&NES Council has won additional funding from the government to expand its Green Home Grants Scheme and is now for the first time extending the scheme to houses with a D energy rating as well as those with an E,F or G rating.
Residents of qualifying properties, whose household's joint annual income is less than £30,000, can apply for a council Green Affordable Warmth Grant to upgrade their home with double glazing, insulation or low carbon-heating.
Improvements for homeowners will be fully funded with an average of £10,000 available, while renters and owner-occupiers may be eligible for upgrades with landlords receiving up to two-thirds of the cost, up to an average of £5,000, dependent on the work required.
The upgrade required for a property will be identified by a property retrofit assessment visit. Householders can find out more and apply for funding via the council's Energy At Home Service. The service offers free information on energy efficiency improvement and grants and loans available. Visit the website at www.energyathome.org.uk or call 0800 038 5680.
In praise of the humble Dandelion (& less grass mowing)
This item includes information from our Wildlife and Gardening pages.
It may be in flower for most of the year, but the Dandelion's peak flowering time is from late March to May, when many bees and numerous other pollinators emerge from hibernation. Each flower's rich supply of nectar and pollen provides an easily available food source and lifesaver for pollinators in spring, and songbirds, such as Blackbirds, Goldfinches, and Sparrows feed on its seeds.
A sign that summer is on its way, can we learn to love the Dandelion for its beauty and the benefit it brings to wildlife? What better way to demonstrate our love and concern for wildlife by letting this underrated flower (not weed!) flourish in deliberately unmown areas of grass in our gardens.
Ever thought about the wildlife benefits of NOT mowing your lawn? The RSPB advice is to give your grass mower a rest as mowing your lawn less, and letting parts of it grow long, saves you time and helps give nature a home. The grasses will set seed, wildflowers will be able to bloom, and the longer stems will create a sheltered microclimate - a mini jungle through which beetles and other small creatures can wander.
You'll see all sorts of insects roving through the long grass, pollinators coming to the flowers in the lawn, and hopefully sparrows and goldfinches coming to feed on the seeds whilst other wild birds will feed and thrive on the insects.
The RSPB advises that you can continue to give the mower a rest into autumn. But cutting it at the end of summer, say at the end of August, also mimics the hay meadows of past decades that made our countryside such a haven for wildlife.
If you are concerned about what the neighbours will think, don't worry as it will still look like you care for your garden if, for example, you create a neatly-edged block of longer grass in the middle of the lawn and continue to mow around it.
Your no-mow area can be any size or shape, however for best results try and make it at least a metre-squared. If you are able to locate your no-mow zone away from flowerbeds it is less likely that it will be invaded by garden plants.
Some further advice from the RSPB:
Create paths that look presentable. The trick is in mowing paths through the longer grass. They can be straight paths in a regular pattern, curving paths, or a mini-maze. Kids will love to run along them. There is extra wildlife incentive for mowing paths - there's evidence that creatures actually like using the short paths to move through the meadow, darting into the longer grass to get food.
Create a spring meadow. Leave your areas of long grass until July, and then mow through until the grass stops growing in late autumn.
Create a summer meadow. Mow once in late March or early April and then leave it until September before mowing once or twice in the autumn.
On a warm day in summer, get down at ground level and look closely. See what flowering plants were in your lawn all along but never had the chance to flower, such as daisies, clovers and speedwells.
Remember, it is the less tidy areas of our gardens that allow wildlife to flourish whereas the over-tidy areas are virtually wildlife deserts - especially where non-native* flowers, trees and shrubs are grown as these provide little or no food or habitat for insects.
*NOTE: We give advice on our gardening and wildlife pages on the use of native plant species - our wildlife page includes a list of native tree species that are ecologically appropriate to Saltford.
SEG is 10 years old!
In 2011 Prince William married Catherine (Kate) Middleton, US forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, an undersea earthquake off the Pacific coast of Japan leading to a tsunami triggered a crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Egyptian protests led to the downfall of President Hosni Muburak, rioting broke out in several English cities, the News of the World ceased publication, the 2011 census revealed London as the only region where the number of cars and vans was lower than the number of households, and Prince Philip was treated in hospital for a blocked coronary artery.
Meanwhile here in Saltford SEG was set up by a small group of volunteers as an action outcome from the Parish Plan questionnaire of autumn 2009 where many respondents had expressed concerns about pressures on the environment in our village.
It is no easy task to summarise all that SEG has achieved for Saltford in those 10 short years, recorded amongst over 850 news stories we have published in our website's news archive as well as on special feature pages. Some of our activities have of course been more successful than others, yet "nothing ventured, nothing gained".
Our first activity to get SEG going was our campaign to bring back Saltford station. The campaign's continued determination means that 10 years later, and with the support of B&NES Council and the West of England Combined Authority in the context of the MetroWest project, there is renewed hope that the 1970 closure will be reversed and once more Saltford will have its own station.
Involving young people has been another aspect of SEG's activities. This has included Saltford Scouts and Guides helping to clear invasive Himalayan Balsam from land by the river and also from the railway path habitat restoration project; that project has subsequently been transferred to Sustrans.
SEG's support for particularly worthwhile projects like Fairtrade status for Saltford (achieved in April 2013) and the creation of Saltford Wombles whose recent growth in popularity has resulted from the remarkable work of clearing so much visitor litter during the pandemic, have been successful due to the dedication of many unsung heroes, people who just get stuck in and get things done.
One of the biggest challenges in our first 10 years was the 2-year successful defence by the community that culminated in the 2013 Saltford Green Belt Inquiry outcome and the prevention not just of 99 houses being built in the Green Belt south of Manor Road, but the inevitable ribbon development around Saltford that would have followed. The community of Saltford proved that sustainable development has to mean what it says and communities must be listened to and their views taken into account in land use planning. We know the threat from unsustainable development hasn't gone away and we need to constantly maintain and update the planning case for defending Saltford's Green Belt.
Perhaps the best outcome from our History of Saltford project, not the sort of project normally associated with an environmental group, is the comprehensive online publication on our website that has revealed so much about our village and who lived, worked and passed through here - much that was little known by many residents.
Who knew that Admiral Kelly's remarkable naval career had included such an important role in helping to stop slavery in the 19th Century? Or that evidence of the Vikings, who captured Bath in 1013 and ruled England until 1042, has been found here in Saltford? Or that in 1815 Pedestrianism (race walking) came to Saltford when John Stokes from Bristol walked 1,000 miles in 20 days around a circular course in two fields behind the Crown Inn?
Both in our website news articles and in our behind-the-scenes advice to local decision and policy makers, our wildlife guidance from the viewpoint of supporting and enhancing our local ecology has been another activity that goes on quietly in the background.
Our membership survey in 2018 revealed that of SEG's activities, protecting the Green Belt interests members the most, followed by our History Project, then equally third the station campaign and wildlife habitat protection. The rural location (incl. countryside access and local walks), inhabitants (i.e. neighbours, other residents and friends) and sense of community are what our members like about Saltford.
Living in a community where we help each other has proven invaluable during the pandemic. As we adapt to the "new normal" after COVID-19 those survey findings will continue to guide our priorities and underline the importance of our more strategic 'behind the scenes' work on protecting the Green Belt and local wildlife habitat as many in the UK have finally woken up to the "ecological emergency".
SEG shall continue to maintain close and supportive links with organisations like Saltford Parish Council, Saltford Community Association, and Saltford Wombles.
Thank you to our 560+ members for your ongoing encouragement and support and to our website sponsors.
New community carbon footprinting tool
New research published online as an Impact tool for community carbon footprinting from Exeter University and the Bristol-based Centre for Sustainable Energy allows village (parish) wide carbon calculations, data downloads and, perhaps most interestingly, comparisons. This can be found at impact-tool.org.uk.
The figure for Saltford (17 March 2020) is shown as 14.3t CO2e* per-household territorial footprint p.a. (slightly higher than the national average of 13.9t CO2e). The comparison figure for Corston is 39.7t CO2e and for Newton St. Loe 27.1t CO2e - the main comparative reasons for those parishes being significantly higher than Saltford are their larger footprints for Road transport and Agriculture. Keynsham is 12.1t CO2e, the lower figure compared to Saltford is largely down to lower emissions from Housing and Waste Management. Note: The territorial approach to footprinting can create a skewing effect, for example where major infrastructure like a motorway is located within a particularly small community raising its footprint but outside that community's control.
*CO2e stands for "carbon dioxide equivalent" and is a standard unit of measurement in carbon accounting. It expresses the impact of a number of different gases collectively as a common unit.
Want to calculate your own carbon footprint? Our own personal lifestyle choices make up our carbon footprint and impact on the environment. The WWF 'Carbon Footprint Calculator' at footprint.wwf.org.uk/ enables you to calculate your personal carbon footprint using the answers you provide to a simple 5 minute questionnaire. The website calculates your carbon footprint as a result of your lifestyle choices and provides tips and ideas for how you can shrink your footprint.
WECA bid to government: Saltford Station
SEG's independent Saltford Station campaign is pleased to report that the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), that is responsible for strategic transport projects in this sub-region, has made a bid to the Department for Transport's "restoring your railway (RYR)" fund.
This is seeking £50,000 towards the cost of £70,000 to develop the business and feasibility case for opening a station at Saltford as part of the MetroWest project. MetroWest will provide half-hourly local train services across the Bristol-Bath sub-region. The Saltford station study will cover the areas required to establish whether the station is feasible, and if it is, what the next steps in its development should be. These areas include:
The WECA bid has been backed by local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg. The bid follows a vote of Bath and North East Somerset Council in October 2019 supporting the opening of a Saltford station. Cllr Dine Romero (Lib Dem), leader of B&NES Council, said "The (Saltford) project matches the aims of B&NES Council which supports this bid enthusiastically; I too strongly support this application by WECA."
Cllr Alastair Singleton, a Saltford ward councillor (Lib Dem), said "This is excellent news. This shows that the idea of a Saltford station is being taken very seriously by WECA."
The WECA bid is welcomed by Saltford Parish Council and the Saltford Station Campaign, who have been actively supporting the re-opening of Saltford Station for many years. Both Saltford Parish Council and the Saltford Station Campaign view the bid as a strong, positive step towards the re-opening of Saltford Station potentially at its former site. The Parish Council particularly welcomed the cross-party and cross-organisational support from WECA, B&NES, and Saltford's MP for developing the business and feasibility case for opening a station at Saltford as part of the Metro West project. The Saltford Station Campaign view this bid as a significant step towards making the re-opening of Saltford station a reality.
Cllr Neil Butters, joint B&NES cabinet member for Transport said "I would like to congratulate Saltford Parish Council, Cllrs Duncan Hounsell and Alastair Singleton, and the people of Saltford for their achievement so far. A re-opened Saltford station would take many cars off the road, reduce carbon emissions, and lead to a pleasant environment. This station project has my full support."
The WECA bid makes clear that the development of a station would take a minimum of 5 years if there was sufficient line capacity. If a Saltford station was dependent on signalling enhancements the minimum time for delivering the station would be ten years.
Planners asked for space for wildlife & nature
The Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) is a planning document for the area that the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) has to produce by law. It will set out the vision for how people will live, work and play in the West of England over the next 20 years and will help deliver the commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Local Plans including the new B&NES Local Plan are being prepared alongside the SDS.
As part of the SDS process, WECA asked people living and working in the West of England for their views about the future of the region, to ensure it is a greener, more connected place to live and work. The 'Future of the Region' survey was carried out in November and December 2020. A total of 1,329 individuals and organisations took part in the engagement and shared their views.
