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  towards a sustainable future for our village

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  SEG Home > News List > 2022 News Archive


2022 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.

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In early 2022 Wessex Water gave an update on work planned in 2022 for a new access bridge and wetland habitat to facilitate a new permanent and more sustainable access route from the A431 into their water recycling centre in Saltford.

Click on each story link or scroll down the page (most recent appears first):-

February 2022

Be aware of unsafe trees after Storm Eunice

Mead Lane riverbank stabilisation scheme degraded by boat moorings

B&NES Council backed loans for home energy improvements

Fairtrade Fortnight - Coffee Morning 21st Feb

Saltford water recycling centre - access improvement work

January 2022

B&NES Council exceeds new homes target by +84%!

Stargazing location guide

SEG and SPC object to 70 more homes at Keynsham East on former Green Belt land

Big Garden Birdwatch 28 - 30 Jan


News stories start here (most recent appears first):-


February 2022

Be aware of unsafe trees after Storm Eunice

February 2022

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Longwood after Storm Eunice

Sooty Bark Disease (SBD - Cryptostroma corticale) affects maples, especially Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) trees, and several at all stages of the disease from lightly infected (only one or two branches dead within the crown) to fully dead can be found in Longwood at present.

Infected trees can topple at short notice and the recent high winds associated with Storm Eunice has broken off limbs or toppled some of the infected trees in Longwood. The photograph above shows one large example that has fallen against another tree before it collapses completely. Members and other residents are therefore urged to take extra caution when walking the permissive path through Longwood (and to obviously avoid the wood during or immediately after a storm).

There is more information about SBD on our wildlife page >>

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Mead Lane riverbank stabilisation scheme degraded by boat moorings

February 2022

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Mead Lane stabilisation scheme under construction, 2005

A new engineering report on the stability and condition of the riverbank at Mead Lane in Saltford has revealed worrying evidence that the stability of the riverbank is being undermined by the mooring of boats following the installation of an extensive stabilisation scheme in 2005 which was not designed to accommodate boat moorings.

A previous report "Atkins riverbank mooring assessment report (28.9.2020)" commissioned from Atkins by B&NES Council in 2020 had omitted to cover key issues, in particular the condition of the stabilisation scheme's rock armour below the waterline.

The multi-disciplined engineering company Jubb Consulting Engineers Ltd of Bristol were commissioned in 2021 by residents to undertake an independent survey of the condition of the riverbank with particular reference to the condition below the waterline. Residents were concerned that the mooring of heavy boats (narrow boats etc.) permitted and encouraged by B&NES Council during and since its 2016/17 mooring trial in Mead Lane, had damaged and, potentially, de-stabilised the riverbank.

Sonar depth soundings were taken below water level and offset from the edge of riverbank in September 2021 and recorded for the highly detailed and technical 51-page Jubb report "Riverbank Stability & Condition Assessment - Bath Avon at Mead Lane, Saltford (December 2021)". The comprehensive illustrated report includes crucial answers to 3 key questions that were not covered by the 2020 Atkins report. Those were as follows:-

Q1. Whether the 2005 stabilisation works were designed or intended to accommodate multiple mooring of boats

Jubb response:

This would require confirmation from the original designer; however, it is unlikely that ad-hoc moorings (driven steel bars and the like) would have been anticipated, particularly so in the geotextile and rock armour, which as evidenced by the findings of this report, has degraded.

Halcrow do discuss the provision of staging and pontoons in their design options report, but there is no mention of direct moorings, such as driven stakes and bars.

It should be noted that pontoons were located and remain at the Sailing Club end of Mead Lane, just beyond the stabilisation works, whilst the small staging points occur in two places and were left in place by the works.

Q2. To advise on any damage or deterioration that may have since occurred to the 2005 stabilisation works

Jubb response:

There is evidence the 14-day mooring area has degraded, with the rock armour stone now at a steeper angle than designed. Also, there is an approx. 0.5m high scour scarp present in the same area, that is absent in the control section and largely so in the 48-hour / prohibited mooring zone.

Halcrow's design options report specifically addresses previous scour scarps and we believe the design intent was to prevent these from developing.

Q3. Whether any damage could occur in the future through inappropriate use of the riverbank

Jubb response:

Inappropriate use of the riverbank, such as the continued mooring of narrow and other boats, could result is loss of habitat and exacerbation of the scarp / scour feature, which appears to have formed since the 2004/5 works.

