Be Involved Blog

 

Bleadon Be Involved Blog is for anyone who would like to raise an issue about, affecting or concerning Bleadon Parish Area. Please send your information for a new blog item to us using the normal contact us page and we will add it as soon as possible then anyone can add comments to it. These comments can be made in your name or anonomously but we reserve the right to take down anything we consider inappropriate or likely to offend.

 

You may be interested in other Bleadon BOB pages: Parish Council , Parish Council Precept , Parish Plan and Issues. Also remember that historical posts can be viewed by selecting the drop down menu at the top of the blog home page. More Blogs on Whats New, Neighbourhood Watch, Events and Classified/Lost and Found. Also see new Action Group page.

 

Media interest from BBC, ITVSkyUK Column (& Archive), CNN, RT, Al Jezeera, and others.

 

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Cheddar Gorge Closure Consultation

Posted on 4th March, 2024

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The proposal is for the Gorge to be closed to vehicles initially once a month but MHNL state, “This is only the beginning…"

 

The Mendip Hills National Landscape Team (MHNL) has launched a public consultation to gather feedback, and invite you to share your feedback on the proposals via the survey here (Overview & Questions)

 

The consultation period will run from Wednesday 31st January to Tuesday 12th March 2024. This will help to shape the next steps agreed, so your feedback is important.

 

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The proposal is for the Gorge to be closed to vehicles initially once a month. MHNL state, “This is only the beginning… We hope through the proposed ETROs we can improve the visitor experience and look forward to exploring more opportunities in the future.”

 

This follows feedback from local residents and businesses about the volume of traffic and anti-social driving in the Gorge, which could impact safety and people’s enjoyment of the area.” However, “...initial conversations with stakeholders, some businesses and organisations expressed concerns about the regulation impacting local businesses and car parking. Our proposed approach reflects these comments. The experimental order is intended to test an approach to understand how it could address the feedback received during previous discussions.

 

MHNL “want to create an experience that is fitting for a naturally beautiful and significant visitor attraction like Cheddar Gorge. … When the order is in place, Cliff Road (B3135) would be closed to vehicles from above the formal car parks to the Black Rock car park.”

 

This would allow walkers, cyclists and other visitors the chance to enjoy the Gorge more safely and enhance their visitor experience. For Cheddar an accessibility strategy was prepared setting out a range of short and longer term projects aimed at delivering sustainable transport improvements and enhanced accessibility.

 

See :

MHNL state, “It would offer opportunity for meet-ups, activities and events to be held in the Gorge and chance for everyone to enjoy one Britain’s most spectacular natural landmarks… Businesses throughout Cheddar remain open as usual during this time, as will the car parks at either end of the Gorge.

 

MHNL “will share any further updates on this website. You can also leave your email address in the feedback form to receive project updates.

 

For further information, you can contact the project team on CheddarGorge@distinctivecomms.co.uk or call 0330 107 0535.

 

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See also:

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Bleadon Road and Bridge Road Closed -  'trial' one way diversion up Celtic Way

 

Bleadon Road will be closed from 08 Jan 24 -28 Jan 24 (Notice of Intent)

 

Bridge Road will be closed from 08 Jan 24 - 04 Mar 24 (Notice of Intent)

 

Updated road closures at https://one.network/uk/northsomerset (Search for Bleadon)

 

UPDATE 15JAN24 The road closure presentation was well attended, 80-100 people. Presentation here.

 

UPDATE 09JAN24 Following last night's council meeting (Min 373.9.2BPC call a residents meeting 15 January 2024 at the Bleadon Youth Club at 7pm

 

SOME BOB FEEDBACK

- school pickup/drop off, serious danger of children crossing the road

- we can discuss issues but will NSC listen?

- passing vehicles on narrow road, some maneuvers requiring large vehicles reversing up/down hill (collision concerns)

- traffic causing extra pedestrian issues as no footpath

- traffic signs at Queens Arms/Celtic Way/Shiplate Road junction forcing cars out into the middle of road in both directions (collision concerns)

- Celtic Way and Bleadon Hill grass verges being churned up

- potential damage to people's property at the edges of the narrow road

- Traffic speeding through Bleadon Hill and Celtic Way

- loss of businesses (incl Bridge Road, Jeff Brown petrol stations/shop services, Brent Farm) - clarity of one way needed

- timescales needed to be confirmed

- mid winter snow and dangerous icy conditions (slipping and gritting issues)

- there are weight restrictions, how can large vehicles go over the hill via Celtic Way and Totterdown Lane?

- traffic problems exaserbated by current road closures on Roman Road and Celtic Way

- increased traffic through the lanes in/out via Shiplate Road (incl from Cheddar/Axbridge direction up/down Celtic Way) 

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BOB received an email from a resident regarding the road closure and diversion up Celtic Way.

North Somerset Council states that it has "... carefully considered all alternatives and a one way system is to be trialled. Once the works are in progress we will continue to work with the developer to monitor how the traffic Management is working and will make adjustments if required."

As this is a trial residents should make any concerns known to North Somerset Council as soon as possible.

 

Temporary lights were installed in 2015 as indicated in BPC's newsletter at the time (BVN101, page 8).

 

The reasoning against installing traffic lights this time is described in BPC's 08 January Agenda (Min 373.9.2):

 

 

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"2. Closure of Bridge Road

 

2.1 The works at the quarry necessitate the closure of Bridge Road for an extended period of time from 8th January 2024. The Parish Council was consulted about these requirements and indicated its expectation that temporary traffic lights would be installed at the Bleadon Road junction to enable traffic to safely enter and leave the village. The Council’s position was supported by Edenstone who included this requirement in the scheme submitted to North Somerset Council. The subsequent determination by North Somerset Council was that a more appropriate solution was to allow for access only through the Bleadon Road junction from the A370 and, as a consequence, to expect all traffic exiting the village areas to do so via Celtic Way.

 

2.2 It is evident that there has been a considerable amount of work to co-ordinate the required utilities work and minimise the requirements for further closures of Bridge Road. However, the use of Celtic Way – including for construction traffic – is considered inappropriate. There has been a significant amount of correspondence prior to and over the Christmas and New Year period to try and seek a better outcome than the one agreed by North Somerset Council. A number of Councillors have also met with representatives of Edesntone – who continue to support the Parish Council’s position. The two Ward Councillors have also been fully engaged and have registered their concerns regarding the appropriateness of the diversion. 2.3 A further update will be provided at the meeting"

 

This road closure is published on NSC website at https://one.network/uk/northsomerset (Search for Bleadon)

 

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NSC Local Plan Consultation 2039

Posted on 1st December, 2023

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WHERE IS ALL THE AGRICULTURE LAND GOING... GOING... GONE?

 

UPDATE 15JAN24: Local Plan 2039 Consultation presentation to 40-50 residents at the Youth Club

  • Please support your rural community and post comments on NSC’s proposed Local Plan 2039
  • Deadline 22 January 2024 - Consultation and associated documents here
  • Especially Section 5 Countryside policy DP53 Best and most versatile land
  • See all policies listed on pages 3-7, comment on any you feel passionate about
  • NB: "The planning system entitles anyone to apply for permission to develop any plot of land, irrespective of ownership"

BOB'S COMMENT SUBMISSION

 

UPDATE 08JAN24:

Bleadon Parish Council (BPC) agree to host a resident meeting Monday 15 Jan 2024 Youth Club at 7pm

 

This meeting is a direct result of the comments made by residents at the Annual Parish (Resident's) Meeting in April 23. In May 23 BPC noted,

"Concern was raised about North Somerset Local Plan Policy in relation to solar panels and wind turbines on agricultural land and its impact on farming. Suggestion that a Parish Meeting is held for the next Local Plan Consultation for the Parish Councillors to hear residents’ views." (Min 364.10) The place and time for this meeting were finalised by BPC at their meeting on Monday (Min 373.5). (NB It is an official resident's meeting hosted/chaired by the parish council)

Please support your rural community and post comments on North Somerset Council’s (NSC) proposed Local Plan 2039 by 22 January 2024 here, especially Section 5 Countryside policy DP53 (See letter to Town & Parish Councils and presentation to NSC Executirve Committee)

 

NB: North Somerset Council state,

"At the close of this consultation period the council will summarise the main issues raised by the representations and submit that summary to the Secretary of State. If the representations raise matters which would suggest changes should be made to the Local Plan before the document is submitted the council will consider the appropriate way to proceed. The examination is expected to take place in summer 2024. This will be followed by the report of the inspector. If the document is found to be ‘sound’ by the inspector it is expected that the Local Plan will be adopted by the council in December 2024 at the earliest... The right to appear or be heard at the examination is limited to those persons who make representations seeking a change to the plan at this stage” (See Local Plan p2 & p10)

NSC Local Plan Guide (PDF) states that, this consultation is a bit different to the previous three consultation stages in that the Government asks you to consider (Planning and Country Planning Act 2004 s20 as amended) whether the Local Plan policies are:

  • Compliant - does the plan meet the legal requirements made under various statutes?
  • Sound - has the plan been positively prepared, is it justified, effective, and consistent with national policy?
  • Meet the Duty to Cooperate - has the council engaged and worked effectively with neighbouring authorities and statutory bodies? This means that specifically, we (NSC) are asking people to consider whether the policies and proposals in the Plan meet any of these tests when making a comment.”
 ConsultationOpensClosesInformation

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North Somerset Local Plan 2039 Pre-Submission Plan (Reg 19)

27 Nov 23 22 Jan 24 at 5pm

"Representations made at this stage will be submitted to the Planning Inspector appointed to oversee the examination and will be made public"

Local Plan 2030 Pre-Submission Document (300 page PDF) & 53 supporting documents

 

NSC Current Interactive Local Plan Policies Map 

NB: Previous 'Renewable Search Areas' of Local Plan Solar and wind mapping has been removed?

