News: March 2023

Photo of beaver by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

Beavers’ dam may stop flooding; Earth Day 2023; Happy Valley; Health benefits from outdoors recreation valued; New logo; North Yorkshire village swaps to dark sky-friendly lighting; Polluted rivers; Recycling changes in Richmondshire; Save our Wild Isles; Solar power calculator for your house; Swimming pool heated by data centre; Together for Trees 2022-203 planting season comes to an end; United Nations Climate Report; United Nations Ocean Treaty

Beavers’ 70m dam may stop flooding of North Yorkshire village

New Civil Engineer reported on the introduction of beavers to Cropton Forest in an attempt to reduce the risk of flooding in Sinnington, after funding could not be found for maintaining artificial flood barriers.  The beavers’ dams have measurably slowed the flow of water and will hopefully reduce the risk of flooding following heavy rain. Similar schemes in 20 sites seem to be having an impact on flood management.

Earth Day 2023

The theme for the 55th annual Earth Day on 22nd April is “Invest in our Planet” with a focus on what each of us as an individual can do to tackle climate change, reduce waste and tackle pollution. Check out a tool kit which allows you to calculate how much plastic you use a year, with advice on reducing use,  or follow advice on creating capsule wardrobes by only buying an item of clothing if it will go with three items already in your wardrobe. More at

Happy Valley

At the February Sustainable Swaledale Meeting, we looked at a multi-functional uses of land. We started with a short film by the Royal Society entitled ‘We need to talk about land‘ which argues for considering multiple uses for land, and then had a go at creating our own Swaledale landscape. We looked at the different areas of the dale such as flood plain, dale side, high pasture and moor tops and how we could either make single use choices for devoting the different areas  to either livestock farming, forestry, grouse or wildlife conservation or  alternatively consider multi use choices for the land such as conservation grazing, native woodland, regenerative farming or silvopasture. Each choice has its own consequences for the environment and the landscape. The two groups came up with different choices and consequently different future landscapes for Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.  

The exercise was based on the Royal Society’s UK land use challenge which uses interactive graphics to illustrate some of the competing factors that affect land use and shows how different land uses can be complimentary to each other. The goal is to design a landscape which delivers multiple benefits for society. Check out the Royal Society Multifunctional Landscapes Report and supporting material on their website.

Health benefits from outdoor recreation assigned a monetary value

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has, as part of its Census 2021 reviews, estimated the value of health benefits associated with outdoor recreation within the UK as between £6.2 and £8.4 billion in 2020. Information on the methodology and findings can be found at: The health benefits from recreation, natural capital, UK:2022

New logo

A new logo has been adopted by the group. The new logo design was the clear favourite in the members’ vote. The green/grey (sage) colour and the typeface were the unanimous choice of attendees at our last meeting, thereby deciding the final design. We didn’t look at the wording – we just concentrated on a logo, so there is the option to look at the name or a by-line in the future. The new design is available in either vector (jpg) or raster (png) formats from the Secretary. We will update the the website and other media to use the new logo over the next few months. 

North Yorkshire village swaps to dark sky friendly lighting

The Guardian newspaper has picked up on a project in the North York Moors village of Hawnby where the North York Moors National Park and Mexborough Estates are converting exterior lighting for every property and street light to modern dark skies friendly lighting. Closer to home, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) has helped businesses including  the Station Inn, Ribbleshead; The Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, including the Visitor Centre; the Stone House Hotel in Upper Wensleydale and the Yorebridge Sport and Leisure Centre, Askrigg to change their lighting to reduce light pollution. The YDNPA offers advice on good external lighting which will reduce light pollution, on its website. Relevant planning rules are changing. The current local plan covering Swaledale and Arkengarthdale requires that external lighting should not adversely affect dark skies or the character of the landscape (but otherwise allows it). The new local plan will strengthen requirements for external lighting with lighting only allowed in exceptional circumstances in the core Dark Sky area and where essential for safety in the buffer area (includes Reeth) but this will only affect new developments. We are trying to find out more about the project funding in case we could persuade YDNPA to fund some dark sky-friendly lighting in Reeth.

Polluted rivers

If you haven’t seen it, catch Paul Whitehouse’s “Our Troubled Rivers” on BBC iPlayer. The first of the two part series includes a look at the all too frequent practice of dumping raw sewage into the Wharfe through storm overflows. DEFRA has responded to the programme’s criticism of water company practices. 

