Saltford Environment Group
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You can find more news lower down this page & in our News Archive.
Rural 19th Century painting of Saltford revealed
Our history project has recently published a wonderful old painting (pictured above) of Saltford Lock and the Jolly Sailor Inn in our Online Museum. It is thought to have been painted in the early-mid 19th Century. You can see a larger version in our Online Museum on the 19th Century page >>
Great British Bee Count, 19 May to 30 June
Since 1900, the UK has lost 20 species of bee, and a further 35 are considered under threat of extinction. Britain's bees make a huge difference to our lives - we can thank them for our food, garden plants, and crops - so it's vital that we better understand how they're doing across the country.
You can help by counting and recording all the bees you see this summer by joining Friends of the Earth's Great British Bee Count from 19 May to 30 June 2017. Their free app will get you off to a flying start in identifying and recording different species.
By taking part, you'll learn more about our brilliant bees and easy ways to help them. It's also a great nature activity to do with children - encouraging them to get up close with these wonderful insects. Last year 15,000 took part and 383,759 bees were recorded.
Details at www.foe.co.uk/bee-count.
River Avon heritage walks, 10-21 June
A series of short and longer heritage walks along the River Avon "Sweet Waters: Legacies of Slave Ownership" have been organised as part of the Festival of Nature and the Bath Festival Fringe. These are:-
These 'performative' creative walks (free) will be on the theme of legacies of slave ownership on paths alongside the river to Bristol and Avonmouth gathering and networking thoughts, impressions and stories of those legacies.
Walkers are encouraged to contribute and share their experiences, there will be opportunities to stop and reflect, write, sketch, make recordings and connect on social networks. The organiser Richard White (senior lecturer in Media Practise at Bath Spa University) plans to work with these for a future creative piece. Artists, poets, historians, naturalists and creatives of all kinds are very welcome but you need to book beforehand.
Visit this website for full details including booking arrangements if you would like to participate: www.walknowtracks.co.uk/walks.html.
On the subject of walks, SEG's history project has published 8 self-guided Walks of Saltford (link) whilst there are guided walks organised for the Saltford Festival in June:-
- see the Saltford Festival website (link) for details.
2017 General Election - local candidates back Saltford Station
For the 2015 General Election members will recall that SEG's station campaign, which takes a politically neutral stance, enjoyed support from the local Parliamentary candidates of all three main political parties for the objective to re-open the station on the existing site. We can report that this cross-party support has been repeated by the 2017 candidates for the 8th June General Election.
In alphabetical order:-
Robin Moss (pictured above), the Labour Party candidate for NE Somerset has told SEG of his support for re-opening the station on the current site: "A project to take cars off the A4 and so improve air quality in the village must be supported."
Our local Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured above with Saltford Station campaign leader Chris Warren in 2015) has been a long term supporter for the re-opening of Saltford Station.
Showing her support for the re-opening of Saltford station is the Liberal Democrats' 2017 General Election candidate for NE Somerset, Manda Rigby, seen pictured here at the station site with Chris Warren.
New West of England Mayor backs re-opening of stations & protecting green fields
Those backing our campaign to re-open Saltford station and our strongly held view that the Green Belt surrounding Saltford should be protected from development will wish to note that the West of England Plan in the election manifesto for newly elected West of England Mayor Tim Bowles includes two statements of particular relevance to Saltford:
The A34/46 Link Road in Tim Bowles' manifesto's West of England Plan of
if implemented has the potential to divert traffic between Southampton/Portsmouth and Bristol/Avonmouth away from the A4 through Saltford.
A Plastic Ocean - screening in Keynsham, 16 June
The Avon Wildlife Trust's Keynsham branch has organised a screening of the thought-provoking film "A Plastic Ocean" in Keynsham (Keynsham Community Space, 5 Temple Street) as part of Festival of Nature 2017 on Friday 16 June (doors open 6.45pm). This feature-length adventure documentary brings to light the consequences of our global disposable lifestyle.
