Saltford Environment Group
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Keeping the Green Belt Green: Joint Spatial Plan update
Don't blight the land that feeds you
We reported in January and in our February newsletter the need to defend the Green Belt from the forthcoming West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) where 29,000 additional new homes over and above existing plans are sought by 2036. We highlighted our submission paper of 27th January (on our Green Belt page) that details the case against such development both on Saltford's Green Belt and on the Green Belt more generally.
SEG's Chairman Phil Harding met with our local MP Jacob Rees-Mogg on 6th February and discussed the strong planning and local democracy reasons for not permitting Green Belt development and the need for more imaginative ways of using existing brownfield sites.
They also discussed how best to overcome the problems arising from the pressure to build more houses. If a genuine need (not demand) for more housing really did exceed the brownfield land available, then consideration of a single-hit new "Garden City" (or town) approach could be a more sustainable solution worth investigating. Such an approach would be preferable to gradually destroying piece by piece the Green Belt agricultural land around existing communities whilst making peak time congestion even worse on over-loaded transport routes.
Jacob Rees-Mogg has agreed to write to the leader of B&NES Council, Cllr Tim Warren, on this matter.
Fairtrade Fortnight: Sit down for breakfast, stand up for farmers! (29 Feb-13 Mar)
Millions of farmers and workers in developing countries work hard every day to grow the food we eat. Yet many donít earn enough to know where their next meal is coming from.
During Fairtrade Fortnight (29 February - 13 March), the Fairtrade Foundation will be encouraging organisations, businesses and schools to inspire Big Fairtrade Breakfasts in their community - and wake others up to the challenges facing farmers and workers. By offering Fairtrade products your business, workplace or organisation can be part of the solution to food insecurity. Take the opportunity this Fairtrade Fortnight to help your customers, staff and students to understand what your commitment to Fairtrade means.
More about Fairtrade Fortnight can be found at: http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/fortnight.
During Fairtrade fortnight Saltford Fairtrade group will be joining forces with Saltford Co-op. During the fortnight the Co-op will be running a raffle behind the counter.
On Friday 4th and Saturday 5th March 2-4pm the Fairtrade group will have a stall outside the Co-op (weather permitting) in support of this event. There will be tastings and a quiz for the kids. Please come and say hello and show your support.
SEG membership now over 450
During February our membership grew to pass the 450 mark. If you live or work in Saltford and would like to join (membership is free) you are encouraged to do so - or if you know someone who might be interested, do suggest they join us.
2016 will be an important year for Saltford as SEG and the Parish Council will be making the case for protecting the Green Belt from development in the forthcoming Joint Spatial Plan; a large membership base helps strengthen the case we make.
Instructions on how to join SEG can be found in our Contact section.
B&NES Council maintains its aspiration to open a station at Saltford
The following is an extract from B&NES Cabinet background papers for its 10th February meeting (Metro West Phase 1 Update Report):-
"The Council has an aspiration to open an additional station at Saltford, which can potentially be achieved after Metro West Phase 1 has been implemented. However, it is dependent upon the Metro West Phase 1 project delivering a workable timetable that will improve services at Keynsham and Oldfield Park to a half-hourly frequency. Unfortunately, the above GWR timetable work for Phase 1 has been delayed by a couple of months. As soon as this work has been completed the Council can then continue to undertake further feasibility work on the Saltford Station proposal."
Clearing up Saltford's litter
The recent stormy weather has caused more litter to appear on our streets, some of it escaping from dustbins and recycling bins left out overnight for collection when the weather has been particularly windy. It would be great if more residents could do what they can to clear litter that appears on footpaths etc. at or near their own properties so that together we can keep Saltford neat and tidy.
A team of 9 Saltford Wombles targeted the A4, Manor Road (including the lane) and Claverton Road for 90 minutes on the morning of Saturday 30th January and collected ten sacks of litter plus half a supermarket trolley (!)
The next village litter-pick will be on the morning of Saturday Feb 27th. This will commence at 9.30am and meet outside 'The Little Coffee Shop'.
If you are not able to come along then but wish to womble yourself, please let Julie Sampson know and we can lend you litter pickers, gloves and high viz jackets. Please ring Julie on 01225---874603.
Information about Saltford Wombles is on our "Less Waste" page - click here >>
Saltford School Green Team picks litter for the Queen!
On Thursday 25th February, children in Saltford School's Green Team will be out on the streets of Saltford helping to clean up the village. After hearing about the 'Clean for the Queen' event, Saltford's Green Team were keen to get involved and do something for the community. Due to an enterprise week at Saltford School, the litter pick cannot take place on the official clean up date but will be the week before. The Green Team, along with Miss Jupp and a group of SEG members will be out in the morning with gloves and litter pickers, ready to help clean the streets.
If you are interested in taking part, please contact Julie Sampson (Saltford Wombles) on 01225---874603.
SEG submits comments for West of England Joint Transport Study
On 27 January 2016 SEG submitted comments to West of England Joint Transport Study. The local councils of Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire were seeking people's views on how and where transport should be provided over the next 20 years as part of the Joint Spatial Plan.
Our comments were as follows:-
Saltford Environment Group strongly supports the development of the Metro West rail project and re-opening a railway station at Saltford as part of Metro West.