According to an ITV report in August 2022, Yorkshire Water has on average, over the last 5 years, dumped raw sewage into rivers and the sea every 18 minutes. More locally and mentioned previously, Richmondshire Today reported back in October on a meeting held by Richmondshire District Council where Councillors called for Yorkshire Water to make improvements to reduce sewage discharge. It was alleged that in 2021 Yorkshire Water had made 650 dumps in the River Swale over 3,100 hours and Richmond sewage works had made 115 dumps.

There is also a series on Radio 4 looking at how clean our drinking water is, following the water cycle from coast to tap.  Catch it on Mondays at 9pm or check it out on BBC Sounds

Lastly, the New Scientist and the “I” have announced a joint campaign to save Britain’s rivers. The two newspapers will spend the next year looking at the issues affecting rivers including news stories, films, podcasts and events on the subject. The papers also plan to celebrate rivers,  ask readers to tell the story of their local watercourse and also look at how other countries effectively manage their rivers. Find out more on the New Scientist website

Recycling changes in Richmondshire

From 1st April, there will be no need to separate glass and plastic/tins into separate boxes.  You can place all the items in the one green or black box. Cardboard and paper will continue to go into the blue or white bags.  Kerbside collection of clothing will cease but you will still be able to recycle clothing at the Leyburn Household Waste Recycling Centre or donate them to a charity shop. Further information on the RDC website

Save our Wild Isles

The National Trust, World Wildlife Fund and RSPB have joined together following the first part of the BBC’s ‘Wild Isles’ series to launch the Save our Wild Isles campaign. Check out  a range of resources available on the Save our Wild Isles website and find out how you can make a difference by going “wild once a week”.  This might mean making space for nature by planting pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds or getting involved with local community projects. The organisations have funded a special programme by the Save our Wild Isles production company which will only be available on the BBC IPlayer.

Solar power calculator for your house

If you wonder how much solar power you could generate with  solar panels, take a look at the World Bank’s Global Solar Atlas. Using its satellite image map you can pinpoint your precise location and it cleverly works out what your horizon looks like. While it doesn’t know about trees, houses or walls that can cast shade, it can work out when you are in the shade of a hillside and adjust its statistics accordingly.  

Swimming pool heated by a data centre

The swimming pool in Exmouth Leisure Centre, Devon is being heated by waste heat from a Deep Green data centre. The computers within the data centre are surrounded by oil that captures the heat from the machines and the heat is transferred to a heat exchanger, which in turn is used to heat the water in the pool. The pool’s temperature can reach up to 30C approximately 60% of the time.  The pool gets the energy free and Deep Green are keen to get more leisure centres interested. Coverage available in the press or Sustainability Magazine

Together for Trees season 2022 to 2023 comes to an end

Our Together For Trees planting season for 2022/23, sponsored by lottery funded ‘Tees Swale: naturally connected’,  has come to an end following a delay due to snowy conditions. Over 5,000 trees have been planted at 13 Swaledale and Arkengarthdale sites by 50 volunteers who gave up 137 days in all kinds of weather to create new woodland and hedges. We already have several sites lined up for next year but if you know of anyone who has a patch of land and would like to be considered, ask them to get in touch.

One of the planting sessions even got into the local press as it was undertaken  as a volunteer day for the Richmondshire District Council staff, as reported in Richmondshire Today.  ‘My volunteer day’ planting was promoted by my company as part of a campaign to get more staff involved in volunteering.

United Nations Climate Report

The United Nations have released a survival guide to avert climate disaster.  Described by UN chief Antonio Guterres as a “survival guide for humanity”, it recognises that while time is rapidly running out to maintain global warming at 1.5 c rise, there are still opportunities offered by adopting clean energy and utilising new technologies. All countries are advised to bring their net zero goals forward by a decade and speeding up the abandonment of fossil fuels may help to  slow the temperature rise. Check out the IPPC Panel’s Sixth Assessment Report 6th report or read all the press coverage on the BBC website or in the papers. The Guardian has an interesting article illustrating how all the  IPPC Panel reports steadily reflect a deteriorating position.

United Nations Ocean Treaty

Nearly 200 countries have agreed to a legally binding United Nations “High Seas Treaty” to protect marine life in international waters previously excluded from legislation. This treaty will cover 60% of the world’s oceans by surface water and is necessary to meeting the global biodiversity pledges made at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal (COP15) in December 2022. It helps to keep  the 30X30 target of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030 alive. Lots of coverage on the BBC website, online press and sites such as  the Greenpeace website.

Core Group Meeting

The April meeting will take place at the Two Dales Bakery on 6 April at  7.00pm.  Please get in touch if you’d like to join us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *