Saltford Environment Group
River Avon on a summer's afternoon in Saltford.
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In our modern everyday lives the value of moss is not immediately obvious. Here in Saltford, close inspection of almost any handful of moss will reveal an important ecological role - that of providing shelter and humidity, a microhabitat, for a wide diversity of invertebrates. It is its position at the base of the ecological food chain that underlines the value of the moss that we see in and around Saltford.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), there are over 600 species of moss in the UK (and over 10,000 worldwide). Mosses can form large, coarse, loose, green or yellowish-green tufts, densely matted tufts, or compact green cushions. We have more moss occurring in Britain compared to other similar latitudes, for example the rest of Europe and Asia, as our humid climate provides the right growing conditions thus making our wildlife and habitat so special.
Mosses can be the first to recolonise bare areas of ground recently cleared. In damp conditions, moss is like a sponge, providing semi-aquatic conditions for a whole variety of other tiny creatures, as well as a wonderfully damp nursery that allows the germination of tree seedlings and other flowering plants. When it dries out, some species of moss can be a popular nest material for a large variety of the wild birds that visit and inhabit our gardens.
But moss also has an aesthetic role by helping to keep our landscapes lush and green and on closer examination, many mosses are stunningly beautiful. Perhaps before we rush to clear moss away from our gardens we should hesitate, appreciate moss for what it is, marvel at its natural beauty and allow it space to carry out its essential role in the cycle of life.
Further reading (on the web)
The Moss Grower's Handbook by Michael Fletcher, recommended by the RHS: http://rbg-web2.rbge.org.uk/bbs/resources/fletcher.pdf (pdf on external website)
The British Bryological Society website is full of information on bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts): www.britishbryologicalsociety.org.uk
The Soil Association has come up with 30 simple and affordable small organic changes you can make throughout September to the food and drink that you consume. To help you on your way, they will be sharing on their website a whole host of special offers and exclusive discounts from some of the biggest organic brands and they've also teamed up with some of the UK's best chefs to inspire you with ideas of what you can make using your fresh, seasonal organic produce.
There are lots of ways you can get involved in Organic September, for example:
For more information including on events that are being organised, visit: www.soilassociation.org/organicseptember
Saltford Wombles: keeping on top of litter in September
There will be no organised Wombles litter pick in September but if you have an hour or two to spare and wish to help keep Saltford tidy for residents and visitors by removing litter in a road or public area using our equipment do contact Julie (see next paragraph).
If you have spotted a litter problem area in Saltford or if you are interested in getting involved with Saltford Wombles please contact Julie by email to: email@example.com or tel: 01225--874603. Saltford Wombles will provide, gloves, litter pickers, bin bags and high viz jackets.
More information about Saltford Wombles can be found on our "Waste" page from this link: Saltford Wombles >>
Saltford's History six months on
We launched SEG's History of Saltford Project six months ago, so it's a good time to give you an update. We'd like to thank everyone who has given us photos, information, ideas and artefacts to photograph - please keep them coming!
We've built up a fabulous resource on the website - do take a look at what we've gathered so far. This includes:
The scope for widening and deepening our research is endless - so, whatever you're interested in, as long as it's connected with Saltford we'd love to hear from you. We welcome your old photographs, maps, stories or even theories about how Saltford came to be as it is today. Much of what we are publishing fits with the school curriculum so we're keen to work with our local schools to help bring history to life.
With the kind permission of landowners, survey work on trying to locate further evidence of Roman settlement in Saltford has already commenced.
Bath Spa University's School of Humanities and Cultural Industries has allocated to SEG three students as project placements who have volunteered to help research different aspects of Saltford's history. We hope this will be the start of a long and fruitful relationship with our local University, schools and the wider community.
At SEG we believe that only by valuing our history and origins can we gain a better understanding of the importance that we as a community should take care of the land and people that support us all. By combining a love of our village and its history with the modern media approach of our web-based resource, we can reach out to a wide audience with all the fascinating material that we capture and share.
You can visit the project's web pages from this link >>
SEG's History Project Production Team
Saltford Upcycling Craft Group - 17th September
We have been making jewellery from our hand crafted paper beads and now we need to make some pretty gift boxes to put them in. Join our free workshop on September 17th and make your own attractive decorative boxes to put jewellery, sweets, favours or any small gifts in. If you have any old Christmas or birthday cards do bring them along but we have some and all the things you need to make boxes.
Our free workshops are friendly, therapeutic and a great way to wind down after a long day.
We would love to see you at: Signs of Saltford, 559 Bath Road, Saltford in the workshop area. If you would like to know more about our group please ring Tina Curtis on 07720--353701, or come along between 7-9pm, where you will be made most welcome.
B&NES Energy at Home and the end of the Green Deal
The recent government announcements in July about the closing of the Green Deal finance company and the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund have fortunately not affected the Bath & North East Somerset Energy at Home scheme's ability to help residents. The Energy at Home scheme is still able to offer free, expert home energy advice, and generous grants to help fund energy saving home improvements, including up to £6,000 for solid wall insulation, and up to £2,000 for other measures. Extra help is available for those on a low income or in receipt of qualifying benefits.
If you were hoping to use Green Deal Finance, or use the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, then the following changes have taken affect:
For more information about the changes, or to get free expert energy advice, please contact the Energy at Home Advice Service:
Grow some of Saltford's natural heritage in your garden - Free offer to members
Members may recall that SEG distributed over 700 Bath Asparagus seeds to several of our members in 2013. After a poor growing season last year for this particular nationally scarce plant (also known as the 'Spiked Star of Bethlehem', Ornithogalum pyrenaicum), we are pleased to be able to offer some free seeds again to our members, subject to demand.