 

Agriculture Land Classifications vs NSC Local Plan solar, wind, housing, etc. proposals on that land

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Agriculture Land Classifications in current Solar PV SPD 2013 p34. See also NSC GI Strategy Fig16

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Solar, housing, etc. Local Plan 2038 mapping . compared to no current Local Plan 2039 mapping?

 

Not all farmers are land owners. Those that are not landowners depend on their landlords to continually extend their leases, so that they can continue to farm. The actual land owners could live in the community, another part of the country, even abroad, using the land for investment purposes (e.g. in 2018 Bristol Airport was majority majority owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Canada!) 

 

NSC and TOWN & PARISH LOCAL PLAN CORRESPONDENCE
DATETOPIC

19DEC23 &

Email

 

Request for support for farming to all NSC Town & Parish Councils 

06DEC23

 

Presentation at NSC Executive Committee Regarding concerns over Farming, Food Production and Food Security

30NOV23 incl Farm Video

 

NSC Transport, Climate and Communities Policy and Scrutiny Panel

27NOV23

 

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) SPD Consultation responsebio

17NOV23

 

Draft Rural Strategy Considerations (still unpublished by NSC, draft due end of Jan 24)

APR22

 

Previous BOB Local Plan presentation and April 2022 Consultation submissions

 

HOW IS NSC AND ITS POLICIES STRATEGICALLY ASSESSING AND PROTECTING FOOD PRODUCTION AND FOOD SECURITY IN NORTH SOMERSET?

DEFRA Agriculture in the UK Evidence Pack September 2022 update (PDF)

  • "20% of England’s sheep herd is in the South West
  • 39% of England’s dairy herd is farmed in the South West.
  • The West Midlands has the smallest average farm size compared to the average for England, closely followed by the South West [so if small farms are encouraged to diversify e.g. solar, BNG, nature recovery, housing, etc. food production and security will be affected]
  • In 2020, after deductions for wages, rent, interest and asset depreciation and taking subsidy contributions into account, the total income from farming in England was £3.6bn, with the South West contributing the most (19%) and the North East the least (4%).
  • Since 1988, the amount of food consumed in the UK of UK origin has fallen from 66% to 58% and the amount of food consumed of EU origin has risen from 18% to 23% over the same period. However, food of UK origin rose 4% and food from EU origin decreased 5% in 2021 compared to 2020.."
  • Farming and environment evidence packs - latest editions

(p177) Policy DP43: housing (including rural exception schemes)

  • "Developments will be expected to provide 38.5% affordable housing on greenfield sites and 20% on previously developed land.." How will food production land be protected?

NSC defintion "Sustainable development: Development which meets the needs of the present generation, without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs." (Glossary) NSC policies need to protect the future of farming, food production and securtiy for future generations.

 

(Page 98) Local Plan Policy DP7 Large scale renewable and low carbon renewable energy

  • NSC definition "Renewable energy: Energy generated from the sun, the wind, water and plant material (biomass)."
  • "Proposals for energy generation from renewable and low carbon sources including wind turbines, solar photovoltaic arrays, biomass and hydropower (marine, river and tidal) schemes will be supported subject to no unacceptable impact on: (a variety of caveats including) ..."Infrastructure assets including power lines, roads, rail and aircraft safety."  Food is one of the government's 13 Critical Infrastructure Sectors, NSC's policies do not appear to reflect this status, however, "On greenfield sites, all proposals should seek to support continued agricultural use and biodiversity improvements"
  • "Proposals for biomass/bioenergy developments will be approved provided they are of a scale and type which is appropriate to the location" "NSC definition "Bioenergy: Energy that is made from biomass or biofuel. Biomass: Organic material of biological origin (plant or animal), used as fuel to produce electricity of heat. This will include wood, energy crops or animal waste from farms." (Glossary) Biomass/Bioenergy production should not replace food production for people and animals.
  • "North Somerset Wind Energy and Solar PV Supplementary Planning Documents will be updated to highlight potential locations identified as most technically suitable areas for renewable energy schemes from the Renewable Energy Resource Assessment Study (2021)." NSC Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Arrays SPD 2013 pg32 image pg34 image and Wind Turbines 2014.
  • How are ethical and environmental issues to be addressed e.g. production (mining slave and child labour/health & safety, use of coal powered stations, etc.), shippping (carbon miles),  decommissioning (landfill & other environmental issues)
  • Where are these updated documents published? Why are these important documents not updated and referenced during this consultation? Are these SupplementIary Planning Documents(SPD) the same as the published 'Landscape Sensitivity Assessment Solar PV and Wind Energy' Document? 
  • NB Independent analysis of the carbon emissions associated with new nuclear plants have demonstrated they have smaller lifetime greenhouse gas footprint than that created by solar power and about the sam"e as wind power. It also operates 24/7, not just in the daytime or on sunny or windy days." (EDF and IPCC)

"The SPD will also provide guidance in relation to the Landscape Sensitivity Assessment (2021), which assessed the landscape sensitivity of different parts of North Somerset in relation to solar PV and wind turbine development."  Current version in consultation is Landscape Sensitivity Assessment Solar PV and wind energy development NOV 23, 

  • C.67 "LCA G1 has a lower landscape sensitivity to solar PV developments as it has a greater sense of visual enclosure provided by the gently undulating landform and surrounding woodland and mature hedgerow boundaries."
  • C.68 "LCA G2 has a slightly higher sensitivity to solar PV developments due to its more open character with low hedgerows, and the high frequency of seminatural habitats and historic features..." (pg 140)

"For some uses it may be possible to return the land to productive agricultural use without any loss of quality, should the proposed use no longer be required. For example, solar farms or similar. Suitable measures will be put in place to ensure this could be achieved." What suitable measures can be put in place? (See mega solar developments in Langford)

 

(p204)  NSC Local Plan DP53 Best & Most versatile land states,

  • "The proportion of Grade 1 land in North Somerset is approximately 7% and 10% for Grade 2. 60% falls in Grade 3..." How much of this land is already in use as food production for people and animals, regardless of whether it is 3a or 3b, the latter seemingly a target for solar, housing, nature recovery, BNG, etc.? Note that the 3b land classification is said to be ‘moderate quality agriculture land’, not poor or useless, and has a role in current farming (See Langford Mega-Solar Development on grades 3b and 4 agriculture land) and mega-solar project maps on BOB. No mention of 3b or quantification of the area of land involved?

(p205) Local Plan DP54 Rural Workers Housing

  • "Farmers are encouraged to diversify their activities and supplement their income from enterprises other than normal food production."
  • What is being done to protect or 'offset' the land for the existing food production and food security? What is NSC doing to improve this locally?

(p91) Policy DP5 Climate change adaptation and resilience

  • "Protect spaces for local food production and market gardening including allotments, tree planting, community orchards, community gardens and identify opportunities for community composting"
  • "A Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) will be prepared to set out the detail for how these policy requirements will be implemented."
  • Where is the detail of this document? Will it include protecting farming?

(p93) Local Plan DP6 Net Zero Construction READ THIS POLICY IN DETAIL

 

SEE GOVERNMENT ENERGY BILL - "...under this new legislation, those who fail to adhere to energy consumption regulations could face imprisonment for up to a year and fines of up to £15,000"

Good God! Is Britain really going to jail people who disagree with net zero?

