Saltford Environment Group
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Last chance to influence National Bird Vote (Kingfisher in 2nd place)
The deadline for voting to find Britain's favourite bird is 30th November. With 60,000 votes cast and the top positions being close you can still influence the result if you haven't voted yet. The top 6 runners on 21st November were:
In the 1960s the Robin was voted Britain's favourite bird. David Lindo, aka 'The Urban Birder', feels it is time to find out if the Robin is still our favourite bird - so far it seems so but the Kingfisher is in with a chance.
The vote is in two parts; firstly to find the top 6 running (flying) candidates and then the voting will re-open to find the overall winner. Anyone can vote for the 6 birds from a list of 60 candidates that they think best personifies all that is good about our nation. The whole family can be involved to see whose choice is the final winner.
BBC's Springwatch presenter Chris Packham has commented: "I think it would be a good idea if nations, states and regions now selected a bird in some kind of conservation crisis. This would draw attention to its plight and perhaps also help fuel its protection. This certainly helped the North American Bald Eagle when its numbers had become precarious. Maybe it would do the same for others. So forget the Robin, how about having the Lapwing as the British national bird?"
The voting website is: www.votenationalbird.com.
We list the 100 birds most regularly observed in Saltford on our wildlife page >>.
New Lower Jurassic rock exposure on the Railway Path - clearance completed
We are pleased to report that the clearance to create a permanent rock exposure on the former railway line was completed by hand by community volunteers (Conservation Volunteers - Avon Branch) in November. The plan is to install an illustrated information sign during 2015. This project on the Railway Path at Saltford (Grid Ref: 687678) received the go-ahead following a successful funding application to the Geologists Association.
The site is located between the Avon Lane gated access and the Avon Lane footbridge (if joining the railway path at the 'Bird in Hand', turn left towards Bitton and the exposure can be seen after a short distance on the right hand side).
For further information on this project and also on Saltford's jurassic past including numerous photographs and images, see our new feature page on Saltford's Geology >>
Reopening of Saltford's permissive paths
Members will recall that the permissive footpaths to the south and west of Saltford were closed at the end of 2013 following the loss of Government funding for providing public access under the former Countryside Stewardship Scheme. Permissive paths/bridleways like these are there at the voluntary discretion of the landowner, they are not public rights of way, but nevertheless they have become an integral part of life in Saltford.
Saltford Parish Council hosted a packed public meeting on the issue in August at the Golf Club and residents present voiced a strong desire to donate towards reopening the paths for the benefit of most residents.
Since the meeting, Saltford Community Association (SCA) has worked with the local farmer, Mr Adam Stratton, and has signed a legal agreement allowing over 4.5km of the permissive paths to re-open to walkers and riders from 30 November 2014 (shown in green on the map below). This has only been possible as a result of Eveleighs Estate Agents coming forward with a generous donation to fund the first year of the arrangement.
In order for this agreement to remain in place next and each subsequent year, the SCA needs specific donations to raise the £3000 needed to compensate the farmer for loss of arable land and to pay for the maintenance of the paths and associated insurance and legal costs.
The community can be extremely grateful to Eveleighs for funding the first year to allow the paths to re-open straightaway but without regular annual donations from residents to cover the costs the SCA will not be able to keep these paths open and it is highly likely that once closed they will remain closed as the land will be planted with crops.
£3000 is a fairly significant sum and in order to ensure the village can keep this amenity open for the community walkers are asked to consider £25 or more and horse riders £50 or more.
All residents of Saltford will receive a donation envelope with their copy of SCAN newsletter for completion and return to a number of addresses around the village. Please complete the front of the envelope for Gift Aid purposes and then indicate on the reverse how much you would like directed to the SCA and how much to the paths.
Saltford Christmas Market, 29th November
Saltford's popular Christmas market complete with a festive café, organised by Saltford Community Association, will be held in Saltford Hall from 10am-3pm on Saturday 29th November. SEG's Fairtrade Group will be delighted to meet you at their stall.
B&NES Council Cabinet back Saltford station with 2015/16 budget proposals
On 4th November Cllr David Bellotti, B&NES Lib Dem Cabinet Member for Community Resources, at the B&NES Budget Fair meeting in Bath said that the Council was "very committed to Saltford station" and announced £250,000 in the proposed Lib Dem budget for 2015/16 to take the re-opening of Saltford station forward to Network Rail's GRIP (Guide to Railway Investment Projects) stages 3 and 4. These stages involve much more detailed work on costs, design and finance. The first 4 GRIP stages are about planning and the final 4 are concerned with implementation.
