Saltford Environment Group
Don't blight the land that feeds you
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Fairtrade Christmas in Saltford
Christmas is fast approaching, and the Saltford Community Association will be holding their Christmas Market on Saturday 4th December 2021 with doors open at 10am.
Once more we will have a Fairtrade stall where we can show you a selection of the enormous range of Fairtrade goods that are available and perhaps inspire you on your quest for that perfect gift as well as helping to make a difference to others.
Traidcraft offer an excellent range of Fairtrade products and at Christmas there is an additional range of cards, gifts, decorations, and seasonal foods. Please visit www.traidcraftshop.co.uk or if you would like to use their ordering service to avoid delivery charges, please contact Kath McCarthy on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01225 344066.
Please visit us at the Christmas Market for a friendly chat and enjoy a cup of Fairtrade tea or coffee in the excellent Saltford Hall cafe. Hope to see you there. New members always welcome.
See our Fairtrade page for more information about Fairtrade.
Global (& UK) biodiversity is below 'safe limit'
The world's biodiversity has fallen below the 'safe limit', researchers suggest, as habitat destruction and agriculture take their toll on nature. The UK is one of the world's most nature-depleted countries being in the bottom 10% globally and last among the G7 group of nations.
Ahead of UN Biodiversity Conference, COP 15, hosted by China, the Natural History Museum in London has launched the Biodiversity Trends Explorer, an online tool that will allow everyone, from members of the public to policymakers, to see how the biodiversity of different regions has changed over time.
With an average of just 53% of its native wildlife intact, the UK falls behind countries including the USA and China following widespread destruction of its habitats from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.
Globally, biodiversity intactness, which represents the proportion of the original number of species in an area that remain and their abundance, is measured at 75%. This is significantly below the 90% average set as the 'safe limit' to maintain the ecological processes such as pollination and nutrient cycling that are vital to our survival.
Here in B&NES, the deeply depressing data for the UK's depletion of nature should be a wake-up call to our local politicians and strategic land use planners to ensure the forthcoming Local Plan update does not destroy any further green field sites for development including so-called 'safeguarded' former Green Belt or existing Green Belt land.
Getting it right on where new housing is built has never been more important. Green field and Green Belt land should be protected and enhanced not destroyed; such destruction puts our future food security at higher risk. Climate change will further reduce the ability of other nations to continue feeding the UK and its growing population at current rates (60% of our net food consumption!) so the protection of our Green Belt and green fields has to be a national priority.
Just days before the Natural History Museum data was revealed, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, on 6th October, "... you can also see how much room there is to build the homes that young families need in this country. Not on green fields, not just jammed in the South East, but beautiful homes on brown field sites in places where homes make sense."
In response to that helpful statement from the PM, on 9th October SEG's Chairman wrote to our MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, asking him to seek confirmation from the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, that Planning Inspectors will not now permit developers to gain planning permission on appeal for building on green fields and the Green Belt including safeguarded Green Belt land regardless of the state of play with a Local Plan and its ability to deliver housing numbers set by central government.
Local communities not developers should determine where new housing developments should be built, so written reassurance from Michael Gove is what we need to ensure B&NES Council is not cowed into surrendering our precious green fields and Green Belt by housing number targets imposed by central Government or the ever present threat that developers will go to appeal if they don't get the planning permission they seek.
We are all aware of the need to build new, decent and affordable houses but they have to be in the right places.
To see the Natural History Museum announcement click here: Global biodiversity below 'safe limit' (external site).
See also our October news stories on planning below:-
Don't blight the land that feeds you...
Boris says build new homes on brown field sites "not on green fields"
Addressing the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on 6th October 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his wish that news homes should be built on brown field sites, NOT green field sites. He said:
"Build back beaver, I say. Build back beaver. Though the beavers may sometimes build without local authority permission, you can also see how much room there is to build the homes that young families need in this country. Not on green fields, not just jammed in the South East, but beautiful homes on brown field sites in places where homes make sense."
- see our previous news item "Local Green Belt and the B&NES Local Plan Partial Update" resisting B&NES Council's plans to build 280 homes on former Green Belt fields at Keynsham east that would appear to be at complete odds with National Government policy.
Local Green Belt and the B&NES Local Plan Partial Update
On 5th October Saltford Parish Council agreed its response to B&NES Council on the draft Local Plan Partial Update (LPPU) - this update is being made by B&NES Council to take account of the climate and ecological emergencies before a full review of the Local Plan alongside the West of England Combined Authority Spatial Development Strategy (SDS) in 2023.