During its four-year production period, "A Plastic Ocean" was filmed in 20 locations around the world in beautiful and chilling detail to document the global effects of plastic pollution and introduce workable technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better. Producers Adam Leipzig (March of the Penguins) and Jo Ruxton (BBC Blue Planet) take you through the plastic journey from source to solution.
The film features legendary broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and world renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle. You can see trailer here (link).
Admission is £10 with proceeds supporting conservation in Avon. If you wish to see this film click on this external link for details: Event Brite.
Waitrose green tokens for SEG in May
Waitrose has kindly offered SEG a green token 'Community Matters' box again so when shopping at Waitrose in Keynsham during May please show us your support by taking a green token from the person serving you at the till and putting it in our box (don't mind asking for a token if they forget to offer you one!).
This has been a very helpful source of funding in the past so once again your support would be much appreciated. The more tokens we get the larger our share of the £1,000 split between three community organisations/schemes in the monthly collection.
Saltford Festival 2017 (10-18 June)
The biennial 9-day Saltford Festival this year will be the fourth festival that has become part of Saltford's tradition. Organised by Saltford Community Association this year's extensive programme of over 80 events is as varied as ever, including music, dance, poetry, drama, comedy, open gardens, exhibitions, talks and guided walks, competitions, and, of course, food and drink, with some new events appearing for the first time.
HERITAGE & HISTORY AT THE FESTIVAL
The emerging and early beginnings of the Saltford Heritage Centre, a joint project from SEG and St Mary's Parochial Church Council based at the Church Hall, will be open on Saturday 10th (2pm-4pm) when it will host the Bath Record Office roadshow (including activities for children) and on the 'Old Village Day', Sunday 11th (12 noon - 4pm). The Heritage Centre opening on Saturday 10th will be preceded by a presentation on "Life in 19th Century Saltford" by Dick Bateman and Saltford Drama Club - in St Mary's church at 1pm.
2017 coincides with the 150th anniversary of the death of our 19th Century local hero Admiral Kelly; so watch out for the "Admiral" appearing in uniform outside Saltford House (by his blue plaque) on the afternoon of the 'Old Village Day' (Sunday 11th).
We would welcome help from members at the festival on our stall(s) and at the Heritage Centre - check out this poster: SEG at Saltford Festival (pdf) - so if you think you can help for an hour or two on 10, 11 or 17 June please contact Frances on 07789--528843 to join the team.
Most events are free (including the Heritage Centre), but some are ticketed. Tickets are on sale at Saltford Post Office (Monday to Saturday), Saltford Hall (weekday mornings), Davies & Way, Saltford (Monday to Saturday), the Bar at Saltford Golf Club (every day), or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to details appearing in the Festival Brochure delivered to each household in Saltford (with copies also available from Saltford Hall's Avon Room), the daily event programmes can be viewed on the Saltford Festival website: saltfordhall.co.uk/Festival.html.
Saltford Festival is "FairTrade Friendly".
Veteran Tree Identification Training
The Forest of Avon Trust are looking for volunteers that are willing to receive some training in the recognition and recording of veteran trees and to then work on their own to survey their local area. This information will then be used to update the Woodland Trust's Ancient Tree Hunt website (link).
This means the Forest of Avon Trust can then work with landowners to provide advice and information about grants to conserve these trees. If this interests you contact Anna Brunton, the Community Tree and Woodland Officer for the Forest of Avon Trust on tel: 0117--963--3383, email: email@example.com.
If a SEG member gains this skill and wishes to survey Saltford's trees, do contact SEG.
Free-ranging deer affecting wild bird populations
According to a new study in the Journal of Applied Ecology, huge deer populations in England are damaging the important natural habitat of many ground-nesting woodland birds.
In 2008 Defra commissioned experts at Nottingham University to investigate the causes behind the decline of woodland birds in the UK. Ecology expert Markus Eichhorn in the University's School of Life Sciences worked with the British Trust for Ornithology to establish the implications for our woodlands of the large deer population (Roe, Red, Fallow, Water and Sika Deer, and Reeves's Muntjac).
