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Saltford Environment Group
  towards a sustainable future for our village

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Saltford river scene

Recent Headlines (click on links or scroll down this page)

Saltford Parish Council elects new Chairman

British public says renewables offer huge economic benefits - and wants more

Publishing Saltford's History Online - talk at Saltford Library, 6th May

Giant Hogweed alert!

Railway habitat project making great strides

River clean, 15th May

Green Belt Latest: Parish & Town Councils discuss Joint Spatial Plan

Getting to grips with crochet

20th Century Saltford (and photographs wanted)

Give your mower a rest (& wildlife a chance)

350+ objections (incl. SEG's) to 250 new houses on Keynsham East's Green Belt

Join Britain's biggest bee survey (19 May to 30 Jun)

National well-being data highlights need to protect the Green Belt

2016 Big Garden Birdwatch results: House Sparrow is tops

B&NES gets bronze award for sustainable food

You can find lots more news further down the page or on our theme pages.


News

SEG's Newsletter page carries past and recently published news stories; click here to see: Newsletters >>


Saltford Parish Council elects new Chairman

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Chris Warren, Chairman of Saltford Parish Council for 2016/17

At its monthly meeting on 3rd May, the first anniversary meeting since the Parish Council took office after the Parish Council elections in May 2015, Councillor Chris Warren was unanimously elected to serve as Chairman of Saltford Parish Council for 2016/17.

Chris Warren, who many SEG members will know as leader of our Saltford station campaign, replaced Councillor Duncan Hounsell who had decided to stand down from holding the position. The Parish Council thanked Duncan Hounsell for all his work and guidance in steering the new Parish Council through its first year. At the meeting Councillor Phil Harding was unanimously re-elected as Vice Chairman of the Council for a second year.

May 2016

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British public says renewables offer huge economic benefits - and wants more

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There are jobs, money and survival in renewable
energy. Our only safe future is sun power

Dave Hampton

New official Government statistics published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) show that the British public believes that renewable energy provides tangible economic benefits - and they want clean energy projects built in their area.

The Public Attitudes Tracking from DECC shows that 70% of people see clear economic benefits to the UK from renewable energy. The survey also showed that 56% would be happy with a large-scale project in their local area.

Hugh McNeal, Chief Executive of renewable energy trade association RenewableUK, said: "It's great that the British public sees how renewable energy is helping to grow the UK economy. Renewables are delivering investment and jobs throughout our country".

These surveys of public attitudes are carried out annually (since 2012). Support for renewable energy has been consistently high since 2012 at around 75-80%. This pattern has continued in 2016 with 81% expressing support for the use of renewables with support lowest amongst those aged 65+ (74%).

Opposition to renewables was very low at 4%, with only 2% strongly opposed.

For 2016 an additional question was asked about people's opinion on three statements about renewable energy. Nearly eight in ten agreed that renewable energy developments should provide direct benefits to the communities in which they are located (77%), whilst seven in ten (70%) agreed that renewable industries and developments provide economic benefits to the UK.

Just over half said they would be happy to have a large scale renewable development in their own area (56%).

The DECC Public Attitudes Tracking survey (wave 17) can be found at www.gov.uk/government/statistics/public-attitudes-tracking-survey-wave-17.

May 2016

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Publishing Saltford's History Online - talk at Saltford Library, 6th May

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The Crown Inn, 1789

Chairman of Saltford Environment Group, Phil Harding, is giving an illustrated talk on "Publishing Saltford's History Online" to the "Friends of Saltford Library" group at 10.15am Friday 6th May. Phil will take the group through SEG's popular history project, revealing hitherto unknown but fascinating aspects of Saltford's illustrious past.

The event is FREE and starts at 10.15am for coffee (30p). If you wish to attend contact Cynthia Wilson on tel: 01225--874259.

May 2016

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Giant Hogweed alert!

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Giant Hogweed - early season prior to the production of flowers (top photo)
& (below) the bristles that can severely burn you if they puncture your skin

With the arrival of the spring growing season, the highly toxic and invasive alien Giant Hogweed is growing again in the same two areas of Saltford where it has appeared since at least 2014. This is where SEG has discovered and reported it for treatment each year - along the side of the railway cycle path towards Bitton and by the riverbank in The Shallows.

As we are discovering, it can take several years to finally eradicate the plant. The objective is to kill it each time it re-appears before it maims or blinds anyone who touches it and before it produces and spreads seed.

SEG has taken rapid action and had a site meeting with the Team Leader for Parks and Trees at B&NES (on 29th April) - the plant will be injected with an appropriate poison by B&NES staff wearing protective clothing.

We have pictures and information about this plant on our wildlife page including how to report its discovery. However, we wish to remind you that if you see it growing elsewhere in Saltford please also let SEG know (inform our Chairman) so that we can monitor it each year and, for your own safety, DO NOT TOUCH or attempt to remove it yourself.

When removed this plant is so dangerous that under the Environmental Protection Act (1990) it is classified as controlled waste. Anyone working amongst Giant Hogweed should wear protective clothing that covers the whole body including gloves, hood and face visor.

As before we do not publicly announce or highlight the precise location of this plant to avoid the risk of older children using it as a play weapon without realising that the sap from this plant can permanently blind or cause severe skin burns and scarring. If you have a need to know where it is, contact our Chairman by email and supply your telephone number.

May 2016

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Railway habitat project making great strides

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Crosswort growing on the railway habitat restoration project area.

Our project to regenerate the habitat beside a stretch of the cycle path, along the old LMS railway line, has made a great start this spring. The plan is to recreate a habitat similar to that in the 1960s when railway gangers used to maintain the embankment slopes. At that time there were very long lengths of rough grassland, rich in herbs, wild flowers and the insects associated with them.

Having cleared a section of trees a couple of years ago there are now splendid views to the west over the river. Sunlight now reaches the bank allowing grasses to flourish. Already some flowering plants are returning; there is a large area of ground ivy and several patches of crosswort (which isn't found any where else on Saltford).

However, the sunlight enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and flowering plants is also enabling nettles and brambles to grow strongly, which could smother the target species. This is where volunteers come in. So far this spring we have been out several times, using a brush cutter to trim a large area at the top of the bank and hand pulling unwanted plants from around the ground ivy and crosswort patches.