  • "... getting design right from the outset is much more cost effective than needing to retrofit later. The report recommends a space heating demand of 15-20kWh/m²/year by 2025 at the latest. ...guidance on meeting net zero recommends a maximum total energy use of 35 kWh/m²/year" What if you use more?
  • "Renewable Energy Offsetting Residual energy demand should be met through the generation of onsite renewable energy, but if this is not technically feasible, the requirement may be met elsewhere by means of offsite renewable energy generation." What is NSC's expectations for old/ residential and non-residential buildings?
  • "Renewable energy offsetting must only be used where it is demonstrated as not technically viable to meet the residual energy demands through onsite renewable energy generation. This is to ensure that new buildings are as energy efficient as possible and will not need retrofitting in the future. The council has a renewable energy offset scheme. Renewable energy credits will be purchased in order to achieve the net zero energy balance. This will be an agreed cost per kWp or per kWh generated, to meet the net annual energy demand for a scheme.The price per kWh generation shortfall will be agreed at planning application stage. An update to Creating Sustainable Buildings and Places Supplementary Planning Document will set out the process for securing offset credits, where these are required"
  • "A building’s energy use is now considered to the best measure for net zero compliance, whilst reducing emissions on-site is no longer the best measure of sustainable design. Total energy use and space heating metric targets are considered to be the best mechanism to model and monitor net zero compliance because the electricity grid is decarbonising. One of the key advantages is that these metrics can be checked once the building is occupied without requiring further modelling or analysis."  
  • Local Plan Glossary re:  Absolute Net Zero and Net Zero Operational energy and  Net zero whole life carbon building and Net zero embodied carbon building and  Net Zero Energy Standard: How will NSC treat old buildings with regards targets and offsets? How much of this 'off-site' renewable energy will use food production land?  

Carbon offsetting report – 'Carbon offsetting within an energy intensity policy framing Report to West of England Authorities Final' 30 June 2022

  • "Prioritising rooftop solar would minimise the use of agricultural land for solar development and the associated landscape and other impacts. This is likely to align with understandable public and political opinion that we should prioritise rooftop installations ahead of greenfield solar."
  • "... there are legitimate trade-offs between the use of roof-space for renewable energy generation to get to a net zero operational balance, and the use of limited roof space to meet policy requirements around climate adaptation, for instance for green roofs to provide habitat and mitigate overheating or the provision of roof gardens or amenity space for residents. This might mean that in inner urban areas where overheating is likely to be a greater concern, authorities place a greater emphasis on climate adaptation considerations and accept slightly greater use of off-site renewable energy to achieve a net zero operational balance." (30JUN22- updated 17NOV23)
  • Does this mean NSC policies put greater emphasis on 'climate adaption' rather than on food production and security? Will inner urban areas, that have little/no open land, be looking to use rural NSC countryside to achieve their chosen net zero targets? How does NSC intend to protect agriculture and 'offset' food production and security?

(p18) Policy SP2: Climate change

  • "The council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and has a target of being carbon neutral by 2030"
    • When were public given evidence to support this and when did the public vote on this NSC decision?

(p60) Policy LP9 Bristol Airport

  • "More than two thirds of local authorities in the UK have declared their commitment to help delivering the Net Zero Transition through declaring a climate emergency."
    • Therefore one third have not - on what evidence did NSC declare one?

(p115) Policy DP15: Active and sustainable transport

  • "Road transport greenhouse gas emissions represent a fifth of total UK emissions, the biggest contributor being private vehicle trips. The transport sector is, at 49%, the largest single source of carbon emissions in North Somerset. (not farming or emmissions from cows) This is considerably higher than the regional (South West) average of 24% and the national average of 24% from transport (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 2019). For the West of England region, transport CO2 emissions will rise by a further 22% by 2036 if we don’t act, increasing the risk of droughts, floods and extreme heat globally and in the South West.
  • Current private vehicle trips and predicted growth represents a significant challenge in meeting national and local carbon reduction targets. It is not expected that mass take-up of low emission vehicles will solve the problem alone, nor will it solve the challenges of capacity, congestion, deteriorating health and well-being and pressure on space.
  • One of the biggest challenges in reducing highway transport emissions is encouraging behaviour change."

(p121) Policy DP18: Travel plans

  • support delivery of the North Somerset Active Travel Strategy and Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan, encourage a greater proportion of trips by active travel modes, shape active travel neighbourhoods, reduce car travel and encourage sustainable travel, especially walking opportunities, for journeys less than one mile.

(p130) Policy DP22: Visitor attractions

  • "Proposals must meet climate change objectives and have no adverse impact on environmentally sensitive areas such as the Mendip Hills AONB and areas at risk of flooding and minimise the development of permanent structures and hardstandings."

(p151) Policy DP34: Green infrastructure

  • "The North Somerset Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan identifies the need to replenish carbon stores in the district. GI is relevant since it involves providing and maintaining areas of vegetation and trees... The GIS objectives include ... the creation of bigger, better, more and joined-up woodland, grassland and wetland habitats to achieve the ambitions of the West of England Nature Recovery Network’"
  • "Where it is not possible, practical or desirable for green infrastructure provision or enhancement to be made on site, then adequate measures for off-site provision will be made, which may involve formal agreements and financial contributions" How much of this off-site provision will be on food production land? How will NSC assess and offset food requirements?

(p154) Policy DP35: Nature conservation

  • "Where a development requires off-site mitigation for greater horseshoe bats it is expected that developers will consider the use of the North Somerset Nature Parks strategic mitigation sites as a preferred means of achieving that mitigation. These Nature Parks are located in areas that have been modelled as providing the most important habitat and connectivity for bats and encompass a mixture of existing prime habitat for protection and areas that are suitable for enhancement". Does the modelling match real world outcomes? Will other districts also use NSC sites for offsetting their nature requirements (not only bats)? How will this effect farming, food production and security?

(p159) Policy DP36: Biodiversity net gain (BNG)

  • "If it can be demonstrated that it is not possible to achieve the required BNG on site or that there are overriding benefits in making provision elsewhere, then off site mitigation may be acceptable. Where off-site mitigation is required, preference will normally be given to locations close to or well related to the development site" Has it been proven that developing on land (destroying nature in one are) and offseting it by using an off-site mitigation actually protects or improves nature? 
  • "Natural England produced a Biodiversity Metric 4.0 in July 2021 for most developments, and a Small Sites Metric (SSM) for use on small development sites in some circumstances (such as where no priority habitat, protected species, or off-site mitigation is involved). These (or any subsequent versions) provide the methodology for the BNG calculation. The calculation and BNG assessment must be set out in the biodiversity gain plan, including data and maps showing habitats affected and proposed."
  • "... this policy requires that developers should firstly aim to avoid, then minimise, then mitigate for, adverse impacts on biodiversity on site, before resorting to off-site mitigation... developers may be able to demonstrate that there are clear overriding benefits in providing supporting habitat for species away from the development (perhaps where species are sensitive to disturbance), in which case off-site mitigation may also be acceptable."
  • See Bodiversity Net Gain Consulation blog

(p25) Policy SP6 Villages and rural areas

  • "The policy approach allows rural buildings to be converted to dwellings, subject to criteria, as it makes use of an existing resource."  How does NSC policy ensure that barns needed for feed, housing animals and machinery, etc. are not lost?
  • Where there are no existing suitable sites within settlement boundaries, a variety of non-residential proposals may be acceptable outside settlement boundaries." How will NSC policy ensure farming and variety of food production is not reducted?
  • NSC definition "Rural building: All buildings outside of settlement boundaries other than permanent dwellings ... and buildings on existing or safeguarded employment sites, quarry or waste sites. Primarily this is likely to be agricultural building"

(p27) Policy SP7: Green Belt 

  • "The Green Belt is regarded as a multifunctional asset which not only carries out the traditional purposes set out nationally by maintaining openness and protecting land from inappropriate developments, it also ensures productive farmland ..." Bleadon is not in a green belt area

(p31)SP9 Employment

  • "Updated economic forecasts have been used to assess the requirements for employment land demand over the plan period (Employment Sites and Premises Requirements Evidence, Hardisty Jones Associates, 2023). This assessed economic forecasts across a range of sectors using data from Cambridge Econometrics and Oxford Economics. The assessment modelled the corresponding  demand for employment land and premises across the range of business land typologies in North Somerset and across the West of England." 81.25ha over WSM, Wolvershill, Clevedon and Portishead. Do the models reflect real world requirements? How much of this is greenfield food produciton land?

(p130) Policy DP22: Visitor attractions

  • "Changes to farming policy and support payments are likely to result in an increasing number of farmers and landowners looking to diversify their businesses and potentially include visitor accommodation, camping and glamping" Will current or increased levels of food production be guaranteed or reduced? 

(p162) Policy DP37: Trees, woodlands and hedges

  • "Proposals for off-site provision is made where tree planting is not appropriate or practical on site" Is food production to be used as tree off-site provistion? 