WECA found that the top themes repeated throughout the survey responses were:
Protecting the Green Belt from development to benefit wildlife and nature whilst providing green space for low environmental impact recreation is a key priority for SEG.
Like other communities, Saltford is already paying the price of over-development in the wider area. This is not just from congestion on local roads but our community is losing access to its local green spaces to increasing visitor influxes whilst river and riverside wildlife and habitat also take a heavy toll.
The construction of many more homes in the West of England without increasing green recreational space (i.e. large public parks) for the inhabitants of new housing means existing green spaces are inundated with visitors more often and wildlife increasingly "removed" from our environment.
Where are all the new and existing residents in the West of England supposed to relax and take outdoor exercise when they need a break from their homes? And, as Sir David Attenborough crucially once asked, "Can a growing human population leave space for wildlife?"
Help maintain safe access for Saltford's riverside areas
Saltford's residents will be aware of the long-standing road blockage issues arising from the parking of visitor's vehicles in Mead Lane and The Shallows which are mainly single carriageways and where the parking of cars and vans prevent larger vehicles including emergency vehicles from getting past whilst blocking access for residents needing to travel by car.
The temporary parking bans implemented since July/August 2020 have greatly alleviated the problems, but these now need to be made permanent (traffic cones have a habit of being removed or "misplaced"). On 4th March Saltford Parish Council submitted to B&NES Council its response to proposed Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) 20-014 that seeks to address these issues permanently.
If B&NES Council is to implement the proposed TRO then it is important that Saltford's residents respond to the TRO consultation by no later than 25 March and show their support for measures proposed.
SPC's response which sets out the safety reasons for the parking measures was as follows:-
Saltford Parish Council strongly supports the proposed Traffic Regulation Order ((Various Roads, Keynsham and Saltford) (Prohibition and Restriction of Parking and Loading) (No Stopping on Entrance Markings) (Authorised and Designated Parking Places) (Variation No.14) Order 2021 reference 20-014 affecting The Shallows and Mead Lane in Saltford, and urges its swift implementation and enforcement for the benefit of the community and its visitors.
The proposals are essential to address long-standing safety and access concerns along these roads which occur regularly during busy periods. In considering its response, Saltford Parish Council notes the concerns expressed to it from residents, visitors, the police and the Fire Brigade regarding safety and access - including the actions having had to be taken by the police to ensure safety and access including road closures. These concerns have since considerably alleviated from July/August 2020 following the implementation of the Temporary Traffic Orders by B&NES Council, which have proved highly successful.
Additionally, the proposals will protect the amenity value of the Saltford riverbank for residents and visitors whilst also helping to reduce incidents of damage to the riverbank and breaking up of the roadside edge itself in Mead Lane from vehicles attempting to park partly on the riverbank; the riverbank's structure is not designed to accept vehicle parking.
The residents parking scheme element is supported to maintain and improve parking access for residents without off road parking, viewed as required due to the high number of vehicle-using visitors to The Shallows.
The Parish Council requests that the TRO proposals accommodate safety measures with regards to the layby on Mead Lane. Measures should be put in place to ensure that vehicles parking in the layby do not overhang or in any way obstruct the highway. This is for the prevention of accidents and to enhance safety for pedestrians and cyclists, due to there being no pavement and poor visibility on this bend.
The above response and details of how to make your own response (by 25 March) are at https://bit.ly/388LakI or you can go directly to the B&NES Council TRO page https://bit.ly/3e6o5mz to find out about the TRO and how to submit a response (by email to email@example.com and quoting the correct reference).
Local residents that have been seriously affected by the issues described in SPC's response for many years now deserve your support to resolve matters.
If you want to help alleviate the problems please submit your supportive response sooner rather than later and by 25 March.
Environmental Audit Committee & "Growing back better"
Describing the COVID-19 crisis as a symptom of a growing ecological emergency, the crisis must be treated as a wake-up call states the Environmental Audit Committee in its report to Government "Growing back better: putting nature and net zero at the heart of the economic recovery" published on 17.2.2021. The committee report made the following two fundamental points:-
The EAC report can be found from this link >>
Riverbank tree management
Those who have seen the trees along the Kelston side of Saltford's riverbank being cut back during February may be interested to know that this is essential maintenance of the riverbank trees carried out by the landowner (Park Farm, Kelston) with a Forestry Commission licence to do so.
