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Showing posts from April, 2012

Seething Wells Proposed Lighting Plan: some facts

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see post bats-and-lighting.
The lights in London are getting brighter, bucking the trend across counties such as Norfolk and Leicestershire, which have moved to part-night lighting (mainly as a costcutter). This picture clearly shows the darkest areas in London and it is no coincidence that these are the  most productive when it comes to bat foraging activity: London By night AndrĂ© Kuipers ESA/NASA The darker areas are particularly important for bats of the genus Myotis such as the Daubenton's bats roosting at the Filter Beds, a declining species in the London Region (Briggs et al LNHS no. 86 2007).
Although the Filter Beds suffer some light pollution from sources such as streetlights and accent lighting from nearby buildings, this is insufficient to prevent foraging by Daubenton's bats. However the planned lighting programme for the Filter Beds will be excessive with ten different types of lighting shown in this key.
Some of these luminaires are so-called 'accent' lig…

The Power of Seething

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Ask yourself how many local people would  stand along a river and watch twists of silver foil being unloaded from a boat in the pouring rain. Could you imagine there would be sufficient number for such a group to then process their 'catch' to a nearby Square (dressed as sardines) and create a divine sardine barbeque feast for us all .
Well such is the Power of Seething. The sardine festival held last Sunday can be seen here http://www.surbitonpeople.co.uk/

For me, these were the best sardines.

Seething Wells-one of London's Top 10 Peaceful Places

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Gemma Seltzer spent a year exploring the most peaceful places in London for her online project, Look up at the Sky, charting the quieter side of the city. Here are her 10 favourites http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/ This is what she says....
Barge Walk, Hampton Court Following the curve of the river from Hampton Court Bridge to Kingston is a tree-lined stroll, with clusters of swans, vine-covered walls and rowers aplenty. Halfway along, the land lifts to reveal Seething Wells, the marvellously named former water treatment works with pipes wide-mouthed over the river. Anglers here pitch their tents in a close huddle, so you might have to squeeze around the group to carry on your journey. The route does get busy, particularly near the palace, but is worth it for the pockets of peace you'll encounter further along the way.

Why not have your say: either comment below or write a Guest Blog on any   related local topic. Send no more than 600 words to me at alison.fure@blueyonder.co.uk

Importance of the RBK Core Strategy

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The last 2 posts have been about this borough’s Core Strategy, which is our planning blueprint for the future of our borough, going forward into the next decade. It is important that the newly adopted document is sufficiently robust to repel inappropriate developments, especially at certain Key sites. 
When the Filter beds were sold by their Australian owners (by the process known as asset stripping) it was marketed along with 20 other Thames Water sites across London  considered ‘hard to develop’. The 'easy' sites had long been sold off by the previous German owners, Kvaerner, and their new tenants were already sitting in their living rooms watching 'Eastenders' or gazing out over the London Wetlands Centre (the mitigation for the development of the reservoirs at Barnes). 
Read the blurb about the likely planning outcomes for this site (emboldened below within the OLD For Sale notice) which was sold (relatively) cheaply on the basis that it would never realise fortun…

Local Development Framework adoption

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Its a busy week for our new Local Development Framework, which is to have its own council meeting tonight where it will be recommended to councillors. There is a 6 week legal challenge period following the adoption decision by Council and consequently hard copy versions of the Core Strategy and Proposals Map changes will not be printed until after 29 May.
For the present, hard copies of the changes recommended to the Core Strategy by the Council (the “Post Hearings Version”) are available in the public libraries together with a copy of the inspector’s report which supported the changes, with the addition of the inspector’s binding recommendation regarding the Hogsmill Valley.
Make sure that you are happy with the content of this document which is our planing blueprint for the future and will be key in determining the fate of the Filter Beds. It will be expounded tomorrow at:
Kingston Society Meeting 18 April 2012 at 7.30 p.m.Tiffin School The new Planning Policy Framework: What diff…

Brassed off!

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Last week, Channel 4 showed the 1980's classic film  'Brassed Off', about a colliery band, featuring the late, great Pete Postlewaite quoting from Eric Morcambe, 'all the right notes but in the wrong places'.

Scenes of  the rise and fall of his baton in front of their pit banner (interjected with effusive boardroom executives) were reminiscent of the banners at the Seething Wells Procession, which this year for the first time, included the Guild of Sardine Fisheries. 
If the Filter Beds are developed for up-market housing, car and boat parking, I wonder if the new residents will join us in future  processions and what their banner might be. 


Perhaps an Ark to represent that arketypal floating home and metaphor for lost industrial arkaeology?