(p165) Policy DP38: Landscape

  • "Where some harm to the local landscape character is unavoidable, but a development is otherwise deemed beneficial, then positive mitigation measures should be secured by a landscape condition or planning agreement involving works on or off-site as necessary."
  • Will "rolling valley farmland" continue to be productive in a range of food produce (arable, sheep, cows, pigs, etc) especailly if landowners (not necessarily farmers) may be encouraged to diversify into solar panels (possibly with just sheep and no dairy produce) , wildflower meadows, trees/forestry, etc.?

(p208) Policy DP55 Agriculture and land based rural businesses

  • Definition of "Land based rural business development: A business which requires a rural location and is totally dependent on the use of the surrounding countryside for its business success such as horticultural, equestrian development, farming" (Glossary p294) Not just food production
  • "Planning permission will be granted for agricultural or forestry development on existing and new holdings, or development for the purposes of farm based and other land-based rural businesses or diversification provided that:" Will NSC guarantee that there will be no adverse effect on food production (for people and animals), e.g. wih the rise in planting trees?
  • "Farm diversification activities can contribute to the local economy by providing opportunities for employment or recreation for residents and visitors and by resulting in increased patronage for local shops and services. Such activities, where they come within planning control, will generally be supported provided that the character and appearance of the countryside are not harmed." Will food production be 'harmed', character and appearance over necessary function of food production?

(p209) Policy DP56: Equestrian development

  • "Permission for equestrian development will be permitted provided that either individually or cumulatively:.." a number of exeptions that do not include the protection of food production? Equestrian use removes land from food system category.

(p214) Policy DP58: Conversion or re-use of rural buildings

  • "Retailing will not be permitted, other than farm shops, small scale village stores, proposals under 200m² or proposals that are ancillary to the main use.
  • If the building was completed within 10 years of the application being submitted for an agricultural or equestrian use the applicant will need to demonstrate that the conversion of this building is essential for the long-term benefit of the associated agricultural/forestry/equestrian operation." How does this policy protect farms who rent rural building for the housing of animals, feed, machinery, etc.? How will this use be 'offset'?

(p218) Policy DP60: Employment on green field land in the countryside

  • "Development proposals for new buildings for business use (Use Classes B2, B8 or E(g)) on previously undeveloped sites outside settlements will only be permitted where no suitable redevelopment sites or redundant rural buildings suitable for re-use are available and: • The proposal relates to processing locally grown produce or other land based rural business; However, how does this policy prevent the other caveats from reduces food production?

(p221) Policy DP62: Visitor accommodation in the countryside including camping and caravanning

  • "The construction of new buildings for use as visitor accommodation outside the Green Belt and AONB will be permitted provided that: ...(conditions)
  • Proposals for new or extended touring and static caravan sites outside the Green Belt and AONB will be permitted provided that:... (conditions)
  • All visitor accommodation should: Not have a significant adverse effect on the living conditions of adjoining occupiers or adversely affect the operation of working farms;... (does this also include rotatied land use for crops and animals?)
  • Proposals to use mobile homes on longstanding existing holiday parks for permanent residential accommodation will only be permitted if:
    • They are outside flood zone 3; and They are easily accessible in relation to existing facilities and services."
  • How does this policy prevent 'caravan creep' and protect food prodcution?

NSC Strategic gaps Background Paper NOV23 (PDF)

"...., the relatively sensitive nature of the landscape, taking account of the topography and views, would suggest that if significant development was proposed there could well be a landscape reason for refusal." So how does this fit with potential solar panels over Bleadon fields? Does NSC's definition of development include business (caravan) and energy related development, or just housing?

SOME NSC Budget Info1 and Budget Info2 (06DEC23)

    • RURAL FINANCING 
    • REPF - Grants to Rural Business £106,229  in 2023/24 and £159,342 in 2024/25
    • REPF - Grants to Rural Communities £70,817 in 2023/24 and £106,229 in 2024/25 
    • Addition - Rural England Prosperity Fund - DP566 £177K in 2023/24 and £266K in 2024/25
      • How have rural communities accessed this funding, how has it been spent?
      • What has been allocated to Bleadon? REPF (17JAN24)
    • Decarbonisation of heat (boilers) £1.8 million  (Grants & Contributions)
    • Decarbonisation at Campus £1,197,000 (£886K Grants & Contributions + £311K Capital Receipts)
    • Eco Bus (library outreach vehicle (mobile replacement) £175K (Borrowing)
    • Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) £212,508 (Grants & Contributions)
    • Low Emission Vehicle Provision - Match (grant to be added once known) £45K Borrowing)
    • Purchase of Vehicles - Place (Electric vehicles?) £548,597 (£351,332 Borrowing + £123,266
    • Waste & Recycling - vehicles and electric vehicle top-up £12,352,595 (Borrowing)Reserves & Revenue + £74,000 Capital Receipts)
    • Environmental Services & Safer Communities - overspend of £1.423m
    • Purchase of Land to support biodiversity net gain £300K (Borrowing)
    • Land for Yatton Secondary £2 million (Grants & Contributions)
    • Land at Parklands Village £384,527 (Grants & Contributions)
    • Land Release Fund - Churchill Avenue, Clevedon £350K (Grants & Contributions)
    • Land Release Fund - Uplands, Nailsea £481,020 (Grants & Contributions)
  •  
    • NSC faced "... a £50 million budget gap between now and 2028 - but since then, they've narrowed that to just £13 million. Just under £4 million of that ne eds to be found for the next financial year."
      • "At this time the council expects to receive £314.625m of grants and contributions from external stakeholders to fund specific schemes, which is the largest component of the programme, although the council will need to borrow £111.132m in order to be able to deliver all aspects of the programme." Budget Info2 
        CAPITAL PROGRAMMEBORROWING
        Adult Social Service£0

        Childrens Services

        £5,559,624

        Housing

        £421,498

        Corporate Services

        £13,491.998

        Place

        £91,659,010

        TOTAL

        £111,132,130
      • How much of this debt is attributed to NSC declared climate crisis, nature crisis and environmental related projects? 
      • How much  public land has NSC sold and for what purposes?In particular, how much smallholding land has been sold, and what effect has this had on farming? 
    • The total area of NSC smallholdings land as at 31 March 2022 amount to 166ha (410 acres). S See Langford solar developments.

 

 

 image

(Video 17mins)

 

European Commission - Grazing for Carbon (10MAY17)

"The potential of grasslands as a sink for carbon is enormous in Europe"

 

What is NSC's plan for meat in the future, will local people rather than political party 'green' politics direct NSC decsion making? (See C40 Mayors Dietary Plan)

 

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See also:

and related info

 

NSC Corporate Plan and Budget 2024-2028

Posted on 1st December, 2023

image

 

WHERE IS ALL THE AGRICULTURE LAND GOING... GOING... GONE?

 

 ConsultationOpensClosesInformation

image

North Somerset Council's (NSC) Corporate Plan and budget development22 Nov 23

10 Jan 23 at 5pm

"North Somerset Council's new leadership has mapped out its priorities for the next four years."

Overview and Corporate Plan & Budget and Action Plan

 

BOB Response 10 Jan 24

 

BOB speaks at NSC Executive Meeting (06DEC)

Regarding concerns over Farming, Food Production and Food Security

Video 4mins 

 

Previous BOB Response 16 Oct 23

 

OPEN, FAIR, GREEN NORTH SOMERSET

  • OPEN
    • "... means listening to you and your views on the decisions we make. It means being accountable for how we spend your money and ensuring we provide the very best value we can"
  • FAIR
    • " ... means listening to the views of all groups and acting on local issues. It means ensuring equity in access to services."
      • Why haven't the rural community issues raised, including at the October public meeting, been addressed in this new proposed Corporate Plan?
    • "Approximately 40% (15,490 hectares) of land in North Somerset is designated as Green Beltwith "30% of our population live in rural areas with the remaining population living in the coastal towns of Weston-Super-Mare (40%), Clevedon, Portishead and the market town of Nailsea (30%)"
    • Corporate Plan pg 11 states, "... we will work with all our communities including our Town and Parish Councils to achieve the aims in our Climate Emergency Strategy action plan including how we will adapt to our changing environment"
      • Is it fair that rural agriculture communities, needing land for farming, producing nutritious food and food security for everyone are not mentioned, and may be signifiicantly impacted by NSC's Coroporate Plan, Local Plan 2039 and associated policies>
  • GREEN
    • "... we do all we can to understand the impact our actions have on the environment and mitigate them where possible"
      • Have NSC policies been assessed in regards to their impact on current and future farming, food production and food security? (e.g. solar, wind, Biodiversity Net Gain, Nature Recovery, housing, roads, etc.) Where has this been published?