The proposed update from B&NES does not threaten Saltford's Green Belt with development but an additional 280 houses are proposed for the safeguarded former Green Belt land on the east (Saltford) side of Keynsham.
It is hard to find anyone who seriously considers this to be a sound way to meet new housing needs.
SPC's response to B&NES, which SEG endorsed as a consultee in its own consultation response on 6th October to B&NES Council, contains these key points:-
HOUSING LAND SUPPLY (at Keynsham East)
The proposal to develop the safeguarded land east of Keynsham is premature and does not take account of the need to respond proactively to the climate and ecological emergencies.
A short-sighted "predict and provide" approach to new developments in response to central Government targets is highly questionable and ignores the local need to protect green field and Green Belt land that has the potential to improve our local ecology which in turn is increasingly necessary to underpin local and national future food security.
Brownfield sites and the re-purposing of (former) retail sites close to existing low carbon transport routes should be prioritised for development.
If B&NES considers it has insufficient brownfield sites then it should apply an "ecological recovery and development land trade" approach with neighbouring local planning authorities in the West of England (WECA) area. This could be by providing biodiversity net gains through improving its existing green field and Green Belt land to allow neighbouring LPAs to use their "excess" of brownfield sites to meet housing targets (based on genuine need, not demand) in exchange for B&NES undertaking the biodiversity improvements.
The lack of public green space, i.e. public parks, near where people live needs rectifying as a priority before further new housing developments are built. Developers should be required to fund the cost of providing new green recreational space for new housing otherwise the cost of infrastructure and related day-visitor facilities in the countryside and other green parks/spaces surrounding the development falls to the LPA.
A serious omission from the new developments east of Bristol (in Bristol, B&NES and South Glos) in recent years has been the lack of large new public parks with water facilities (e.g. boating lakes) to cater for the recreational needs of the inhabitants of those new homes. The consequence has been several health and safety problems for riverside areas which were occurring increasingly frequently before the easing of the Covid-19 lockdowns; the lockdowns simply highlighted and amplified the problems.
Hot and sunny weekends, Bank Holidays and school holidays result in many householders in existing and new developments with small or no gardens justifiably seeking out water-side areas to picnic, party, swim, use paddle boards etc., or simply relax during their visit. Large cities have traditionally been provided with large public parks (e.g. Victoria Park in Bath) but the growing urban sprawl surrounding cities including Bristol and Bath can be a disaster for local communities and wildlife that become local tourist hot spots.
The Bristol to Bath River Avon is a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI). Natural habitats and adjacent local communities, whose own recreational space increasingly becomes a no-go area for locals during periods of hot and sunny weather, require better protection from visitor pressure as inhabitants of new housing developments descend in large numbers on riverside areas along the Avon Valley due to the lack of spacious public parks where they live. The lack of public parks reduces the quality of life for visitors and local communities alike whilst putting wildlife habitats at greater risk. Furthermore, local residential roads near visitor hot spots are blocked as the carrying capacity for parking is greatly exceeded.
BIODIVERSITY NET GAIN
SPC [& SEG] welcomes the commitments from B&NES Council. As an appropriate response to the ecological emergency, SPC [& SEG] recommends a more ambitious and higher target than 10% Biodiversity Net Gain for developers. Local ecological knowledge and insight, if available (e.g. from an appropriate wildlife NGO), can help optimise gains for each development and therefore is likely to be necessary to calculate an appropriate target for each development. The overarching objective would be to help overcome the biodiversity losses and negative impacts that have resulted from existing developments in the B&NES area that have been permitted in the 2014 Core Strategy as well as in other previous post-war housing and other developments.
In any event, the target could helpfully be expressed as a minimum, e.g. "a minimum [15%] Biodiversity Net Gain", to allow for some developments to exceed [15%] where conditions allow. This could encourage and enable greater ambition for biodiversity improvements funded by developers.
Work on actually creating the net biodiversity gain should precede not follow the site clearance and building of new developments with opportunities taken to move rare or important species, seed banks etc. from the site being developed first. Due to the climate and ecological emergency the time delay of creating a net biodiversity gain should be factored into calculations. Otherwise, the situation gets worse as climate and ecological tipping points are crossed (e.g., species loss/collapse) before recovery has even started.