If trees growing close to the riverbank edge are left to grow too large then the tree and root ball, or large branches, can fall into the water and block navigation. Removing semi-submerged trees can be dangerous in a fast-flowing river whereas coppicing trees before they fall is more appropriate. To minimise disruption to wildlife, this is best done outside the bird nesting season. The trees will grow back at a lower level.
SEG's wildlife adviser confirms that this is also good for the ecology of the riverbank. With no wild ungulates or live floodplain to do the job, active management like this is essential to maintain niche diversity for a whole mass of invertebrates, plants and fungi.
WECA railway funding bid
B&NES Council Cabinet Member Cllr Neil Butters, announced at the B&NES Council full council meeting on Thursday 21st January, that the West of England Combined Authority is expected to submit a bid to the Department of Transport's 'Restoring Your Railway' fund. Saltford Parish Council has responded by writing to WECA and our local MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, expressing support for this grant bid.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is known for his continuing support for re-opening Saltford Station, replied to SPC stating that he would be delighted to support the WECA bid.
WECA has confirmed that it will be submitting a bid to the DfT's 'Restoring Your Railway' fund for Saltford station by the DfT deadline of 5 March 2021.
Most people don't do this
A massive thank you from SEG to Saltford Wombles and other like-minded members of the community who are doing a magnificent job with individual litter picks to safely remove the scourge of litter from our village and the surrounding area. This includes the help from young people working towards their individual Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Most people don't drop litter, but the few who do make a disproportionate mess. We can all see what an unattractive problem litter is and we know about the consequences of a heavily littered environment. Litter can be hazardous to wildlife with potentially disastrous consequences for us all as plastic waste eventually breaks down into tiny toxic microplastics that can accumulate contaminants before entering our food chain.
We can all do our bit where we live to clear or pick litter thereby helping to reduce the impact of selfish lazy people who deliberately drop litter instead of taking it home for disposal or recycling. Litter attracts litter: a litter-free village, town or countryside makes litter dropping stand out as a perverse thing to do!
By putting aside some time once a week/month to quietly get on with clearing litter, anyone can help make a difference wherever they live - a worthwhile and satisfying lockdown activity to combine with exercise walks.
Information about Saltford Wombles can be found on our Less Waste page.
Saltford Golf Club - public access ends
Saltford Golf Club have asked us to pass on this information about the ending of public access with immediate effect:
Dear Saltford Residents
Due to the adverse weather conditions and heavy footfall, our Greens Maintenance Team will be repairing the damage and preparing the course in readiness for members to resume playing golf at the beginning of March.
Therefore please be advised that in the interest of safety and with immediate effect, Saltford Golf Club is suspending all public access to walkers on the course.
We hope that you have enjoyed the beauty of our golf course during these difficult and unprecedented times.
Saltford Golf Club Chairman
It was very kind of the golf club to allow local residents access during the current lockdown. SEG hopes residents will respect the closure of access now so that ground staff can repair the course ready for its re-opening for golf.
SEG supports the Green Belt in B&NES Local Plan Partial Update consultation response
A full review of the B&NES Local Plan will be undertaken alongside the WECA Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) which is scheduled for publication in 2023. In the interim B&NES is undertaking a Partial Update of the Local Plan to address a number of urgent issues, e.g. a climate emergency and an ecological emergency has been declared by B&NES.
SEG submitted detailed comments to B&NES Council on its Local Plan Partial Update (LPPU) consultation on 4th February. SEG's response was similar to the Saltford Parish Council response agreed at its February meeting. The consultation ends on 18th February and more information can be found from this external link.