These seeds have been sourced from the only two clumps of Bath Asparagus growing wild in Saltford using the Wild Flower Society's Code of Conduct based on the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Our seed stock of this plant is genuine "Saltford" Bath Asparagus not Bath, Keynsham or Kelston sourced Bath Asparagus.
If you wish to know more about this attractive and nationally rare edible* plant that was thought by some to have been brought to Bath by the Romans (between AD 43 until c. 410), see our wildlife feature item from this link where we also give advice on how to grow this plant from seed. It is highly recommended that you read that advice to maximise the chances of a successful planting in your garden.
*(Editor's note: It may have been a delicacy for the Romans, but I wouldn't eat this plant! - however it looks attractive growing amongst long grasses or in wooded areas.)
The seeds are available on a first-come-first-served basis, so if you are interested please contact our Chairman, Phil Harding, by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject heading "Bath Asparagus Seeds" and please include in your email request your address and your telephone number.
You do need to be a patient gardener to grow this plant as it takes 4 to 5 years to reach flowering maturity so make sure you read our cultivation advice before seeking free seeds - you also need to be confident that you have a spare corner of your garden that can be left undisturbed for the coming years.
No onshore gas exploration in the Saltford-Keynsham area for now
The 1st tranche of the 14th landward oil and gas licensing awards was announced by the Government on 18th August. 27 blocks were announced, with another 132 requiring further environmental assessment under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. In the West Country there are four blocks out for environmental assessment to the SE of Bath and seven on the North Somerset coast between Weston-super-Mare and Minehead, but none in the area between Bristol and Bath.
In particular the blocks that were offered for our immediate area (ST 55, 56, 65, 66, 75 and 76) were not awarded. The map above shows the blocks concerned (blocks marked green require environmental assessment and those marked beige are current licensed blocks).
For reasons of commercial confidentiality the Government does not reveal which blocks were applied for but not awarded. There is no reason to believe that blocks in our area were applied for in the 14th licensing round although we cannot be certain. In December 2012 UK Methane relinquished its licence for the block covering their previous plans for Coal Bed Methane test drilling at Hicks Gate, Keynsham.
Whilst this will be welcomed by most in Saltford and Keynsham, the announcement will be seen as bad news in the 27 new licensed areas (that cover about 1,000 square miles) as well as in the 132 licence areas that are subject to environmental assessments which span about 5,000 square miles. Areas of natural beauty, including the North York Moors and the Peak District, have been licensed for drilling. As have swathes of land near Lincoln, Nottingham and Sheffield. The response from Greenpeace to the Government's announcement has been to say that "the consequences could be devastating... extracting gas from rocks beneath our towns and countryside will put water supplies, and delicate wildlife protection zones, at risk. And drilling for more fossil fuels will keep us hooked on dirty energy for years to come, accelerating climate change even more."
Further information on oil and gas licensing rounds can be found at https://www.gov.uk/oil-and-gas-licensing-rounds or for information on onshore gas exploration and local campaigning visit our feature page on Fracking >>
Great British Bee Count results are out
"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man
The results of the 2015 Great British Bee Count undertaken in May of this year have been published by Friends of the Earth. This annual survey helps raise awareness of the importance of our bee population and the more we as a nation learn about bees and report sightings, the more we can do to protect them.
With 104,280 bees counted, the key findings were as follows:
More information about the Great British Bee Count can be found from this external link: www.foe.co.uk/page/great-british-bee-count-2015-results.
We give tips on making our gardens more bee-friendly on our wildlife page >>
Open for business, even in severe weather?
Two-thirds of small businesses have been hit by the negative impacts of severe weather in the past three years, says a new report from the Federation of Small Business (FSB) published in July. 'Severe weather - a more resilient small business community' also shows that many small businesses need further support if they are to be resilient to severe weather. Recommendations from the FSB include encouraging small businesses to develop their own resilience plans, and calling on the government to take steps to ensure affordable flood insurance.
According to the report:
SEG provides useful tips and links to key sources of resilience advice and guidance including management tools for Saltford's businesses and householders on our climate change page >>
The FSB report can be downloaded from this link: http://www.fsb.org.uk/frontpage/assets/fsb-severe-weather-report-final.pdf (300kb pdf from external site, opens in new window).
Cycling with a purpose
An account by Paul Goddard on how he got himself motivated to get cycling
I've recently got back from a 92 mile bike ride in preparation for cycling from Land's End to John O Groats early in September. What relevance has this got with the SEG cycling section I hear you ask? The answer is purpose. Let me explain.
23 years ago I bought a mountain bike and then spent the next 16 years looking for an excuse to ride it. Then the tyres deflated and the bits that should move didn't. The excuses went on. In 2008 I had to move jobs from Glasgow to Bournemouth. I was faced with a dilemma; my new place of work was only 4 miles away. Too far to walk, not on a bus route and by the time I'd fired the diesel car up and driven to work Terry Wogan wouldn't have finished waffling and still not played a record.
Enter the bike. Now I had a purpose to use the bike not an excuse not to. Once I'd replaced the perished tyres and squirted oil in the right places I was off, a cycling commuter. I still use that bike once a week to cycle to Keynsham Leisure Centre.
After I'd got my cycling legs I bought a racing bike and entered a triathlon. Now I had a new purpose, to complete a race. This is now my commuting bike, 13 miles to Filton along the old railway path. It is also the same bike that will make the 969 mile journey in September.