If the cumulative effect of new housing developments leading to the current levels of traffic congestion around and within Keynsham and on the A4 corridor between Bristol and Bath had been correctly predicted when the original 2014 Core Strategy and other developments to the east of Bristol and in South Gloucestershire were permitted, it is doubtful that any LPA seeking to protect not reduce the quality of life of residents would have agreed to such negative consequences of that over-development that has evidently occurred.
No new housing developments proposed in the LPPU should proceed until the past underestimation of transport infrastructure capacity has been rectified.
SPC [& SEG] supports this commitment from B&NES Council that any new developments should be preceded by new transport infrastructure. In view of the above SPC asks that new transport infrastructure requirement after rectification has been completed. New segregated cycle paths should be part of the new transport infrastructure prior to new developments to maximise their use and a transfer away from the car from the outset.
It would be unwise to assume that increased home-working as a likely consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic would reduce local travel. An increase in local (short) daytime journeys by car to replace some of the commuting journeys could be a likely outcome until a modern integrated public transport system has been developed and is operating.
SPC [& SEG] respectfully reminds B&NES Council that air pollution from traffic is not just restricted to tail pipe emissions (NOx etc.). Air pollution of particulates from tyre wear, brake dust and road surface wear are widely recognised as another consequence of both fossil fuelled vehicles and (often heavier) EVs. However, in recognising the importance of a switch from fossil fuelled road vehicles to EVs, SPC welcomes the commitment by B&NES Council to provide "Fast and Rapid charging facilities to car parks across the district in 2021" as we understand the provision in B&NES to be well behind some other West of England areas.
SPC [& SEG] welcomes the positive commitment of B&NES Council to explore the potential for re-opening Saltford Station. This should be on the existing station site for the reasons previously articulated by SPC (and SEG's Saltford Station campaign).
SPC [& SEG] supports new segregated cycle paths along the A4 corridor and on connecting routes wherever possible to provide greater safety of cyclists and encourage greener transport. The Keynsham Bypass (A4) and the A4 east of Saltford towards Newbridge and Bath would greatly benefit from dedicated cycle paths.
New transport infrastructure where land is lost for that infrastructure should not be immune to meeting the B&NES net gain target for biodiversity.
You can download the full text of SPC's response here:- SPC LPPU response 5.10.2021 (pdf opens in new window).
Residents, businesses and other stakeholders can have their say on the Local Plan Partial Update by the 8 October deadline - see the B&NES Council LPPU consultation webpage >>
COP26, Kelly Inlet in southern Chile & Saltford's Admiral Kelly
The United Nations Climate Summit, COP26, to be held in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November 2021, under the presidency of the UK will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The goals of COP26 are :-
The Patagonian Icefields, in southern Chile, which straddle the Andes below 46°S, are two of the most sensitive ice masses on Earth to climate change. Glacier Benito, 47°S, 74°W, is a temperate outlet glacier on the west side of the North Patagonian Icefield. Rates of thinning and ablation (removal by erosion or other processes) have been obtained using data collected by the British Joint Services Expedition in 1972/73 and subsequent data collected in 2007, 2011 and 2017.
The main access route to Glacier Benito is from Kelly Inlet and Kelly Harbour, named after Saltford's famous resident Admiral Kelly. Kelly Harbour is immediately south of San Rafael Lake (Laguna), Aysén, Chile. But why was Kelly Inlet and Kelly Harbour named, in 1828, after Admiral (then Captain) B M Kelly?
Kelly Harbour was named by Commander Pringle Stokes of HMS Beagle when Stokes surveyed the Inlet on 25th May 1828. In Stokes' last journal (Mitchell Library, Sydney, Australia) Stokes says "In the next page, I have given a full account and a sketched plan of this Harbour which I have called Kelly's Harbour, after a friend and brother officer, Captain B M Kelly, RN. To Captain Kelly, I am indebted for my introduction to the leader of the expedition, Captain P P King, RN, FRS".
Unfortunately, Commander Pringle Stokes found the task of surveying this part of Chile in mid-winter incredibly challenging (as it would have been for anyone) and took his life soon afterwards in August 1828.
That tragedy triggered an interesting sequence of events. Captain P P King, in command of the surveying expedition, wanted to promote Lieutenant Skyring (Stokes' able surveyor) to command HMS Beagle, a Cherokee-class 10-gun brig-sloop of the Royal Navy.