BUDGET QUESTIONS

  • How much is spent on the Green Agenda? Rewilding & Tree planting? Decarbonisation? Energy efficiency? Heating, heat source pumps, lighting? Green education/ indoctrination?
  • How was the £50million deficit over 4 years reduced to £13million? (28NOV23) How much NSC agricultural land was sold?
  • How is the remaining £13million deficit over the next 4 years proposed to be paid?
  • How much is spent in relation to actual food production out of the "3% helping people keep well and stay health", rather than food packages and education?
  • How much is spent on migration and migrants?
  • Budget Info1 and Budget Info2 (06DEC23)
    • RURAL FINANCING
    • REPF - Grants to Rural Business £106,229  in 2023/24 and £159,342 in 2024/25
    • REPF - Grants to Rural Communities £70,817 in 2023/24 and £106,229 in 2024/25 
    • Addition - Rural England Prosperity Fund - DP566 £177K in 2023/24 and £266K in 2024/25
      • How have rural communities accessed this funding, how has it been spent?
      • What has been allocated to Bleadon?
    • Decarbonisation of heat (boilers) £1,800,000
  • Minutes of the Meeting of The Executive Wednesday, 18 October 2023 (pg7)
    • “(1) Affordable Housing Policy DP43 "Affordable housing (including rural exceptions schemes) is amended to increase the proportion of affordable housing sought on green field sites to 38.5% to reflect the overall proportion of affordable housing need identified in the Local Housing Needs Assessment. Officers are asked to consider the most effective delivery of that percentage, including consideration of grant input where appropriate."
      • How much of this housing 'delivery' will affect food production and security? How much public grant money will be granted?
    • (2) Embodied carbon Policy DP6. "Net Zero construction is amended to specify a target for embodied carbon within new buildings in order to provide clarity on how the policy requirement is delivered. Officers are asked to identify an appropriate standard using the approach recently adopted in the Bath and North East Somerset Local"

NSC Corporate Action Plan Stated Land Use:

 

The NSCAction Plan references food but with no reference as to where and how that food will be produced? If farmers and small farms are encouraged to diversify away from farming (DP54), food production & security will be negatively affected. For example, NSC Action Plan proposes:

• “An increase in new homes on council-owned land, including affordable homes.

• An increase in identification of more areas of council land for re-wilding/ management for biodiversity.

• Increase the delivery of renewable energy on North Somerset land and buildings

• Land has been identified to secure the delivery of the required number of dwellings within North Somerset between 2024-2039.

• Land has been identified for business purposes across North Somerset to meet needs and aspirations across a range of economic sectors over the plan period, to contribute to sustainable patterns of development and commuting, and to provide a range of local employment opportunities.

• Deliver the council’s development programme to provide quality homes and jobs on council owned land.

• An increase in our carbon stores through increased tree planting and land management.”

 

Where is NSC’s critical infrastructure ‘Food Production and Security Strategy and Action Plan?

BOB Reports re: Farming, Food Production & Food Security

(various topics sent various departments in North Somerset Council)

  • Previous BOB Local Plan presentation and April 2022 Consultation submissions (APR22)
  • Draft Rural Strategy Considerations (17NOV23)
  • Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) SPD - NSC Consultation repsonse (27NOV23)
  • Food Production Security - NSC Transport, Climate and Communities Policy and Scrutiny Panel (30NOV23 incl Farm Video)
  • Presentation at NSC Executive Committee Regarding concerns over Farming, Food Production and Food Security (06DEC23)
  • Request for support for farming to all NSC Town & Parish Councils (19DEC23Email)

NSC Public Engagement sessions

 

The leader of the council Mike Bell, and Executive Members, will be hosting a number of public engagement sessions throughout November and December to talk about the Corporate Plan and budget. No need to book, please just drop by.

  • Monday 27 November, Hangstone Pavillion, Yatton, 6.30pm until 7.30pm
  • Friday 1 December, Tithe Barn, Nailsea, 6.30pm until 7.30pm
  • Monday 4 December, Castlewood, Clevedon, 6.30pm until 7.30pm
  • Wednesday 6 December, Old Town Hall, Weston, 6.30pm until 7.30pm
  • Wednesday 13 December, Folk Hall, Portishead, 6.30pm until 7.30pm

Executive members will also be joining our mobile libraries in December on the following dates to meet with residents and talk through issues and ideas. No need to book, just turn up!

  • Wednesday 13 December, Wrington - Memorial Hall car park, 2.00pm – 3.00pm
  • Friday 15 December, Long Ashton – Community Centre car park, 10.00am – 11.00am
  • Monday 18 December, Backwell - Rodney Road, 2.30pm – 3.30pm
  • Thursday 21 December, Banwell - Car park opposite the primary school, 3.30pm – 4.30pm

 

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See Previous:

CCTV sound finally off

Posted on 27th November, 2023

image

 

BPC finally remove sound recording from their 7 cameras around the halls carpark and playground area

 

 

NSC Local Plan

Posted on 19th October, 2023

image

 

WHERE IS ALL THE AGRICULTURE LAND GOING... GOING... GONE?

Public consultation coming soon ... end of October 2023?

 

Not all farmers are land owners. Those that are not land owers depend on their landlords to continually extend their leases, so that they can continue to farm. The actual land owners could live in the community, another part of the country, even abroad, using the land for investment purposes (e.g. in 2018 Bristol Airport was majority owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Canada!)

 

See related Biodiversity Net Gain Consultation BOB Blog and 

Draft Rural Strategy Considerations

 

New Local Plan Consultation 28 Nov 23 (NSC)

 

 

Is it North Somerset Council's intention to destroy farming in the district, or is this just an 'error' between different departments? If it is their intention, why not openly and publicly state this in consultations and public information? [NOTE 2]

 

What is North Somerset Council's plan for agriculture, food production and food security? Where is its Rural Strategy and/or Food Security Plans published? See the live NSC Local Plan discussion and the draft consultation, that went for approval 18OCT23. On a positive note - Some previous feedback has been taken into consideration with regards draft DP7 solar proposal as seen amended here- so it's worth continuing to submit your feedback on these policies, especially if you wish to continue to support local meat, dairy, fruit, veg, beer and wine produce. (Mendip Times Food & Drink Golden Triangle OCT23)

 

North Somerset is already covered with 'green' agriculture land

image

Dudley Stamp Land Use

NSC plan to cover fields with solar panels and developments?

image

INTERACTIVE MAPPING

Where is the food mapping?

(image incl Green Belt)

13K housing sites p200

 

NSC map shows fields in use for food production... so why destroy local food production?

image

NSC Green Infrastructure Strategy p126 - Fig 16

Draft pg 87 extract "Policy DP7: Large scale renewable and low carbon renewable energy... Proposals for energy generation from renewable and low carbon sources including wind turbines, solar photovoltaic arrays, biomass and hydropower (marine, river and tidal) schemes will be supported subject to no unacceptable impact on... NO MENTION in relation to FARMING OR FOOD PRODUCTION???:"

 

CPRE The problem with solar farms - the factors that should be considered in determining applications (2021)

 

See also DP53 Best & Most versitile land in Draft pg 181 "The proportion of Grade 1 land in North Somerset is approximately 7% and 10% for Grade 2. 60% falls in Grade 3..." How much of this land is already in use as food production for people and animals? How much land will be lost if NSC's Local Plan above and associated Biodiversity plans happen?

 

As to areas outside those identified in the Local Plan, i.e. coloured pink, yellow, orange, red, etc. "When assessing proposals for development on unallocated sites on agricultural land its agricultural land classification (ALC) will be taken into account. Where the land classification is uncertain or classified as grade 3 without further subdivision, a full survey will be required to establish its quality. The best and most versatile (BMV) land (grades 1, 2 and 3a) will be protected from significant, inappropriate and unsustainable proposals as follows..." [Note 1] The DEFRA Post 1988 Agricultural Land Classification mapping used by NSC via DEFRA doesn't seem to recognise existing local farming when compared to the Dudley Stamp map?

 

 

Gloucestershire "County at risk of becoming ‘Solarshire’ due to number of photovoltaic panels planned... if they are all approved it could create a corridor of one million solar panels... The new Local Plan, which is currently being developed, will set out the guidelines for development across the district until 2041, once adopted." (25OCT23)

 

NSC Renewable and low carbon energy generation webpage, Where is the farming, food production and food security asessed if the land is removed in any way for solar and wind technologies

  • Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Arrays (2013.)
    • "3.4 We are not likely to support applications on the highest graded agricultural land (grades 1 or 2) and strongly encourage prospective developments towards the lowest graded land." NB 17% is Grade 1 & 2, 60% is Grade 3 within NSC.
    • ""3.19 Creating habitats rich in wildflowers with apiculture as part of the permanent management plan (to increase bee numbers to the benefit of surrounding farmlands)." How is NSC protecting existing food production and food security? How is it ensuring that the 'surrounding farmlands' are surviving and not being encouraged to diversify, or close due to a lack of available tenancies or appropriate grade or sized farmland?
    • "4.6 Solar PV facilities that are developed on agricultural ground must be ‘reversible’ allowing the site to be easily restored to agriculture. Hence intrusive groundworks, such as trenching and foundations should be minimised and the use of concrete avoided where possible. Frames should be pile driven or screw anchored and not concrete-based, and capable of easy removal, allowing the ground to be fully restored. In windy areas the stability of the installation will need to be considered."
    • "4.14 In most instances the ground beneath solar panels is capable of remaining in agricultural use. Existing pasture cover should be maintained, whilst if the land is currently arable, applicants are advised to grass-seed the site. The land will require management, and the preferred option is that sheep grazing or similar should be enabled. If the grass is to be mown, then the potential for habitat gain, through wildflowerseeding, should be considered"
  • Regen SW assessment potential areas for large scale wind turbines
    • Bleadon Levels
  • Resource assessment for wind and solar in North Somerset and opportunities to support the wider sustainable energy sector (2013)
    • "Agricultural land grades 1 and 2 excluded Grades 1 and 2 are the best and most versatile for food production."