So to wrap up, do you have a cycling purpose? The recently resurfaced cycle path between Saltford and The Avon Valley Railway station is fantastically smooth, away from the road and has lovely scenery. It's also only 2.5 Miles from the Bird in Hand, whilst Warmley is 5 Miles from the Bird in Hand. Both have a cafe. Or you could go the other way. Bath is only 5 miles away and like the rest of the cycle path it's flat. Bath has the added attractions of more cafes - see the common thread here?
Don't think of excuses, think of a purpose, and enjoy your coffee at the half way point!
The Big Butterfly Count
The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey run by the charity Butterfly Conservation and is 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 44,000 people took part in 2014, counting almost 560,000 individual butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK.
Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses. That is why counting butterflies can be described as taking the pulse of nature.
If your children are looking for something to do in the school holidays this is one way of engaging them with the natural world. All they need do is simply count butterflies and moths for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather during the big butterfly count (17th July - 9th August).
You can submit separate records for different dates at the same place, and for different places that you visit. Remember that your count is useful even if you do not see any butterflies or moths. You have until the end of August to submit your count record which should have been made between 17th July and 9th August.
To find out how to participate, visit www.bigbutterflycount.org. You will be able to download a handy identification chart to help you work out which butterflies you have seen.
You can send in your sightings online at www.bigbutterflycount.org or by using the FREE big butterfly count smartphone apps available for iOS and Android.
Green Deal funding ends
On 23rd July the government announced it was to cease funding of the Green Deal, the scheme that offers cashbacks, cheap loans and incentives on such things as double-glazing, insulation and boilers. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it had taken the decision to protect taxpayers, citing low take-up, poor value for money and concerns about industry standards. However, no replacement scheme or policy was announced. Critics of the Green Deal have expressed concerns of the complexity of the scheme and frustration at the stop-go approach from Government to improving energy efficiency in the domestic sector.
SEG will aim to keep members informed of any new schemes giving energy efficiency support.
In the meantime, for free and impartial energy advice you can ring the B&NES Council and the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) "Energy at Home Advice Service" on freephone 0800 038 5680 or visit www.energyathome.org.uk. Energy advice is also available from the Energy Saving Trust's easy to navigate website at: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk or from their telephone helpline 0300 123 1234 (national rate call).
Discovering more about SEG's History of Saltford project
On the 23rd of July our Chairman Phil Harding and Dick Bateman from our history project production team gave an illustrated presentation in Bath to a well attended gathering at the Bath Royal Literary and Science Institute (BRLSI) about the Saltford Carthaginian Coin and how SEG is researching and publishing Saltford's fascinating history online.
Phil is willing to come and speak to local schools and groups who would like to see and hear how SEG's innovative approach to publishing our history online is really putting Saltford on the map as it reveals new information about our past. Contact Phil if this would be of interest to your school or group.
Hummingbird Hawk-Moths in Saltford
Two members of SEG have seen the Hummingbird Hawk-Moth in their gardens on the south side of Saltford this summer. This fascinating day-flying moth is worth keeping a watch for during warm sunny days.
Native to North Africa and southern Europe, the Hummingbird Hawk-Moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) is increasingly common in southern England. This remarkable day-flying moth is named from its appearance that is very similar to a hummingbird as it hovers, probing flowers for nectar with its long proboscis. It is smaller than any hummingbird and yet it emits an audible hum from its fast beating wings.
The Hummingbird Hawk-Moth drinks the nectar from flowers, such as Red Valerian, Honeysuckle, and Buddleia, and can be seen hovering and probing nectar-rich flowers in sunny locations. The caterpillar feeds on various species of bedstraw; the female adults lay eggs on the buds or flowers of these plants. Hummingbird Hawk-Moths cannot normally survive British winters although increasingly they are managing to do so; they migrate to and from southern Europe and North Africa in autumn and spring.
Watering the birds
Water is the driving force of all nature
A bird bath in your garden, whether a ready-made purchased one or homemade provides a great service to garden birds from the much needed water they need to drink or to help them keep their feathers in good condition.
According to the RSPB, ideally bird baths should have shallow sloping sides (so avoid steep sided bowls and dishes), be no more than 10cm deep and be as wide as possible, and at least 30cms across. Remember that birds are vulnerable while they're drinking or bathing, so have a think about where to place it. Think of it as a "puddle on a stick". It is ideal to put it about a couple of metres from any bushes where a predator might lurk, but not too far out in the open. Check that the inside of the bird bath is not too smooth (slippery). If it is the birds might slip into the water so put some pebbles or rocks in the water to give them a better grip.
Birds most need us to give them water when the weather is very hot or very cold. You'll need to keep the bird bath well topped-up in summer and ice-free in winter. In frosty weather, you should never use salt or de-icer. Pour in warm (not hot) water, or gently knock the ice out and replace with fresh water from the tap.
Observing the birds in our gardens and around Saltford can provide a great source of relaxation and a welcome diversion from the stresses of modern life. A bird bath also provides great entertainment for children and adults alike as we start to recognise our regular visitors and new ones too.
Encouraging children to keep a record of the different birds they see helps them learn to identify and value our wildlife. For information on the species of birds that are regularly observed in Saltford see our wildlife page >>
A cleaner, solar powered future?
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) the role of renewable sources of energy (solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, bioenergy and ocean power) in the global power mix continues to increase rapidly as renewables maintain the lead as the fastest-growing power source. As global renewable electricity generation expands in absolute terms, it is expected to surpass that from natural gas and double that from nuclear power by next year (2016), becoming the second most important global electricity source, after coal.
Globally, renewable generation is estimated to rise to 25% of gross power generation in 2018, up from 20% in 2011. The IEA expects solar to become the biggest single source of energy by 2050 and the dramatic falls in cost of solar PV means that the sector in 2014 was around five years ahead of where the IEA had previously thought it would be.