Jubb was also asked to review and comment on the content of the Atkins 2020 report.

Jubb response:

The Atkins report has been reviewed in the body text of this report. It is noted no river side, or bathymetry surveys were undertaken, which are important considerations.

The report concludes the riverbank is essentially stable and that areas of noted deterioration are not of immediate concern.

As noted above, we do not agree with Atkins where they conclude that the rock armour has promoted sediment accumulation and horizontal vegetation growth. Our findings are that except in the area protected by a large Willow (Transect 1) and the farthest downstream section (approaching the sailing club), the original 2004/5 remedial works have been degraded somewhat and an approx. 0.5m scour scarp is now present where the Halcrow design included a driven stake and coir roll intended to promote vegetation establishment.

Example from Jubb report of rock armour condition (at Transect 2):

Here, the armour stone was loose and there was evidence of boats grounding and damaging the stone (see plates 6 & 7). The armour is irregular and loosened, with voided areas where stone has been displaced into the river channel.

The survey shows the rock armour stone here is over-steepened at 58 degrees, well beyond the designed angle of repose and that at which the stone can remain stable in the medium to long term.

[END OF REPORT EXTRACTS]

On 2.2.2022 residents sought a meeting with B&NES Council's Chief Executive to discuss the contents and implications of the Jubb report prior to its release to third parties and has since sanctioned SEG's release of the key report findings as given in this news report. For private ownership and technical reasons (pdf is 71MB!) SEG is unable to provide copies in response to enquiries.

SEG has always recognised the need to improve facilities for the mooring of boats on the river that provide safe and appropriate moorings for the live-aboard community and other boat users whilst protecting the natural environment.

However, when B&NES Cabinet took the decision in September 2020 to end moorings in Mead Lane by 31.12.2022, SEG was concerned that the 2+ year timescale to end moorings meant a prolonged period of risk to the riverbank's rock armour and stability when its condition below the waterline was not known. The rock armour could clearly be seen to be displaced or missing from most stretches of the area used for moorings and this new report confirms that "the original 2004/5 remedial works have been degraded".

The full extent of the structural damage could not be measured in September 2021 by Jubb due to the large number of moored boats in situ thus constraining access. As soon as the mooring ban is implemented by B&NES Council, a full structural survey and the implementation of repairs is therefore necessary before even further repairs are required to protect the adjacent highway, the original objective of the rock armour stabilisation scheme.

It is reasonable to surmise that the longer moorings are permitted to continue, the bigger the bill for repairs is likely to be for Council Taxpayers and the greater the risks to all river and riverbank users.

UPDATE (2.3.2022)

Residents passed an electronic (pdf) copy of the Jubb report to B&NES Council on 23rd February. In response to an approach from The Week In a B&NES Council spokesperson said "The council is aware of the independent survey and has recently received a copy. We will be assessing the information over the coming weeks."

BACKGROUND INFORMATION (as published on SEG's website)

  • Mead Lane riverbank stabilisation scheme and boat moorings - Halcrow Design report summary sent to B&NES Council (October 2019) LINK >>
  • Mead Lane moorings ban (January 2020) LINK >>
  • Mead Lane - B&NES Cabinet agrees to end moorings by December 2022 (October 2020) LINK >>
  • B&NES installs new NO MOORING signs in Mead Lane (July 2021) LINK >>
  • Safety concerns as B&NES defers winter mooring ban in Mead Lane (July 2021) LINK >>

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B&NES Council backed loans for home energy improvements

February 2022

Residents looking to make essential repairs or home improvements to decarbonise their homes may be able to access affordable finance through a council-backed loan scheme. B&NES Council is working with Lendology, a social enterprise lender, to offer residents low-cost Energy Loans to fund energy-related home improvements - this could prove very useful at a time of fast rising energy costs.

Homeowners who quality for a low-cost Energy Loan can use the money to help spread the cost of installing energy-saving improvements over time. Residents can apply for a loan between 500 - 15,000, with a repayment term between six months and 15 years. The interest rate (4.2% APR) is fixed throughout the term of the loan.

Information on the loans and how to apply can be found on the council's Energy at Home webpage.

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Fairtrade Fortnight - Coffee Morning 21st Feb

February 2022

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To mark Fairtrade Week, Saltford's Fairtrade Group has arranged a coffee morning for 10.30am - 12.00pm on Monday 21st February at Saltford Hall.