This strong backing from the B&NES Cabinet is an important milestone in our long and popular campaign to reopen the station. The 2015/16 Budget will be voted upon by the full Council on 17th February 2015 and once approved work on GRIP stages 3 and 4 can proceed in the new financial year.
We anticipate cross-party support for this aspect of the 2015/16 Budget. On 8th November the leader of the Conservative Group of B&NES Councillors, Cllr Tim Warren, made the following statement to the station campaign:
'We are fully supportive of opening a train station for Saltford and the surrounding community. However, whatever location is decided upon, the concerns of residents over traffic, access and parking issues will need to be addressed. As a party, we are committed to reducing traffic congestion.'
For more information on our station campaign, visit our station page >>.
Artistic impression of Saltford life 200M years ago
This artistic impression of an Ichthyosaur when Saltford was a shallow sea some 200 million years ago has been produced by SEG member and local artist Julian Balsdon for our new geology page. These streamlined predators (some were just a few metres long) were dolphin-like in form and air breathing. Ichthyosaurs were reptiles and reptiles dominated the planet at sea and on land at this time. They became extinct, with the dinosaurs, about 60 million years ago.
Great British Bee Count 2014 results are out
The results from this year's first ever Great British Bee Count have been published. Thousands of people took part from all over the country to count over 830,000 bees; a great leap towards monitoring all the species of UK bee. This year, 1 in 4 of us saw at least three types of bee in our gardens and the Yellow and Black Bumblebee (Bombus Terrestis) was in the top spot with over 85% of participants seeing them over the summer. The Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera) took 2nd place and Tree Bumblebee (Bombus Hypnorum) 3rd.
Allotments were the best places to find bees whilst roadsides could be a lot better. Less mowing and more wildflowers could help nature thrive on road verges. Gardens took third place; perhaps by growing more plants that are rich in pollen and nectar, and leaving patches of land to grow wild, they might go up the rankings in future years.
Further information and the results can be seen from this link: www.greatbritishbeecount.co.uk/results.php.
Saltford on BBC1's Autumnwatch
Some of you may have missed seeing Saltford's sewage treatment works (part of a feature item about chemicals in the drugs we take getting into the food chain of wildlife via our sewage) in the first episode of BBC1's Autumnwatch screened on Tuesday 28th October. You can find and view it on the BBC iPlayer via this link (the item filmed at Saltford is about 37 minutes into the programme): www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04n8zdp/autumnwatch-2014-episode-1. The programme is available in the iPlayer for 29 days (from broadcast).
Fracking in Somerset?
We understand that UK Methane have renewed their PEDL (Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence) 227 for a further year. PEDL 227 covers Ston Easton and adjacent areas of the Mendips. However the other three PEDLs in Somerset (225, 226 and 228 - including Saltford) have been relinquished but can be purchased by other companies in the latest, 14th, licensing round (licensing closing date 28th October 2014).
Frack Free Somerset is organising an 'Autumn of Awareness and Action' with public events from 7th to 27th November in the PEDL 227 area. See the FFS website for details: http://www.frackfreesomerset.org/upcoming-events/.
We shall monitor the situation and publish information on the PEDL area that covers Saltford, PEDL 228, when further information becomes available to us. Our Fracking page has further details on this controversial topic.
Grants and finance for home energy saving improvements
With the arrival of autumn our attention returns to the cost of heating our homes (we have energy saving tips and advice on our energy page). If you own or privately rent your home (in B&NES) you could get a generous grant to make some energy saving home improvements which will make your home smarter, warmer and cheaper to run.
The B&NES Energy at Home scheme provides grants as follows:
You can apply for both types of funding but only to a maximum of £7,000 per property. In all circumstances you will have to fund the Green Deal element of the installation cost (e.g. through Green Deal finance, an alternative loan or savings). For some homes (when combined with the Green Deal loan) this will cover the total costs but not for all homes. The grant must be claimed and your chosen energy saving improvement(s) installed by 31 March 2015.
For further details visit www.cse.org.uk/advice/energyathome or ring freephone 0800 038 5680.
NOTE: The B&NES Energy at Home scheme is a brought to you by B&NES Council in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Darren Evans Assessment Ltd. If you are approached directly by any other companies, offering energy saving or heating services, you are advised to check that they are part of the B&NES Energy at Home Scheme by calling freephone 0800 038 5680 before agreeing to the company visiting you.