We are looking for more volunteers to help cut back the vigorous growth of nettles and brambles. Our next session will be on Saturday 21st May at 4pm. If you would like to join us please contact the project coordinator Odette McCarthy via our Chairman.

April 2016

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River clean, 15th May

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Canoe Avon members + hairy helper(!) during the successful river clean in 2015.

The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty.
The activist is the man who cleans up the river

Ross Perot

We would welcome your help when Canoe Avon, Avon Outdoor Activity Club and the Cheeky Friday Paddle Club hold this year's river clean on Sunday 15th May commencing (with coffee) at 10.30am from the Saltford Rowing Centre. This annual event is held in collaboration with Saltford Wombles. Members of SEG (especially Saltford Wombles) are invited to come along and help clean the riverbank (landside).

If you would like to be part of this (on dry land!) please contact Julie Sampson so that Julie can log your interest and confirm details closer to the event - we can lend you litter pickers, gloves and high viz jackets. Please contact Julie on 01225---874603 or by email to juliebsampson@gmail.com if you are able to support this important annual initiative.

Even if you can only spare an hour or two, helping to keep Saltford clean shows you care.

April 2016

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Green Belt Latest:
Parish & Town Councils discuss Joint Spatial Plan

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JSP map showing Bristol's "projected" Housing Market Area (in yellow)

B&NES Council held its second Joint Spatial Plan Working Group meeting on Saturday 23rd April for Parish and Town Councils in the Keynsham, Saltford and Chew Valley area of B&NES. Saltford Parish Councillors Adrian Betts and Phil Harding attended the meeting. For background information on the Joint Spatial Plan and its implications for housing numbers see below.

The purpose of the meeting was to give representatives from Parish and Town Councils the opportunity to discuss and identify constraints and issues and then look at aspirations and opportunities.

The conclusion reached by the Parish and Town Councillors present was that after brownfield site development had been completed and if there remained a genuine need for additional new housing in the Bristol Housing Market Area, then the Joint Spatial Plan should look at a new settlement (e.g. in South Gloucestershire) properly designed with sustainable development principles - i.e. a "Garden City/Town". Furthermore, there was a need for Bristol to show that it was doing everything it could do to solve its own housing issues.

The timing and content of the 350+ objections submitted against the proposed 250 houses on the Green Belt at Keynsham East during April (see earlier story) was fortuitous as B&NES can be in no doubt of the very real concerns and depth of feeling against further unsuitable and unsustainable development in this area.

The Joint Spatial Plan meeting on 23rd April was separate from discussions that unitary councils in the West of England (e.g. B&NES) are having with developers.

The draft Joint Spatial Plan should emerge by the end of May or in early June; the Working Group will meet again then to provide initial feedback on the early draft. It is then we will know if developers have been successful in persuading B&NES to identify Green Belt land for housing development with the attendant risk that speculative planning applications from developers will follow.

The current Joint Spatial Plan timetable, as we previously reported, is:

  • June 2016
    Draft Plan
  • June 2016 - Spring 2017
    Consultation
  • Spring 2017
    Pre-submission Plan
  • Summer 2017
    Submission to HM Government
  • Summer/Autumn 2017
    Examination by Government Inspector
  • Winter 2017
    Report by Government Inspector
  • Early 2018
    Adoption

Background

A huge volume of work and lobbying went into agreeing the housing plans in the B&NES Core Strategy adopted in July 2014. The Core Strategy set out the plans to cover housing needs in B&NES from 2014-2029 and did not identify Saltford's Green Belt for development.

However, a new plan is now being drawn up to replace the housing plans in the B&NES Core Strategy. This is the West of England Joint Spatial Plan covering the 20-year period 2016-2036. Once again the community shall need to make the case to keep the Green Belt safe from inappropriate development.

The Joint Spatial Plan is likely to seek an additional 29,000 new homes over and above existing plans by 2036 across the whole of the West of England, i.e. Bristol, N Somerset, B&NES and S Gloucs.

SEG publishes on our Green Belt page the evidence we submit and other relevant information about the Joint Spatial Plan and its potential impact on the Green Belt whilst we will update our home page (News) with the latest Joint Spatial Plan news affecting Saltford.

April 2016

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Getting to grips with crochet

The Saltford UPCYCLING Craft Group is a great way to meet people who enjoy getting together to share and learn UPCYCLING ideas. With the help of the more experienced members some of us learnt to crochet at last month's meeting. Having seen what can be made using old T-shirts and wool on May 19th we will be building on the things we practised last month and try some new patterns.

Everyone is welcome to come along to our free, friendly evening, experienced or not. If you have any odds and bods of wool or crochet needles do bring them along but we have everything to get you started.

Tina and Frances are looking forward to seeing you if you would like to join us on May 19th from 7-9pm at Signs of Saltford (works entrance), 559 Bath Road, Saltford. Phone Frances Eggbeer on 07789--528834 if you would like to find out more.

April 2016

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20th Century Saltford (and photographs wanted)

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Reproduced by kind permission of © Historic England

Above is an aerial photograph taken in the late 1960s of Saltford viewed from the north-east side of the village. St Mary's church is on the right where a small field can be seen between the churchyard and High Street cottages and the closed LMS railway is bottom left (this became the Sustrans cycleway). A much larger version of this photograph can be viewed in our Online Museum.

We have made some interesting additions and changes to our history project's popular Online Museum during April, partly as a result of a visit to the Somerset Heritage Centre in Taunton.

The 20th Century was a time of great change, probably more than at any other time in human history, and Saltford saw many changes too. To make it easier to see and follow how Saltford develped and changed, we have re-structured the 20th Century page of the history project's Online Museum by grouping photographs and images by subject headings (e.g. People, River, Buildings, etc.).

During April we have obtained and published 8 new aerial photographs of Saltford making a total of 13 aerial photographs dating from 1936 to 2000 in the 20th Century page. Most can be enlarged and show just what Saltford was like when open fields preceded many of today's houses and tree cover (including Elm trees) was different than from today.

The Online Museum 20th Century page can be visited from this link. Do check out other pages of our Online Museum too - another addition in April, for example, was an evocative description of Saltford published in 1791(!) when several apple orchards existed between the Turnpike road (A4) and the river.

Photographs Wanted

Do you have any photographs of street parties in Saltford from the 70s (e.g. the 1977 Silver Jubilee), 80s or 90s for the Online Museum? If so we can scan and return them to you - please contact our Chairman Phil Harding.

April 2016

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Give your mower a rest (& wildlife a chance)

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Ever thought about the wildlife benefits of NOT mowing your lawn? The RSPB advice is to give your grass mower a rest as mowing your lawn less, and letting parts of it grow long, saves you time and helps give nature a home. The grasses will set seed, wildflowers will be able to bloom, and the longer stems will create a sheltered microclimate - a mini jungle through which beetles and other small creatures can wander.

You'll see all sorts of insects roving through the long grass, pollinators coming to the flowers in the lawn, and hopefully sparrows and goldfinches coming to feed on the seeds whilst other wild birds will feed and thrive on the insects.

The RSPB advises that you can continue to give the mower a rest into autumn. But cutting it at the end of summer, say at the end of August, also mimics the hay meadows of past decades that made our countryside such a haven for wildlife.

If you are concerned about what the neighbours will think, don't worry as it will still look like you care for your garden if, for example, you create a neatly-edged block of longer grass in the middle of the lawn and continue to mow around it.

Your no-mow area can be any size or shape, however for best results try and make it at least a metre-squared. If you are able to locate your no-mow zone away from flowerbeds it is less likely that it will be invaded by garden plants.

Some further advice from the RSPB:

Create paths that look presentable. The trick is in mowing paths through the longer grass. They can be straight paths in a regular pattern, curving paths, or a mini-maze. Kids will love to run along them. There is extra wildlife incentive for mowing paths - there's evidence that creatures actually like using the short paths to move through the meadow, darting into the longer grass to get food.

Create a spring meadow. Leave your areas of long grass until July, and then mow through until the grass stops growing in late autumn.

and/or:

Create a summer meadow. Mow once in late March or early April and then leave it until September before mowing once or twice in the autumn.

On a warm day in summer, get down at ground level and look closely. See what flowering plants were in your lawn all along but never had the chance to flower, such as daisies, clovers and speedwells.

Remember, it is the less tidy areas of our gardens that allow wildlife to flourish whereas the over-tidy areas are virtually wildlife deserts - especially where non-native flowers, trees and shrubs are grown as these provide little or no food or habitat for insects (both our gardening and wildlife pages advise on the use of native plant species).

April 2016

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350+ objections (incl. SEG's) to 250 new houses on Keynsham East's Green Belt

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On 11th April SEG submitted a formal objection to Development Control at B&NES Council for the the proposed 250 new houses and associated development at Keynsham East (outline planning application 16/00850/OUT).

The deadline for comments was 14th April and over 350 objections including SEG's were received by B&NES. The target decision date is 10th June 2016.

In its objection SEG commented that the development would have a negative effect on an already over-stretched road transport system at peak times on the A4 between Bristol and Bath and will remove Green Belt open land that has an important purpose of separating the two distinct communities of Keynsham and Saltford. We said that the application also ignored all five purposes of the Green Belt in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

SEG's other points were as follows:-

The very regrettable decision to overrule sustainable development principles and permit Green Belt development at Keynsham in the Core Strategy has happened. The gradual loss of Green Belt land in the B&NES area is slowly creating cumulative negative consequences; transport congestion highlights that fact. It is thus incumbent on B&NES Council to ensure that transport problems are addressed BEFORE the development proceeds and not wait to see how bad things get before it is forced to act.

The transport statement (777 pages) associated with this outline planning application makes no real effort to address the fact that the existing and often extreme transport problems during peak travel periods between Saltford and Keynsham will be made worse by access to the A4 by inhabitants and visitors to and from the new development. One snapshot of traffic flows in April 2013 taken by the consultants KTC Limited at this location is not representative of the many problems faced by weekday commuters at different times of the day, different weekdays and throughout the year.

New housing needs to be located near to jobs to reduce the need for commuter travelling and should not create more problems for existing communities. A new development like this simply creates more overloading of transport systems and reduces air quality arising from higher traffic volumes and congestion (Saltford and Keynsham each have Air Quality Management Areas). It also puts local services under increasing strain, reduces recreational green spaces, the loss of Green Belt depletes natural habitats including wildlife corridors, local tourism/leisure businesses are put at risk, and agricultural land is permanently lost for food production purposes.

We concluded that those impacts underline why it would be extremely difficult to describe the proposed development as sustainable development.

Saltford Parish Council response to planning application

At its Planning Committee meeting on 5th April, Saltford Parish Council agreed the following response to B&NES Council on the outline planning application from Macktaggart and Mickel Homes Ltd (Land Parcel 7200, Bath Road, Keynsham ref 16/00850/OUT) to build 250 new houses in Keynsham (near Wellsway School) between Saltford and Keynsham in the Green Belt:

"Whilst we regret the decision made to develop the Green Belt between Keynsham and Saltford in the Core Strategy as this extends urban sprawl, we are also concerned that the road transport infrastructure between Saltford and Keynsham is already saturated at peak times of the day creating extended delays to journey times and raising levels of air pollution (ref. a section of the A4 in Saltford is an Air Quality Management Zone). Saltford Parish Council would therefore not wish this development to proceed without satisfactory measures to address traffic issues."

The planning application can be found on the B&NES Planning Control website (enter 16/00850/OUT in the search criteria).

April 2016

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Join Britain's biggest bee survey (19 May to 30 Jun)

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Photograph © Elizabeth Cooksey

Britain's bees make a huge difference to our lives. We can thank them for our food, garden plants, and crops. But our bees are under threat and they need our help. You can join the Great British Bee Count with a FREE and improved smartphone app. Each bee you identify will help the experts build a better picture of the health of our bees.

Details about how to get involved in the "Great British Bee Count 2016" can be found from this link: https://www.foe.co.uk/page/great-british-bee-count-2016-sign-up.

April 2016

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National well-being data highlights need to protect the Green Belt (- the Government didn't say that, we did!)

A snapshot of life in the UK today was published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) at the end of March under its Measuring National Well-being programme.

According to the ONS, overall the nation's well-being has improved but, with potential consequences for our future well-being, natural resources have declined. Of the 41 measures, assessments of change show that 17 have improved while 8 have deteriorated and 11 have stayed the same over the 3 year period. Comparisons have been made in most instances with data from 3 years ago.

What's getting better?

Improvements continue to be seen in personal well-being, increases in the proportion reporting very high ratings for their overall life satisfaction, their happiness yesterday, the sense that things in our lives are worthwhile, and those reporting very low anxiety levels.

Areas of life which are also getting better include our personal finances and the economy, a fall in the unemployment rate, healthy life expectancy continues to rise for both men and women, and the number of crimes against the person has fallen.

Improvements have also been seen across some environmental measures. Greenhouse gas emissions have fallen, the extent of areas designated as 'protected' has grown and a growing proportion of us accessed the natural environment. More energy has been consumed from renewable sources in the last year than in previous years and recycling rates have risen, but it is too early to say whether these are indicative of long term changes.

What's getting worse?

Despite increases in overall personal well-being, the proportions satisfied with their health, accommodation, household income and leisure time have all fallen over the three year period, though satisfaction with income and leisure time remain unchanged during the latest year. Population mental well-being scores fell as did adult participation in sport over the three year period. The number of people with a spouse or partner, family member or friend to rely on if they have a serious problem also fell.

A sustainable future?

The data shows that "human capital" rose when looking at things such as education, skills and competencies in the labour market. However the latest data for "natural capital", i.e. the value of natural resources such as woodlands and rivers and the ecosystem services that they provide, shows a long term decline.

The decline in natural capital reminds us why communities in the West of England including Saltford need to protect the area's Green Belt and agricultural land from development as the protection of such land remains paramount for a sustainable future. As Simon Barnes, columnist for The Times, wrote in 2013 "a living countryside is not a luxury but a necessity for the human population."

If you want to look at the report from the ONS in detail, it can be viewed from this external link.

April 2016

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2016 Big Garden Birdwatch results: House Sparrow is tops

8,262,580 birds were counted in 2016 Big Garden Birdwatch held on the weekend of 30/31 January. The top ten most commonly observed birds across the UK were:-

   1. House Sparrow
   2. Starling
   3. Blue Tit
   4. Blackbird
   5. Wood Pigeon
   6. Goldfinch
   7. Chaffinch
   8. Great Tit
   9. Robin
   10. Long-tailed Tit

For England the top five were:-

   1. House Sparrow
   2. Blue Tit
   3. Starling
   4. Blackbird
   5. Wood Pigeon

The Blackbird was the the most widespread garden bird, appearing in 88% of gardens. However, their numbers have declined since the first Birdwatch in 1979. The Long-tailed Tit was a new entry in the top 10 for 2016, arriving at 10th position. The House Sparrow kept its place at the top spot this year, with around four appearing in each garden.

According to the RSPB, January's mild weather might account for more smaller birds surviving the winter to be counted thus explaining the appearance of more Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tits and Goldcrests. And though natural food sources were plentiful, it's clear these birds still rely on the food we put out in our gardens. There were more sightings of the tiny Goldcrest this year. Along with its cousin, the Firecrest, it's Britain's smallest bird.

Song Thrush numbers halved between 1970-1995. Song Thrushes are relatively short-lived birds. They live an average of 3-4 years, but a few can reach quite an advanced age. Loss of hedgerows and wet ditches means feeding and nesting sites have been removed, while increased land drainage and tillage are likely to have reduced the number of earthworms and other crucial invertebrate prey available to Song Thrushes on farmland.

But you can help bring back this garden favourite - see our gardening page for advice on wildlife friendly gardening.

You can see the 2016 Big Garden Birdwatch results on the RSPB website from this link: RSPB - Birdwatch. If you are interested in learning more about the birds that are regularly observed in Saltford, these are listed on the right hand side of our wildllife page and each bird species listed is a link to full details on the RSPB website.

Information source: RSPB

April 2016

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B&NES gets bronze award for sustainable food

To achieve energy, food & economic security,
we need to keep asking the right people
the right questions

Good news! Bath and North East Somerset has achieved the bronze Sustainable Food Cities award for the entire district - much credit goes to Sophie Kirk, Corporate Sustainability Officer (Food) and her colleagues at B&NES for co-ordinating and driving forward this agenda.

The Sustainable Food Cities Awards are designed to recognise places that are taking a joined-up holistic approach to food and are achieving significant outcomes on a range of health and sustainability issues such as healthy diets, food poverty, community activities, food procurement including Fairtrade (Saltford is a Fairtrade village), and waste.

A broad range of businesses, community groups and organisations have contributed to the achievement of the award. The bronze award has got B&NES off to a good start since its Local Food Strategy was adopted in 2014 - here's hoping for further progress. If this topic interests you visit www.bathnes.gov.uk/localfood for further information.

Information on Sustainable Food Cities can be found at www.sustainablefoodcities.org.

March 2016

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History of Saltford - one year on

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St Mary's (& Saltford Manor) in 1789, 146 years after a group of Roundheads
vented their anger on the church in 1643 during the English Civil War.

We have proved that Saltford has a fascinating past,
unsurpassed by any other English village.

We launched SEG's History of Saltford Project a year ago in March 2015 and brought to the public's attention the Saltford Carthaginian Coin from the Iron Age (dated 300-264 BC) in April 2015, so it's a good time to provide an update.

Firstly, we'd like to thank everyone who has given or lent us photos, artefacts, books and information or shared their ideas and theories concerning Saltford's history.

We have proved that Saltford has a fascinating past, unsurpassed by any other English village. We've built up an extensive resource on the website attracting many 100s of page visits each month. With the project now containing over 350 images and photographs of people, places and archaeological finds, there is much to see and read as you delve into Saltford's history through this unique project.

We have researched and published for the first time many aspects of Saltford's past and its people. These include the French battling, anti-slavery patrolling Admiral Kelly of Saltford House, the 1861 census, the Domesday Book entry for Saltford, the detail of Saltford Manor's medieval domestic wall paintings, and we have filmed and published aerial videos of Saltford so that we record history in the making.