The IEA's 2014 report "Technology Roadmap - Solar Photovoltaic Energy" envisioned that up to 16% of global electricity will be from solar PV by 2050. For bulk power on the grid, PV electricity can already be price competitive at times of peak demand, especially in areas where peak electricity is provided by burning oil products.
A more rapid move towards solar energy has many benefits, especially as improved energy storage technologies are developed. As the IEA points out, solar energy is widely available throughout the world and can contribute to reduced dependence on energy imports. As it entails no fuel price risk or constraints, it also improves security of supply. Solar power enhances energy diversity and hedges against price volatility of fossil fuels (oil and gas), thus stabilising the cost of electricity generation in the longer term.
Once PV panels have been manufactured, solar PV entails no greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during operation and does not emit other pollutants (such as oxides of sulphur and nitrogen); additionally, it consumes no or little water. As local air pollution and extensive use of fresh water for cooling of thermal power plants are becoming serious concerns in hot or dry regions, these benefits of solar PV become increasingly important.
Can we do more to involve our youngest residents?
SEG was invited in the summer to address and discuss with three classes of 8 and 9 year old boys and girls the subjects of protecting the Green Belt and reopening the local railway station. Our Chairman, Phil Harding, by way of introduction gave a few examples of SEG's activities within the community and then gave an illustrated presentation (including videos) followed by a Q & A session.
The way the children engaged and responded with interest and enthusiasm was encouraging. It is reassuring to know that many of our youngest members of the community really do care and have an interest in the natural world around them and are increasingly aware of the impact our actions and personal choices make; this is something we can encourage and develop within our community.
The pupils at Saltford School are a real credit to their parents, teachers and Saltford. SEG shall seek further opportunities to work more closely with the teaching staff. Our History of Saltford project is just one example of how we can engage with all generations, litter picking through Saltford Wombles is another way we can all help keep Saltford clean, and the assistance from Saltford Beavers, Scouts and Guides on some of our habitat work gives our young people an opportunity to participate collectively in wildlife enhancing project work.
As the Chinese proverb says:
"Tell me and I will forget.
Fairtrade: Big Things from Little Acorns
At the Fairtrade Group's request Saltford Community Association agreed that the 2015 Saltford Festival would be Fairtrade Friendly. The Fairtrade logo was printed on all of the promotional literature and posters which reached a wide audience both inside and outside of Saltford, and that was just the start.
Chris Essex and his team supplied and delivered Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar to every SCA affiliated venue that served refreshments. The Fairtrade Group donated tea, coffee and sugar to the Guides' and Brownies' open evening events. We are proud to say that Fairtrade products were used at every event at Saltford Hall (who have been Fairtrade Friendly for some time now), The Saltford Golf Club, The Saltford Rowing Club, and Eastover Farm. Following the Festival our hope will be that these venues will continue to support Fairtrade.
All of this was made easier by the wonderful support of our local shops. The chocolate treats on the Fairtrade stalls during the Festival were kindly donated by Tesco. The Saltford Co-op have a worthy record of supporting Fairtrade and this year worked together with the SCA and helped keep the coffee cups full, the tea brewing and the wine flowing throughout the Festival. The Bird in Hand and The Jolly Sailor sweetened your tea and coffee using Fairtrade sugar and so the Fairtrade Friendly Saltford message spread.
The Saltford Festival will live in our memories and the 'festival buzz' is still with us leaving a great legacy of local togetherness. Please remember that when you buy a bunch of bananas, some castor sugar or any Fairtrade produce you will be supporting emerging country farmers to achieve fair prices for their produce and give them the means to support their families and villages in a way of their choosing. You don't have to go far to buy Fairtrade produce either, it's all in our local shops.
A big thank you to Saltford Community Association and the village of Saltford for making Saltford a truly Fairtrade Friendly Village. There is more information about Fairtrade on our Fairtrade page >>
Saltford Fairtrade Group
Saltford's Greater Dodder
The Greater Dodder (Cuscuta europaea) is a nationally scarce plant, found in only a few riverbanks and wetland areas in southern and central England. It can be found in Saltford - the photographs (July 2015) are of Greater Dodder found growing wild in Saltford. Flowering in July-September, the plant contains no chlorophyll; instead it absorbs food through haustoria (rootlike organs) that penetrate the tissue of a host plant, typically nettles but including Himalayan Balsam, and may kill the host.
The dodder's seed germinates, forming an anchoring root, and then sends up a slender stem that grows in a spiral fashion until it reaches a host plant. It then twines around the stem of the host plant and throws out haustoria, which penetrate it. Water is drawn through the haustoria from the host plant's stem and xylem (tissue in vascular plants that transports water and nutrients), and nutrients are drawn from its phloem (living tissue). Meanwhile, the root of the dodder rots away after stem contact has been made with a host plant.
As the dodder grows, it sends out new haustoria and establishes itself very firmly on the host plant. After growing in a few spirals around one host shoot, the dodder finds its way to another, and it continues to twine and branch until it resembles a fine, densely tangled web of thin stems enveloping the host plant.
This article was first published on our wildlife page in July 2015.
When drinking Saltford's water could be fatal...
We never know the worth of water
The hot summer weather reminds us of the value of our excellent water supply here in Saltford. But this was far from the case in the late 19th Century when it was not just a serious issue of public health for the local inhabitants but proved fatal for some.
SEG's popular history project has published the full text of local press articles from 1886 and 1893. These give a fascinating insight into how public affairs were conducted in Saltford in the 1880s and 90s. They also show just how dangerous the local water supply had become due to contamination from raw sewage leading "to some 30 cases of sickness" from "a population of 421" and at least 6 cases ended in death.