In addition to commenting on a proposals concerning infill boundaries for Green Belt villages, SEG submitted comments on the proposals for further development of land at north and east Keynsham. SEG agreed with SPC that this area is at risk of over-development taking account of the demands on transport and other services and the loss of green spaces around and within Keynsham as a whole arising from the recent developments authorised by the Core Strategy/Local Plan.
In its response SEG reminded B&NES Council that if the two safeguarded sites at east Keynsham are to be developed, such development should be in response to genuine need, not demand, for new housing that cannot be satisfied from use of vacant buildings (e.g., the repurposing of retail and offices) and underused previously developed land outside the Green Belt, i.e. in accordance with planning policy announcements in 2020 from B&NES Council, the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government.
SEG also submitted comments on the Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment (HELAA) 2021 update for Saltford and referred to the planning reasons for not developing the 9 Saltford sites in Saltford's Green Belt that were assessed in 2018 for the 2019 HELAA (see map below) that all still remain valid.
Finally, SEG referred to B&NES Council's obligation and responsibility to protect the Green Belt for the potential eco-system support for nature and biodiversity it can provide helping to underpin food production and food security, whilst open green space has recreational and quality of life value for local communities, a value heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taking those factors into account, the combined environmental, societal and economic value of the Green Belt far outweighs any short-term economic gain from its development, development that would be contrary to sustainable development principles and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
The text of SEG's full response can be viewed here:-
Climate change is a global emergency say 64% in UN poll
The largest global public opinion survey, with 1.2 million respondents from 50 countries with over half the world's population, held by the UN Development Programme in conjunction with the University of Oxford has revealed that nearly 2/3rds, 64%, of the world's population believe climate change to be a global emergency.
The survey results were released on 27 January. Although the survey was conducted during the COVID-19 crisis, there was still widespread recognition of climate change as a global emergency in every country surveyed.
Policies had wide-ranging support, with the most popular being conserving forests and land (54% public support), more solar, wind and renewable power (53%), adopting climate-friendly farming techniques (52%) and investing more in green businesses and jobs (50%). Of particular relevance to governments, the Peoples' Climate Vote reveals that there are many opportunities for governments to address climate change with the backing of their people.
Looking at the views of different age groups, younger people (under 18) were more likely to say climate change is an emergency than older people. Nevertheless, other age groups were not far behind, with 65% of those aged 18-35, 66% aged 36-59 and 58% of those over 60, illustrating how widely held this view has become.
The most profound socio-demographic driver of belief in the climate emergency and climate action is a person's educational background with consistently very high levels of demand for climate action among people with post-secondary education in all countries.
Newly elected US President Joe Biden who aims to take the US back into the Paris Climate Agreement*, should be reassured to see that 65% of those in the US taking part in the survey viewed climate change as an emergency. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) is scheduled to take place in November 2021, in Glasgow, and to be co-hosted by the UK with Italy. *The Paris Climate Agreement is a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2degC and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5degC.
At the local level, SEG members may recall that B&NES Council declared a (cross-party) Climate Emergency in March 2019. As part of this the Council resolved to: "Sign up to the UK100 Pledge to provide the strategic community leadership needed to enable our communities to achieve 100% clean energy across all sectors in Bath & North East Somerset by 2030... and to enable carbon neutrality by 2030." B&NES Council also declared an Ecological Emergency in July 2020 in response to the escalating threat to wildlife and ecosystems.
Help inform transport plans for Bath & surrounding area
A major transport consultation and invitations for expressions of interest on liveable neighbourhoods were launched by B&NES Council on 15 January as part of the council's next steps to tackle congestion, improve health and support more walking and cycling in Bath and North East Somerset.
At the same time all ward councillors are being invited to put forward expressions of interest for liveable neighbourhoods, residents' parking zones and electric vehicle parking within their respective wards.
People are being encouraged to have their say on the city's transport system over the next decade, by taking part in the six-week consultation on the Bath Transport Delivery Action Plan. This will affect Saltford residents who travel into or around Bath as well as affecting Saltford as a village through the development of transport links and options in the wider area surrounding Bath.
