Saltford Environment Group
Welcome to Saltford Environment Group (SEG).
Recent Headlines - click on link to see story on this page:-
You can find more news further down the page or on our theme pages.
Manor Rd Green Belt Inquiry LATEST: Our 'Statement of Case' submitted
On 10th May 2013 SEG submitted our "Statement of Case" on behalf of SEG and the Green Belt Campaign to the Planning Inspectorate. This informs the Inspector of the topics/themes we will present to the Inquiry as our evidence and the case we will make. In summary, our evidence will show that the development would be:
Whilst acknowledging the importance that the Government attaches to house building as a driver of national economic recovery, we will refer to the Government's stated commitment to protect the Green Belt and make the case that Green Belt boundaries must be decided by Local Authorities as part of the democratic Local Plan process rather than by developers' willingness and ability to build there.
Reference will also be made to villagers' concerns about this inappropriate development and the Government's policy statements on localism. Accordingly we will ask the Inspector to dismiss the appeal.
The Inquiry will start at 10am on Tuesday 13th August and will be held at Fry Club & Conference Centre, Somerdale, Keynsham BS31 2AU. The venue has been reserved for 5 days. The sitting days are at the Inspector's discretion and may be changed once the Inquiry has opened.
SEG and the Saltford Green Belt Campaign will have Rule 6 status at the Inquiry. This means we will be considered to be a main party and will be entitled to appear at the Inquiry and to cross-examine other parties.
For further information see our Green Belt page >>>
Media Enquiries concerning SEG's role at the Inquiry and requests for higher resolution images of our Manor Road field photographs should be made to Phil Harding email@example.com.
Rainbow over Saltford
This photograph of a rainbow over Saltford observed from Claverton Road was taken by SEG's Chairman, Ben Eve, on the early evening of 16th May.
If you're a keen photographer (amateur or professional, young or not so young) and have some good photographs that you've taken of Saltford's wildlife, especially the wild birds that visit our village, or stunning photographs of other aspects of Saltford's natural environment, please contact our website Editor, Phil Harding (see below for Phil's email address).
This is to help illustrate our website, such as our wildlife page and relevant wildlife/environmental news stories, and we would prefer to use local photographers wherever possible. Whilst we cannot pay for using your photographs, this is an opportunity for some free publicity for your photographic skills as a 'published photographer'.
Saltford's 1st Scout group and SEG caring for Saltford's wildlife
As part of the Scout Community Week (3rd - 9th June 2013), the 1st Saltford Scout Group (Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, Explorers) have agreed to a partnership arrangement with SEG to map and survey the local footpaths around the village. They will survey the paths looking out for interesting flora or fauna and for rare wildlife such as the Bath Asparagus as well as invasive species such as the Himalayan Balsam.
The information gathered will be used to create an online map to be held on our popular wildlife page. Hopefully sample information will be available for the Saltford Festival (8th - 16th June).
The longer term plan is to map all of Saltford's wildlife habitats and thereafter use this information to help prioritise habitat restoration projects. We will report progress during 2013 as the project starts to unfold.
Low carbon street lighting for Saltford (May 2013)
Saltford's carbon footprint on the planet should be reduced once the current work to install new, more efficient street lights is completed by Southern Electrical Contracting for B&NES Council over the coming few weeks.
The new LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lighting being installed will provide a more natural and whiter light than the previous generation of (yellow/orange) sodium street lights. With significant energy (and thus carbon) savings compared to sodium lights and reduced maintenance costs due to their longer lifespan, LED street lighting can be a very cost effective investment.
LED lighting can be more controllable, has an almost instant strike (light-up) time and can provide significant energy and running costs savings of up to 80% compared to conventional or other energy efficient alternatives including compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). However the design and application is important.
Thermal management (or heat-sinking) is a critical design consideration in LED lamps - whether for the home, commercial, industrial or street lighting applications. There can be reliability issues if the heat generated at the rear of a high-powered LED is allowed to overheat the LED chip, thus affecting the life expectancy and performance of the lamp.
Let's hope the new street lighting in Saltford proves to be as efficient and reliable as it has the potential to be.
Badgers or foxes raiding your food waste recycling bin?
If you find badgers are sniffing out the food in your food waste recycling bin and tumbling it around until it comes open and spills the food scraps, this solution may interest you.
Fed up with the mess that needed to be cleared up after night-time raids by badgers - especially when chicken bones were present as the smell seems irresistible to badgers - our editor drilled a small hole through the lip of the lid and the container beneath, being careful not to drill into the bin cavity itself, so that garden wire could be used to secure the lid.
The picture on the left shows the bin (with chicken bones inside) that has been tumbled round the garden and ended up in a flower bed (hence the mud); but it stayed shut! A close-up of the wire fastening is shown on the right.
Happy Editor 1 Frustrated Badger 0
What has Bath's history got to do with fracking?