The account of the public "vestry meeting", a meeting of ratepayers, held on 19 May 1893 in Saltford School makes interesting reading. The meeting almost descended into farce as attendees argued over who should be allowed to attend the meeting.
You can read the press articles from this link: Saltford's Water Supply in the late 19th Century.
Toxic Giant Hogweed in Saltford: Health Warning
Saltford Environment Group has again discovered the highly toxic Giant Hogweed growing on the river bank in The Shallows during June (see photograph). We reported it immediately to B&NES Council who gave us permission to deal with it as soon as possible. This we have done.
The sap from this plant can blind you permanently if rubbed into the eyes and cause severe acid-like burns and blisters to your skin if you touch it. Contact can cause long term skin damage causing nasty and scarring burns when skin is exposed to sunlight for several years thereafter.
This was found in the same location last year and dealt with by B&NES Council and, having reappeared, has now been dealt with again this time by SEG. We shall keep a close watch on the area concerned but advise all who walk along the river bank or use the river for recreational purposes to be wary of this plant; if you find it DO NOT TOUCH or attempt to remove it yourself but report it immediately to B&NES Council and to SEG.
For further information about Giant Hogweed and what to do if you discover it, visit our wildlife page >>
Re-signalling project at Saltford station site
Residents might notice some limited construction work taking place at the Saltford station site (see picture).
Network Rail has assured the Parish Council that:
"The construction, which is for the Bristol re-signalling project, has been positioned to allow for the Saltford station."
"Network Rail is aware of the third party aspiration to reopen a station at Salford. As part of our planning for electrification and other infrastructure enhancements, we endeavour to take into consideration such future aspirations to ensure that our works do not preclude or incur additional works to enable these ambitions to be achieved. Therefore, I can confirm that the current signalling works will not preclude the re-opening of Saltford Station."
Saltford Carthaginian Coin proves popular with festival visitors
Over 400 people visited the 2,300 year old Saltford Carthaginian Coin displayed at the Saltford Festival on 13th and 20th June by Saltford Environment Group (SEG) alongside a specially prepared exhibition display on local pre-history produced by B&NES Council via the Roman Baths exhibition team.
Phil Harding, SEG's Chairman and team leader of the "History of Saltford" project, gave one of the festival lunchtime talks in St Mary's Church Hall on Tuesday 16th June. Phil's illustrated presentation showed how SEG was revealing images and information from Saltford's past that was little known by the vast majority of residents. He also explained how the project was involving and engaging the local community.
Phil said: "Saltford is a fascinating village once you dig beneath the surface. From the Mediterranean traders coming through Saltford 2,000 years ago, the Roman occupation, the Anglo Saxons, the Normans and the English civil war to our ancient buildings, and the arrival of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the GWR railway, our history project is piecing together the most amazing record of what life has been like in this small corner of North East Somerset."
Saltford Festival was held from 13th - 21st June and the organisers and volunteers put on an extensive and successful range of events and activities. The high level of attendance at most of the events underlined the strong sense of community in Saltford.
Industrial nations agree to phase out fossil fuels
Climate change is not an environmental issue, but much more to do with security and economics
The G7 leading industrial nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States) have agreed to cut greenhouse gases by phasing out the use of fossil fuels by the end of the century at their summit in June. Summit host German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they had committed themselves to the need to "decarbonise the global economy in the course of this century". They also agreed on a global target for limiting the rise in average global temperatures to a maximum of 2C compared to pre-industrial levels.
Whilst G7 leaders did not support Angela Merkel's proposal to agree to immediate binding emission targets, they agreed to back the recommendations of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions at the upper end of a range of 40% to 70% by 2050, using 2010 as the baseline.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21, will be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015. The objective will be to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. The G7 commitment on phasing out fossil fuels is a hopeful sign that real progress will be made in Paris.
'Are YOU doing your bit? Think global, act local'
If you want to start cutting your own carbon footprint at home or at the workplace, check out our Energy page for tips, ideas and sources of grants, advice and guidance.
The national bird is...
...the Robin. Nearly a quarter of a million people took part in the National Bird Vote to choose Britain's favourite bird that ended on May 7th. In fourth place was the Wren, third place the Blackbird, second place the Barn Owl and in the top spot the Robin.
Here is information about the about the Robin, courtesy of the RSPB, some of which you will already know but some information may be new to you:-
Male and female Robins (Erithacus rubecula) look identical, and young birds have no red breast and are spotted with golden brown. Robins sing nearly all year round and despite their cute appearance, they are aggressively territorial and are quick to drive away intruders. They will also sing at night next to street lights. Robins eat a diet of worms, seeds, fruits and insects.
As with the nightingale, the song is usually delivered from a concealed perch within a bush or a tree exposed perches are infrequent. Autumn and spring songs are distinctly different. The autumn song starts after the moult, from late summer onwards. It is more subdued and melancholy in its tone, while the spring song is powerful, confident and upbeat.
The spring song can start as early as mid-December, reaching full force in spring. Its purpose is two-fold: to defend a territory and to attract a mate. Therefore, spring song is far more powerful in males.
Robins are adapted to life in poor light and are often active in half-light when few other birds are about. They tend to be among the earliest birds to start the dawn chorus and one of the last to stop in the evening.
The Robin is one of the few birds that hold a territory all year round. In summer a territory is defended by a mated pair, while each bird holds individual winter territories.