But we have done much more than that. Last October/November Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (BACAS) assisted by SEG volunteers kindly undertook for us a geophysics survey of the Roman Coffin field on the north side of the village, the first geophysics survey of this field. The survey indicated the possible presence of some prehistoric roundhouses in the northern portion of the field and signs of what may be a Roman structure on higher ground to the southern end of the field. We hope there will be a follow-up survey to reveal more later this year.

With landowners' permission SEG members have also carried out metal detection surveys around Saltford and one surprising find last December was the medieval Pilgrim's Lead Ampulla. This and many other artefacts discovered in Saltford over many years and not seen before by most residents are featured in our Online Museum.

What next?

We have given talks on this innovative project to audiences in Saltford and Bath and more are planned. If your organisation would like an illustrated talk about the project and its findings, contact our Chairman.

We are currently discussing and investigating the options for displaying some of Saltford's artefacts either in Saltford, our first choice, or elsewhere. We are also creating self-guided history walks so that you can walk Saltford's past with your smartphone.

We are researching and publishing new material on a continuous basis so we welcome your old photographs, maps, and stories of Saltford.

You can find links to our history project on this page.

March 2016

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Juliana Kelly photograph sought

Do you have an old photograph or portrait picture (from the late 19th Century) of Juliana Kelly (b.1803, d.1896, née Boyd and known locally as Mrs Admiral Kelly)? She was a local philanthropist who helped the poor in the village and paid for the re-building of Saltford School but we have no photograph of her for our feature page on her husband, Admiral Benedictus Kelly.

Portraits of Benedictus and Juliana were displayed at Saltford House when they lived there and whilst we have been successful in locating two portraits of the Admiral, we have not been so fortunate with Juliana. Do contact our Chairman if you can help. You can read about Juliana's generosity on the Admiral Kelly page from this link.

March 2016

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Children happier outdoors; green open spaces essential for good mental health

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"Nature can do more than physicians" - Oliver Cromwell

A recent survey of 2,000 British parents carried out by outdoor retailer Mountain Warehouse has revealed that British children spend just 4 hours a week playing outdoors, half the time that their parents did. TV presenter, wildlife lover and all-round champion for the outdoors, Steve Backshall, is now getting behind a campaign with Mountain Warehouse (external link) to help get children back outside.

The survey found that:-

  • 22% of British children have never climbed a tree;
  • 40% have never played conkers;
  • 20% have never flown a kite or made a daisy chain;
  • 60% have never built a treehouse or a swing;
  • 80% of British parents admit they prefer to keep their children indoors for reasons of safety; and
  • 50% of British parents admit to sometimes relying on school to ensure their children play outside.

The survey also revealed that 89% of British parents say their children are generally happier after playing outside. This confirms other research findings (e.g. Exeter University Medical School, 2014) that parks and other green spaces are essential for the quality of life and good mental health.

This underlines the need to protect Salford's Green Belt and open spaces; the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that determines national planning policy states (para 73) "Access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation can make an important contribution to the health and well-being of communities".

As spring and summer beckons, Saltford is a great place to be outdoors for adults and children alike. There are many outdoor sport and recreation facilities and activities in and around the village including tennis, cricket, football, walking, jogging, golf, cycling, horse riding, angling, kayaking, rowing, and sailing. These facilities are also popular with visitors from the surrounding area; Saltford's Green Belt provides an outdoor location that is important to the quality of life for a much greater population than just our own.

March 2016

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River and Canal Water Space Study

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The River Avon at Saltford

A study looking at new ways to use the river and canal system around Bath was launched on 14 March. B&NES Council, the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency and Wessex Water will work together in the jointly funded Water Space Study with the "aim of identifying projects to transform and revitalise the waterway network in the area". The project partners will be working with local consultancy firm Atkins.

The study will gather new evidence about how the waterways are used nowadays, where historically rivers and canals were heavily used for industry, business and trade, they are now used increasingly for sports and leisure. Engaging with local communities, it will look at regeneration, development and environmental opportunities along the River Avon between Bath and Keynsham, and along the Kennet and Avon Canal between Deep Lock and Limpley Stoke Viaduct.

The study will look at all aspects impacting on the river and canal, including how land is managed, boat moorings, river navigation by boats, leisure and recreation opportunities and environmental gains.

The project is due to conclude its recommendations in March 2017. Opportunities for public engagement are being planned for summer 2016.

Information on the river and canal Water Space Study can be found at www.bathnes.gov.uk/riverandcanal.

March 2016

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Overcoming the politics of climate change denial

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When President Obama signed the climate change agreement with 194 other nations in Paris last December, it was a significant victory for clean energy advocates worldwide. But it will be the next US President in charge of the world's second biggest carbon emitter (China being the biggest), who will largely carry the task of reducing that nation's carbon emissions.

Yet the different stances on climate change taken by the candidates for this November's US Presidential Election range from complete denial, even describing it as a hoax, to a strong awareness and desire for action.

Many studies have attempted to discover which factors most heavily influence individuals' beliefs about climate change and a new analysis* published in February in the journal Nature Climate Change looked at 25 polls and 171 academic studies across 56 nations. The lead author was Matthew Hornsey, a psychology professor at the University of Queensland in Australia.

   * "Meta-analyses of the determinants and outcomes of belief in climate change" by Matthew J Hornsey, Emily A Harris, Paul G Bain and Kelly S Fielding (and summarised by Chelsea Harvey, www.washingtonpost.com).

Two broad conclusions emerged:

First, many intuitive assumptions (such as education, gender, subjective knowledge, and experience of extreme weather events) were overshadowed by stronger influences, i.e. values, ideologies, worldviews and political orientation.

Second, climate change beliefs have only a small to moderate effect on the extent to which people are willing to act in climate-friendly ways.

Political affiliation was the demographic variable most strongly correlated with people's beliefs about climate change, with people who vote for more liberal political parties being more inclined to agree with scientists that climate change is manmade. More importantly a person's political ideology, i.e. a person's overall general set of consistent political beliefs and thus a different measure than the party a person may intend to vote for, was less of a predictor, although still a significant factor.

The report's authors concluded that this suggested that acceptance of climate change is more aligned to specific identification with political parties than to underlying political ideologies.

"What caught my attention was the role of ideologies and worldviews, and how much scientists are swimming upstream by trying to change the mind of people with a certain political mindset," lead author Matthew Hornsey said. "There's a school of thought out there that rather than just repeating the evidence, you need to focus on these underlying worldviews and then make your message seem friendly to those worldviews... For instance suggesting that environmentalism is patriotic or important for national security may help the idea resonate with some audiences".

There is also the case that many people with strong beliefs about climate change are nevertheless not inclined to support policies that may come at a personal cost to themselves. "There is a chunk of people who believe in climate change and want something done about it, but in a similar way that they want something done about third world poverty," Hornsey said. "It's something that 'the world' should deal with, but not necessarily in a way that requires personal sacrifice."

Editor's comment:

The findings of the study perhaps hold few surprises but they can help focus our minds on how we lobby those we seek to influence and the best way to overcome long held views that hold back our progress towards a cleaner, more sustainable future.

Whilst we might accept that some views are so entrenched we may never change them (and few people, including politicians, like to admit they have been wrong), we can work round them and use different approaches. For example rather than dwelling on the downsides or debating whether the climate changes we are experiencing are a result of human activity, we can promote the positive outcomes from taking action such as energy security, cleaner air, food security, more jobs, economic benefits, and greater resilience.

These thought-provoking statements are worth bearing in mind when we attempt to converse with those in denial about climate change:

"We know for sure that human activity is influencing the global environment, even if we don't know by how much. We might still get away with it: the sceptics could be right, and the majority of the world's scientists wrong. It would be a lucky break. But how lucky do you feel?"
- New Scientist article 'Climate Change: Menace or myth?' (2005)

"Make sustainable development so desirable it becomes normal"
- Futerra (Sustainability communications consultancy)

March 2016

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Fairtrade Fortnight quiz answers

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Frances and Stella at the Fairtrade Group's stall, Co-op, 5th March 2016

The Saltford Fairtrade Group had a stall at the Co-op store in Saltford during Fairtrade Fortnight on 4th and 5th March to help spread the Fairtrade message. Here are the answers for the quiz sheet handed out from the stall:

  1. The first Fairtrade product sold in the UK was a banana.
  2. The Co-operative's first own-brand product converted entirely to Fairtrade was chocolate.
  3. Fairtrade Fortnight is held each year over two weeks in February and March.
  4. Fairtrade products are now sold in over 125 countries.
  5. Saltford gained Fairtrade Village status in 2013.

For more about Saltford's 'Fairtrade Village' status visit our Fairtrade page. If you want to know how you, your shop, school, business, community group or club can get involved then please contact our local Fairtrade Group by email to saltfordfairtrade@hotmail.co.uk.

March 2016

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Don't expect low oil prices to remain, warns IEA

"It is easy for consumers to be lulled into complacency by ample stocks and low prices today, but they should heed the writing on the wall: the historic investment cuts we are seeing raise the odds of unpleasant oil-security surprises in the not-too-distant-future"
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol (February 2016)

Global oil supply growth is plunging as an extended period of low prices reduces investment in oil exploration and production capital expenditures in response to the current glut that is pushing down prices, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported in its annual Medium-Term Oil Market Report (MTOMR) released in February.

The IEA report notes that while oil prices should start to rise gradually once the market begins rebalancing, the availability of resources that can be easily and quickly tapped will limit the scope of rallies - at least in the near term. However, the report points to the risk of an oil price spike in the later part of the outlook period (to 2021) arising from insufficient investment as a direct result of low oil prices now.

"Switching to 'Renewables' generates jobs, skills, purpose, power, wealth, future, resilience, autonomy, freedom, unity: Sustainable Society"
Dave Hampton, Carbon Coach (2011)

That report shows the stark difference between the outlook for fossil fuels and clean renewable energy where, according to Al Gore, founder and chairman of The Climate Reality Project, in his recent and latest Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) lecture he showed why we can be optimistic (but not complacent) about renewable energy.

He said that at a global level renewable energy is growing exponentially with growth significantly beating expert projections. With the cost of solar energy having come down around 10% every year for the past 30 years, this expansion means the renewable energy transition could very well be the biggest business opportunity in the world right now. And around the world, from China to India to the US, countries are adding more and more capacity in renewable energy (e.g. 69% of new electrical capacity added in the US last year came from renewables).

The change to clean renewable energy is happening - what matters now is the speed of implementing that change.

March 2016

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Those soaring Buzzards

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The Buzzards (Buteo buteo) that we increasingly hear and see gliding, soaring and diving in the sky above Saltford are now the commonest and most widespread bird of prey in the UK, pushing the Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) into second place. In Saltford, the Buzzard underwent a dramatic change in status in the last few decades.


In the 1940s-1960s it was exceptional to see a Buzzard here, but in the late 1970s it became a regular, although infrequent visitor. Although one or more birds had evidently settled in Tennant's Wood (alongside the railway cycle path below Kelston) by 1981, up to about 1984, the only reliable way to see the species was to scan the Kelston-North Stoke ridge with binoculars. But by the end of the 1980s it had become a daily sight in Saltford itself, and by the end of the 1990s double-figure gatherings were commonplace under appropriate conditions. Populations have remained at this high level ever since.

Here are some facts about this magnificent raptor's natural history.

The Buzzard's national increase is a return to 'natural' conditions. During the Victorian era of generalised mass-slaughter of predators, it was eradicated from all but the most remote parts of Britain. Chances of a resurgence, with the mass deployment of keepers to the wars, were thwarted, and the species brought even nearer to national extinction, during the peak myxomatosis years (1950s/60s) when its main diet of wild Rabbit was drastically reduced. However, as the Rabbit population has re-established itself as a result of increasing genetic resistance or immunity to myxomatosis, so has the Buzzard population.

Populations tend to be densest where the fields are smallest, because it favours abundant hedgerows and small woods. Although Saltford lost many hedges during the 1960s-1980s, those which remain, particularly north of the residential area, are tall, wide and often associated with ditches, providing excellent conditions for prey.

