Saltford Environment Group
Weir at Kelston Lock, Saltford © SEG
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You can find lots more news further down the page, on our theme pages or in our newsletters.
SEG's Newsletter page carries past and recently published news stories; click here to see: Newsletters >>
The big butterfly count (15 July to 7 August)
The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world's biggest survey of butterflies. Over 52,000 people took part in 2015, counting over 580,000 individual butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK.
This year's big butterfly count is from 15 July to 7 August and could be something to also get younger members of the family engaged in over the summer holidays. Details at www.bigbutterflycount.org.
Protecting Saltford's Green Belt: Joint Spatial Plan update
The Draft Joint Spatial Plan was due to be considered by B&NES Council's Planning, Housing and Communities Board (PHCB) on 29th July but this has been delayed until September when it will also go out for public consultation. SEG and the Parish Council are jointly monitoring this closely as we are anxious to ensure Saltford's Green Belt is kept out of the JSP.
The West of England's Joint Spatial Plan and Transport Study (www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk) will
"set out a prospectus for sustainable growth that will help the area (Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset) meet its housing and transport needs for the next 20 years."
Estimates state that the area needs at least 85,000 new homes by 2036, that is 29,000 more than the number already planned in Core Strategies, as well as the transport and other infrastructure needed to support that level of growth.
In B&NES, the B&NES Core Strategy (2014-2029) that was agreed in July 2014 after lengthy negotiations and public consultation is undergoing an early review in tandem with the Joint Spatial Plan (JSP). Once agreed the JSP (2016-2036) will in effect override the B&NES Core Strategy for determining the location and size of new housing developments in B&NES until 2036.
Businesses can bridge UK electricity capacity gap by 2020 says new report
Manufacturing sites, hospitals and retail stores could provide the equivalent electricity supply of 6 new power stations and address the UK's electricity capacity concerns, says a new report from the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) during July.
The new report says that up to 16% of the UK's peak electricity requirement, or 9.8 gigawatts, could be provided by businesses through flexing their electricity demand and making better use of onsite generation.
One part of the solution is to engage energy users to manage their energy use and onsite generation to help the electricity system in return for payments, known as demand side response. By turning down demand instead of increasing supply, and by employing more local, efficient generation, demand-side response reduces emissions and helps the UK meet its carbon targets.
This potential for demand-side response would represent a nearly 10-fold increase and shows the scale of support that business energy customers could provide to help fill the gap in keeping the nation's electricity supply and demand in balance.
As old power stations shut down and new renewable generation like wind and solar are not always available (until better electricity storage technologies are developed) the ability for the nation's electricity supply industry to keep the lights on by 2020 is a cause for concern, but the report shows there are solutions.
The full from ADE report can be downloaded here: Bringing Energy Together - ADE report (external link to pdf, opens in new window)
New Giant Hogweed warning for Saltford's gardeners
A resident recently discovered three massive Giant Hogweed plants growing in her garden after using locally sourced mulch that contained the plant's seeds. This highly toxic non-native plant has to be treated with care and removed by specialists.
As we have warned in previous news items, contact with its sap or its bristles can cause severe skin burns depending on individual sensitivity. It can sensitize skin to ultra-violet light (sunlight), leading to severe blisters, pigmentation and long-lasting scars; hospitalisation may be necessary. Affected skin may remain sensitive for several years. A minute amount of sap in the eye can lead to temporary or even permanent blindness.
If you find Giant Hogweed growing in Saltford, please advise both the Parish Council and B&NES Council (Council Connect on 01225 39 40 41) as soon as possible - and let SEG know too. For your own safety DO NOT TOUCH or attempt to remove it yourself. When removed, under the Environmental Protection Act (1990) Giant Hogweed is classified as controlled waste. Anyone working amongst Giant Hogweed should wear protective clothing that covers the whole body including gloves, hood and face visor.
More on Giant Hogweed can be found on our wildlife page.
A Saltford Heritage Centre?