Breeding territories average 0.55 hectares in size - about six Robins would fit onto an average-sized football pitch while winter territories are around half of this. The exact size depends on the quality of habitat and the density of birds in the area. In some areas, such as Scottish pinewoods with well-spaced, mature trees and few shrubs, breeding densities can be as low as 10 pairs per sq km, while a lowland woodland can support as many as 200-300 pairs per sq km.
Territory boundaries are fluid, and change frequently as circumstances change. The sole purpose of a Robin's red breast is in territory defence: it is not used in courtship. A patch of red triggers territorial behaviour and Robins are known to persistently attack stuffed Robins and even tufts of red feathers.
Along with other small songbirds, Robins are relatively short-lived. They live, on average, only a couple of years, but a few reach quite an advanced age. The oldest known wild individual was 11 years 5 months.
Mortality is high and its causes are many and varied. Only around 40 per cent of fledged birds will survive from one year to the next. High levels of mortality are compensated for by high productivity and the Robin population has increased by 45 per cent since 1970.
Severe winter weather can have severe impacts on Robins. A bird can use up to 10% of its body weight during one cold winter's night, and unless able to feed well every day to replenish its reserves, a prolonged cold spell can be fatal.
In normal circumstances the fat reserves built up by the bird will keep it going for a few days, but mortality tends to increase rapidly if a cold spell continues into a second week.
Bird tables can make a big difference to the survival of urban and suburban Robins. The favourite bird table treat is mealworms. Other useful foods are meaty kitchen scraps, fat, cheese, cake and biscuit crumbs, and dried fruit. Peanuts are also taken, but they are better shredded or crushed than whole.
We remind members that it is unwise to feed bread to our garden birds. Its nutritional value is relatively low (an 'empty filler'), uneaten bread can attract rats, and a bird that is on a diet of predominantly or only bread can suffer from serious vitamin deficiencies, or starve. This is one reason why the National Trust, for example, asks visitors not to feed bread to ducks at its properties.
"Mayflower" steams through Saltford and we capture it on video
The Mayflower "Catherdrals Express" came through Saltford Tunnel on 4th June. This was a rare opportunity to see a steam train coming through Saltford prior to electrification and the inclusion of overhead wires and gantries etc.
A member of SEG's "History of Saltford" project production team captured this event on video film which you can now see on our new Videos about Saltford page that is part of our "History of Saltford" project.
UN calls for rethink of global financial system
Did you know that renewables met one fifth of the world's final energy consumption in 2013? The future is priceless...
A radical shift in the global financial system is needed according to a new United Nations report, "The coming financial climate - aligning the financial system with sustainable development".
The report considers the need to invest in adaptation to climate change to protect economies from the risks associated with climate change, and is scathing of the market response to date: "In essence, market and policy failures have resulted in the structural mispricing of climate risks, exacerbated by short-termism, misaligned incentives and information asymmetries."
The UN report can be found from this link (opens in new window): UN report: The coming financial climate (pdf on external website).
Our own climate change page on this website gives advice and tips on how we can make our homes and businesses more resilient to climate change: Climate change >>
Need help obtaining free local horse manure for your garden?
As a service to our community, SEG is prepared to deliver horse manure to elderly or disabled residents in Saltford who are unable to collect it themselves from the free supply in Manor Road. We are willing to deliver up to 30 litres (approx.) per resident. This is for a trial period initially during the summer and autumn (2015).
If you wish to take advantage of this, please contact our Chairman Phil Harding (click here for contact details >>) providing name, address and telephone number with your request.
Saltford on video
SEG's History of Saltford project now has a new "Videos about Saltford" page which includes two aerial videos taken in May 2015.
Click on link: Videos about Saltford >>. If you live in Saltford and want to spot your home/garden make sure you watch the video(s) in "Full screen" mode and select HD (1080P) in "Settings".
New Parish Council votes unanimously to back the re-opening of Saltford station
On Tuesday 19th May the newly elected Saltford Parish Council voted unanimously on the following motion:-
"Saltford Parish Council supports the principle of re-opening Saltford Station whilst mindful to address any concerns. Saltford Parish Council welcomes the fact that £250,000 has been included in the budgets of B&NES Council in order to take the project development forward to Network Rail's GRIP stages 3 and 4. Saltford Parish Council asks that B&NES Council commission this development work at the earliest opportunity. Saltford Parish Council's preferred site is the existing site. This Council does not wish to place any constraints on this development work but asks that it is consulted about options before final decisions about Saltford Station are eventually made."
For further information about SEG's popular campaign to re-open Saltford station see our Station campaign page >>
Call to defend nature
The EU Nature Directives have provided the highest level of protection to vulnerable habitats and species for the past 30 years - but according to the RSPB they are now under threat.
To quote from the RSPB "European leaders are considering rolling back decades of progress by revising the Directives in the mistaken belief that weaker protection for wildlife is good for business. In reality, this would be bad for business, and a disaster for wildlife. We urgently need you to add your voice to thousands of others to defend nature. Without a massive demonstration of public support for the Directives, it will be very hard to prevent them being weakened."
The RSPB are asking us, our friends and family to respond to the European Commission's consultation on the Birds and Habitats Directive. If you want to do so and/or find out more visit this link to the RSPB website: RSPB - Defend nature. The closing date for comments is 24 July.
Saltford's new Parish Council elects leadership team and adopts 'Saltford 2020' vision
On Tuesday 19th May at its first meeting after the 7th May election the Parish Council elected the following post holders:
Chairman: Duncan Hounsell
The new Parish Council voted unanimously to adopt the "Saltford 2020" five point vision to guide its work through its 4-year term of office.
The vision for Saltford in 2020 is for a village that has:-
Can you readily identify the Swifts and Swallows over Saltford?