Despite its medium-large size, the Buzzard is not a major predator, preferring a diet of carrion (dead and decaying flesh) and earthworms supplemented by live large insects, reptiles, frogs, small mammals and birds (including occasionally pheasants and partridges).

A slow almost lazy flier with little chance of catching its prey on the move, a usual tactic is to perch motionless on a branch of a large tree - or even on a lamp post. Where perches are scarce, or where it wants a broader view, it scans from the air. Its markings make excellent camouflage whilst perched in a tree and a Buzzard will wait patiently, sometimes for hours at a time, until a prey animal passes underneath. It will then swoop down and snatch the unsuspecting prey.

Resident in most of Britain, as the spring breeding season arrives Buzzards can be seen engaging in spectacular aerial displays, soaring, tumbling and even performing loop the loop. The most exhilarating displays are on days of fine weather, when hot air is rising. The species has a variety of rather plaintive mewing calls. The contact call can be heard from high in the sky, particularly during display, but is given year-round. For a few weeks in late summer more insistent, longer calls can be heard from newly fledged juveniles repeatedly calling for food from their parents.

Much foraging is solitary, but this is flexible. Indeed, the most obvious feeding activity in Saltford is generally during and immediately after grass-cutting and ploughing, when up to a dozen will gorge on the exposed small animals, amid gulls doing likewise. Two or three soaring birds often come close together for a few minutes at any time of year, but particularly during the period when young leave their natal territory, flocks of up to 20 soar round and round in thermals for longer spells, before peeling off singly or in small groups to all points of the compass.

With a lifespan of up to 25 years, Buzzards commence breeding in their third year, laying a single clutch of 2-3 eggs. Breeding pairs usually construct their nests in a large tree on a fork or branch, usually close to the edge of a wood, and have an interesting habit of decorating their nests with fresh green foliage. The female is larger than the male (as with most birds of prey).

The local history of the Buzzard looks set to be repeated by another large raptor almost eradicated from Britain by the Victorians: the Red Kite (Milvus milvus). This is now at the stage in Saltford of the Buzzard in the late 1970s, with multiple records each year (over a dozen in 2015). Most birds are fly-overs in March-June, with none yet having settled, even for a day. Thus, over the next few months, an eye to sky, mid-morning onwards on calm, cloudless, warm days will almost guarantee sightings of Buzzard and, just possibly, Red Kite.

Article by Phil Harding and Will Duckworth

Information sources:
Will Duckworth, RSPB, birdsofbritain.co.uk, Hawk and Owl Trust.

March 2016

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Admiral Kelly - our enigmatic hero

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(Montage of much larger images from our Admiral Kelly feature page)

Fighting the French from his early teens, holding directorships for two railway companies, and funding education, Admiral Kelly was probably Saltford's most remarkable 19th Century resident. But what was not known in Saltford until now was his important role in rescuing African slaves whilst facing great personal danger and then providing graphic and harrowing evidence in court that was used thereafter by a prominent campaign against slavery backed by Queen Victoria.

During February 2016 our research has uncovered extraordinary information about Admiral Kelly's anti-slavery patrols before he came to live at Saltford House (from 1856 to 1867). This is now published in detail as an illustrated feature item within our online history project.

Here is a short summary; there is a link to the full feature at the end of this article.

"Ever be bold, the port to hold"
"fortiter occupa portum" - Kelly College motto

Admiral Benedictus Marwood KELLY was born in 1785, at Holsworthy, Devon and died in 1867 aged 82 at Saltford House. Having joined the Royal Navy at just 13 Benedictus rose to the rank of Admiral (on the reserve list) in 1863 after active service in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and, as we have recently discovered, in the anti-slavery patrols.

He was posted as Captain to command HMS Pheasant on anti-slavery patrols off the west coast of Africa between 1818 and 1822. These patrols were dangerous and Captain Kelly lost several of his men. Some were murdered by Portuguese slave traders in a successful escape bid and others including the ship's surgeon died from yellow fever. It is likely that Captain Kelly contracted it too as he retired from active service on health grounds after this posting.

Captain Kelly and his men rescued over 300 African slaves from Portuguese slave traders. But it was his graphic and compassionate evidence to the Court of Sierra Leone of the horrendous conditions suffered by 71 slaves held on the Nova Felicidade when it was seized by HMS Pheasant in 1819 that proved especially influential thereafter.

His evidence was reproduced in several publications during the 1820s and was helpful for those seeking the complete abolition of the slave trade. Some 20 years later it was repeated in the 1840 prospectus for the "Society for the Extinction of the Slave Trade and the Civilization of Africa". The society's President was HRH Prince Albert. Prince Albert and his new wife Queen Victoria were each individually listed as financial supporters of the society.

Admiral Kelly was also a supporter of education. He made a grant of £100 to Saltford School in 1864 and, more famously, when he died in 1867 he bequeathed £200,000 for the establishment of Kelly College that was built in Tavistock, Devon. This opened in 1877 as a boarding school for the "sons of Naval Officers and other gentlemen" (Kelly College merged with Mount House and became Mount Kelly in 2014).

He died without children but his widow Juliana, a local philanthropist, survived him for a further 29 years. Juliana generously paid for the re-building of Saltford School in Queen's Square in 1874. Juliana died in 1896 and bequeathed financial gifts under the care of the Rector of Saltford to benefit poor parishioners.

You can read and see much more about our humanitarian hero and his many exploits on our history project special feature page: Admiral Benedictus Marwood Kelly >>

February 2016

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Clearing Saltford's litter as Saltford School shows the way

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Saltford School's enthusiastic Green Team led by Miss Jupp
(second left) after clearing the playing field of litter.

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Members from Saltford School's Green Team with litter they had collected.

A litter pick was held by Saltford School's Green Team with assistance from Saltford Wombles on 25th February, this was for the 'Clean for the Queen' initiative. We congratulate and thank the Green Team led by Miss Jupp for demonstrating such a community spirit and shared pride in our village.

The enthusiasm of the children was great to see and in just 50 minutes they picked up over 3 complete sack-fulls of litter on the playing field by the school and in Manor Road.