Saltford Santa Dash 2014 (7th Dec)
This year's Saltford Santa Dash will be held on Sunday 7th December 2014. This event is being organised in support of two charities each of which will receive 50% of donated funds: CLIC Sargent and The Ellen Macarthur Cancer Trust.
Further details including on how to enrol can be found at: saltfordsantadash.webs.com.
Making the most of our river
Spring, summer, autumn or winter, our local river in Saltford hosts a wide variety of wildlife and provides a haven for relaxation away from the pressures of modern living and somewhere to observe our natural world.
The Canal & River Trust, the charity entrusted with the care of 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, has produced a small free guide to help people spot wildlife by rivers and canals. The guide, through photos and illustrations, enables users to learn more about the fascinating array of animals found on our waterways. There are also tips and hints for spotting creatures such as kingfishers and otters (both are observed in Saltford), as well as some pages to jot down your notes.
If you or your family want to obtain a copy of the guide visit the Trust's website page for placing your order at: https://canalandrivertrust.form-fill.com/2014/october/freeguide.html.
Fracking companies to be allowed to pass 'any substance' under homes
The Government plans to allow fracking firms to drill under homes in the Infrastructure Bill currently going through Parliament.
Late changes to the Bill give fracking companies permission for "passing any substance through, or putting any substance into, deep-level land" and gives "the right to leave deep-level land in a different condition from [that before] including by leaving any infrastructure or substance in the land".
This change is seen by many campaigners against fracking as a contradiction of ministers' claims that the UK has the best shale gas regulation in the world. The government said the changes were "vital to kick starting" shale gas exploration. It absolves fracking companies of any responsibility for clearing up the mess they create.
If you feel strongly about this, there is a petition you can sign at https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/fracking-backlash-2.
We have more information about fracking on our special fracking page.
Parish Council asks B&NES to continue to support our station
During the autumn B&NES Council will be considering the latest report from the consultants CM2Hill exploring the feasibility of the station; B&NES Council Cabinet will discuss the report at their December meeting. The next stage of taking the project forward will include more detailed work on costs, technical issues, and design for re-introducing this important piece of transport infrastructure.
With just one abstention, on 7th October Saltford Parish Council supported a motion expressing its wish that B&NES considers the Higher Level Output Assessment report and takes the station project to stage 3 of Network Rail's GRIP (Guide to Railway Investment Projects) process for railway development. This reflected the Parish Council's resolution overwhelmingly passed in September 2011 supporting the station campaign and asking B&NES to act as "promoter" of the new station in negotiations with Network Rail which B&NES subsequently agreed to do in April 2012.
For more information about our highly popular station campaign, visit our station page.
Vacancy for Treasurer at SEG
We have an important vacancy to fill, that of Treasurer. Click here for details.
Jurassic Saltford now online
SEG has published a new feature page on Saltford's Geology on our website. This highlights and provides a showcase for Saltford's wonderful geological features. With support from local geologists (and members of SEG) Simon Carpenter and Dick Stabbins, this page will continue to be developed as an educational and fascinating resource for residents and anyone else interested in why Saltford is such an important geological location with its abundance of Lower Jurassic rocks that contain well-preserved fossils.
An accessible circular geology trail is planned for Saltford so that residents and visitors can explore the local geology for themselves. We shall publish details on the new page when the trail is ready.
Plesiosaur - the swimming speed of these massive long-necked marine reptiles that once inhabited the shallow, sometimes muddy, sea that occupied the site of Saltford in the Lower Jurassic period has been estimated at over 8 km/h, faster than an Olympic champion, but too
To view the new page click here: Saltford's Geology >> (for future reference there is a link on the right hand side of our home page).
New Saltford Green Belt Inquiry Archive
To help other communities defend their Green Belt from speculative development and to provide a record for our own members, SEG has created a special archive page. This records and documents the successful 2 year defence by the community of Saltford, from 2012 until the Saltford Green Belt Inquiry determination in 2014, against an attempt by the developer Crest Nicholson to build on Saltford's Green Belt. This can be found from our Green Belt page or from this direct link.
UN Climate Summit - from Saltford to Bristol to New York
To quote from the UN Climate Summit website: "Climate change is not a far-off problem. It is happening now and is having very real consequences on people's lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, costing us dearly today and even more tomorrow. But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies." UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to galvanize and catalyze climate action.