A combination of the absence of large predators, a decline in hunting and the sowing of autumn crops that provide winter food for foraging deer has enabled the deer population to expand to very high levels. Markus Eichhorn suggests that encouraging people to eat venison as readily as beef or lamb, so that wild venison appeared on our menus or in local butchers, could help reduce the deer population. However this concept might be too controversial for some despite the benefits for woodland habitat conservation and woodland birds.
Just as UK woodlands are shaped and exist as they do as a result of human management, it comes down perhaps to a choice of which species we value most, woodland birds or free-ranging deer, and whether a sensible balance can be achieved through human intervention...
Information source: britishbirds.co.uk (2017)
New River Avon Trail information board in Saltford
The Avon Frome Partnership erected a new River Avon Trail information board at the western end of Mead Lane in Saltford (see photograph) on 20th April. The board includes information and images on the historical significance of this section of the River Avon from information published by SEG's History of Saltford project.
Managed by the Avon Frome Partnership, the River Avon Trail runs from Pill in North Somerset to Pulteney Bridge, Bath. The trail's total length is about 23 miles and incorporates a series of individual walks, some circular, on the paths along or near the river. Further information about the trail can be found on the River Avon Trail website at www.riveravontrail.org.uk - downloadable walks (including circular walks) can be found in the "Resources" section of the website.
Appreciating Saltford's ecology
With spring now well advanced and summer approaching, we become increasingly aware that our gardens and the countryside surrounding Saltford support a fascinating variety of wildlife that is so essential for maintaining nature's balance and providing a natural beauty that is a pleasure to behold.
Our wildlife page has a huge range of information, advice, tips and links to other information providers to help you gain a better knowledge and understanding of the natural world that we enjoy here in Saltford and to enable you to play a part, however small, in supporting the provision of wildlife friendly habitat.
From our list of the bird species regularly observed locally (with a link to their individual ID page on the RSPB website) and the butterflies that occur in Saltford, to trees that are ecologically appropriate to our village, rare and important plants, or advice on identifying non-native invasive plants found in Saltford, our wildlife page has something of interest for everyone. Check it out from this link: wildlife page >>.
Getting directly involved with habitat restoration: If you want to help restore some of our local habitat, SEG is looking for a new volunteer to be our railway path habitat restoration project coordinator as our existing coordinator, who did a great job getting things organised, has had to step down due to other commitments. This local project has seen some notable successes:
The area needs some concerted effort over the next 2-3 years to prevent the area from reverting back to scrub and trees: obscuring views and shading some of the rare sun-loving plants that have so recently returned. This work is likely to involve:
This is a great opportunity for someone with good organisational skills to help deliver a really exciting project: restoring a rare and beautiful habitat and bringing members of the community together through fun, practical activities.
No prior experience of wildlife conservation projects is required and there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about the rare and beautiful plants and animals which would otherwise disappear from our area, to make new friends and learn new skills along the way. We are looking for someone with a can-do attitude and the enthusiasm to engage with volunteers and provide more of a social side to this worthwhile activity.
If this opportunity to manage and develop a small yet interesting and local outdoor project appeals to you, to express an interest please contact our Vice-Chairman Chris Warren (email firstname.lastname@example.org).
The project has its own webpage: link >>
Saltford Conservation Area consultation (5 June - 14 July)
B&NES Council is undertaking a review of the 35 Conservation Areas in the District in line with the latest guidance from Historic England. Eventually, the Council will have a 'Conservation Area Appraisal' for each of its designated areas.
The Appraisals define the Conservation Area boundaries and analyse the special architectural and historic interest of the area. They identify specific features which contribute towards an area's character, such as: historic buildings and buildings which are locally significant, important green and open spaces, significant views, natural elements such as trees and waterways, and features which help make an area locally distinct.
The consultation by B&NES Council on the draft "Saltford Conservation Area Boundary Character Appraisal and Management Proposals" will be held from 5 June - 14 July. This will include a drop-in event at St Mary's Church Hall on Weds 7th June from 12 noon to 8pm.
The draft proposals document is due to be posted on the B&NES Council website in June at www.bathnes.gov.uk/CACA-saltford. Any queries about this consultation should be addressed to B&NES Council (Email: email@example.com Tel: 01225--477083).