Mr Pinch was an early 19th Century brewer in Bath who sunk a well, accidentally disrupted the hot spring supply to the Roman Baths and ended up in court at the Bristol Assize in 1836. To read the interesting account which we have published on our website's Fracking page, and how this court case is relevant to the concerns shown today that fracking might affect the Bath spring water at the Roman Baths click on this link.
Four quotes for Earth Day and Saltford - and some tips
To mark Earth Day (22nd April) here are four quotes relevant to Saltford and the challenges we face defending our Green Belt and for celebrating what's great about Saltford over the coming weeks and months:
"We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to"
"Nature can do more than physicians"
"Planning is bringing the future into the present
"My interest is in the future because I am going to spend
On Earth Day each year, over one billion people in 192 countries take part - from London to Sao Paolo, Saltford(!) to Seoul, New Delhi to New York, Rome to Cairo; people everywhere take action in their communities. The tips on the right hand side of our Energy and Less Waste pages show how you can reduce your environmental footprint - and save some money at the same time!
If wildlife is your thing, visit our wildlife page and see, for example, some guidance on safely feeding the birds that visit your garden, and for news on what SEG are getting up to!
Dawn Chorus Walk identifies 34 species
The annual Saltford Dawn Chorus walk led by Chairman of the Keynsham Group of the Avon Wildlife Trust, Dave Sage, was attended by 17 folk from Saltford and the surrounding area who met up at the Shallows car park at 5am on Sunday 21 April and then walked east along the railway track cycle path. 34 species of wild birds were identified including Black Cap, Common Sandpiper, Green Woodpecker, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler and Goldcrest.
A big thank you to Dave Sage from SEG and the other participants for organising and leading such an interesting and fascinating walk on a beautiful spring morning.
Our Wildlife web page lists all 100 species of birds that are observed in Saltford with a link to a picture of each bird and other details including an audio recording of its birdsong on the RSPB website.
2013 Saltford Cycle Quest with bike advice and help service
By popular demand and following on from last year's successful event, SEG are running a Cycle Quest on the afternoon of Saturday 8th June as part of the Saltford Festival (details of the festival in our festival news story).
There will be team prizes available, but it's much more about winning a prize; it's about exploring the village on your bike with friends and family. There will also be bike advice and help available in the morning of 8th June - visit our cycling page page for details, timings and the Cycle Quest rules and guidelines.
Saltford is a Fairtrade Village!
The Fairtrade Foundation informed Saltford's Fairtrade Group on 4th April that Saltford now has Fairtrade Village status. This is great news and is testimony to all the enthusiastic work by the Fairtrade Group in driving this forward. More information on Fairtrade can be found on our Fairtrade page.
Lots to do and see at the Saltford Festival! (8-16 June)
The 2013 Saltford Festival (8th - 16th June) is a village-wide event with a comprehensive programme of activities. Just a few of the activities from the programme that may be of particular interest to SEG members/supporters include:-
The full programme of events can be found on the festival website at: www.saltfordfestival.org.uk.
Tickets for some of the events can be purchased from Saltford Post Office, Saltford News, Saltford Hall (01225 874081) or via firstname.lastname@example.org. Other events are covered by an entry fee on the door, or are free.
Small cash donations can help SEG make a difference
SEG is run and managed by volunteers but we have overheads and various out-of-pocket expenses that need to be covered. Membership is free because we want SEG to be as inclusive as possible.
However if you are able to make a small donation each year, say £5 - £10 per household, that would be fantastic and help keep SEG working for Saltford. See our About us page for how you can make a small donation.
Big Birdwatch results are out - our gardens matter!
This year's (January) RSPB Big Birdwatch results are out and show that our gardens are vital for some of our most threatened species of bird. Starlings, a UK 'red-listed' species (i.e. highest conservation concern), hit an all-time low in the 2012 Birdwatch and their numbers sunk by a further 16% in gardens this year. Other threatened species such as house sparrows, bullfinches and dunnocks, also fell in numbers.
Martin Harper, RSPB Conservation Director, said: "Gardens make up around 4% of land area in the UK and their role as habitats for our wildlife is clear. They are the places that birds come to for food and shelter when conditions in the countryside are especially tough and together, we can all play a part in making them more welcoming and supportive for wildlife, whether we have a garden full of greenery, a yard or a window box."
The ten most observed birds nationally / in Somerset were (average no. per garden in brackets):
1. House sparrow (3.7) / House sparrow (3.8)
More details can be found on the Birdwatch website: www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/.
2012 was a washout for our butterflies
According to Butterfly Conservation the wet 2012 was a disastrous year for Britain's butterflies including many of the species that regularly occur in Saltford.
The relentless rain and cold created calamitous conditions for summer-species in particular as they struggled to find food, shelter and mating opportunities; butterfly abundance plummeted to a record low as a result and some species are close to extinction. Many common species struggled with drops in their numbers as high as 98% and the alarming slide of the Small Tortoiseshell (pictured left) continued with its population slipping 37% on observations in 2011.
Only four species saw their numbers increase; for example the grass-feeding Meadow Brown (observed in Saltford - pictured right) was up 21%.