Saltford Environment Group recognises that transport congestion and a reduction in air quality is already a major problem at peak periods for existing settlements and communities. Saltford is a typical example as it has high levels of traffic congestion at peak times and part of the A4 through Saltford has been designated an Air Quality Management Area due to periodic and dangerously high levels of Nitrogen Dioxide from vehicles. For that reason, improved transport solutions should be developed to cope with existing problems quite apart from serving new housing developments all of which should be located close to public transport and main centres of employment to reduce commuting times and distances.
To help encourage healthier lifestyles and less use of the car, especially for commuting, we recommend that the creation of more cycle paths and the joining together of existing cycle paths should be a priority for all local authorities in the West of England. More locally to Saltford, a cycle path along the Keynsham bypass (A4) should be a priority to enable cyclists to safely use that route into Brislington and Bristol whilst moving east towards Bath a cycle path from Saltford along the A4 to join the cycle path from the Globe Inn along the A4 dual carriageway would be a worthwhile project to implement.
Producing flowers and hearts with our Upcycling Craft Group (18th Feb)
No green fingers will be required on February 18th, just your imagination. Each flower and heart fashioned by you will be unique and can be displayed and used in many decorative ways. Just by using different paper such as old books, colourful magazines, wrapping paper etc. you can have different flowers whenever you like.
Your flowers can then be used to decorate anything from hearts, picture frames or to give your presents that special personal touch when you wrap them.
To find out more come and join our friendly, fun upcycling group between 7-9pm at Signs of Saltford, 559 Bath Road (works entrance). Frances and Tina are looking forward to meeting you.
If you would like more information give Frances a ring on 07789--528834.
Joint Spatial Plan and the Green Belt - SEG makes our case
Estimates state that the West of England 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.
Many in Saltford will recall the long and successful campaign to protect Saltford's Green Belt from developers before, during and after the 2013 Public Inquiry and in the consultations leading to the B&NES Core Strategy in 2014.
It will therefore come as no surprise that we are now about to embark on a new defence of Saltford's Green Belt as developers seek to have parcels of our Green Belt removed from the Green Belt for housing development in the forthcoming West of England Joint Spatial Plan.
We have published an article on our Green Belt page (link) about the West of England Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) and SEG's response 'Very special circumstances and the Green Belt' made on 27 January to the consultation for 'Issues and Options' in the JSP that is currently being drafted for initial consultation in June 2016. SEG is and will be working closely with the Parish Council to resist this.
Our submission paper 'Very special circumstances and the Green Belt' makes a detailed case concerning the need to protect food security, and demonstrates that planning policy and the democratic mandates of our political leaders in this area rule against new developments on the Green Belt and agricultural land; a much valued designation the protection of which is increasingly vital. The paper covers these topics:-
You can download and read 'Very special circumstances and the Green Belt' on our Green Belt page (link). Do share this paper with those who share our view that the Green Belt in this area and elsewhere in the West of England should be protected from development.
A major priority and activity for SEG in 2016 will be defending Saltford's Green Belt in the context of the Joint Spatial Plan. We shall aim to keep members informed and advise if there is anything you can do to help SEG and the Parish Council defend the Green Belt. Do encourage friends and neighbours in Saltford to join SEG.
Roman Saltford: Geophysics survey report published
Between 27 October and 4 November 2015 Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (BACAS) supported by volunteers from SEG carried out a geophysics survey for a significant section of the field on the south side of Saltford where a Roman coffin complete with the skeleton of a young man was found in 1948. The survey report is now published on SEG's website (Online Museum). We have produced a summary of the findings here.
The year after the coffin was found, some trial trenches were dug to determine whether there was any other evidence of Roman occupation. The excavations unearthed pottery fragments, coins, nails and utensils as well as 'oyster shells too numerous to record'. There was a suggestion that there may have been a road in this location, but whether this was of Roman origin was unable to be determined. This survey carried out in 2015 at SEG's request is the first time a geophysics survey has been made of this field.
The 2015 survey indicated the possible presence of some prehistoric roundhouses in the northern portion of the field. These possible roundhouse drip gullies suggest Iron Age settlement in the area (Note: a late bronze age axe blade was discovered in this field in 2014). Interestingly, possible evidence of roundhouses was found by BACAS in 2013 on a similar latitude due east on Saltford Golf Club land being surveyed in connection with the planning application for a new golf academy.
Of particular interest and thus linked to the Roman coffin were signs of what may be a Roman structure on higher ground to the southern end of the field. The lines are quite sharp, of limited length and are set at right angles to each other. Any Roman structure of this nature in this part of the country would most likely be built of stone. To the north-east of this is a sub-circular feature which appears too strong to be another round house, and is assumed to be part of the Roman complex.
Other findings & acknowledgements
In the north western corner of the field, there are signs of disturbance but it is possible that this may be modern. Although there are lines in this area which look a little building-like, they are perpendicular to the ploughlines, which suggests they may just be marks related to this ploughing. These blocks appear to be of the order of 5m wide, suggesting they are relics of older ploughing techniques, perhaps post-medieval 'narrow rig'. A trackway running up the west side of the field is visible over part of its length. There also appears to be a feature, possibly an ancient pond (now filled in), approx 45m within the field on the eastern edge of the area surveyed.