However, he was overruled by Rear Admiral Sir Robert Waller Otway who appointed Lieutenant Robert Fitz-Roy, on his staff instead. Fitz-Roy wanted a person with a similar mind to accompany him on his voyages so selected recently graduated and now famous naturalist, geologist and biologist, Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882) best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. Darwin's first voyage on HMS Beagle, the ship's second survey expedition voyage, began on 27 December 1831 and lasted almost five years. As HMS Beagle surveyed the coasts of South America, Darwin theorised about geology and the extinction of giant mammals.
Martin Sessions (ex-Royal Navy) from Canberra, Australia contacted SEG's Chairman Phil Harding in September 2021 with information about the link between Admiral (Captain) Kelly, Kelly Inlet, HMS Beagle and Charles Darwin.
SEG is grateful to Martin Sessions who has participated in and led expeditions to Glacier Benito (via Kelly Inlet) since 1972 examining and reporting on its condition.
In 1971, Martin Sessions was selected as a member of the 1972/73 British Joint Services Expedition to Chilean Patagonia led by Crispin Agnew. His tasks were to undertake the glacier and weather studies of the expedition. The expedition's base camp was in Kelly Inlet (Abra Kelly). Professor Otto Nordenskjold with Hugo Pallin and others had made Kelly Inlet their base in their 1921/22 expedition. Glacier Benito appeared to be the best glacier to study in the area. It had its own basin, was of a significant size and was accessible from Kelly Inlet.
Further information about those expeditions can be found at www.glaciar-benito.cl. Information about Admiral Kelly (naval officer, liberator of slaves, and benefactor) can be found on SEG's History of Saltford project web page about him from this link:- Admiral Kelly where this information about Kelly Inlet is also published.
Link to COP26 website: ukcop26.org
SPC responds to Bristol to Bath Transport Survey
The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) has been engaging local residents on plans to provide better and more sustainable transport between Bath and Bristol - to help people move around more easily, reduce congestion, lower carbon emissions and improve the environment. This is a partnership consultation with B&NES Council and Bristol City Council. The deadline for responses was 10th September.
The following are extracts from Saltford Parish Council's response agreed at its monthly public meeting on 7th September:-
Saltford Parish Council considers that any strategy Planning related to a Bristol to Bath Bristol Transport Corridor must take fully into account the capacity of the roadways that are part of this strategically important route. Any Highway capacity limitations need to be clearly identified and resolved by Local and National Government working together to find transport solutions to these existing and future traffic load constraints. Saltford Parish Council is concerned and therefore highlights the limited traffic capacity of the A4 from the Globe roundabout to Saltford and then through Saltford to the Broadmead roundabout. This single carriageway section of the A4 reaches capacity during rush hour. We consider that the congestion along this section of the A4 will also worsen as a result of the large number of Commercial and Housing developments completed and planned that will feed transport on to this section of the A4.
Given the existing restriction of capacity and road size of the A4 through Saltford no plan to improve Mass Transit along this strategic important transport corridor should be considered without effective strategic plans to remove some of the traffic volume from the A4 by using alternative existing transport corridors between the two cities.
Most significant is the Great Western Railway which travels through Saltford to both Bath and Bristol. Here the original station site is on the A4 and could be developed. Additionally, there is the Bath Bristol Railway Path. Originally this railway line had two tracks and has the width for possible additional development.
The full SPC response can be found in "News" on SPC's website.
Can EVs help bring down electricity costs?
Launching Ofgem's strategy on Electric Vehicles (EVs) on 4th September, Neil Kenward, Ofgem's Director of Strategy and Decarbonisation, said:
"Electric vehicles will revolutionise the way we use energy and provide consumers with new opportunities, through smart products, to engage in the energy market to keep their costs as low as possible. Our electric vehicle priorities not only provide a way to meet our climate change targets but importantly offers ways to protect consumers from rising bills, through a three-prong approach of increased use of electric vehicles, smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology which together can help drive down costs for all GB bill payers."
Ofgem set out how it will support the rollout of electric vehicles (EVs) in Britain, ensuring that the infrastructure and technology is in place for the rapidly growing number of EVs on the road, with an estimated 14 million by 2030. This will include:
Ofgem is Great Britain's independent energy regulator. Ofgem's website is at www.ofgem.gov.uk.
Solar Together West of England - help to install solar panels
'Solar Together West of England' is a group-buying scheme that offers homeowners and businesses the chance to generate their own clean electricity at a highly competitive price. There is an option to add battery storage too. Owners of community buildings and small business premises are also able to join the scheme.