The UK government states, "... food security means strong and consistent domestic production of food combined with a diversity of supply sources that avoids overreliance on any one source... Home-grown produce is the largest source of food for the UK... In meat, milk, and eggs, the UK produces roughly equivalent volume to what it consumes. In 2020 it produced 61kg of meat, 227L of milk and 172 eggs per person per year ... The UK produces a significant proportion of its other crop needs, including around 60% of sugar beet, 70% of potatoes and 80% of oilseeds... The UK produces over 50% of vegetables consumed domestically, but only 16% of fruit." (05OCT23).

 

In order to be food secure, it appears that the UK cannot afford to lose any agriculture land and indeed needs to increase vegetable and fruit production.

 

The govt Food Security 2.4 "Food security is one of the thirteen sectors listed in the Government’s “Critical National Infrastructure” (CNI) document: CNI are “necessary for a country to function and upon which daily life depends”. [NOTE 2] (28JUL23)

 

Bleadon is calling a public meeting re: local plan and resident concerns, come along before putting in a response to consultation. 

 

Previous Local Plan Consultation information

 

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See also:

  • NSC Corporate Plan Consultation closed on 16 Oct 23, yet there was no mention of farming. However, it did note on p14,
    • “Quality and affordable new homes will be being built on the council’s own land with infrastructure projects underway to unlock further delivery.Is NSC selling off farmland? How much has it sold over the last 5-10 years? How does this help future generaƟons of agriculture within North Somerset, and young peoples’ career choices? How does this fit with any ‘duties’ for local food production and delivery nationally? How does this fit with NSC Local Plan re: solar, wind, housing and road network development in general?"

NOTE 1:

The draft consultation, that went for approval 18OCT23, states,

  • Draft pg 198 onwards, indicate that many farm addresses are listed for development.
  • "Proposals for wind turbines and solar photovoltaic arrays will be supported in principle within the Search Areas shown … and the proposed site is not within (land) grades 1, 2 or 3a(05FEB21))
  • Draft pg 184 states, "Farmers are encouraged to diversify their activities and supplement their income from enterprises other than normal food production."
  • Draft pg 186 states, "Planning permission will be granted... provided that... In the case of diversification proposals, there is sufficient certainty of long term benefit to the farm business as an agricultural operation... Farm diversification activities can contribute to the local economy by providing opportunities for employment or recreation for residents and visitors and by resulting in increased patronage for local shops and services."
  • Draft pg 190 states, "The conversion or re-use of rural buildings will be permitted providing that... It would not have a significant adverse effect on the living conditions of adjoining occupiers or adversely affect the operation of working farms... Retailing will not be permitted, other than farm shops, small scale village stores, proposals under 200m2 square metres or proposals that are ancillary to the main use. If the building was completed within 10 years of the application being submitted for an agricultural or equestrian use the applicant will need to demonstrate that the conversion of this building is essential for the long-term benefit of the associated agricultural/ forestry/equestrian operation "
  • Draft pg 195 states, "Proposals for new or extended touring and static caravan outside the Green Belt and AONB will be permitted provided that... All visitor accommodation should: • Not have a significant adverse effect on the living conditions of adjoining occupiers or adversely affect the operation of working farms"

NOTE 2:

  • 10 National Protective Security Agency, Critical National Infrastructure, accessed on 11 July 2023
    • "Critical National Infrastructure National Infrastructure are those facilities, systems, sites, information, people, networks and processes, necessary for a country to function and upon which daily life depends. It also includes some functions, sites and organisations which are not critical to the maintenance of essential services, but which need protection due to the potential danger to the public (civil nuclear and chemical sites for example)... there are 13 national infrastructure sectors:... Food... Water"
  • 11 Defra is the lead Government department on food supply [PQ51874 28 September 2021] (PDF), although the UKFSR states that “the role of government is an indirect one; to plan for and coordinate responses and intervene only where necessary to ensure the continuity of supplygiven that theunderlying infrastructure of the supply chain is owned and operated by private industry” [Defra, United Kingdom Food Security Report 2021: Theme 3: Food Supply Chain Resilience, updated 22 December 2021 - 05OCT23] So how is NSC food security addressed in its Local Plan?

North Somerset Biodiversity Plan Consultation

Posted on 16th October, 2023

 

image

 

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) policy set out under the Environment Act 2021 is due to come into force in January 2024. Most planning applications will be required to demonstrate that biodiversity net gain of 10% has been achieved, e.g. by planting trees, wildflower meadows, etc. 

 

North Somerset Council's (NSC) Corporate Plan, p7 states, "Weston-super-Mare – our largest town is set to become the second biggest settlement in the West of England over the next decade." At the 04 October public meeting in the Town Hall, Cllr Mike Bell, Leader of North Somerset Council, confirmed that this would be second to Bristol! 

 

How will this huge increase in planned housing/development, with its 'associated nature' offsetting of 10% BNG, affect rural communities? How will this affect farming and food production as landowners are encourgad to diversify from using their land for agriculture to using it for 30 year BNG 'nature' projects?

  

 ConsultationOpensClosesInformation

image

Biodiveristy Supplementary Plan16 Oct 23

27 Nov 23 at 5pm

"Developers are encouraged to consider the potential of their development in making a contribution to the biodiversity objectives and targets for particular types of habitat and species found in North Somerset." Biodiversity SPD Consultation Document

Farming Crisis & Documentary

NSC Role?

&

Mapping

Food SecurityFood Chain Loses?NSC ProposalRelated GuidanceBNG CreditsLangford Mega Solar Dev

 

There is no mention of farming, agriculture or protecting food production in this North Somerset Council Biodiversity consultation, yet our farming is in crisis?

 

BOB Biodiversity SPD Consultation response

 

Draft Rural Strategy Considerations

UK Farming Crisis

  • The European Commission states, "Grasslands absorb carbon dioxide during growth of the grass plants and store it in the different tissues. The majority of the aboveground biomass will be eaten by grazing animals and the carbon will eventually return to the soil as manure or to the atmosphere via enteric fermentation." (PDF)

 

image

Dutch govt plan to forcibly purchase and close 3K farms to comply with EU emissions mandate  (04MAY23)

link to image

Documentary (1hr)

Farmers driven to suicide

Documentary Overview

image

Irish govt suggests culling 65,000 cows yearly to achieve emissions targets

NO FARMERS NO FOOD - poorer local and national economy

No Land No Food

As meat, dairy and vegetarbles stop being grown locally, increasing food costs, more people will be driven towards food banks. Governments longer term solution, UK insect eating 3D printed food (e.g UN 2013)

What can NSC and its Policies do to HELP small and medium sized local farming and food security?

How has reliance increased on food banks in the UK in the last 5, 10, 20 years as food prices increase? 

 

What is the role and priorities of North Somerset Council with regards to protecting communities and local food security?

  • Does energy security (solar) trump local food security?
  • Does nature recovery (e.g. 10% BNG) trunp local food security?
  • Does carbon reduction (net zero) trump local food security?
  • Does methane and nitrogen reduction (net zero) trump local food security?
  • Have any long-term real-world trials or research (decades) been undertaken proving on large scale areas that the BNG approach of people managed land will give the desired output and not invaisive plant species (brambles) and/or increase in vermin (rats)? Or have assumptions been based on scaled up computer modelling?
  • Why put solar panels on agricultureal fields at the same time as putting grass on urban roofs?

In order to be food secure, it appears that the UK cannot afford to lose any agriculture land and indeed needs to increase vegetable and fruit production. (See also the NSC Local Plan consultation)

 

North Somerset is already covered with 'green' agriculture land

image

Dudley Stamp Land Use

NSC plan to cover fields with solar panels and developments?

image

INTERACTIVE MAPPING

Where is the food mapping?

