Community support for allotments was exceptionally high amongst village participants in September’s NDP2030 Public Consultations. See Appendix I. One Bisley resident called for the allotments to be a Key Wildlife site as part of a village wildlife corridor. Support for allotments as a ‘green space’ was expressed in both the ‘Landscape and Trees’ section and the ‘Wildlife’ Section.
As a result of this initial consultation it is suggested that VDS Guideline / Policy L4 be enhanced to the following Policy in the emerging NDP:
SUGGESTED POLICY RECOMMENDATION: Allotments and their availability should be strongly protected. The existing allotment grounds should be developed through appropriate management to encourage greater use, wider educational opportunities and acknowledged as significant contributors to wildlife corridors. More recognition will be actively sought for allotments’ as Key wildlife sites, and their role in and recognition of their contribution to wildlife buffer zones and wildlife corridors and connectivity.
SUGGESTED ACTIONS BY PARISH/VOLUNTEERS: Work with GWT to promote /allocate all allotment sites as Key Wldlife sites as part of a connected green infrastructure. Encourage all allotment holders to see personal food growing as part of the support for wildlife and also as important for health and wellbeing.
Those who participated in the consultations understand and strongly support the concept of and need for wildlife corridors as an integral part of the Parish’s green infrastructure. See Appendix II. They asked for increasing the variety of opportunities for wildlife corridors, from better protection for and rehabilitating hedgerows, re-wilding verges, planting more community orchards, increasing the current KWS’s, allocating allotments as KWS’s, to establishing village corridors for small mammals (hedgehogs), connecting tree belts, maintaining stone walls, and education about wildlife corridors.
Project with Young People: The Parish is working on a collaboration with the Royal Forestry Society, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the Horticultural and Nature Club students of Thomas Keble School to develop and map an understanding of ‘wildlife corridors’ and particularly the importance of hedgerows for protecting and improving environmental quality for wildlife. To this end the students have had several workshops in 2019-20 and, in addition to planting fruit trees in Bisley’s community orchard, have planted a hedgerow along the edge of their own playing field connecting two small woodland copses. They are doing a ‘mapping’ workshop in February that will then be extended across the whole Parish.
Maintaining and planting hedgerows also has the added benefits of carbon sequestration and improving soils and we hope will be picked up in our forthcoming consultation with farmers.
As a result of this initial consultation it is suggested that VDS Guideline / Policy L5 be enhanced to the following Policy in the emerging NDP:
SUGGESTED NEW POLICY RECOMMENDATION:
L5 All new extensions /new development are required to plant and integrate hedgerows for wildlife connectivity and protect small watercourses, as part of a developing Parish Map of Wildlife Connectivity and provide greater opportunities for small mammals, such as hedgehogs, to move more easily through villages. New extensions and developments will include green roofs, bird and bat boxes to enhance opportunities for insects and wildlife and stonewalls to be replaced if taken down during building developments. No floodlighting on new extensions and developments will be allowed.
SUGGESTED ACTIONS BY PARISH/VOLUNTEERS:
- Work with GWT to Increase the number of Key Wildlife Sites and connect them up.
- Encourage residents not to mow grass verges and request Highways not to mow grass verges.
- Build a dialogue with local farmer and landowners to reduce use of herbicide and pesticides, to maintain and plant more hedgerows and trees, to maintain stone walls, and to plant strips of wildflowers on field edges.
- More education of young and older residents about wildlife-school wildlife programmes, lectures, articles in village magazines, education residents about the negative impact of cats on wildlife especially birds
- More TPO’s
- Leave the ash that is dying/dead on the ground for wildlife
APPENDIX I SUPPORTING EVIDENCE FOR ALLOTMENTS FROM COMMUNITY CONSULTATIONS 2019
There was significant acknowledgement that allotments “are fantastic”, “a valuable asset” and “very important” for village life” (two Eastcombe residents). Allotments “need to be protected” said one Bisley resident. Many participants in all three communities said allotments provide benefits to the community over and above their importance “producing local produce” (an Eastcombe Resident) and “self-sufficiency” (Bisley resident). One Bisley resident said: “Allotments are not only a place to garden, but a place for wildlife, to teach children, for bees and wildflowers, and a place to relax helping the NHS”. There was much recognition that these community growing spaces contribute to “people’s mental happiness” (Eastcombe resident). Another Bisley resident said that allotments would be increasingly important for local food production and reducing “our carbon footprint” –and an Oakridge resident said “allotments will be more essential after Brexit and climate change” and another Oakridge resident said “we will need to feed more locally on healthy food”.
There were few negatives, but the use of chemical on allotments (“Ban Glysophate on allotments”) was mentioned twice. One less positive point of view came from one Eastcombe resident asking if allotments could be moved outside the village boundary to release land for development. One Oakridge resident asked more should be done to encourage villagers to use allotments.
APPENDIX II WILDLIFE CORRIDORS SUPPORTING EVIDENCE FROM COMMUNITY CONSULTATIONS 2019
10 participants (mainly from Oakridge) said wilder grass verges were wildlife corridors and asked for re-wilding them, minimal or no strimming .and planting wildflowers. The largest number of responses (56 in addition to above specifying grass verges) in this section supported making more corridors for wildlife. Comments ranged from the general such as ‘reduce hedge cutting /flailing to preserve winter food for wildlife’ and “more connectivity to enable animals to move from one area to another easily” to the particular including “connect all Key Wildlife sites”(several) and “connect Bob’s to Fidges Lane” (Eastcombe) and “insist on hedgehog planning condition through the village” (Bisley). There was a call for “leaky dams to protect crayfish”, and several reference in Oakridge and Eastcombe supporting the importance of stone walls for wildlife (butterflies and insects Composting was mentioned as important for soil life. Maintaining a good footpath network and slowing traffic speeds was also felt to be important for wildlife and wildlife corridors.
There was a significant level of criticism of farmers/landowners regarding their (perceived?) use of chemical sprays from ‘prohibit’ and ‘ban’ to reduce or limit spraying, or ‘encourage farmers to act responsibility’. There was a call for more dialogue between residents and landowners. This suggests there is a ‘gap’ between the opinions of these groups of residents living in a rural area to the perceived practices of farmers and land management around the villages.
There was a call for Bisley to be an “Earth Protector” village. Prizes at the shows for organic vegetables. Many participants suggested wildlife education is very poor locally- and more information about how individuals can and must contribute was needed. Several residents stressed the importance of the natural environment as a public health issue – relaxation and wellbeing. Recommendation of increased contact between parish and GWT, Woodland Trust and increasing protected areas.
There were requests that SDC should take account of local policies and more than a few said they felt that the Parish had been disregarded by SDC planning. Many flagged the problems of increased lighting and floodlighting, suburbanisation and “over-neatness”, some wanted fewer horse paddocks, no pesticides, and were appalled at speed on the roads killing wildlife.
Several people in this group suggested that solar panels on farmland to increase our local renewable energy supply could co-exist with wildlife happily.