This innovative new group-buying programme offers you several advantages over 'going it alone' with transferring to solar power:
This scheme is being delivered in partnership with the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), and their partner iChoosr Ltd, who are independent experts in group-buying.
Find out how you could save money and the environment - register for free by 28 September via this B&NES Council web page link: Solar Together.
'Solar Together West of England' is suitable for those who own their own homes/buildings and can afford to install these measures themselves. For residents on lower incomes or living in poorly performing homes, there is support and information available through B&NES Council's Energy at Home website.
Saltford Calendar 2022
The Saltford Calendar 2022 featuring some stunning photographs by local photographers is now available from Saltford Post Office* at £7 each.
As in previous years the calendar has been produced by Saltford Community Association and Saltford Environment Group. All net proceeds will be split between SCA, SEG and the Saltford Community Library and Post Office to help further their work supporting the community.
By purchasing your copy or copies (it makes a great gift!) you are helping support the community, including helping to keep the Post Office open, whilst celebrating the village and its rural setting.
*Saltford Post Office is open 9am - 1pm & 2pm - 5pm on Monday to Friday, closed on Thursday, and also open Saturday 9am - 12 noon.
Climate change - what it means to Fairtrade farmers and how Fairtrade are responding to their needs
As Part of The Great Big Green Week - Churches Together, Eco Festival on 18th September - Keynsham Market Walk/The Space, 10am - 3pm, the Saltford and Keynsham Fairtrade Groups are sharing a stall. Do come along to find out more about Fairtrade and their part in helping struggling farmers cope with climate change.
FACTS - QUOTED FROM TRAIDCRAFT
The cocoa industry is a turbulent sector, where poverty and child labour are still commonplace and a living income - enough for a decent standard of living, or £1.86 per day - is reserved for just a few farmers. For cocoa producers, it's a constant battle dealing with the effects of adverse weather conditions brought on by climate change and volatile cocoa prices.
HELP IS AT HAND - QUOTE FROM THE FAIRTRADE FOUNDATION
Environmental protection is a key element of Fairtrade's view of sustainability. Fairtrade Standards require smallholder farmer and larger hired labour production set-ups to comply in key areas. The Standards also promote training for farmers, which can include advice on switching to environmentally friendly practices. This has been shown to lead to good agricultural practices, which have encouraged environmentally sustainable production. The Standards also guide producers in adapting to climate change and mitigate their immediate needs. More than ever, they need a fair price for their crops and their hard work.
SO WHY BUY FAIRTRADE?
If you think feeding your family, educating your children and caring for your community and ultimately the planet is good for you then please buy Fairtrade and Traidcraft when choosing your tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar and bananas along with the many other products. No farmer should have to work so hard and not be able to feed their family and educate their children.
Saltford Fairtrade Group
Food, nature, money & energy: how our choices affect the climate crisis
Come along to The Space in Keynsham BS31 1FS on Friday 17th September 2021 and hear from four experts on how as individuals, and collectively, we can help to tackle climate change - the biggest threat facing us today. This event has been organised by Churches Together for Keynsham EcoFest 2021.
Food, energy, money and the services provided by the natural world are the cornerstones of a fully functioning society. We all eat, heat our homes, earn and spend money, and interact with nature. This gives us huge power to affect the outcome of the climate crisis - through our individual choices, by influencing business and by exercising our democratic rights to ensure that our government takes action, including at an international level. This is especially important as the UK is the chair of COP26, which is the world's last best chance to avoid catastrophic global heating.
The audience will be hearing from four experts about what we can do as individuals to help avert catastrophic global heating, and what businesses and our government can do to avoid the terrible consequences of climate change, including an increase in extreme droughts, fires and flooding.
FOOD Jo Lewis - Head of Food & Farming, the Soil Association
After hearing from the speakers, there will be a panel debate, with questions from the audience, chaired by Rev. Mike Burke.
Tickets are £5. Please book here:- keynshamtickets.
Covid-19 may mean the organisers have to restrict numbers in The Space, or move the event online.
B&NES Local Plan Partial Update consultation
B&NES Council will run a consultation from 27th August to 8th October 2021 on proposed changes to the current Bath and North East Somerset Local Plan to ensure that planning policies better reflect the council's Declaration of Climate and Ecological Emergencies and commitment to securing net zero by 2030.
B&NES Council says that the aim of the changes is primarily to meet three key priorities; to enable greater energy efficiency of existing buildings and zero carbon new build; a shift to mass transport, walking and cycling to reduce transport emissions; and a rapid, large-scale increase in local renewable energy generation.
SEG's principle concern is protection of the Green Belt from development which is necessary for meeting the twin challenges of the Ecological Emergency and impacts on that emergency from Climate Change. SEG is therefore concerned that the proposals include 210 new houses on safeguarded (former Green Belt) land at East Keynsham is inappropriate when compared to other more sustainable means of meeting housing need (not demand).
SEG will respond to the consultation and publish details of that response on our website after the consultation is launched.
The press release about the Local Plan Partial Update can be found from this link:- B&NES - LPPU.
IPCC: We can act on climate change but time is running out
Climate changes are occurring in every region and globally, according to the latest UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. As the world's latest and most rigorous scientific assessment of the physical basis of climate change published on 9th August, the report defines changes that are unprecedented in thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years. It emphasizes that there is still time to act, but it must happen immediately.
Strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize, according to the IPCC Working Group I report, "Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis".
The Working Group I report is the first instalment of the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed in 2022.
The report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5degC in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5degC or even 2degC will be beyond reach.
The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5degC of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2degC of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.
But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions - which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans. Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion.
The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate.
"Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate," said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai.
Disruptive climate change is already affecting the UK
Extreme weather events arising from climate change that are increasingly affecting the UK, specifically increased rainfall, sunshine, and temperatures, and have been predicted by scientists for several decades, are here now.
The "State of the UK Climate 2020" report from the Royal Meteorological Society using Met Office data states that the year 2020 was the 3rd warmest, 5th wettest and 8th sunniest on record. The report provides an authoritative and up-to-date assessment of UK climate trends, variations and extremes based on the most up to date observational datasets of climate quality.
The report also states that:
How can we here in Saltford adapt and be more resilient to these climate change impacts? Check out our Climate Change page where we provide tips that householders and local businesses can take including tips from the Environment Agency for making properties better prepared for flooding.
B&NES installs new NO MOORING signs in Mead Lane
During July B&NES Council installed additional and more prominent new NO MOORING signs in the "No Mooring" zone at the east end of Mead Lane. As can be seen from the example photograph taken a few days later, the signs were not having an immediate effect.
This area was originally a 48-hour mooring zone but in October 2020 B&NES decided to make this a NO MOORING zone on a permanent basis, so that this part of the riverbank can be reallocated as open space (a green space) for other leisure purposes by the general public visiting Mead Lane.
14-day moorings remain further down Mead Lane, in a sign posted area, for the present time. B&NES Council has an ambition to remove moorings from Mead Lane by the end of 2022 and will review moorings in Mead Lane before then.
Big butterfly count (16 Jul - 8 Aug)
The Big Butterfly Count is a UK-wide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies (and some day-flying moths) we see.
This year's big butterfly count is from 16 July to 8 August and could be something to also get younger members of the family engaged in over the summer holidays. Participants choose a place to spot butterflies and moths. Watch for 15 minutes. Then record which species they see.
There's even a free smartphone app for the big butterfly count so that you can carry out and submit your count all in one go while out and about watching butterflies. Details at www.bigbutterflycount.org.
To coincide with this year's big butterfly count SEG has updated its wildlife page so that it now has photographs of all 25 butterflies that occur and have been observed in Saltford in recent years - see wildlife page - butterflies.
Safety concerns as B&NES defers winter mooring ban in Mead Lane
Following a Judicial Review challenge by Community Law Partnership (CLP) on behalf of a liveaboard boater concerning the way the B&NES Cabinet resolved on 8 October 2020 to close the 14-day moorings during winter months a decision has been made by the Cabinet member for Neighbourhood Services Cllr David Wood in consultation with the Director of Environment to defer the decision to close the winter moorings. It is not yet known when B&NES Council will review moorings in Mead Lane but it has an ambition to end moorings in Mead Lane by the end of 2022.
This decision to end the winter mooring ban will be of concern to those boaters who have visited Mead Lane in the winter months and Saltford residents who are well aware of the dangers of winter flooding in Mead Lane (see photographs from January and February 2020) and the high river flow rates at times, usually in autumn and winter, when the river is in spate after prolonged rainfall. The flow rates have previously caused considerable erosion in Mead Lane, hence the riverbank repairs and bio-engineered stabilisation works by B&NES Council in 2005 which it then overlooked when the Council encouraged moorings in Mead Lane for a mooring trial during 2017 and 2018.
The trial came about after moorings started to occur in Mead Lane from 2015 when boats first started to moor there due to a loss of moorings in Bath and other factors. Furthermore, the Canal and River Trust (CRT) has continued to issue more continuous cruising licences despite the lack of facilities on the Kennet & Avon Canal and River Avon.
Climate change is already widely acknowledged to be increasing the frequency of severe and prolonged rainstorms, you only need to see the news reports of the present devastating floods in Western Europe to recognise this - and those are summer rainstorms.
This decision to defer the winter mooring ban therefore raises questions over B&NES Council's commitment to its own declaration of a climate emergency. Adapting to climate change so that communities, including the liveaboard community, are more resilient and less vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events surely has to be an urgent priority. Safe moorings in appropriate locations that are safe all year round needs to be part of how Local Councils with riparian ownership on navigable rivers respond to climate change impacts.
SPC to help brighten Saltford whilst supporting bees
At its meeting on 6th July Saltford Parish Council agreed in principle to develop an environmental project to create wildflower public spaces using seedballs with the aim of enhancing Saltford's green spaces for the enjoyment of all, whilst supporting pollinating insects. Details and delivery of the project will be decided at a future meeting, with an aim to work with local children and young people. It was agreed that SPC would fund aspects of the project with a request for support from the B&NES Ward Councillor Empowerment Fund.
SPC has approached B&NES Council to agree site selection in Saltford for this initiative. As the seedballs would be scattered on agreed parcels of public land in the village that are predominately subjected to a reduced grass mowing regime.
SEG has provided advice on this project concerning seed selection and is looking at how it can further support this worthwhile project.
Seedballs need no particular gardening skill and can be scattered straight onto open ground at any time of the year. Some will flower in year one but most will not come out until year two.
The use of seedballs is an ancient planting method that can increase germination rates. Used throughout the world for centuries, these provide an effective method to help #bringthebeesback whilst benefiting other pollinating insects.
Broken Saltford Lock and the winter mooring ban
The broken lock at Saltford Lock (by the Jolly Sailor PH) is closed to navigation and currently awaiting repair by the Canal and River Trust (see CRT boat by the broken lock gate above). This is a reminder of why the winter mooring ban (November to February inclusive) in Mead Lane is so important on safety grounds. It was for reasons of safety that the B&NES Council Cabinet approved the winter ban at its 8th October 2020 meeting at which it decided the future of moorings in Mead Lane.
When the river is in spate during winter months not only can the river overflow the riverbank, an increasing occurrence in recent years, but boats moored in Mead Lane can be either washed away and/or capsize with potentially catastrophic outcome for any occupants, damage to other boats downstream with again, a potentially catastrophic outcome for any occupants, and damage to bridges, locks and weirs. Or, if stranded on the riverbank, this then blocks the access to Wessex Water sewage treatment works that requires 24/7 access as well as to homes and businesses in the lane. The possibility of contamination of the river by fuel, oil and sewage from capsized/sunken boats is a further risk.
As an example of those dangers, in February 2019 a relatively small boat moored with other larger and also inappropriately moored boats in Mead Lane sunk and broke free when the river was in spate and was washed downstream where it was stuck at Saltford Lock. Fortunately there were no casualties or damage at the time to the lock.
At the B&NES Council Cabinet meeting in October last year, specific actions were agreed by the Cabinet and these included to identify alternative sites for 14-day moorings along the watercourse before ending 14-day moorings in Mead Lane and to create a joint River Warden post with the Canal and River Trust (CRT). SEG made the following response on our website on the B&NES Cabinet decision:-
SEG RESPONSE (October 2020)
The Atkins survey of the riverbank lacked a full condition survey of the rock armour below the water level so whilst Atkins found that the riverbank was stable at present (from only a visual surface inspection) it is not known how long it will hold throughout its full length. It is inevitable that the mooring of boats including narrow boats will gradually damage and reduce the lifespan of a rock armour stabilisation scheme designed and installed at a 45o angle.