Urban Ecology needs urban ecologists

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Urban ecology was first quantified in a beautiful book published in 1989 by O.L Gilbert. In it he described the fauna and flora of our urban habitats particularly railway line sides, urban woodland, cemeteries, lakes, rivers, waterworks and water pipes. He discusses the links between people and wildlife, successional processes and urban planning, in a most detailed and interesting way.
He praised Fitter’s outline account of the flora and fauna of waterworks (1945) and regales with tales of the removal of 90 tons of zebra mussels from 400m of water main at Hampton, Middlesex. With further tales of Asellus, Gammerus, and the parthenogenic (meaning sans ow’s ya father) Potamopygus jenkinsi, living in water pipes, the mind boggles at the fauna that could be found colonising natural, sweet water left for many years without any chemical interference.
But we shall remain boggleless, as the invertebrate surveys undertaken at the Surbiton FB’s, failed to survey aquatic invertebrates (except a…

Bats and Lighting of the FB's

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Light pollution is a complicated issue for some bat species. It was dealt with unsatisfactorily within the Hydro Environmental Statement, with little reference to literature and no citations of the relevant bat studies, particularly those undertaken in the last 6 years. There has been  overall an unsatisfactory survey evaluation, due to a poor understanding of URBAN ECOLOGY, coupled with a determination to employ many different types of light arrangement  at the  FB's regardless of the survey findings, in order to ensure the Health and Safety of any future riparian residents.

2012 Bat Surveys commissioned at the FB's, should record how bats use the basins for foraging purposes. This habitat could be protected under European Law if it is found to be a significant feature that bats rely on in order to  feed and nurture their young (see earlier post on Habitats Regs). The timing of these surveys is CRITICAL. Surveys carried out during the full moon for example should be invalid.…

Habitats Regulations and Seething Wells

Natural England's main interest in the Hydro planning application is to ensure that the EUROPEAN AND UK LAW PERTAINING TO BATS enshrined within the Habitats Regulations are upheld. The issues pertaining to the aspirations within the Core Strategy, Biodiversity Strategy, Heritage etc.  should be determined locally (at Planning committee meetings).
If a bat roost is to be affected by development activities, a licence from Natural England will need to be obtained.All species of bat are fully protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) through their inclusion in Schedule 5. All bats are also included in Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, & c.) Regulations,1994. The Act and Regulations make it illegal to:   intentionally or deliberately kill, injure or capture (take) bats; deliberately disturb bats (whether in a roost or not);  damage, destroy or obstruct access to bat roosts;  possess or transport a bat or any other part of a bat, unless acqui…

Localism Act and Seething Wells

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More key measures of the Localism Act 2011 have come into force from 6 April. Described as the ‘Government Revolution’ to hand power back to local council’s and communities. Provisions now in effect include the so-called Community Right to Build and the new general power of competency. 
The former gives communities a new way to deliver development they want. Under this measure communities will be able to build family homes to sell, affordable housing for rent, sheltered housing for older local residents, or low-cost starter homes. 
In respect of the latter, all English local authorities, can innovate and legally do anything an individual could do unless specifically prohibited by law. 
New neighbourhood planning powers which give local people a major say in helping to shape the look and feel of their areas. This means that the future of the Filter Beds should reflect the wishes of the local community. 
See the DCLG website http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/planningandbuilding/212630…

New Consultants engaged to undertake Filter Bed Surveys

Hydro have engaged a new ecological consultancy, EDP, to undertake this seasons ecological surveys at the Filter Beds. Natural England have advised that 'the consultants should demonstrate how bats are using the basins as a foraging area at optimal conditions'. The council have engaged their own expert from Baker, Shepherd and Gillespie to advise on the process.
This means that the Filter Beds should be full of natural water and the early surveys should achieve adequate spring temperatures and not these inclement <10 degrees we are currently experiencing. It is up to us to monitor the level of water in the basins, by  maintaining an accurate record of photographic evidence. The previous consultants produced misleading reports showing summer bat surveys with basins full of water, yet there were no leaves on the trees in the photographs.
It is likely that the new surveys and tweaking of the design (emphasis on a dark corridor for bat foraging) will be presented in August, 20…

New Bat Survey Guidelines

The new Bat Survey Guidelines are available from the Bat Conservation Trust here Bat Survey Guidelines

These specifically wanted to  end the practice whereby some consultants (and sometimes SNCO's and LPA's) concentrated on the number of surveys (insisting on three) rather than the seasonal sampling of bats throughout the active period (Spring, Summer, Autumn). In the previous (2007) case a consultant could say that they had complied with the three survey requirement, having actually only carried out three surveys on consecutive nights. This is not a reasonable sampling effort.

The new Guidelines make it clear that a dusk and dawn survey in a 24 hour period is one survey, not two as some have interpreted. Given that the level of scrutiny from LPA's on methodology is  limited  and some consultants seem to have been keen to try and 'get round' things as there are many incentives to do so, BCT hopes that this will clarify matters. 
Also new: Analysis is required for a…