The aim of Bath Transport Delivery Action Plan will identify deliverable transport solutions and be developed over time providing the opportunity to create better connected, healthier and more sustainable communities to live and work in. It will focus on three key areas:
For more information on the Transport Delivery Action Plan and to take part in the online consultation visit this external link >>. All responses must be received by Monday 1 March.
Saltford Golf Club during lockdown 3
January 2021 (+ February update)
Saltford Golf Club have asked us to pass on this information about public access:
Once again Saltford's golf course is closed, and there are many people already taking the opportunity to use the course as a place to exercise. As before the club is happy to allow local people to do this, we all need to escape during these difficult times.
However at this time of year the course is wet, muddy and slippy in places so we would ask people to keep to pathways, or the perimeter of the course, keep well away from the putting greens and other areas that have been cordoned off by string and stake 'barriers', and avoid walking on steep slopes.
Please keep dogs under control and clean up after them, and take your dog waste and other rubbish home with you. Please do not use the club's waste bins as we only have a skeleton staff working and they do not have time to go around disposing of your rubbish.
The car park is no longer accessible, so please do not drive to the club as you will not be able to get in.
This is very kind and helpful of the golf club to allow local residents access during the latest, third, lockdown. SEG hopes residents will continue to respect and protect the course as requested.
Update February 2021
On 5th February Saltford Golf Club asked SEG to provide this further information/reminder for residents due to damage being done to the course:-
It is with regret that our Greens Staff have reported selfish and irresponsible acts of behaviour which has damaged the course.
Please may we remind you that the area is very wet and slippery so it would be appreciated if you would stay on the pathways, or the perimeter of the course, keeping well away from the putting greens, bunkers, streams, ponds and other areas that have been cordoned off by stake barriers and string. Keep your dogs under control and clean up after them taking your dog waste and other rubbish home with you. Do not use the clubs waste bins.
We have also received complaints from the residents of Golf Club Lane that vehicles have been inconsiderately parked. Please do not park near to the entrance of the club as this needs to be accessible to emergency vehicles at all times.
SEG hopes that the Golf Club's very reasonable requests can be met; it is a very kind gesture that the club provides access during the difficulties presented by the lockdown - this helpful provision should not be abused by a minority of residents. Thanks!
SPC objects to Bristol Airport expansion
Bristol Airport is appealing North Somerset Council's decision to refuse planning permission for the latest stage of its extension plans. At its monthly (zoom) meeting on 5th January, Saltford Parish Council (SPC) agreed the following response that has been submitted:
"OBJECT: In response to North Somerset Council's Planning consultation Saltford Parish Council objects to Bristol Airport's Planning Appeal that would expand the number of aircraft flights over Saltford on route to or from Bristol Airport with resulting negative implications for noise and air pollution already experienced by residents. Further increases in carbon emissions associated with a growth in aircraft use of Bristol Airport and the expansion proposals would hinder progress in addressing the climate emergency declared by North Somerset Council (February 2019) and the West of England Combined Authority (July 2019) as well as national Government targets (June 2019) for a net zero carbon economy by 2050."
The deadline for submissions (reference 20/P/2896/APPCON) to North Somerset Council was 6th January.
Big Garden Birdwatch 29 - 31 Jan
Enjoy an hour with nature and discover the wildlife on your doorstep. The RSPB's annual Big Garden Birdwatch will be from 29 to 31 January 2021.
Taking part is easy and this is a great chance to sit back, relax and watch birds and other wildlife for an hour - and to encourage younger members of your family to develop an interest in the local wildlife. By taking part, you'll find out all about the fascinating wildlife that flutters, crawls and hops in your garden, balcony or local area. And with a simple hour of mindful watching, you could have an hour to yourself, too.
Full details including resources and ideas including tips on making your garden an attractive place for birds to stop for a snack can be found on the RSPB website from this link:- RSPB Birdwatch.
You can also find more information on social media using the hashtag #BigGardenBirdWatch.
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