Members may recall that when our history project reached its first anniversary in March we said that we were investigating the options for displaying some of Saltford's historic artefacts either in Saltford, our first choice, or elsewhere.
Discussions are underway between SEG and St Mary's Church PCC on a possible joint collaboration to create a new Saltford Heritage Centre within the church hall on the first floor. This would be part of a refresh and update of the facilities at the hall in Queen Square.
With its location at the centre of Saltford's Conservation Area, close proximity to Saltford's oldest built structure (the Anglo Saxon tower of St Mary's church, about 1,000 years old) and St Mary's desire to increase its involvement within the wider community, this has the potential to provide Saltford with a useful showcase of its fascinating heritage.
This is all very much at an early stage. If you want to know more or wish to provide your own ideas do speak to SEG's Chairman, Phil Harding, or to the Rector, Rev. Daile Wilshire.
Waitrose and its customers supports SEG
Many thanks from SEG's Executive Committee to everyone who donated their green token to SEG's 'Community Matters' box when shopping at Waitrose in Keynsham during May. Our grateful thanks are due to Waitrose too; on 6th July they handed over to our Chairman a cheque for £360 which is a very useful boost to our funds.
SEG supports school fair with "Slow Cycle" challenge
On Saturday 2nd July SEG supported this year's Saltford School PTA Summer Fair with a Slow Cycle challenge. Our Slow Cycle challenge is where you have to cycle a 25 metre stretch as slowly as possible without putting your feet down, so it's all about balance and control.
Senior winner was Ben Scott with a remarkable time of 5 minutes and 5 seconds, and junior winner (11 and under) was Benny Hodgson with a time of 44 seconds. A special mention for Ava Gregory in the junior section who after 3 attempts managed a super time of 36 seconds and was the slowest girl.
SEG's history project reveals fascinating new insights into Saltford's past
New material researched, discovered, transcribed and posted onto the history project web pages in June provide a fascinating series of glimpses of Saltford in the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. These include the following:-
(NOTE after clicking on the links you will need to select the featured link on each page you arrive at)
Saltford Upcycling Craft Group in the summer
The Saltford Upcycling Craft Group will be taking a summer break in July, but we will be back on August 18th (7-9pm). We are looking forward to catching up with everyone at our next meeting when we will be learning how to quill using old magazines. All you need is your creativity and enthusiasm, we have have all the equipment you will need. Join us at Signs of Saltford (works entrance) 559 Bath Road, Saltford.
Do ring Frances Eggbeer on 07789--528834 if you would like to find out more about us or come along on the night. Tina and Frances will be there to make you welcome.
Living without electricity
Do you and your family, including elderly vulnerable relatives, take the constant availability of electricity supplies for granted?
Extreme weather events arising from climate change can cut electricity supplies that have many consequences. Storm Desmond in December 2015 flooded a local substation, leaving 61,000 properties and over 100,000 people in Lancashire and Cumbria without electricity for over 24 hours. The resulting cascade of failures provided a rare insight into the many impacts of a major storm.
The loss of power quickly affected many other services that we all take for granted. Life had reverted to a pre-electronics era.
Most mobile phone coverage and text messaging was lost within an hour; this meant that Lancaster University, for example, had no way of communicating with its 7,000 students about what to do. Internet, television, and DAB radio were all knocked out. During the floods and the loss of the electricity supply, local radio was the best way of finding out what was going on.
The first challenge for many people was to find a battery or wind-up radio capable of receiving the FM band, as the local DAB radio transmitter was off-air. The second challenge was to find suitable batteries. The third was to decide which of the dozen or so FM channels available in Lancaster was most likely to include local news.
On a traditional radio, of the sort you find in the attic, there is no digital display of channel name and normally the only way to look up frequencies is to use the internet. It is perhaps ironic that, in a society with huge commitment to digital infrastructure, the most reliable source of news was a commercial station using technology that would have been familiar to the engineers on the 1960s Radio Caroline pirate radio ship.