Over 2,000 solidarity events in over 160 countries made the weekend of 20/21 September the largest non-party political climate march in history to tell world leaders meeting at the UN summit on climate change in New York on 23rd September that "There is no planet B" and that there is strong public support for real and immediate action to address the climate crisis.
For the South West, a march was held in Bristol on the afternoon of Sunday 21st September from Castle Park through the Broadmead shopping centre and ending at College Green where a petition was presented to Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party MEP for the South West. Over 2,000 participated in the Bristol march including members of SEG. Bristol march organiser Holly Templer said: "Bristol residents are taking part to highlight the level of public support for a global deal that will avert climate catastrophe and unleash a new 100% clean future. The People's Climate March is snowballing into a massive international call for leaders to do more to stop runaway climate change."
Many different organisations were involved including Avaaz, 38 degrees, 350.org, WWF, Christian Aid, and Oxfam. The website for the People's Climate March is: peoplesclimate.org.
US President Obama responded to the climate marches saying: "Our citizens keep marching. We cannot pretend we do not hear them."
The UN Climate Summit 2014 is recognised as an important opportunity to build political momentum towards a global climate deal in Paris in 2015. World leaders and leading figures from business and civil society will come together to bring announcements and actions that will reduce emissions, strengthen climate resilience, and mobilize political will for a meaningful legal agreement in 2015. The summit website is www.un.org/climatechange/summit/.
Parking on roads from the A4
Saltford Parish Council is asking B&NES Council, as the highways authority, to consult all Saltford residents about possible parking restrictions on roads from the A4 to reduce or prevent all day on-street car parking.
We hope B&NES Council will respond to this request and that as many residents as possible will participate in a consultation on this topic so that a work-able solution can be found to this issue.
Saltford Station - What if..?
To help the village focus on the many potential benefits of getting our station back we have published some "What if?" questions on our station campaign page. For example: "What if visitors had the option to arrive in Saltford by train?" or "What if motoring and bus travel becomes much more expensive and we haven't got a local option to travel by train?"
To see more "What ifs?" check out our station page >>.
New 'Saltford Wombles' group
SEG is pleased to announce that we are setting up a Saltford Wombles group. So, if you hate litter and waste and want to get involved in helping make Saltford a cleaner, litter-free village, do get in touch with Julie Sampson so that Julie can advise you of the emerging plans for this new group. Encouraging residents to be more proactive on picking up litter and targeted litter picks for problem areas are just some of the things Saltford Wombles will be doing. All ages welcome.
Other towns and villages have their own Wombles (e.g. Keynsham Wombles) that have proved to be fun ways of helping the community look after its own environment effectively and keep litter down to a minimum.
Interested in getting involved? Please contact Julie by email to: email@example.com or tel: 01225--874603.
More information about Saltford Wombles appears on our Less Waste page >>.
Save your seeds for 'Seedy Sunday', Keynsham
Transition Keynsham are organising a gardeners' seed swap in February 2015 and they need your seeds! Start saving now, and bring them along (in a labelled envelope) to swap on Sunday February 15th 2015 at a central Keynsham location (details to follow closer to the event).
Seedy Sunday offers people a fun and practical way to grow locally adapted fruit, vegetables, flowers and herb varieties whilst helping support a vibrant local gardening and food growing culture.
At Seedy Sunday you can swap seeds or make a donation if you have no seeds to swap; buy seed potatoes; talk to seed doctors; and find out about some of the amazing community initiatives going on in and around Keynsham.
Seedy Sunday brings together gardeners, seed savers, herb and wild flower enthusiasts, local gardening and community groups as well as organisations campaigning for sustainable food production and biodiversity.
Free driver awareness training for safer roads
Avon and Somerset Police are offering free 2 hour driver awareness training sessions in the local area (Keynsham and Bath) to help improve driving awareness amongst drivers. Over 95% of all collisions on the road are caused by human error and one third of all serious crashes involve people aged 17-24, whilst the result of a collision can be life-changing for all involved.
Most of us do not engage in any form of driver training after passing our test, but instead, we engage in a lifetime of guided discovery as we hone our driving skills. However, how do we know whether we are driving as safely and as fuel efficiently as we could?
These new and potentially life-saving sessions are available to all drivers; to see the dates on offer and to book a place visit www.roadsmart.org.
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SEG currently has a vacancy for a Treasurer.
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Saltford Environment Group
"Think global, act local"