Emily Marbaix is back with another podcast (which you can also read) in which she talks about her latest wild camping trip, orienteering training with Emma Cunis (aka Dartmoor’s Daughter), and notes that 68 wildlife wardens across 34 parishes and wards have received introductory training. There is also:
An update on the Wildlife Warden Scheme
An interview with Paul Martin of Ogwell-based Ogwild on the group’s experiences so far
Wildlife watching and outdoor ideas for the summer holidays
Information about Sustainable Bishops’s wildflower art competition, which will be on show on the 11th September
Information about Defra’s new campaign, Plant for our Planet
Information about the Teignbridge Local Plan Consultation
You have until noon on Monday August 9th to give Teignbridge District Council (TDC) your views on the 100 plus sites around Teignbridge proposed for new development. If you don’t respond to this consultation you won’t get another opportunity. It is difficult, if not impossible, for plans to be changed further down the line.
Government proposals for a new approach to planning rules will prevent even the local authority from making adjustments in response to changing circumstances in the future. It’s our last chance to influence where new homes are built. You may think your views won’t count. They definitely won’t if you don’t make them known. The more people who respond the better.
The current Local Plan Part 2 consultation follows on from Part 1 in 2020, which focused on the policies that guide developments. The two parts will together form the Local Plan 2020-2040, which will replace the current Local Plan adopted in 2014.
How to respond
The consultation is online at teignbridge.gov.uk and is available chapter by chapter. You can comment using the online survey or the downloadable response form. The survey looks technical, but if you have local knowledge about particular sites it’s vital you share it. You can only comment on one site at a time and give comments in relation to eight criteria, although there is an opportunity to comment on “anything else”. You may want to prepare your comments before you go online and then copy and paste them in. Make sure you go all the way to the end of the survey, even if you don’t give all the personal information requested, and press the Submit button.
The printable pdf form only asks for comments, with no prompts for specific criteria, but you have to print it out to use it or convert it from a pdf to a word document or similar.
It is also possible to download the questions and send your comments by email to email@example.com or by letter to Spatial Planning & Delivery, Teignbridge District Council, Forde House, Newton Abbot Devon TQ12 4XX. All comments made in writing will be considered.
What to say
The number of homes proposed for each town or village is stated at the beginning of each ‘Housing Site Options’ chapter. If a town or village has several sites on offer, which together are able to more than cover TDC’s suggested housing numbers for the settlement, then stating in your comments which site/sites would be better is helpful. The suggested general comments below may be useful here.
If you think your village has no allocated sites, make sure it hasn’t been included in Chapter 4 of the consultation, the Heart of Teignbridge. This is true for several proposed sites in Ogwell and Kingskerswell, for example. Check this map to see where all the proposed sites are. You will also need to look at Chapter 9, Employment Site Options, for land which may be developed for employment.
If you have local knowledge of a proposed site, check the information given about it in the relevant consultation chapter for accuracy and omissions. If you have the time and inclination, it is also worth looking at TDC’s assessment of the sites in the appendices to the consultation. Appendix D(a) is for town sites while Appendix D(b) is for villages. To understand the scoring and colour coding for the sites, you will need to go to page 14 of the Stage B Report – Sustainability Appraisal (SA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). To dig further into the scoring assumptions, check out Appendix A. You might need a stiff drink or two to see you through all this!
Here are some examples of the sort of comments you could make on issues relating to wildlife:
It is essential that mitigation measures taken to protect wildlife habitats and avoid extinction of local species are completed before site clearance and building starts.
All the hedges around this site are biodiverse and should be protected and buffered.
A wide buffer strip is needed alongside the public footpath beside the stream, to ensure habitats are connected’.
Protect Greater Horseshoe Bat flyways and ensure there is no artificial lighting on the development.
Protect the nearby SSSI/ CWS (Site of Special Scientific Interest/County Wildlife Site) from polluted run-off from the new estate.
These are more general comments you could make on the subject of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions:
New developments should be about meeting local needs in the most sustainable way. Delivering a pre-set number of housing units to boost the economy should NOT be the driver.
Many of us nowadays live in one or two-person households, so the need is for smaller homes than the three to five bedroom houses typical of new developments. Building on a smaller scale would deliver lower greenhouse gas emissions as well as the housing numbers required.
Greenhouse gas emissions for people living in urban areas in Teignbridge are typically 30% lower than for those who live in rural ones, as is true throughout the UK. The benefits of housing people within, or close to, urban areas are clear. The emissions associated with the provision of goods and services, as well as travel, can be minimised.
In December 2020 I signed up to become a wildlife warden for my parish, writes Emily Marbaix. It’s a scheme run by ACT aiming to help local wildlife survive and thrive. There’s a strong connection between wildlife loss and climate breakdown. They are both outcomes of our exploitation of the natural world and insatiable demand for more stuff.
Scientists often think of the natural world as a web of interconnected species, habitats and resources. Take one away and the rest become less stable. Take away lots and it’s like a Jenga tower teetering on the edge of collapse. Our natural ecosystems are now reaching this point and it’s for this reason that grassroots movements are springing up all over the place, attempting to protect what they can in their local areas. This is exactly what ACT and its wildlife wardens are attempting to do – help to look after their local area, and encourage others to do the same.