Electronic tills and most ATM machines stopped working, which along with non-functioning freezers, meant that many shops could not do business. By 4pm, there were still many people wanting to buy groceries but, to comply with Sunday trading regulations, the supermarket closed.
Gas-fired central heating did not work because control systems and pumps need electricity. Homes with all-electric cooking were unable to heat food. High-rise buildings lost power for their lifts and upper floors lost water supplies. No traffic lights were working and garages could not sell fuel as pumps are driven by electricity.
The railway line was working as it is powered from outside the affected area but the station was closed at 4pm for safety reasons as there was no platform lighting. The local hospital, which has back-up diesel generators, was able to function as normal but vulnerable people in their homes and homeless people on the street were more seriously affected.
The situation was probably helped by the timing of the power cut (10.45pm on Saturday) and by the mild and sunny weather the following day that gave people time to plan what to do. Had it occurred during the working week, after parents had dropped off their children at school and gone to work, the situation would have been more stressful.
The failure of the power supply in Lancaster was an important reminder that things will occasionally go wrong and we need to regularly review our own contingency plans at home and at our place of work for such events. Perhaps something to contemplate over the summer before the autumn/winter months arrive...
Information source: Royal Academy of Engineering report "Living without electricity - One city's experience of coping with loss of power" (May 2016).
SCA and SEG to produce Saltford 2017 calendar - want to contribute your photographs?
SEG and Saltford Community Association (SCA) have agreed to produce the 2017 calendar of Saltford as a joint venture. SCA produced the 2016 calendar at last year's Saltford Festival; the new venture is to seek to produce a 2017 calendar celebrating what's great about Saltford whilst utilising the photographic skills of our residents, from the youngest to the oldest.
Net profits from the sale of the calendar will benefit SCA and SEG funds. If this proves successful we hope to make this a regular annual feature timed for the festival and/or for the Christmas season.
SEG uses a lot of photographs for its website and will make available suitable stock photographs for the calendar. Members of SEG who are handy with a digital camera and who wish to support this project should get in touch with our Chairman, Phil Harding, so that we can establish a Saltford photographer's list.
We shall be asking for contributions to the calendar in due course (photographs for the 2017 calendar required by the end of September) but if you have any now that you think would be suitable do send them to Phil.
Photographs need to be landscape in shape with the same proportions (ratio) of a 6" x 4" photograph (we can crop if necessary) for the calendar although we do also use portrait shape photographs for website use. They should be submitted as jpeg files and the resolution should be 300 pixels per inch or higher - if you're not sure, don't worry just send them in or contact Phil.
Great shots taken in all seasons (this year or in past years) of interesting views, attractive buildings and local landscapes are what we seek. All photographs published on SEG's or SCA's website or the Saltford calendar will name the photographer (unless the photographer wishes to remain anonymous) and the copyright will rest with SEG and/or SCA.
So, get taking those photographs in and around Saltford and build up your own portfolio. If your son or daughter is interested in photographic art or likes photographing the local landscape, wildlife and interesting buildings, do encourage them to get involved.
You're never too young or too old to be a published photographer!
Tree beekeeping is an ancient form of beekeeping where Zeidler (Tree Beekeepers) create cavities inside living trees and then manage the hive for hundreds of years, passing it from one generation of Zeidler to the next.
Historically, the Zeidler never introduced a swarm to a hive, instead they would make the hive as attractive as possible for the bees, respecting their natural preference for warm cavities high in trees, away from interference and the cold of the ground. Many modern forests are too barren and devoid of places for bees to nest, forage or collect food.
A movement to restore the craft of the Zeidler is rapidly taking hold across Europe, but the task of the new Zeidler is to not only entice the bees to the many new tree hive cavities, but to also find habitats where the owners cherish the earth and foster its renewal. The Natural Beekeeping Trust recently created the first "Zeidler" tree hive at Pertwood Organic Farm in Wiltshire; you can see their short video about it at www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSpQm4Oj7Ns.