As was acknowledged by Cllr Crossley at the meeting, the Mead Lane riverbank is very close to a narrow single-track road and to residential housing whilst the lane provides sole road access to Wessex Water's Sewage Treatment Works including Wessex Water's Scientific Services laboratory for testing drinking water and wastewater/effluent samples where 24/7 access is essential. Those factors together with the design aspects of the bio-engineered rock armour stabilisation scheme that protects the roadway and key utility service pipes including a pumped sewer main beneath the road, means that Mead Lane is unsuitable for moorings; B&NES Cabinet has by its mooring ban decision unanimously accepted that.
SEG supports B&NES Council's objective to identify alternative 14-day mooring sites for the live-aboard community along the watercourse before ending 14-day moorings in Mead Lane. However the 2+ year timescale does mean a prolonged period of risk to the riverbank's rock armour and stability and other factors that have made this such a contentious issue that has been difficult to resolve. The continuation of the parking ban should help keep the lane open at all times.
The effectiveness of the new River Warden will therefore be key to ensuring the temporary re-commencement of 14-day moorings from 1.3.2021 does not lead to the problems caused by a minority of boaters since moorings started to occur in Mead Lane from 2015 when boats first started to moor there and then became much more numerous from the B&NES 2017 mooring trial that served to attract more boat moorings at this location.
It is therefore to be hoped that rapid progress can be made in finding new and suitable moorings for boaters well before 31.12.2022, preferably in 2021, so that moorings can end in Mead Lane and the riverbank can revert to being an open space sooner rather than later - including as a Local Nature Reserve as SEG and others have called for - and the rock armour can be repaired and be the subject of a regular inspection, care and maintenance programme.
A positive outcome from all this can be more and better mooring provisions for the live-aboard community whilst Mead Lane riverbank reverts to being a public open space with excellent wildlife habitat enjoyed by the local community and visitors alike.
SPC backs Wessex Water's bridge & wetland habitat proposals
On the evening of 1st June Saltford Parish Council approved its supportive response to B&NES Council on Wessex Water's planning application, reference 21/02322/FUL, to construct a new permanent access route into their sewage treatment and water recycling works in Mead Lane. The SPC response agreed was as follows:-
SUPPORT: Saltford Parish Council is supportive in principle of this planning application. As these proposals keep Green Belt loss to a minimum and taking account of environmental and sustainable development considerations, we strongly prefer this proposed route including a bridge over the River Avon connecting the site to the A431 compared to alternative proposals considered by Wessex Water before this application was submitted. The Bath Road (A4) already has severe traffic congestion at peak periods arising from new housing developments in the area; sharing the volume of vehicles travelling to and from this important infrastructure facility between the existing access from the A4 and the A431 should help spread the load on local roads more evenly.
Saltford Parish Council also supports the proposals for wildlife enhancement to be provided by the wetland scrape that, if implemented successfully and taking account of our further comments below, should result in a welcome net gain in biodiversity for the overall project. This would be seen as a useful example of B&NES Council implementing a planning policy response to its declaration in July 2020 of the ecological emergency.
Saltford Parish Council wishes to emphasise that to avoid compromising the new habitat's value to wetland birds, a habitat that has previously been lost in this part of the Avon floodplain, it will be important to ensure disturbance to wildlife from the adjacent public footpaths is minimised and avoided wherever possible. Suitable screening and fencing together with management of existing or new trees to an appropriately low height, i.e. a regular pollarding regime, around the margins of the wetland area will also be essential to ensure wetland birds are not deterred from using the wetland habitat. Saltford Parish Council is confident that appropriate professional ecological advice for the finer design and management details of those aspects prior to the creation of the new habitat can reduce their effects greatly.
If the case officer is minded to refuse this planning application Saltford Parish Council requests that it be referred to the Development Management Committee for determination.
SEG will be submitting to B&NES Council a similar supportive response soon. We reported in May why SEG will be supporting this planning application. Balancing the ability for the general public to observe wildlife at a safe and screened distance without disturbing and thus deterring shy water birds etc. has to be planned carefully hence SEG will be commenting on that aspect in its 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).
For more news stories from SEG visit our
Current areas of local volunteer assistance sought by SEG
Whilst our partner organisations such as Saltford Wombles (for tackling litter) and the Fairtrade Group always welcome volunteer assistance, SEG sometimes has specific roles or posts that need filling. Here are the current vacancies:-
Website skills wanted!
Updated January 2021
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.
Executive Committee: Want to help steer SEG?
Updated January 2021
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 (except during Covid-19 restrictions) 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.
Saltford Heritage Centre's next scheduled public opening will be announced here.
"Don't blight the land
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