So how and why did I get involved? Well, I went to university to study science and the media in the hope that I could tie together my love of the natural world with my passion for communication and performing. Back then, I had hopes of being the next Attenborough (hey – it doesn’t hurt to dream big!) However, with £20,000 of student loans hanging over my head and a desire to get on the property ladder, I turned instead to the corporate world and pursuit of the almighty pound after a brief stint in teaching.
Fast forward 16 years and I’m in a more financially stable position, with my son at school and more time on my hands. So when I saw the advert on Facebook inviting people to apply to be wildlife wardens, I thought it was a great scheme to get involved with. I did some basic training via Zoom and started to think about what I could do that might make a difference in Abbotskerswell – the parish I’m attached to.
We don’t have many publicly owned green spaces in Abbotskerswell, and our local tree warden, Amy, has already assessed these and initiated the planting of a community orchard, which I was thrilled to help with back in 2019. I’ve met with the Parish Council and agreed to help with an update to our biodiversity audit which will include some recommendations/actions with regard to how we can improve these areas for our local wildlife. But the spaces are small and as such are likely to have limited impact as far as mitigating climate change and species loss goes.
I therefore see my position as more of a communication based one. I want to encourage our local community to do more wildlife gardening and engage with conservation efforts in any way they can. This might involve simply signing a petition that will help to give greater protection to threatened species, or taking part in a citizen science project. There are things that we can all do, however big or small, and I see my role as an opportunity to help give people ideas.
I started off by writing a piece for the local parish magazine, which included a poem that outlined lots of different things villagers could do in their own gardens to support wildlife. But then I started to think bigger. What about a podcast? I’d always had a passion for performing and had hosted a radio show at university and loved it – so I decided to start “The Devon Wildlife Warden” podcast. In doing this, I could still create something relevant to our parish, but with the added bonus that it might also reach people from other areas – after all, we want the initiative to spread – and it already is, with people from other districts getting in touch and asking if they can get involved, too – great!
Whether it’s challenging planning applications, enriching public spaces, helping with ecology fieldwork or simply putting a small dish of water out for thirsty bugs or mowing our lawns less often, we all can, and should do something big or small to help keep the Jenga tower from toppling.
Get in touch if you live in Teignbridge and would like to get involved with the ACT Wildlife Warden Scheme – it is in particular need of wardens for the Dartmoor side of the borough, but there is space for anyone and everyone in the area who would like to help. Visit the website or contact the scheme firstname.lastname@example.org.
* ACT’s Wildlife Warden scheme would not be possible without the generous assistance of: Devon Environment Foundation; Teign Energy Communities’ Community Fund; Cllr Jackie Hook’s DCC Locality Fund; Dartmoor National Park Authority’ the Nineveh Trust; anonymous donors. Many thanks to all.
The ACT Ecology Group is looking for parish-based, volunteer Wildlife Wardens, writes Audrey Compton. They are needed to help support, protect and increase our district’s wildlife and improve its chances of surviving the ecological and climate emergencies we face. Wildlife Wardens need to love wildlife but don’t need specialist knowledge, we will provide training.
Having Wildlife Wardens will help our communities become more involved in the natural world, enhancing their physical health and giving them more joy and happiness.
Our aim is for all 54 Teignbridge parishes and Newton Abbot wards to have one or two Wildlife Wardens by the end of 2021. As our training capacity increases, we will recruit up to 5 wardens for each Parish.
Who can be a Wildlife Warden and what will they do?
Anyone who is interested in or knowledgeable about wildlife/ecology can become a Warden. You will:
Commit to giving your parish’s wildlife several hours of your time a month.
Look out for opportunities to protect, help and increase the wildlife in your parish.
Carry out practical work in your parish that will benefit wildlife.
Either work in a team or possibly train to lead local volunteers on practical tasks (or you could call in specialists from ACT Ecology Group).
Send ACT and your parish council a brief, monthly account of what you have been doing, so we can all share successes and difficulties.
Wildlife Wardens in neighbouring parishes could work together on joint projects. Wardens with special skills and knowledge might also help train other Wardens.
Unfortunately, we don’t have funds to pay for Wardens’ expenses. However, Wardens who are ACT members will be covered by our insurance.
Some of our existing parish wildlife groups will be Wildlife Wardens, organising work and sharing expertise. If there isn’t a local group, Wildlife Wardens can work together – and maybe even start a group.
Project areas: A. Surveying and helping to improve and connect habitats. B. Promoting organic wildlife gardening C. Monitoring building and development within the parish and alerting ACT of any wildlife damage.
The Ecology Group hopes to provide free training in these areas:
Identification of all types of wildlife
Habitat management and connectivity: hedges, woodlands, meadows, verges, ponds
Farming and wildlife
Writing risk assessments – and working with them!
Creating pesticide-free zones
Carrying out desktop surveys
Monitoring planning applications and developments.
We will stay in close contact with the Council’s Green Spaces Team, and collaborate wherever we can, but we are aware their resources are limited. We have support from Teignbridge District Council, RSPB, the Woodland Trust and Devon Biodiversity Record Centre.
We have been granted funding by Teign Energy Communities, Councillor Jackie Hook’s DCC Locality Fund and Dartmoor National Park Authority, and extend our thanks to them for this vital help. Among other things it has enabled us to appoint a coordinator for a few hours a week, who will ensure good communication and record keeping.
If you are interested in becoming a parish Wildlife Warden, please get in touch with our coordinator, Flavio Winkler Ford: email@example.com