An area of over 2 hectares was surveyed over the course of four days in late autumn on a stubble field. However, time was a major constraint, so a large portion of this field was left untouched and will need further work when it is next available if an indication of the size and scale the Roman structure is to be revealed.
SEG is very grateful to the landowner, Adam Stratton, for allowing access to the field, to BACAS for carrying out this geophysics survey and for the assistance of survey volunteers from BACAS and SEG named in the report.
The full report can be downloaded from our history project Online Museum - Roman Saltford section (link).
Footnote 1: Equipment used for the geophysics survey
Two types of geophysics equipment were used over numerous grids marked out by volunteers, a magnetometer and a resistance meter (x2 to save time). The magnetometer measures anomalies in the Earth's magnetic field whereas the twin probe resistance meter works by injecting a small electrical current into the ground and calculating the resistance to it that is affected by buried stone walls etc. The resistance readings complement the magnetometer readings which detect minute magnet field anomalies that can be made by buried archaeology.
Footnote 2: Metal detection surveys
With the landowner's permission for each survey, the field has been the subject of several metal detection surveys in recent years and these have revealed some bronze Roman coins, and other small bronze items that can be found in our history project's Online Museum. Due to those surveys the discovery of further coins etc. of any particular new significance or value is not anticipated.
Get in quick to access B&NES home improvement grant
B&NES Council currently has a grant of up to £6,000 available through the Energy at Home scheme to help you make energy saving improvements to your home.
The grant can be used to help cover the costs of improvements such as:
Installing measures like these can help improve your home's energy performance, reduce the amount you spend on your energy bills, and help keep your home warm and cosy over the winter.
This grant is available to all home owners, private landlords and privately renting tenants. You do not need to be on a low income or an elderly person to be eligible for this grant, but you do need to be signed up before the end of February.
Details from www.energyathome.org.uk or contact the Energy at Home Advice Service on 0800 038 5680.
Medieval artefact found on Saltford/Keynsham border
This medieval Pilgrim's Lead Ampulla (c.1175 - c.1500) featuring a scallop shell was discovered in December 2015 on the Saltford/Keynsham boundary, due west of Grange Road. It is now featured in our history project's Online Museum (5C - 16C page).
A lead pilgrim's ampulla is a miniature vessel (phial) used to hold holy water dispensed to pilgrims at holy shrines. These mass produced items were also pilgrimage souvenirs giving pilgrims an outward display of proof of travel, experience or affiliation when worn around the neck on a cord or chain as a pendant. Scallop shells were also commonly used as the design motif for pilgrim badges and featured as the design for some ampullae.
Coming into use in the last quarter of the twelfth century, ampullae were, in England, almost the only kind of pilgrim souvenir to be had during the 13C. They were available at a number of shrines and having been brought back by returning pilgrims, or sold by entrepreneurs, probably featured as secondary relics in many 13C English parish churches.
The scallop shell, in different shapes and sizes, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago - the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in NW Spain. Scallop shell artwork can be seen (2016) on the ancient doors and on the archway above the doors of the cathedral.
FOOTNOTE & FURTHER THOUGHTS:
This unusual relic gives a fascinating glimpse into the past history of the local area and illustrates just how widely travelled some people were all those years ago.
In medieval times the journey from Bristol to Santiago (NW Spain) was a popular pilgrimage route. Also St Anne's Well (a healing well) and the chapel of St. Anne in the Wood, at Brislington, were an important and popular medieval pilgrimage destination - as popular then as Canterbury and Walsingham. Although records from that period are scant and the chapel itself has long since disappeared, it is thought that the chapel was owned and run by Keynsham Abbey. The Abbey was operational until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.
Perhaps a pilgrim returning to Saltford over 700 years ago on his way back either from Spain via Bristol or from Brislington was riding his horse or walking across the fields, the cord/chain holding the ampulla broke and he lost it or he was set upon by thieves and during the ensuing scuffle the ampulla was lost.
Or maybe there is another explanation of how it arrived on the borders of Saltford and Keynsham...
Opportunity to coordinate local habitat project
Saltford Environment Group is looking for a volunteer to be our railway path habitat restoration project coordinator to take the project to its next phase. This local project has seen some notable successes:
The area needs some concerted effort over the next 2-3 years to prevent the area from reverting back to scrub and trees: obscuring views and shading some of the rare sun-loving plants that have so recently returned. This work is likely to involve:
Saltford's Guides and Beavers are keen to do practical volunteering sessions in the spring and autumn and SEG has a list of further volunteers who are also willing to help.
The role of the project coordinator will be:
This is a great opportunity for someone with good organisational skills to help deliver a really exciting project: restoring a rare and beautiful habitat and bringing the community together through fun, practical activities.
No prior experience of wildlife conservation projects is required and there will be plenty of opportunities to learn more about the rare and beautiful plants and animals which would otherwise disappear from our area, to make new friends and learn new skills along the way.
If this opportunity to manage a small yet interesting and local outdoor project appeals to you, to express an interest please contact our wildlife adviser by email via our Chairman Phil Harding (see Contact SEG).