A fabulous sign of summer is when the Swallows, Swifts and House Martins are seen flying their acrobatic displays overhead as they pluck flying insects and airborne spiders from the air.
They are welcome summer visitors to Britain, but can you readily identify the different species just from their shape when they are in flight? Swifts are larger and have longer scythe-shaped wings and short tails, Swallows have long tail streamers, and House Martins have a more dumpy appearance and much shorter tails (see the illustration below).
It is Swifts (Apodidae family and not related to Swallows and Martins) that you can hear screaming overhead. Swifts appear to be all black, although close up they are dark brown. House Martins and Swallows (Hirundinidae family) both have white undersides with a glossy blue-black back but the Swallow has a distinctive red chin and throat.
The Sand Martin (Hirundinidae family), also observed in Saltford, is similar in shape and can be confused with the House Martin but its white underside is divided by a dark breast band just below its head and it has a brown back.
To help you identify birds you have seen in Saltford, the bird identifier on the RSPB website is worth a visit: Bird identifier - RSPB - we have a permanent link to this as well as links to all the birds regularly observed in Saltford on our wildlife page >>
Railway path habitat restoration project progress and situation report
In winter 2013/2014 SEG cleared several decades' growth of woody scrub along a short section of the railway path embankment (the former LMS railway-line) to allow a reversion to the flower-rich rough grassland which, up to the late 1970s, dominated much of the line's embankment and cutting sides.
In summer 2014, we focussed on weeding out Himalayan Balsam, a highly invasive, prolifically seeding, patch-forming annual from the Himalayas, and of minimal value to wildlife in the UK. This had arrived on the slope in the 1980s, from seed washed down the river and moved - slowly, given its mode of seed dispersal - uphill such that by 2014 it was well positioned to carpet the newly cleared areas, which it duly did. Balsam-pulling was supplemented with a few cuts by strimmer to control coarse perennials such as Common Nettle and Goosegrass, and manual topping of woody regrowth, notably of brambles, wild roses and Common Hawthorn.
Apart from the balsam, these named plants are of high or even outstanding (nettles, brambles) wildlife interest; but, being strong competitors, they now dominate many large patches and strips in and around Saltford, whereas a whole host of less competitive grassland plants - and their associated insects - are now gone or almost gone from Saltford.
In mid May 2015, several successes and challenges have become evident. Among the early successes, several large patches of Crosswort (pictured above) are obvious. This yellow-flowered bedstraw was formerly abundant in Saltford, but had been close to local total destruction and loss.
Large areas of the patch are dominated by Ground-ivy; this is not related to Ivy, the evergreen vine, but is a relative of mint (but lacking strong aromatic oils). It remains common in Saltford, but such large patches are of high value because it is one of the first spring plants to bloom that produces copious nectar; on warm, calm, sunny days in late March the bank was full of nectar loving insects at the Ground-ivy. There is also a good growth of Garlic Mustard, the main food-plant of the Orange-tip butterfly. Several other showy native wild-flowers, such as Red Campion and Cow Parsley, give the bank a very different look from the otherwise scrub-dominated rest.
But these flowers are amidst several unwanted species which, if left to themselves would, in combination, reverse the gains. A few Himalayan Balsam seedlings are coming up, from the few plants which were missed during last year's uprooting. Many of the woody stumps are still sprouting regrowth, particularly bramble, Dogwood and Hawthorn. Nettles and Cleavers both seeded profusely in 2014 (when there was an insufficient number of total cuts) and will soon outcompete the weaker competitors. A worrying number of Buddleja seedlings are establishing, evidently from seeds blown over from the large populations in the town (notably the former railway station) to the south west.
Fortunately, there is no sign of the alien Giant Hogweed; this serious hazard to human health has recently appeared nearby on the line, from seeds scattered (whether unintentionally or intentionally is not known) by persons unknown in 2013.
Thus, activities during the 2015 growing season will focus on:
SEG particularly thanks the dozen or so people who broke the back of the Balsam infestation last year and also Saltford Girl Guides who assisted in May 2014 and May 2015.
Anyone who wishes to help in the tasks for 2015 is invited to contact our Chairman by email (see 'Contact SEG' for email address) expressing your interest and you will be added to the list of volunteers who will be contacted when sessions are arranged.
More information about this project can be found on the Railway Path Habitat Restoration Project page >>
IMPORTANT - PLEASE NOTE:
Any work by SEG members and other individuals on this project is done so at entirely their own risk; by participating in this project volunteers waive all or any claim against SEG for direct or indirect loss, damage or injury. Children may participate but must be supervised by an adult; SEG cannot be held responsible for children assisting with the project. Tools should be used with great caution taking account of other volunteers and also of railway path users.
7th May election results for Saltford (B&NES and Parish Council)
Results for B&NES Council Saltford Ward:
Elected - Francine Haeberling (CON) 1262
Results for Saltford Parish Council:
Below are the results from the count held in Bath on the afternoon and early evening of 11th May. The turnout for the Parish Council election was very high at 76.4%.
Kyle Thomas Rice* 1,244 (9%)
Harvey Nicholas Haeberling 731 (6%)
* Saltford 2020
The ten candidates marked * stood as independent candidates using the shared vision, 'Saltford 2020', as their guiding principle for serving the community on Saltford Parish Council if elected.
Saltford 2020 is a 5 point vision for Saltford in 2020 as a village that has
1. We remain convinced at the present time that a road bypass for Saltford would be the incorrect solution for peak time traffic congestion as it would put local businesses at risk from loss of passing trade and would thereafter result in significant housing infill and loss of the Green Belt as predicted by local planners during Core Strategy consultations. Traffic congestion requires sustainable solutions, not simply creating more roads that increase overall road traffic with higher carbon and other polluting emissions whilst creating traffic problems elsewhere.