(image incl Green Belt)

13K housing sites p200

Langford Mega Solar Farms

NSC map shows fields in use for food production... so why destroy local food production?

image

NSC Green Infrastructure Strategy p126 - Fig 16.

Local Plan and Net Zero Blogs

 

Food Security

  • There is no mention of food security in NSC's Biodiversity SPD Overview, only that, "There needs to be security of the delivering for biodiversity offsetting projects. The Environment Act requires that any enhancements or provision are maintained for at least 30 years after the development is completed" (Para 8.2.3 p35)
  • The UK government states, "... food security means strong and consistent domestic production of food combined with a diversity of supply sources that avoids overreliance on any one source... Home-grown produce is the largest source of food for the UK... In meat, milk, and eggs, the UK produces roughly equivalent volume to what it consumes. In 2020 it produced 61kg of meat, 227L of milk and 172 eggs per person per year ... The UK produces a significant proportion of its other crop needs, including around 60% of sugar beet, 70% of potatoes and 80% of oilseeds... The UK produces over 50% of vegetables consumed domestically, but only 16% of fruit." (05OCT23).

 

UK Govt Powering Up Britain Energy Security Plan,

  • "The Government seeks large scale ground-mount solar deployment across the UK, across the UK, looking for development mainly on brownfield, industrial and low and medium grade agricultural land. Solar and farming can be complementary, supporting each other financially, environmentally and through shared use of land. We consider that meeting energy security and climate change goals is urgent and of critical importance to the country, and that these goals can be achieved together with maintaining food security for the UK. We encourage deployment of solar technology that delivers environmental benefits, with consideration for ongoing food production or environmental improvement. The Government will therefore not be making changes to categories of agricultural land in ways that might constrain solar deployment." (p38) [Reference to grades 1, 2 or 3a and mapping e.g. for NSC] and...
  • "We encourage deployment of solar technology that delivers environmental benefits, with consideration for ongoing food production or environmental improvement." pg38 (MAR23)

Environment Act 2021 (10NOV23)

  • "1(3) The regulations may specify a commodity only if the Secretary of State considers that forest is being or may be converted to agricultural use for the purposes of producing the commodity." (p291)
  • "2(5) The regulations may specify a local law only if it relates to the prevention of forest being converted to agricultural use" (p292)
  • "17(2) A review must consider in particular— (a) the amount of forest being converted to agricultural use for the purposes of producing commodities (p299)
  • "17(2)(b) the impact of the relevant provisions on the amount of forest being converted to agricultural use for the purposes of producing forest risk commodities" (p300)

 

What is the food chain losing by the proposed NSC plans?

  • What is the land currently contributing to food security?
  • DP53 Best & Most versitile land in Draft pg 181 "The proportion of Grade 1 land in North Somerset is approximately 7% and 10% for Grade 2. 60% falls in Grade 3..." How much of this land is already in use as food production for people and animals? How much land will be lost if NSC's Local Plan and associated Biodiversity plans happen?
  • What arable and/or pastoral farming is currently supported?
  • What has been supported over the last 10 years?
  • When was the land last producing food for animals or people?
  • Can beef and dairy cattle graze the same land as solar panel?
  • What will happen to local and national dairy products if the land only supports sheep? (milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter, spreads, etc.)
  • How much infrastructure is required to install, support and maintain a field of thousands solar panels?
    • concreting in solar panel supports? electrical wiring? sub-station wiring?  
    • how much does rainwater runoff concentrate on the land? how much erosian over the 25 year life span? How much potential leeching of into the soil?
  • Will local generatiional farming skills be lost? What will happen over the 25-40 year lifespan of the solar panels and/or BNG projects?
  • who are the mahority of investors in these large local solar and BNG projects? do they have a genuine interest in the local community or is it just a planning obligation and/or financial investment that can ultimately break rural communities?
  • how do commercial these investments affect public access and views to the countrysiide?
  • how do structures in fields (solar arrays) affect birds of prey hunting, as they need large open areas to swoop and large independent areas to sustain current and future populations. 
  • how are small mammals affected - structures will change the balance of that ecology, some mammals will thrive at the expense of others, upsetting the natural balance (e.g. an increase in rat population due to more urban style shelter under solar panels? How would this population be controlled e.g. rat poisons?)
  • how do the change in wildflowers, plants, etc. affect the types of species that can then survive in that hababit?
  • how will desktop AI deal with the above if no ecologist input is given?
  • over 20-40 years lifespan of the panels and BNG projects, how are natural invasive species such as brambles controlled, with chemicals be used? e.g. glyphosate - "a widespread herbicide used by farmers to control weeds and as an alternative to ploughing, which disturbs the life beneath the soil and releases carbon (but has pupport food production locally for generations since the bronze age)"? (14JUN23)
    • if glyphosate is used, along with panel run off, the soil may become contaminated, what will happen to the sheep, lamb that is eaten, and future agricultural use if/when the panels are decommissioned? 
    • how long will the land need to recover after decommisioning? Months, years or decades?
    • what happens to the millions of solar panels afterwards and the toxic chemicals contained within them? "The toxic chemicals in solar panels include cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di)selenide, copper indium gallium (di)selenide, hexafluoroethane, lead, and polyvinyl fluoride" (30APR18 and 22AUG20)
    • CPRE The problem with solar farms - the factors that should be considered in determining applications (2021)
  • if the aim is to increase biodiversity via BNG how does this offset any potential loss of species on the original site, e.g. new structures and/or solar panel installations (whether mammals, insects, plants, etc.)?

NB: NSC support solar and installion companies and so should therefore be able to answer the following questions:(as mailed to residents Resident LetterLeaflet1Leaflet2)

 

North Somerset Council Biodiversity SPD proposal states -

"Biodiversity Net Gain policy set out under the Environment Act 2021 is due to come into force in January 2024. Most planning applications will be required to demonstrate that biodiversity net gain of 10% has been achieved. This will be submitted to the council together with a Biodiversity Gain Plan, as part of the planning application. (Biodiversity SPD Consultation Document) No mention of how this works with agricultrure in the rural community food produciton or security?

 

The current SPD dates back to November 2005 and is therefore in need of a comprehensive update, particularly in light of the council’s 2019 declaration of a Climate Emergency and Nature Emergency in November 2020.

  • Benefits of the Biodiversity SPD can include:Helping meet local, national and international nature recovery and climate change commitments
  • Delivery of Council priorities around re-wilding and the nature emergency
  • Delivery of site enhancements as part of North Somerset Council’s green infrastructure strategy
  • Creation of principles and approach for biodiversity offsetting and net gain delivery
  • Safeguarding of public access to high quality nature within North Somerset." (Biodiversity Supplementary Overview)
  • NB "s. At the very least, all development must deliver a net gain in line with Policy CS4 of the Core Strategy" (p27)

Government Definition of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)

 

Other related guidance:

 

Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) Public/Business/Charity Webinars:

  • Wednesday, 25 October, 1-2pm Creating Biodiversity Corridors Through Our Cities (PDF)
    • NSC plans for the city include green roofs and living walls (p42) but solar panels on green fields in rural areas? 
  • Thursday, 26 October, 10-11:30am  Unlock the Hidden Potential of Your Land: Biodiversity Net Gain (PDF)
    • what happens to agricultural inheritence?
    • what if you cannot maintain the land for the full 30 year agreement? e.g. illness, death?
    • does agriculture inherence tax change if the land becomes a BNG project?
    • what are the penalties? who enforces them e.g. NSC Corporate Plan income?
  • Monday, 30 October, 12:30-1:30pm Biodiversity Net Gain for Buyers (PDF)
    • Bristol Avon Catchment Market (6 min video)
    • iIs the greatest risk with the landowner/farmer to maintain the land/biodiversity'credt' for 30 yearss at the same or better level? 
    • "If there is failure to deliver, or attempt to deliver, biodiversity net gain outcomes which are secured through planning legal agreements or planning conditions, the Council will take the appropriate and necessary action to ensure compliance." (p37)
  • Tuesday, 31 October, 10-11am Innovation Showcase: Tools to Support Biodiversity Net Gain (PDF)
    • what are the dangers of using satellite imagery and remote sensing data interpreted by AI computer modelling rather than using proffessional ecologists and 'ground truth data'? (PDF
    • Gentian

How does the UK BNG approach achieve the same goals as the Dutch, Irish and Sri Lankans seen in the documentary above, or reduction of exports due to war, with a resulting local farming crisis and increased suicides?