Parish Council and Saltford station
At its monthly meeting on 5th January Saltford Parish Council unanimously agreed the following request that it would put to B&NES Council:
Saltford Parish Council reminds B&NES Council of its role since 2011 as the official promoter of the station and asks B&NES Council to make an effective and renewed commitment to engage with the West of England Local Transport Body, GWR and Network Rail to seek the re-opening of Saltford station and to make every effort to secure a place for Saltford station in the Metro West timetable.
Saltford Parish Council notes that the public leaflet produced by the West of England Partnership Metro West - Investing in our local rail network (June 2014) stated that a Saltford Station could be in Metro West phase 1 subject to the business case. Saltford Parish Council therefore wishes to express its concern that B&NES Council did not seek to include Saltford Station in the current Metro West timetable studies being carried out by GWR on behalf of the West of England Local Transport Body. Saltford Parish Council wishes to express its dissatisfaction that reasons given for this include comments on time-table constraints which would have been better determined by Saltford actually having been included in these studies.
Saltford Parish Council notes that while alternatives need to be considered as part of the Department for Transport's TAG (Transport Analysis Guidance) process and also to fulfil a past resolution of B&NES Council, there remains a consensus that the existing site is the preferred site option.
What's YOUR carbon footprint?
Ever wondered how big your own personal environmental footprint is? The term "environmental footprint" refers to the environmental impact including carbon emissions and other pollution, creation of waste, resource depletion etc. that your lifestyle choices have on the planet. Our "carbon footprint" is a similar measure as most activities lead to some level of carbon dioxide and/or other pollutant emissions into the environment.
The WWF 'Carbon Footprint Calculator' at http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/ enables you to calculate your personal carbon footprint using the answers you provide to a simple 5 minute questionnaire. The website calculates your carbon footprint as a result of your lifestyle choices and provides tips and ideas for how you can shrink your footprint.
It doesn't take long and the on screen report gives a simple breakdown of your footprint between what it calls Food, Home, Travel, and Stuff. It even shows how you compare to the UK and world average (see image above).
Give it a go, see how you compare and discover what you can do to shrink your impact: http://footprint.wwf.org.uk/
Whatever we do to nature, we do to ourselves
For future reference we have a link to the WWF carbon footprint calculator from our energy page (under the "Energy in the home" section) where we also have some tips on how you can save energy and money.
IYP2016: Eat Beans, Peas, Chickpeas and Lentils!
2016 has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Pulses (IYP2016). The main objective of IYP2016 is to increase awareness of pulses globally, and to increase demand, utilisation, and production of pulses worldwide. Using events, campaigns, websites and social media, the project will ensure that by the end of 2016, more people will know about pulses.
Pulses, also known as grain legumes, are a group of 12 crops that includes dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils. They are high in protein, fibre, and various vitamins, provide amino acids, and are hearty crops. They are most popular in developing countries, but are increasingly becoming recognised as an excellent part of a healthy diet throughout the world.
The following information is from the IYP2016 website:-
The IYP2016 website has lots of information and ideas for things people can do, how to get involved, learn more about pulses etc. It's at: http://iyp2016.org.
Development on Keynsham's (former) Green Belt near Wellsway School
The Mactaggart & Mickel plans (phase 1) for building up to 250 homes and a primary school on Green Belt land east of Keynsham which were allowed in the 2014 B&NES Core Strategy are published for public consultation until 15th January and can be found on the Mactaggart & Mickel website at www.macmicgroup.co.uk/land/england/east-keynsham.
At this point the timing of the submission for outline planning permission and commencement of the development's construction is not known.
Several members may recall that Mactaggart & Mickel also sought, unsuccessfully, inclusion in the B&NES Core Strategy (2014) a proposed development on Saltford's Green Belt west of Saltford. This would have been through a westward expansion of Saltford from Grange Road and, in effect, merging Keynsham and Saltford.
The position that SEG took, and on which we and others lobbied during the Core Strategy examination by an independent inspector, was that the national and local planning policy case against the development on the Green Belt west of Saltford was extremely strong.
Members will be concerned that the east of Keynsham development will worsen peak time congestion on the A4, and represent partial erosion of the open space between Saltford and Keynsham. However, our case against developing the remaining Green Belt space between Saltford and Keynsham remains strong and is not weakened by the east of Keynsham development.
SEG is helping Saltford Parish Council formulate the Parish Council's response to the current consultation for 'Issues and Options' in the West of England Joint Spatial Plan* so that a robust case is made for the continued protection of the Green Belt from development.
*The West of England's Joint Spatial Plan and Transport Study (at https://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, nearly 30,000 more than the number already planned in Core Strategies, as well as the transport and other infrastructure needed to support that level of growth.
Important rail electrification news
At the Network Rail in Saltford on 15th December at St Mary's Church Hall information was shared with residents about the planned works at and near Saltford as Network Rail continues to prepare for the electrification of the main-line. Passengers will notice structural changes to the platform and canopies at Keynsham station beginning in January 2016.
Keynsham station and the line itself will be closed from 2nd to the 10th of April 2016 whilst the track bed and platforms are lowered and foundations laid for the overhead electric pylons. Replacement buses will operate throughout this period. Fortunately, and thanks to Brunel, Saltford Tunnel underneath Tunnel House is high enough to accommodate the overhead cables and gantries without requiring additional engineering work.
The Network Rail website with more information concerning this work is at www.networkrail.co.uk/great-western-route-modernisation/.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Our thanks go to Parish Council Chairman Cllr Duncan Hounsell for providing this information.
Fracking: Onshore gas exploration stays out of local area for now as National Parks put at risk
The 2nd and final tranche of the 14th landward oil and gas licensing awards was announced by the Government on 17th December. Licences for a total of 159 blocks were formally offered to successful applicants under this licensing round. The blocks that were offered for our immediate area (ST 55, 56, 65, 66, 75 and 76) were not awarded. This maintains the position from when the 1st tranche was announced on 18th August 2015.
The map above shows the blocks concerned (blocks marked green have been licensed in the 14th round and those marked beige were already licensed).
Further information on oil and gas licensing rounds can be found at https://www.gov.uk/oil-and-gas-licensing-rounds.
To the huge disappointment of anti-fracking campaigners, especially coming so soon after the Paris agreement to decarbonise the world's energy supplies, MPs voted on 16th December to allow fracking under Britain's National Parks. Ministers used secondary legislation (a statutory instrument) to push through the new rules without the requirement for a debate in the House of Commons. MPs voted 298 in favour to 261 against. These new rules will allow fracking 1,200 metres below National Parks and sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), as long as drilling takes place from outside those protected areas. This is despite the Government having previously pledged not to use fracking to extract shale gas in these areas.
At a time when renewable energy sources are becoming cheaper and likely to require no subsidies within a few years whilst the position for fossil fuels is likely to be the reverse as the cheaper more recoverable reserves have been extracted, it remains to be seen whether fracking will prove to be a realistic and viable option for the UK.
Christmas & New Year present from Paris
After two weeks of deliberations and four years of failed attempts, on Saturday 12 December the world's nations agreed the first climate deal to commit all countries to cut carbon emissions at the UN climate summit (COP21) in Paris attended by 195 nations.
It may not be the perfect deal and the success or otherwise of the "Paris agreement" will be determined by action taken hereinafter, but nevertheless the agreement is recognised as a major step forward by most commentators.
The key measures in the Paris agreement include:
Furthermore the agreement emphasised the enduring benefits of ambitious and early action, including major reductions in the cost of future mitigation and adaptation efforts.
It is not radical or naÔve to seek a future where the climate is more stable, food security secured, affordable clean renewable energy heats and lights our homes and powers our industry and transport systems, and wildlife flourishes. As we enter 2016 perhaps we can have reasons to be hopeful that the world's Governments can finally work together to do the right thing and avert disaster before it is too late.
If the ambitions set by the Paris agreement are realised sooner rather than later this will bode well for the future well-being of not just present generations but for our children, our grandchildren and their children. The alternative is too ghastly to contemplate but should not be ignored; we all have a responsibility to maintain pressure on national and local Governments to make the transition to a low carbon economy sooner rather than later.
Big Garden Birdwatch (30/31 January): counting the wildlife that counts on you
The next Big Garden Birdwatch organised by the RSPB takes place over the weekend of 30 and 31 January 2016. This can involve all members of the family. All you need to do is count the birds that land in your garden or local park for one hour over that weekend and then tell the RSPB what you see. Record the highest number of each type of bird you see at the same time and don't count the total over the hour as you may get the same birds visiting more than once.
Even if you don't get as many birds as you expected, your 'regulars' don't appear or even if you saw nothing, do still please let the RSPB know as it is all useful information that helps paint a picture of the nation's bird life.
For further information visit the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch web page at www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/ - you will be able to log your bird count online from that link.
Local teachers or classroom assistants at Saltford School might be interested in the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch from 4 January-12 February 2016. This is an educational activity that gets a class closer to nature. It takes just an hour and works for all ages and abilities. A bird ID poster is available free from the RSPB. Details at: www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch/.
The Wondrous Wren (in winter)
One of the smallest woodland birds to visit our gardens, the Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), can be seen and heard all the year round in Saltford and is one of our most fascinating songbirds. It is in winter when we are most likely to see it in our gardens.
These dumpy and active little birds are easily recognised by their rich brown plumage and perky short tail that is sometimes cocked vertically. Despite the Wren being one of our commonest birds it is easy to miss as it moves under cover around bushes, roots and low branches searching for food.
Here are some interesting facts about the Wren:-
To see the Wren and hear its song on the RSPB website click here: RSPB - Wren.
The best way to assist Wrens and attract them into your garden is by planting native species of shrubs and trees that will benefit insects and wildlife more widely. It is also helpful to create habitat for insects such as piles of logs, sticks and/or rocks. If your garden is over-manicured there is less habitat for insects that Wrens and other birds will feed on.
Information sources: www.bto.org, www.livingwithbirds.com, blogs.scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk
Keeping up with the Paris climate summit
At the UN climate summit (COP21) in Paris from 30th November to 11th December leaders and negotiators from 195 nations are seeking to reach an international agreement to prevent catastrophic climate change.
The key question for the summit is "Will countries arrive at an agreement strong enough to avoid dangerous climate change and limit warming to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels by keeping the warming to no more than 1.5C?"
To help you to follow and keep up with key announcements and developments at the Paris summit here are some useful links:-
This quote from Professor Nicholas Stern, Chair of Economics and Government at the LSE, illustrates the importance of this summit for making real progress:
"Already we are seeing the impact of climate change growing around the world, with more heatwaves, more record rainfall events and more intense droughts. There are signs that the major land-based ice sheets on Greenland and west Antarctica may be becoming unstable. Together they hold enough water to raise global sea levels by about 13 metres. The climate warning signals are all around us...
...Together, governments must send a clear signal from Paris to the entire world that over the next 20 years we can and will start along a path that offers us, our children and future generations real hope."
Station Campaign and Parish Council addresses B&NES Scrutiny Panel (16 Nov)
On 16th November Chris Warren for the Station Campaign and Duncan Hounsell as Chair of the Parish Council spoke in public time to B&NES Council's cross-party Communities, Transport and Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel to inform them about Saltford Station and to seek their assistance in their scrutiny role.
They asked that there be no unnecessary delay or insufficient pressure from B&NES Council on the half-hourly timetable question and that consultants be commissioned to take the project forward to GRIP stages 3 and even 4. They made the point that this not only about providing Saltford's commuters a gateway to the half-hourly Metro West services, but also playing a part in reducing road traffic into Bath and contributing to the economic development of this area.
The democratic mandate given in the Parliamentary, Council and Parish Council elections last May to reopen the station was highlighted and also the point that B&NES urgently required solutions to its chronic transport problems, especially with Bath's new Enterprise Zone and the riverside development nearing completion. Without alternatives to the private car, Bath was close to becoming stifled by traffic and its detrimental effect on air quality leading to public health issues.
West of England Joint Transport Study (9 Nov - 29 Jan)
The West of England's four local authorities (including B&NES) have launched a public consultation as part of the Joint Transport Study, which will inform high level strategy and the delivery of major transport schemes throughout the area until 2036.
B&NES Council, Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council are preparing the study in parallel with the West of England's Joint Spatial Plan, which is looking at how to meet the need for housing and employment space up to 2036.
The Joint Transport Study will be completed by the end of 2016. At this early stage they would like the views of people who live, work and travel in the West of England about the objectives of the study; what the existing transport issues are in our area; and what schemes they would like considered by the study. These are sought by 29 January 2016.
The study provides you with a chance to tell the four local authorities how you think transport should be provided in the West of England over the next 20 years. You can view the Joint Transport Study including a summary and make comments using an online survey from this link: Joint Transport Study.
Our renewable energy future (& Paris climate summit)
The International Energy Agency's 2015 edition of its flagship annual report, World Energy Outlook, was published on 10th November. Whilst observing clear signs that the energy transition to renewables is underway, the IEA warned that strong direction was needed from the COP21 Paris climate summit (30th November to 11th December 2015). Renewables contributed almost half of the world's new power generation capacity in 2014 and have already become the second-largest source of electricity (after coal). Renewables are set to become the leading source of new energy supply from now to 2040.
The IEA advises that the lower oil prices currently experienced is the moment to reinforce the world's capacity to deal with future energy security threats and not mistakenly relax our attention to energy security. The oil market is in unfamiliar territory: facing a well-supplied market and lower prices, producers have cut operating costs and investment plans.
The IEA predicts the following global trends:
The IEA website is at www.iea.org.
For keeping up with the discussions and decisions made during the COP21 climate summit in Paris, the Guardian newspaper website provides comprehensive coverage which you can access from this link: News and comment from the Guardian.
Oil-rich countries are choosing renewables
Some welcome news from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena): oil-rich countries are choosing renewables as a means to create jobs, increase GDP and improve livelihoods whilst also reducing carbon emissions. Perhaps the UK and other Governments could learn from this approach as delegates gather for the COP21 climate summit in Paris.
According to Irena (www.irena.org), as reported on the Guardian website on 19th November, dramatically falling solar photovoltaic costs, and forward-thinking commitments by regional governments, are changing the economic equation in favour of solar power. A solar photovoltaic tender in Dubai earlier this year resulted in a record-low price of $0.06 per kilowatt hour - cheaper than domestically produced gas generation. Jordan's recent tender outcome locked in power prices of between $0.06-0.08.
For oil-producing nations that use a substantial share of the gas or oil they produce for power generation, solar is increasingly the quickest, lowest-risk investment to add export capacity and revenue while satisfying their own rapid growth in demand for electricity.
This shift is causing huge development and investment across the oil-producing region. For example Morocco is building the world's largest concentrated solar power plant, which will provide half the country's energy by 2020. The UAE is building what could eventually be one of the world's largest solar photovoltaic plants. Additional projects are in progress in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Saltford Station Campaign scoops national award
Saltford Station Campaign has received a national award at the Railfuture conference "Rail Resurgence in the West of England" held at the Mercure Hotel, Redcliff Hill, Bristol, on 7th November. Railfuture is the leading national pro-rail campaigning organisation. The campaign received the Oliver Lovell Award (in memory of the Cotswold Line Promotion Group founder who died in 2013) for "Best New Group" and this was presented to Chris Warren of the Saltford Station Campaign by Christian Wolmar, President of Railfuture.
Chris Warren said "I was absolutely delighted to receive this award on behalf of the Saltford Station Campaign. To be recognised by Railfuture is just reward for all our hard work. This award gives the campaign a further boost. I ask the new B&NES Council to take the re-opening of the station to the next stage of project development without undue delay."
Cllr Duncan Hounsell, Chair of Saltford Parish Council, said "I congratulate the Saltford Station campaigners on this national award. The Parish Council fully supports the re-opening of Saltford Station which would give villagers a gateway to the half-hourly services of the Metro West rail project."
Judges' comments: "Campaign shows a sound knowledge of the rail industry and grasp of technical detail, good engagement with stakeholders' buy-in, cross-party support, a strong environmental message, and a good chance of success."
To see the Saltford Station Campaign web pages on SEG's website click here: link >>
Have your say on parking in Saltford
Parking in and around Saltford generates much discussion and debate among residents. Saltford Parish Council has decided to conduct a "conversation" with residents of Saltford, local businesses, and commuters to Saltford to seek information, views, and suggested solutions to parking issues in and around Saltford. The objective is for the Parish Council to be in a position to put forward a set of constructive proposals in spring 2016 to B&NES Council and other bodies for possible action. Highways and on-street parking are the responsibility of B&NES Council.
The Parish Council recognises that people do need to park, that no householder can claim the right to sole access to the parking space outside their home, and that problems should not be simply moved from one street or part of a street to another. The Parish Council has no predetermined view on parking issues other than a desire to improve road safety and find workable solutions to parking issues.
Practical suggestions for potential solutions to the issues experienced in Saltford from encouraging less car use and the provision and control of short/long term parking to changing parking behaviour are sought by the Parish Council between now and the end of February 2016.
More details including how to submit your views can be found on the Parish Council website at www.saltfordparishcouncil.gov.uk.
Fairtrade for Saltford Steering Group
The Saltford Fairtrade Group has gone from strength to strength gaining our first Fairtrade Village status renewal this year and organising the Fairtrade refreshments served at the Saltford Festival, but there is no time to rest on our laurels. We are always looking for new ideas of spreading the Fairtrade ethos of better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.
Supporting and encouraging new and local Fairtrade supporters is also a major priority for us. If you think that this is something worthwhile and would enjoy helping us we are looking for new steering group members to join us.
We are a small friendly group who meet in members' homes every couple of months to plan events and visits, all served up with Fairtrade refreshments.
You can contact us by email to email@example.com or ring Frances Eggbeer on 07789--528834. Our next meeting is on 10th November where you would be warmly welcomed when we will be planning our Christmas Market stall.
Find our more about of activities on our SEG web page (link).
Bank of England Governor speaks out on financial risks caused by climate change
As COP21, the 21st Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) to be held in Paris from 30th November to 11th December 2015 draws near, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, spoke on the topic "Breaking the tragedy of the horizon - climate change and financial stability" at Lloyd's of London on 29 September 2015.
He said that there was a growing international consensus that climate change is unequivocal. While there is always room for scientific disagreement about climate change (as there is with any scientific issue), he said that he had found that insurers were amongst the most determined advocates for tackling it sooner rather than later.
Key points he made included:
We don't need an army of actuaries to tell us that the catastrophic impacts of climate change will be felt beyond the traditional horizons of most actors - imposing a cost on future generations that the current generation has no direct incentive to fix.
The horizon for monetary policy extends out to 2-3 years. For financial stability it is a bit longer, but typically only to the outer boundaries of the credit cycle - about a decade.
In other words, once climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late.
He summarised and concluded his speech by saying:
Our societies face a series of profound environmental and social challenges.
The combination of the weight of scientific evidence and the dynamics of the financial system suggest that, in the fullness of time, climate change will threaten financial resilience and longer-term prosperity.
While there is still time to act, the window of opportunity is finite and shrinking.
Others will need to learn from Lloyd's example in combining data, technology and expert judgment to measure and manage risks.
The December meetings in Paris will work towards plans to curb carbon emissions and encourage the funding of new technologies.
We will need the market to work alongside in order to maximise their impact.
With better information as a foundation, we can build a virtuous circle of better understanding of tomorrow's risks, better pricing for investors, better decisions by policymakers, and a smoother transition to a lower-carbon economy.
By managing what gets measured, we can break the Tragedy of the Horizon.
The full text of Mark Carney's speech can be found on the Bank of England website from this external link.
For keeping up with the discussions and decisions made during COP21, probably one of the most comprehensive web pages is on the Guardian newspaper website which you can access from this link: News and comment from the Guardian.
Planting tree species ecologically appropriate to Saltford
He that plants trees loves others besides himself
When choosing trees to plant in our gardens and other areas of land in Saltford, there are some important considerations. For the long term health of the tree and to ensure the tree supports our local ecosystem (i.e. especially invertebrates many of which are undergoing widespread and complete loss in southern England and which are also important natural food for birds), it is helpful to choose native species that are appropriate for the soil and weather conditions for this part of NE Somerset.
A tree may be described as native to Britain, but that does not follow that it would be suitable for Saltford. For example trees suitable for low nutrient soils such as are often found in upland, acid areas, e.g. Rowan and Silver Birch, do not naturally occur in Saltford's lowland, calcareous high-nutrient soil.
The main trees to avoid are invasive non-natives with no close relatives, for example Horse Chestnut, Tree of Heaven (an especially rampant invasive that outcompetes native species - sometimes known as Tree of Hell by conservationists), and Bastard Acacia. They are chemically so different to our native trees that few native insects are able to feed on their foliage.
Here we have listed native trees ecologically appropriate to Saltford (this list is not exhaustive but captures the majority of such trees). The scientific names are given to make sure the appropriate British species is chosen rather than a potentially unsuitable continental species:-
Alder, Common (Alnus glutinosa)
Furthermore edible apple, pear, cherry and plum trees are close enough relatives of wild species to be of great direct value to invertebrates.
Projected climate change (e.g. hotter, drier summers, wetter winters and weather extremes) are likely to make conditions less suitable for some species in the decades ahead, so risks of later tree loss can be reduced by mixed planting of species which also can help maximise resilience to pests and diseases and provide greater wildlife benefits.
[Note. This is published on our Wildlife page (under Trees) so that the article and list can be found again.]
Saltford's history and the mystery of the Piltdown Man hoax
It is fascinating what we find including links to national and world events as we research Saltford's past, but this is as surprising and amusing as it gets. We just had to share this with members.
The zoologist and archaeologist who studied and described the condition of the Roman skeleton (that of a 20 year old man) found in a stone coffin in Saltford in 1948 were Martin A C Hinton (1883-1961) and his wife. The wife in question was most probably Hinton's second wife, Dr Dina Portway Dobson a 'distinguished archaeologist', who he married in 1949 the year of his retirement to Wrington, Somerset; his first wife Jane had died in 1948. The description of Saltford's Roman skeleton was provided by "Mr and Mrs Martin A. C. Hinton" and published in 1950 in an official report of the find for the Somerset Archaeological Society.
Martin A C Hinton, however, is one of the suspects for the infamous paleoanthropological hoax, Piltdown Man, that was perpetrated in 1908-1912 but did not come to light as a forgery until some 40 years later in the 1950s. The link to Hinton as a possible perpetrator was not made until after his death.
Piltdown Man was a composite of an altered human skull and ape jawbone planted, and subsequently 'discovered', at a dig in Piltdown, Sussex, in 1908-12 and presented as a missing link between man and ape. A trunk belonging to Hinton left in storage at the Natural History Museum and found in 1970 contained animal bones and teeth carved and stained in a manner similar to the Piltdown finds. This was some 9 years after Hinton's death and subsequently raised questions about his involvement in the deception.
One theory concerning Hinton's involvement is as follows (source: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Piltdown-man#ref374472):-
In 1996, two decades after a trunk marked with the initials M.A.C.H. had been discovered in storage at the British Museum (Natural History), bones found in the trunk were analysed. The British paleontologists Brian Gardiner and Andrew Currant found that they had been stained in the exact same way as the Piltdown fossils. The trunk apparently had belonged to Martin A.C. Hinton, who became keeper of zoology at the British Museum (Natural History) in 1936. Hinton, who in 1912 at the time of the original discovery was working as a volunteer at the museum, may have treated and planted the Piltdown bones as a hoax in order to ensnare and embarrass Arthur Smith Woodward. Woodward was keeper of the British Museum's paleontology department and it was he who announced the find at a meeting of the Geological Society of London in 1912. Apparently Woodward had rebuffed Hinton's request for a weekly wage. It is presumed that Hinton used the bones in the steamer trunk for practice before treating the bones used in the actual hoax.
The Piltdown hoax is infamous for the attention paid to the issue of human evolution, and the length of time (40 years) that elapsed from its original discovery to its full exposure as a forgery. The identity of the Piltdown forger remains unknown, but suspects have included Martin A. C. Hinton, Charles Dawson, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Arthur Keith, Horace de Vere Cole and even Arthur Conan Doyle.
SEG is not claiming that Martin A C Hinton was a perpetrator of the hoax but is reproducing information already in the public domain concerning his possible involvement in this mystery. An article in the New Scientist (2.7.1981) by L. Harrison Matthews stated that Hinton during discussions with Dina Dobson and BBC producers in Bristol in c.1953 did say that he knew that the forgery had been done by someone in the British Museum (Natural History) but that he could not reveal the name as the man was still alive. Martin Hinton and Dina Dobson took this secret to their graves.
A photograph of the Roman skeleton found in Saltford in 1948 and that was studied by Martin Hinton can be seen along with Hinton's description of the skeleton in our history project's Online Museum (in the Roman Saltford section).
Could you be our volunteer Auditor?
Saltford Environment Group is looking for a volunteer to audit our annual accounts. Although this is not a legal requirement, we would like a qualified person to review our accounts on an annual basis for the sake of good order.
We currently have a modest annual income of approx. £1000 and around 50 transactions in a typical year.
If you are an active or retired accountant and are able to help us with this, please contact the Treasurer, Andrew Stainer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Older news stories from SEG
'The SEG Newsletter' page carries some of our past and recently published news stories.
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Our February Newsletter is out:-
"Think global, act local"