2. We appreciate that there are concerns over parking and safe access to the station site. For those reasons SEG has maintained a consistent stance asking B&NES Council and its consultants to work closely with Saltford's community on the designs and proposals for the station and car parking before final decisions are made.
3. Whilst reducing energy consumption and thus carbon emissions is a personal choice, there is much we can do as a community to encourage each other to save energy and save money whilst helping to protect the environment from dangerous climate change.
Beware of Ticks
Our wildlife adviser has already been bitten twice by ticks this year so it is timely that we should remind you of the need to be careful. The following advice is from our wildlife page.
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.
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.
According to the NHS (www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Lyme-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx) the earliest and most common symptom of Lyme disease is a pink or red circular rash that develops around the area of the bite, 3 to 30 days after someone is bitten. The rash is often described as looking like a bull's-eye on a dart board. You may also experience flu-like symptoms, such as tiredness, headaches and muscle or joint pain. Those who think they might have symptoms of Lyme disease should go to their GP without delay; prompt treatment can prevent complications.
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.
Saltford Veterinary Surgery (478B Bath Road - near the Library - Tel: 01225--872002) sells an inexpensive device for removing ticks from your pets (or from yourself or your child) that you could keep in your First Aid kit - see photograph of the tool(s) for small and large ticks.
"I love Saltford" mugs also available from Saltford Convenience store
In addition to the Bird in Hand pub and Saltford Flowers, you can now purchase our "I love Saltford" mugs at just £5 each from Saltford Convenience Store, 504 Bath Road, in Saltford.
See the BBC Points West launch of the Saltford Carthaginian Coin on our website
If you missed the launch on BBC TV of the Saltford Carthaginian Coin on 13th April, or wish to see it again, the video is now on SEG's new YouTube channel and can be seen on the SEG History of Saltford 'Videos about Saltford' web page >>.
Launch of the Saltford Carthaginian Coin (300 - 264 BC)
"the earliest tangible evidence for contact
BBC Points West reporter Ali Vowles is pictured above with SEG's Phil Harding launching the 'Saltford Carthaginian Coin' to the general public at Saltford Brass Mill on 13th April 2015.
In November 2012 the river Avon in Saltford was in flood and burst its banks flooding nearby roads and lanes. In the silt that was deposited by the flood waters was found a Carthaginian Coin. This has been authenticated by the British Museum and in 2015 the finder, who wishes to remain anonymous, asked Saltford Environment Group's Chairman to bring this fascinating find into public knowledge as part of our "History of Saltford" project.
This Iron Age copper coin dated at between 300 BC and 264 BC and struck in the Western Mediterranean (probably Sardinia or Carthage) is possibly the oldest dateable evidence of human activity found in Saltford and, we understand, the West of England. It is one of the oldest coins found in Britain and suggests early links between the Mediterranean and the Bristol Channel and/or River Avon in the Iron Age.
We are working in partnership with B&NES Council to produce an exhibition about the coin and to display the coin itself at the Saltford Festival in June of this year (details to follow closer to the fesitval).
So that anyone and everyone with access to the internet can learn about the Saltford Carthaginian Coin, we have created a dedicated series of web pages about the coin which make fascinating reading. These are:
See the British Museum authentication for the coin and learn about where it came from including information about Tanit (the Punic and Phoenician goddess depicted on the coin), the Punics and the Phoenecians.
Key and interesting historical national and worldwide events from when the coin was struck in the western Mediterranean to its discovery in 2012 with Saltford events highlighted throughout the coin's lifespan of 2,300+ years. This makes an invaluable teaching and learning aid, bringing ancient and modern history to life for local inhabitants of all age groups.
We take you back in time to Saltford in c.300 BC and suggest through a Celtic Maiden, Leah, various propositions of just how that coin might have got into the river Avon at Saltford only to be washed up 2,300 years later during a flood.
Did Celtic girl Leah throw the coin into the river 2,300 years ago..?
Local actor Ed Browing (pictured above) who appears in the hit new BBC 1 TV series 'Poldark' helps to tell the story of the lost and found coin. Interestingly, the copper dug from Cornwall's copper mines at the time of the Poldark story would have been sent to Saltford Brass Mill as a raw material for smelting etc.
Our coin is so old that it is not just BC (Before Christ) but 'Before Cleopatra!'
Background to SEG's 'History of Saltford' project
As part of its purpose to champion all that's great about Saltford for a better and more sustainable future, SEG decided in early 2015 to research and record the History of Saltford on our website (link to HOS home page). Only by valuing our history and origins can we gain a better understanding of the importance that we as a community should take care of the land and people that support us all.
This is a significant project. We shall be recording Saltford's history from the Iron Age to the modern day and make it available for all to see on our website. We are already uncovering fascinating facts about life in Saltford in past centuries. This is an iterative process, slowly growing and developing in content as we research and discover information.
Never before has the history of a village like Saltford been published in this way; the project's web pages are purposefully designed to allow us to produce magazine articles at short notice and even a book on aspects of the project or even the whole story of Saltford.
Backed by the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute (BRLSI), B&NES Council, and Bath Spa University, this is an evidence based project; where knowledge of our past is only theoretical or based on rumour and is not factual, we shall make that clear.
Older news stories from SEG
'The SEG Newsletter' page carries some of our past and recently published news stories.
Want to show you care about the village of Saltford, its environment, wildlife and future as a thriving, more sustainable community?
Please show your support for SEG and "like" both our website and our Facebook page (see below).
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Thank you! :-)
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Our September Newsletter is out:-
"Think global, act local"