A warm welcome awaits you, with coffee, tea, and cake and a raffle. (Free Entry).

If you are available, come along and help us celebrate Fairtrade Fortnight.

See our Fairtrade page for more information about Fairtrade.

Choosing Fairtrade products helps ensure better prices and improved working conditions for farmers and their communities in the developing world.

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Saltford water recycling centre - access improvement work

February 2022

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Wessex Water has provided an update on its proposal to build a bridge over the River Avon to improve access to Saltford Water Recycling Centre (WRC) on Mead Lane, and provide a main transport connection to the A431 road, which runs through Swineford and Bitton. The planning application to B&NES Council for the bridge was approved subject to conditions in December 2021, following an application process that also received response comments about the proposals from the public. Wessex Water is currently working through those conditions.

The next phase of the project will see environmental preparation begin on site for the route of the road, ahead of the main construction phase. This is expected to start during February 2022 and will involve work on trees and some hedgerow removal at the point where the new road will join the A431.

Wessex Water are also proposing wetland habitat creation and are continuing to work with local wildlife groups and others to identify habitat measures, including supporting bat and bird species.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Wessex Water has a dedicated web page for this project:- WW - Saltford Access.

Saltford Parish Council has more information about the works as they progress on its website:- SPC - Saltford WRC works.

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January 2022

B&NES Council exceeds new homes target by +84%!

January 2022

Latest figures from the Government's annual Housing Delivery Test (HDT) which assesses whether the number of houses built meet a district's housing needs as identified in the Local Plan show that B&NES Council is far exceeding the targets set in its Local Plan to deliver new homes for residents.

In the past three years (2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-1) 3,100 new homes, including 700 affordable homes were built across the district representing a delivery rate of almost double at 184% of the target of 1,688 set in the Local Plan.

Councillor Tim Ball, Cabinet Member for Planning said: "This is great news for residents as it shows we're delivering on our commitment to address the housing crisis and meet housing needs across the district. It highlights the importance of having an up-to-date Local Plan in place with sites allocated for new housing and shows just how well our Planning team is performing determining applications quickly and efficiently."

Councillor Tom Davies, Cabinet Member for Adults and Council House Building, added: "Having confirmation that we are exceeding the Housing Delivery Test target is great news but we know we still need to do more. This year we're on course to deliver even more affordable homes as we begin our first council house building programme for a generation to provide much-needed social homes for rent to meet demand."

Residents in Saltford and Keynsham will be wondering why, in view of this success rate in building new homes, B&NES Council is currently proposing to bring forward the building of 280 new homes on safeguarded Green Belt land between Saltford and Keynsham in the draft Local Plan Partial Update (LPPU). This updates parts of the existing Development Plan (the Core Strategy and Placemaking Plan) that forms the planning strategy for growth in B&NES from 2014 to 2029. If that goes ahead, this will contribute further to road congestion in the Keynsham area whilst losing valuable green space and potential use of this land for ecological recovery.

The draft Local Plan Partial Update will be considered by an examination Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State in the coming weeks.

We reported in November (2021) that CPRE, in its annual survey report "Recycling our land: the state of brownfield report, 2021", had revealed that for England previously developed land could accommodate over 1.3 million new homes - an increase of almost 10% on 2020 - whilst the proportion of brownfield plots with planning permission currently is the lowest since records began - down from 53% last year to 44% now. The report gives a South West region available brownfield capacity of 68,081 housing units.

NOTE:
For the Housing Delivery Test results on the gov.uk website click on this link:- gov.uk/government/...

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Stargazing location guide

January 2022

Do you like the idea of a bit of star gazing but not sure where to go to get away from the glare of streetlights? The Avon and Bristol Branch of CPRE (The Countryside Charity) have a new free leaflet that will give you some ideas for star gazing locations in the Bristol and Bath area.

You can download the free pdf guide produced with the help of local astronomers from this external link: CPRE - Stargazing Locations.

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SEG and SPC object to 70 more homes at Keynsham East on former Green Belt land

January 2022

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On the evening of 4th January 2022 Saltford Parish Council agreed its objection response to the outline planning application ref. 21/05471/OUT for 70 homes etc. near Minsmere Road in Keynsham from Taylor Wimpey. On 5th January 2022 SEG submitted its objection response to B&NES Council.