  • E.g. UK farmland voluntarily taken out of production for 30+year, whereas
  • the EU approves Dutch plan to forcibly close farms,""Farmers who decide to close their holdings must guarantee they will not start up livestock farming operations elsewhere in the Netherlands or within the EU" (04MAY23) -- Even if their family and or the nation is in a food crisis and potentially starving?
  • The Malaysian government banned fertilisers and put the country into poverty, famine and suicides. Fertiliser ban decimates Sri Lankan crops as government popularity ebbs (03MAR22)
  • Ukraine Food crisis grows as spiralling prices spark export bans 
    • Palm oil prices soar as Indonesia curbs exports
    • Ukraine bans wide range of agricultural exports "LVIV, Ukraine, March 9 (Reuters) - Ukraine's government has banned exports of rye, barley, buckwheat, millet, sugar, salt, and meat until the end of this year, according to a cabinet resolution published on Wednesday."
    • Serbia bans exports of wheat, corn, flour and cooking oil
    • Yara curtails fertiliser output in Italy and France  (09MAR22)

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See also:

LANGFORD

  • Plans are advancing to build two mega solar farms at Yanel Farm 66ha (163 acre) and at Honeyhall Farm  67ha (over 165 acres), a total of 133ha (328 acres)
    • NB The total area of NSC smallholdings land as at 31 March 2022 amounts to 166ha (410 acres). Do these two Langford solar developments alone cover nearly the equivalent of the whole of NSC held farmland, i.e. 133ha Langford solar developments vs 166ha NSC smallholdings?
    • What stops the remaining NSC farmland also be built on?
    • Has any NSC farmland been indentified to be built on in the NSC Local Plan (e.g. pink/solar, yellow, redorange & orange/wind or red/housing mapped area)?
    • Compare with 333ha in 2007, a halving of the total NSC farmland in 15 years?  (NSC Smalholdings/Farmland Summary info)
    • How is this protecting local food security and future food production/farming?
    • If the proposed Local Plan go through, will the whole of this area in pink below potentially be solar?
      • "Local Plans, prepared by a local planning authority in consultation with its community, set out a vision and a framework for the future development of an area. Once in place, Local Plans become part of the statutory development plan. The statutory development plan for the area is the starting point for determining local planning applications." 
      • Does this mean that residents are less able/unable to overturn any solar, wind, housing, etc. planning application, as potentially no appeal will be held as it has already been agreed in NSC's Local Plan? (PDF)
  • Solar Company Food Security Argument (SEP22)
  • NSC Local Plan mapping shows Solar, wind, housing,etc but NO food layered interactive map? See Govt suggested base mapping post-1988 and NSC base mapping vs NSC Food Growing map from its NSC Green Infrastructure Strategy (p126)

Gloucesterhire County at risk of becoming Solarshire due to number of photovoltaic panels  (25OCT23)

  • "The Forest of Dean District Council has been approving plans for solar farms on a case by case basis. But there has been an accumulation of planning applications to develop such sites on fields either side of the B4215 road between Newent and Highnam. And if they are all approved it could create a corridor of one million solar panels ...
  • During the meeting, the council agreed to prepare a draft Local Plan based on their new strategy for future approval and consultation in 2024."
  • Previous consultations

Land let as smallholdings by local authorities across England

 

NSC Corporate Plan Consultation October 2023

Posted on 9th October, 2023

 

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WHERE IS ALL THE AGRICULTURE LAND GOING... GOING... GONE?

Consultation Deadline 16 October 2023 at 5pm.

 

 ConsultationOpensClosesInformation

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North Somerset Council's (NSC) Corporate Plan and budget development30 Aug 23

16 Oct 23 at 5pm

NSC "new leadership is mapping out its priorities for the next four years. We want to hear your views about what is most important and how council tax should be spent."

Overview and Corporate Plan and Budget

 

BOB Corporate Plan Consultation Response 

 

New NSC Corporate Plan & Budget Consultation (NSC)

 

NSC Corporate Plan Action Plan Consultation

 

What is North Somerset Council's plan for agriculture, food production and food security?

 

North Somerset is already covered with 'green' agriculture land

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Dudley Stamp Land Use

NSC plan to cover fields with solar panels and developments?

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INTERACTIVE MAPPING

(image incl Green Belt)

How will neighbouring Bristol, BANES & Sth Glos plans influence NSC's plans?

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WECA Joint Green Strategy

Page 49 of the consultation states, "Proposals for wind turbines and solar photovoltaic arrays will be supported in principle within the Search Areas shown … and the proposed site is not within (land) grades 1, 2 or 3a(05FEB21))

 

How do NSC plans relate to the ambitious C40 City targets of NO Meat and NO Dariy by 2030

(NO private vehicles, 3 new clothes items per year, 1 short-haul return flight every 3 years)

 

Mayoral West of WECA

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C40 City Mayors

 

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WEF

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UK Government WEF Partnership

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Visit a public CONSULTATION MEETING this week only

ask North Somerset leaders about farming, food production, food security and cash

 

How does the North Somerset Council receive and spend resident's money?

"The Council is well on the way to ‘paperless’ and ‘cashless’ operation and is

beginning to make use of robotics and Artificial Intelligence"

Where NSC money comes from

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NSC Budget Plan

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How NSC money is spent

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Public Meetings in buildings and mobile libraries:

"The leader of the council Mike Bell, and the Deputy Leader Catherine Gibbons, will be hosting a number of public engagement sessions throughout September and October to talk about the Corporate Plan and budget. No need to book, please just drop by.

  • Wednesday 20 September, Tithe Barn, Nailsea, 6.30pm onwards
  • Monday 25 September, Weston Museum, 6.00pm onwards
  • Wednesday 27 September, Folk Hall, Portishead, 6.30pm onwards
  • Monday 2 October, Hangstones Pavilion, Yatton, 6.00pm onwards
  • Wednesday 4 October, Town Hall, Weston, 6.00pm onwards
    • p7 Corporate Plan "Weston-super-Mare – our largest town is set to become the second biggest settlement in the West of England over the next decade." At this meeting Cllr Mike Bell, Leader of North Somerset Council, confirmed that this would be second to Bristol!
  • Monday 9 October, Castlewood, Clevedon, 6.30pm onwards

Executive members will also be joining our mobile libraries in October on the following dates to meet with residents and talk through issues and ideas. They will also have paper copies of the engagement survey if you would like one. No need to book, just turn up!

  • Wednesday 11 October, Winford - Main Layby, 11:35am - 12.20pm
  • Thursday 12 October, Banwell - Car park opposite the primary school, 2.40pm – 4.30pm
  • Friday 13 October, Long Ashton – Community Centre car park, 9.30am – 11.30am"

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See also:

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The number 50 bus, through Bleadon Village, will no longer be operating from the end of August

 

North Somerset Council state that, "Although the number 50 will no longer be operating from the end of August, most communities it served will continue to benefit from a new seamless replacement commercial service. For those communities who no longer have a regular bus service, WESTlink, the demand responsive transport is available." (NSC and PDF)

 

Although North Somerset Council are responsible for buses, you can also discuss this with your local councillors, e.g. via the parish council clerk.

 

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See also:

What happened to Bleadon taxes last year

Posted on 24th July, 2023

 

Bleadon Parish Council indicates that it failed in 7 out of 9 areas of governance last year, along with 9 independently assessed internal controls, as revealed in its current 2022-23 Annual Governance & Accountability Return (AGAR)

 

The current 2022-23 AGAR Return follows the previous two years, where Bleadon Parish Council (BPC) told residents to take their concerns to the External Auditor via AGAR, rather than answer their questions. BPC’s previous lack of openness and transparency cost the council over £10K, with at least 15 resident concerns being wholly or partially upheld, including those relating to non-compliance with regulations and lack of best practice.

 

So how did the £10K external audit processes, and Auditors reports of 2021 and 2022, benefit residents? …. we should now get everything we should have had in the first place!! This includes:

Residents will have to wait until next summer’s 2024 AGAR to see if the new councillors, elected since May 23, along with a new clerk (qualified or otherwise), will officially do any better.

 

In the meantime, if you want to see documents and invoices relating to expenditure and activities for Apr22-Mar23, contact BPC's locum clerk before Friday 04 August 2023, more info here.

 

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See also:

  • Other parish councils
    • Weasenham Parish Council (PDF)
    • "Dogged resident whose constant criticism of local council sparked mass resignation declares himself vindicated as 27 of his 31 complaints are upheld David Fairchild spent five years going over Weasenham Parish Council's returns His investigations saw £15,000 of local taxpayers' money being spent on audits"
  • NationallySeventh Annual Report of the Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts Second Special Report of Session 2022–23 (PDF)
    • "Government’s annual reports and accounts estimate fraud against the taxpayer rose from £5.5 billion in total over the two years before the pandemic (2018–20) to £21 billion in total over the two years since the start of the pandemic (2020–22).Departments have a duty to recover taxpayer money lost to fraud and error and prevent it in the future".

Previous Bleadon Accountability Statement AGAR Guide (AUG23)

External Audit Challenges (2020-2022)

 

2023

2022