Data was gathered by the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme (UKBMS) jointly led by Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH).
Our gardens are invaluable as sources of nectar and for providing sheltered conditions and larval food plants such as brassica, nettle, Holly, Ivy, Dark Mullein, Hop and grasses for many of our butterfly species, so please bear this in mind when planning and tending your garden. See our wildlife page for the 24 species that occur in Saltford (with links to pictures and information) and also a link to Butterfly Conservation's website.
Saltford station and the new West of England Local Transport Body
On 13 March 2013 the West of England Partnership formed a Local Transport Body to receive devolved funding from the Department for Transport and ensure it is devoted to local transport improvement schemes to address the present and anticipated local transport needs of the West of England. It will agree this through an evidence based prioritisation process.
Saltford station is within the shortlisted schemes to follow the priority programme of the Greater Bristol Metro phases 1 and 2 in the 2015-2019 period. There is also the possibility that projects like our station could be brought forward; the Station Campaign team are keeping a close watch on developments.
The West of England Partnership Joint Local Transport Plan was also refreshed (updated) on 13th March and it now includes a specific reference to Saltford station. This is important as an objective of the Core Strategy (that sets the economic and planning strategy for this area's development from now until 2029) is to "Deliver well connected places accessible by sustainable means of transport" and the Joint Local Transport Plan (including proposals for the Greater Bristol Metro Scheme) is a key document within the Core Strategy.
Our Saltford station page has further details of our campaign to re-open Saltford station.
Saltford Parish Council rejects bypass with 5,000 infill housing
As part of preparing the revised Core Strategy, B&NES Council Planning Officers put forward as an option the building of a bypass to the south of Saltford accompanied by 5,000 new homes. That option was not taken forward by B&NES Councillors.
Many in our village have maintained that a bypass would provide planners with the green light to infill with housing thus destroying a large tract of green belt and turning Saltford from a village into a town. The proposed option has proven that case and the unfortunate result of this is that B&NES planners now see a Saltford bypass as a potential future means of creating a large tract of land for infill housing.
At its monthly meeting on 5th March, the Parish Council demonstrated the strength of feeling in the village by passing the motion "Saltford Parish Council notes that the bypass proposed was to become the housing development boundary for Saltford, and believes that the in-filling of 5000 additional homes in the existing green belt would have destroyed the village of Saltford as we know it. Saltford Parish Council rejects this as an option completely both now and for the duration of this Council's term."
The Parish Council also voted to place on public record "its concern at the option of building a bypass around Saltford to be paid for by the building of 5000+ homes to contribute towards B&NES Core Strategy's housing numbers. It is difficult to see how such an option could be considered as sustainable development. This number of homes will nearly quadruple the size of Saltford and will be extremely detrimental to Saltford's amenities and general character, destroying a large amount of Green Belt."
The Parish Council noted the large number of objections to the building of 99 dwellings on Green Belt land by Manor Road and whilst the Parish Council was confident that the bypass with 5,000+ houses option would not be taken forward, it requested that this option be dropped with a firm public statement from B&NES to prevent a blight on house values and house sale transactions for the areas most affected by such an option.
SEG awaits the public statement from B&NES with interest. We have published our own discussion paper on the likely adverse effects of a bypass on Saltford on our Green Belt page; the paper can be found from this link: A bypass for Saltford?
Horseradish sauce with your, er, horse..?
Controversy surrounding the discovery of horse meat in imported beef ready meals highlights just how much food we import in the UK. With almost 50% of the food consumed in the UK each year imported, SEG's stance on food security and the need to protect our green belt agricultural land for possible future use for food production is highly topical.
Extreme weather arising from climate change such as 2012's wet year can significantly reduce the UK's food production. The increasing incidents of extreme weather (flooding, heatwaves and droughts) taken together with unsustainable population growth puts our future food security at risk. This is one reason why SEG is lobbying B&NES Council to withstand demands from central Government to allow housing development on our green belt in its Core Strategy. You can read more about this in our article "Food Security and the Green Belt: Who feeds Saltford?"
Gardenshare scheme to help you with your gardening or provide somewhere local to grow your vegetables
SEG are starting a Gardenshare scheme and if this could help you with your gardening or provide somewhere for you to grow vegetables and flowers, this might be just what you need.
For further details including our tenancy agreement template that you can use visit our Gardenshare page.
Petition for lower bus fares
It would cost a family of 4 around £20 to go to Bath and back on the bus (2 adults at £6, two at £4). An online petition asking for the price of bus travel in Bristol to be lowered has gathered over 3,900 signatures.
The petition can be found on the HM Government petition website from this link: petition 43134. It was created by Daniel Farr and asks the Department for Transport to "force" FirstBus to reduce its charges.
If we are to encourage more people to adopt a lower carbon lifestyle and reduce traffic congestion in our village, bus fares are going to need to come down to an affordable rate. Bristol's recently elected mayor signed the petition. You might like to consider signing it too...
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Our themes and campaigns
"Think global, act local"