Saltford Wombles will be taking their customary break from organised litter-picks during the summer but SEG members wishing to sort out a litter problem near where they live or regularly walk can borrow litter pickers, gloves, high viz jackets and bin bags from Julie Sampson. You can contact Julie by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01225--874603 or 07807--671--267.
If you're wishing to encourage your children to take a more active pride in Saltford and do something for the local community, why not organise a family litter pick and see how much litter you can collect in an hour or two?
Don't mess with Saltford's Admiral Kelly!
During May our Chairman visited Mount Kelly (formerly Kelly College) in Tavistock to photograph the portrait of Admiral Benedictus Kelly hanging high up on the wall of the school library, at Kelly Church (Devon) to photograph Admiral Kelly's grave and commemorative window, and then called next door on Kelly House where he met the current (31st) Squire of Kelly House, Warin Kelly.
This was a highly productive fact-finding tour, revealing further fascinating information about Admiral Kelly. If you visit our history project page dedicated to Admiral Kelly you will find as you peruse the page:-
There are also other new aspects to Admiral Kelly's life published in his feature page during May. This continues to grow into a significant tribute to our humanitarian hero as we continue our research into his life as a philanthropist here in Saltford and his remarkable life before then.
You can visit Admiral Kelly's page in our History Project via this link: Admiral Kelly.
Annual river clean held in May
A big 'thank you' from SEG and our Wombles to the canoe and kayaking clubs including Canoe Avon, Avon Outdoor Activity Club and the Cheeky Friday Paddle Club who got together to clean our river on Sunday 15th May.
The annual 'river clean' has now become an annual event and this activity to clear the litter and other debris that accumulates shows that many of our river users really do care about the environment here in Saltford.
Whilst out and about enjoying Saltford's wildlife it is important to be aware of ticks, the bloodsucking, disease-carrying arachnids, that are on the rise in the UK due to milder winters. Residents and visitors to Saltford will need to be careful when walking in long grass or wooded areas where deer may have been present. Ticks may even appear in your garden as has already happened to one resident in Saltford this spring.
Tick bites can go unnoticed although with most people they itch within hours of the tick biting and the tick can remain feeding on your blood for several days before dropping off. The longer the tick is in place, the higher the risk of it passing on Lyme disease, a very dangerous bacterial infection that is spread to humans by infected ticks.
The advice from the NHS is that if you do find a tick on your or your child's skin, remove it by gently gripping it as close to the skin as possible, preferably using fine-toothed tweezers, and pull steadily away from the skin (don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin).
Never use a lit cigarette end, a match head or essential oils to force the tick out. It is important to be aware that using incorrect methods (twisting the tick, using chemicals or a lit cigarette) may cause the tick to spasm and vomit back into your skin and bloodstream, greatly increasing the risk of infection.
We provide further advice on this topic including the advice from the NHS on signs to look out for concerning Lyme Disease if you have been bitten by a tick on our wildlife page.
Saltford Parish Council elects new Chairman
At its monthly meeting on 3rd May, the first anniversary meeting since the Parish Council took office after the Parish Council elections in May 2015, Councillor Chris Warren was unanimously elected to serve as Chairman of Saltford Parish Council for 2016/17.
Chris Warren, who many SEG members will know as leader of our Saltford station campaign, replaced Councillor Duncan Hounsell who had decided to stand down from holding the position. The Parish Council thanked Duncan Hounsell for all his work and guidance in steering the new Parish Council through its first year. At the meeting Councillor Phil Harding was unanimously re-elected as Vice Chairman of the Council for a second year.
British public says renewables offer huge economic benefits - and wants more
New official Government statistics published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show that the British public believes that renewable energy provides tangible economic benefits - and they want clean energy projects built in their area.
The Public Attitudes Tracking from DECC shows that 70% of people see clear economic benefits to the UK from renewable energy. The survey also showed that 56% would be happy with a large-scale project in their local area.