Saltford Wombles are planning a litter-pick for Saturday 27th February (meet 9.30am at The Little Coffee Shop, Manor Road).

With two litter picks having been held at the end of February, Saltford Wombles' next litter pick after those will be on Saturday 16th April (9.30am, meet at The Bird in Hand) - PLEASE NOTE: this is a change of date (was 9th April).

However if you wish to womble yourself in March to clear an area that needs attention, perhaps as a family activity, 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 >>

February 2016

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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.

At its 2nd February meeting, Saltford Parish Council agreed to participate in the North/West Area working group proposed by B&NES Council to discuss issues and proposals relating to the JSP and Transport Plan. The working group does not have formal terms of reference as it will be mainly concerned with information sharing whilst work on the JSP progresses; it will run for a short period between February to May.

Timetable

The current JSP timetable is:

  • June 2016
    Draft Plan
  • June 2016 - Spring 2017
    Consultation
  • Spring 2017
    Pre-submission Plan
  • Summer 2017
    Submission to HMG
  • Summer/Autumn 2017
    Examination by Government Inspector
  • Winter 2017
    Report by Government Inspector
  • Early 2018
    Adoption

The housing plans in the B&NES Core Strategy (2014-2029) adopted in July 2014 after lengthy and extensive consultations, negotiations and examination will be replaced by the new West of England Joint Spatial Plan (2016-2036). The JSP website is at www.jointplanningwofe.org.uk.

SEG publishes on our Green Belt page the evidence we submit and other relevant information about the JSP and its potential impact on the Green Belt whilst we will update our home page (News) with the latest JSP news affecting Saltford.

P.S.

In December 2015 the Government launched a consultation on some proposed changes to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) primarily dealing with definitions of affordable housing, increasing residential density and development on brownfield land. SEG became aware of this on 19 Feb 2016 and submitted comments on the deadline, 22 Feb 2016.

There were two questions posed by Government of particular concern:

  • "Should local communities have the opportunity to allocate sites for small scale Starter Home developments in their Green Belt through neighbourhood plans?" and
  • "Should planning policy be amended to allow redevelopment of brownfield sites for starter homes through a more flexible approach to assessing the impact on openness?".

In addition to addressing those questions in our response we also answered questions on a proposal to amend the definition of affordable housing in national planning policy to include a wider range of low cost homes, and the benefits of strengthening policy on development of brownfield land for housing.

If this topic interests you (or you have difficulty sleeping at night!) you can see the comments submitted to DCLG by SEG by clicking on this link: SEG comments on NPPF consultation, 22 Feb 2016 (pdf opens in new window). For future reference this can be found in the policy section of our Green Belt page.

February 2016

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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.

February 2016

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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."

February 2016

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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.

February 2016

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Joint Spatial Plan and the Green Belt - SEG makes our case

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Fields by Manor Road that were the subject of the Saltford Green Belt Inquiry in 2013.

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:-

  • Population growth, food security and protecting our 'natural capital'
  • Where do we put new housing?
  • Green Belt planning policy
  • Democracy and political considerations in B&NES and Saltford
  • Sustainable development

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.

January 2016

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Roman Saltford: Geophysics survey report published

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A twin probe resistance meter in use during the geophysics survey in Saltford, 28 October 2015.

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.

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Image (minimised) from the survey report of the
magnetometer plot with principal features annotated.

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.

January 2016

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Medieval artefact found on Saltford/Keynsham border

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This image shows both sides of the ampulla

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...

Acknowledgements/Information sources:
Ampulla found by Bob Mordle 29.12.2015.
Lead Ampullae: http://en.wikipedia.org/ and https://finds.org.uk/ (2016).

January 2016

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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.

January 2016

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What's YOUR carbon footprint?

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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
Kurt Heidinger

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.

January 2016

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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:-

  • Pulse crops are one of the most sustainable crops a farmer can grow. It takes just 43 gallons of water to produce one pound of pulses, compared with 216 for soybeans and 368 for peanuts. They also contribute to soil quality by fixing nitrogen in the soil.
  • Though pulses are a very popular crop in the developing world, there is a massive gap in productivity between pulse crops inside and outside the developing world. With the introduction of improved varieties and promotion of better management techniques, pulse crops can continue to be an excellent choice for farmers in the developing world.
  • Up to 25% of pulses are used as feedstuff, particularly for pigs and poultry. As a steady source of nutrition, feed for animals, and soil sustainability, pulse crops play a major role in food security, a role which will only grow in the future.

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.

December 2015

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Older news stories from SEG

'The SEG Newsletter' page carries some of our past and recently published news stories.

Click here to see >>



Contact SEG

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 You can contact Saltford Environment Group by email as follows:-


 All general, membership & urgent (e.g. Press) enquiries
 to our Chairman please.

 HOW TO JOIN SEG: If you live, work or have a particular interest
 in Saltford and wish to join our email membership list please
 send an email to our Chairman. Please include your name,
 address & contact telephone number
in your email application.


 CONTACTS:

 Chairman & Website Editor: Phil Harding phil@philharding.net
 (07814--720--763)

 Secretary & Website Deputy Editor: Debbie Cini
 mail@deborahwilkes.co.uk

 Saltford Station Campaign: Chris Warren cherokee1883@live.com

 Saltford Fairtrade Group: saltfordfairtrade@hotmail.co.uk

 Saltford Wombles: juliebsampson@gmail.com (or tel: 07807--671--267)

NOTE: Will Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and other similar companies please note that this website has all the SEO ranking (1st), social media links, & smartphone compatibility that it requires to meet its specific objectives. We are not a commercial enterprise so please do not send marketing emails which will not receive a reply.
 


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Want to show you care about the village of Saltford, its environment, wildlife and future as a thriving, more sustainable community?

Our facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/SaltfordEnvironmentGroup - please "like" us when you visit our page and you'll then get facebook notifications of our postings.

Why don't you join us? We welcome new members (membership is free!) - see our 'About us' page for details.

SUPPORT FROM BUSINESS: We welcome support from local businesses to help cover our costs and keep membership free for our members. If your local business would like to support SEG (e.g. a logo + link on this page is very inexpensive), please contact our Chairman (see above for contact details).


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