Further general information on Conservation Areas in B&NES can be found on the B&NES website from this link.
B&NES Draft WaterSpace Study and proposals affecting Saltford
The River Avon corridor is undergoing significant redevelopment of brownfield sites, and is the focus for major new development in Bath. The WaterSpace project launched by B&NES Council in March 2015 has gathered data, mapped information, and generated ideas to work with the community and public, private and voluntary bodies to identify 35 projects and project ideas to revitalise the waterways.
Projects incorporating a range of proposals for three areas of Saltford are:
There is also a proposal for a new access road (and bridge across the river) to the Wessex Water sewage treatment works to connect the site to the A431.
Comments are sought on the draft study report online between 6th April 2017 and 22nd May 2017. The draft report can be found on the B&NES website from this link: WaterSpace Study.
2017 Big Garden Birdwatch results: House Sparrow remains top
Over 8 million birds were counted in the 2017 Big Garden Birdwatch held on the weekend of 28/29 January. The top ten most commonly observed birds across the UK were (2016 position in brackets):-
1. House Sparrow (1)
This year saw an increase in the numbers of birds visiting gardens. The RSPB say that regularly feeding the birds has a big positive impact, as well as other actions such as putting up a nest box or gardening with nature in mind. They wish to thank everyone who is giving nature a home in their garden: with more birds visiting gardens this year, there's a reward for your efforts.
This year's Big Garden Birdwatch saw a downturn in sightings of Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits - all down by at least 10% on last year's figures. The weather during the breeding season can have a big impact on these small birds. Last year's prolonged wet spell meant there were fewer caterpillars about for feeding their young. It's likely that this led to fewer younger birds surviving than usual, meaning there were fewer seen in gardens.
You can see the 2017 Big Garden Birdwatch results on the RSPB website from this link: Big Garden Birdwatch. If you are interested in learning more about the birds that are regularly observed in Saltford, these are listed on the right hand side of our wildlife page and each bird species listed is a link to full details on the RSPB website.
Information source: RSPB
Future SEG website development - can you help?
Our website has become a very popular resource for our members and others, with over 2,000 unique visitors per month, typically opening over 5,000 pages. Using a relatively simple design and basic html approach, it has grown organically since 2011 into an extensive library of articles, themes, links etc.
Thinking of our ongoing ability to maintain and develop our website we are looking for someone who could give some time to support our Chairman Phil Harding with the html website in the short term, and potentially help us to transfer the site across to a new system such as WordPress in the future, as well as maintaining and developing our presence on social media. Do you have the relevant experience, interest and time to get involved? If so, please get in touch with our Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk further. You'll be at the heart of SEG's activities and a valued member of our team of volunteers.
Newsletter - a move to something more flexible
The popularity and success of our website has made us realise that having a monthly newsletter might not be the most time-effective way to make sure you can access the information you want. All news articles appear on the website front page, as an open and ongoing newsletter, so we are planning to move away from a rigid practice of issuing newsletters every month. You can take a monthly or more regular dive into the website whenever it suits you.
We are grateful for suggested website contributions we receive from members and we of course continue to welcome those from you. When we do have particular news, for example on issues affecting Saltford's Green Belt or our campaigns, we will still email you, and we'll send occasional news alerts or newsletters.
Our April newsletter will be our last newsletter in the monthly format, but we look forward to keeping in touch. Please contact our Secretary Debbie Cini at email@example.com with your comments on this, or any input for the website.
Festival of Nature, 8 - 25 June
Established in 2003, the Festival of Nature is the UK's biggest free celebration of the natural world. The Festival began as a two-day showcase of interactive activities and live entertainment across Bristol's Harbourside, and in recent years has grown to include an ever-expanding programme of events across the city and region throughout the summer. Festival of Nature now includes free flagship family events in Bristol, Keynsham and Bath, as well as a range of fringe activity across the West of England.
More information can be found online at www.festivalofnature.org.uk.
Older news stories from SEG
Our 'Newsletter' page is an archive featuring some of our past and recently published news stories. Click here to see >>
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Past news can be found here:-
"Think global, act local"