Hugh McNeal, Chief Executive of renewable energy trade association RenewableUK, said: "It's great that the British public sees how renewable energy is helping to grow the UK economy. Renewables are delivering investment and jobs throughout our country".
These surveys of public attitudes are carried out annually (since 2012). Support for renewable energy has been consistently high since 2012 at around 75-80%. This pattern has continued in 2016 with 81% expressing support for the use of renewables with support lowest amongst those aged 65+ (74%).
Opposition to renewables was very low at 4%, with only 2% strongly opposed.
For 2016 an additional question was asked about people's opinion on three statements about renewable energy. Nearly eight in ten agreed that renewable energy developments should provide direct benefits to the communities in which they are located (77%), whilst seven in ten (70%) agreed that renewable industries and developments provide economic benefits to the UK.
Just over half said they would be happy to have a large scale renewable development in their own area (56%).
The DECC Public Attitudes Tracking survey (wave 17) can be found at www.gov.uk/government/statistics/public-attitudes-tracking-survey-wave-17.
Publishing Saltford's History Online presentation
Chairman of Saltford Environment Group, Phil Harding, gave an illustrated talk on "Publishing Saltford's History Online" to the "Friends of Saltford Library" group on Friday 6th May. Phil took the group through SEG's popular history project, revealing hitherto unknown but fascinating aspects of Saltford's illustrious past.
If your local group would like a similar talk, contact Phil.
Giant Hogweed warning
With the arrival of the spring growing season, the highly toxic and invasive alien Giant Hogweed is growing again in the same two areas of Saltford where it has appeared since at least 2014. This is where SEG has discovered and reported it for treatment each year - along the side of the railway cycle path towards Bitton and by the riverbank in The Shallows.
As we are discovering, it can take several years to finally eradicate the plant. The objective is to kill it each time it re-appears before it maims or blinds anyone who touches it and before it produces and spreads seed.
SEG has taken rapid action and had a site meeting with the Team Leader for Parks and Trees at B&NES (on 29th April) - the plant will be injected with an appropriate poison by B&NES staff wearing protective clothing.
We have pictures and information about this plant on our wildlife page including how to report its discovery. However, we wish to remind you that if you see it growing elsewhere in Saltford please also let SEG know (inform our Chairman) so that we can monitor it each year and, for your own safety, DO NOT TOUCH or attempt to remove it yourself.
When removed this plant is so dangerous that under the Environmental Protection Act (1990) it is classified as controlled waste. Anyone working amongst Giant Hogweed should wear protective clothing that covers the whole body including gloves, hood and face visor.
As before we do not publicly announce or highlight the precise location of this plant to avoid the risk of older children using it as a play weapon without realising that the sap from this plant can permanently blind or cause severe skin burns and scarring. If you have a need to know where it is, contact our Chairman by email and supply your telephone number.
Railway habitat project making great strides
Our project to regenerate the habitat beside a stretch of the cycle path, along the old LMS railway line, has made a great start this spring. The plan is to recreate a habitat similar to that in the 1960s when railway gangers used to maintain the embankment slopes. At that time there were very long lengths of rough grassland, rich in herbs, wild flowers and the insects associated with them.
Having cleared a section of trees a couple of years ago there are now splendid views to the west over the river. Sunlight now reaches the bank allowing grasses to flourish. Already some flowering plants are returning; there is a large area of ground ivy and several patches of crosswort (which isn't found any where else on Saltford).
However, the sunlight enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and flowering plants is also enabling nettles and brambles to grow strongly, which could smother the target species. This is where volunteers come in. So far this spring we have been out several times, using a brush cutter to trim a large area at the top of the bank and hand pulling unwanted plants from around the ground ivy and crosswort patches.
We are looking for more volunteers to help cut back the vigorous growth of nettles and brambles. Our next session will be on Saturday 21st May at 4pm. If you would like to join us please contact the project coordinator Odette McCarthy via our Chairman.
Green Belt Latest:
Our July Newsletter is out:-
"Think global, act local"