The wording of SEG's response was as follows:-

   Saltford Environment Group objected to the previous planning application for this site, 18/02899/OUT, as other new developments in the Core Strategy followed by identification of a genuine need for further housing had not been completed whilst new or enhanced infrastructure (especially transport) was not already in place and found to be coping with the recent newly created demands placed on it. That situation as described in 2018 remains whilst traffic congestion in Keynsham and the surrounding area has continued to worsen considerably.

   The Prime Minister publicly stated on 6th October 2021 that new homes should be built on brown field sites where homes make sense, NOT green field sites. He said: "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." Furthermore, CPRE's recent report "Recycling our land: the state of brownfield report, 2021" found that previously developed land could accommodate over 1.3 million new homes in England - an increase of almost 10% on 2020.

   SEG therefore asks B&NES Council to adhere to Government planning policy as explained by the Prime Minister and refuse this planning application. B&NES Council should negotiate with WECA on a sub-regional approach to ecological recovery, i.e., via ecological recovery and development land trading, an approach recently welcomed by the Minister of State for Housing in his letter to Jacob Rees-Mogg MP of 10th December 2021 (copy available from SEG on request). This will enable the West of England to meet housing need (not demand) in places where homes make sense, as identified by CPRE, whilst protecting biodiversity and the green fields and Green Belt land in the West of England for ecological recovery and protecting food security etc.

   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, with an average of just 53% of its native wildlife intact (source: Natural History Museum's Biodiversity Trends Explorer report, October 2021). It is essential therefore to meet new housing need where it makes sense on brown field sites whilst protecting from development existing green field and Green Belt land to optimise that land for ecological recovery to help reverse the catastrophic losses of the UK's native wildlife. That would be a positive response to the ecological emergency from the West of England and B&NES Council; any further destruction of existing and potential wildlife habitats is not sustainable development.

   SEG agrees with the comments from Saltford Parish Council in its response to this planning application that new public parks, not just small, grassed areas with a few trees, should accompany and be located in the immediate vicinity of new housing developments. This would help ensure existing green spaces such as those along the River Avon valley are not inundated with high numbers of visitors including day-trippers exceeding the visitor capacity of those locations on hot weather weekends and disrupting or destroying wildlife habitat in the process; this has increasingly been the experience of recent years.

   In summary, Keynsham and the surrounding area's woefully inadequate transport infrastructure needs to be improved and Keynsham already lacks sufficient green space for both ecological/wildlife recovery (a local and national priority) and for recreation, as a result of new developments in recent years.

   There are no exceptional circumstances to justify this proposed inappropriate development. SEG also agrees with Saltford Parish Council's observation that B&NES Council should not pre-empt the Inspector's findings on the forthcoming public examination of the proposed LPPU for this and other parcels of land in Keynsham by permitting this application. Such a decision would call into question the legitimacy of B&NES Council's local planning process, particularly on a controversial development like this that has gained widespread opposition from the local community during the LPPU consultation and the previous planning application for this site (18/02899/OUT).

[END]

SEG members and others wishing to comment on this planning application (deadline is 21 January 2022) can follow this link and key 21/05471/OUT into the B&NES Development Control web page search box: 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 (21/05471/OUT).

Make sure you include in your objection your own personal planning reasons for why you do not want this development to be permitted, for example:

  • the traffic congestion arising from existing new developments already experienced including regular gridlocks;
  • insufficient local services and infrastructure including transport infrastructure;
  • protection of local green spaces is important for ecological recovery and for the quality of life of local residents - especially with more home-working during and after COVID-19;
  • this land was safeguarded for future use AFTER the existing planned developments had been completed AND IF a review by B&NES Council found further development in this area was needed or appropriate;
  • the Local Planning Authority (B&NES Council) should respect and adhere to HM Government planning policy by working with other LPAs in the West of England to ensure new housing developments etc. in the area are built on brownfield sites where new homes make sense, not on green field sites;
  • etc.

UPDATE
By the comment deadline (21.1.2022) B&NES Council had received 231 objections from local residents in Keynsham and Saltford.

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Big Garden Birdwatch 28 - 30 Jan

January 2022

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Big Garden Birdwatch is for everyone, whether you're a complete beginner or a birding expert. Simply count the birds you see in your garden, from your balcony or in your local park for one hour between 28 and 30 January 2022.

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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The Editor is Phil Harding (SEG Chairman) and Phil can be contacted via our home page.