News: August 2023

Dales barn image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

Broadrake Meadow Workshop; Brockholes Nature Reserve trialling grazing cows without fences; Mires Beck Nursery visit; North Yorks Community Awards: Sustainable Swaledale shortlisting; Plan to allow barn conversions without planning permission would destroy England’s national parks; Plastic free planting at Snaizeholme; Reeth Community veg beds; Tree seed collection day; UK installs record number of heat pumps and solar panels; WingIt update

Broadrake Meadow Workshop

Caroline attended a meadow workshop organised by Catherine Mercer, the Haytime Projects Officer for the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust. The day started with an introduction to the Broadrake Meadow Project, its successes and challenges, followed by hands-on propagation, seed growing tips and a tour of the meadow. This has a number of desirable plants including Mountain Columbine, Melancholy Thistle, Globe Flower, Wood Cranesbill, Sneezewort, Ragged Robin and Marsh Marigold. Caroline has written comprehensive notes but the main points are:

  • Local provenance is important: collect seed within a few miles of the target meadow within altitudinal and habitat range.
  • Collect seed ideally on a dry, still sunny afternoon. Collect into paper envelopes, label with date, weather, and site. Most seed will remain viable for years if kept cool and dry and can even be kept in the fridge. Plants suitable for seed collecting include Cranesbill, Hawkbit, Pignut, Vetch, and Clover. 
  • Grow seeds in trays from autumn to late winter, sprinkling seed onto the top of a compost mix (1/3 coir, 1/3 sand and 1/3 grit) then lightly covering with soil and grit. Water from the base and keep outside in a sheltered spot away from rodents. Once four leaves appear, pot out into yoghurt pots/small pots. Once big enough to plant, soak the root ball for an hour before planting.
  • Different treatment is required for Yellow Rattle. Recommended that turn tufts, plant seeds around edges and cover seed lightly. The process will need to repeated for several years to get it well established. Eyebright is another hemiparasite which needs to be sown into bare ground.

Some wildflowers such as Wild Thyme, Marjoram, Sneezewort, Hawkweed, Harebell, and Melancholy Thistle will grow from cuttings.

Brockholes Nature Reserve trialling grazing cows without fences

Lancashire Wildlife Trust are trialling the use of collars on cows at the Brockholes Nature Reserve. The GPS collars emit a sound when the cows try to wander outside a designated area  and the noise deters the cows from crossing the virtual barrier.  It is hoped that the use will allow more flexible and focused grazing of habitat.

Source: Lancashire Post

Mires Beck Nursery visit

A number of people involved in the Tree Nursery project visited the Mires Beck tree nursery on August 10th. The nursery, which is a social enterprise, provides trees for environmental projects. Steve, the Habitat  Manager,  took us through the whole process from planting seeds through to getting seedlings ready for use. The nursery is a commercial concern that buys in seed with plant passport status (while we would want to source ours locally) and operates on a far larger scale than we would want to. However, we got a very good  idea about the different processes required and went away with a lot to think about. If you want more information about the visit, please contact us.

North Yorkshire Community Awards: Sustainable Swaledale shortlisted

Sustainable Swaledale is pleased to announce that is has now been shortlisted  for the North Yorkshire Community Awards: ‘Caring for the Environment’ award.  This is awarded to groups who have demonstrated a commitment to delivering community based initiatives that protect, restore and enhance our natural environment, helping to tackle the causes and impacts of climate change or supporting nature to thrive. All nominations are judged by an independent panel and are based on how the individual, organisation or project has:

  • tackled issues that affect people living in North Yorkshire
  • made a difference to their community
  • helped get people involved and inspired others

Two  members of the judging panel are coming to visit the group on 2nd September  to find out more about what the group does. We hope to show the judges the community beds at Reeth, talk about the WingIt and One Acre Meadow projects and take them to a local example of tree planting.

Plan to allow barn conversions without planning permission would destroy England’s national parks according to YDNPA CEO

There has been widespread condemnation of proposals by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to loosen planning controls on national parks and other conservation areas as proposed in a consultation paper on permitted rights.  The Department states that “Allowing our town and village centres within protected landscapes (such as national parks) to benefit from the right could help ensure the longer-term viability and vitality of these community hubs, supporting the residents and businesses that rely on them.” Proposals include giving farmers the ability to change their agricultural buildings into houses, supporting the delivery of new homes in rural communities.

David Butterworth, CEO  of the Yorkshire Dales National Park  Authority has told the Guardian:

“If I was trying to devise a policy that would essentially lead to the destruction of Yorkshire Dales national park, this would be the policy. These are permitted development rights to convert a property without any planning restriction. This means the 6,500 field barns in the Yorkshire Dales could be converted into homes. The idea they could be homes with no restrictions would decimate the landscapes…It is one of the most bonkers examples of environmental destruction I could think of. I am extremely concerned that this has been introduced now with an eight-week consultation. It is just crackers.”

Kevin Bishop, the CEO of Dartmoor national park authority has also pointed out that “the ability to convert any equestrian field shelter or agricultural barn to an open market house would cause untold damage to our landscapes and yet do nothing to support the provision of affordable housing.” 

Check out the Chair of the Friends of the Dales: Bruce McLeod’s  letter to the Guardian saying that a barns free-for-all will destroy the Yorkshire Dales  and the Campaign for National Parks blog where the organisation agrees that proposals to make barn conversions easier will ruin the National Parks.

Comments are sought by 25th September 2023.

Plastic free planting at Snaizeholme

The 561 hectare Snaizeholme site near Hawes, the newest and largest of the Woodland Trust’s native woodland creation sites in England, has been planted with 87,000 saplings over winter without using a single tree guard. The Woodland Trust pledged to cease the use of any new plastic tree protection at its sites by the end of 2021. More information can be found on the Woodland Trust website.

The Friends of the Dales, 11 out of 12 National Park Societies, and the Campaign for National Parks, have called for a ban on plastic tree guards being used in National Parks.  Sustainable Swaledale has been trialling planting trees without the use of tree guards, relying instead on good rabbit proof fencing.  Sadly the presence of large numbers of rabbits does mean that the majority of sites have required tree guards but we do have plans in place to remove tree guards before they breakdown and add microplastics into the environment.

Reeth community veg beds

After a very productive summer, some of the raised beds at Reeth Surgery have now been replanted with winter/spring vegetables. Dr Mike Brooks thanks everyone for their hard work.  We are always looking for more volunteers to help look after the beds,  join the watering rota and encourage people to use the produce. If you would like to get involved, please contact us.

Tree seed collection day

The group will be running a tree seed collection day on 23rd September.  Local tree seed is collected with the permission of landowners, processed and, once germinated, potted on into root trainers. The tree seedlings are nurtured for a couple of years and will finally  be planted out within Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.  We will be meeting at Rampsholme Bridge, Muker at 10am. If you are interested in joining us,  email for joining instructions. We will be running a construction day for our tree nursery shortly.

UK installs record number of heat pumps and solar panels

The green energy industry standards body, MCS, has reported that on average, more than 17,000 households have installed solar panels each month since the start of 2023 with the number of homes installing heat pumps reaching 3,000 a month for the first time. Battery installations also increased month on month with more than 1,000 batteries installed in homes and businesses across the UK since the start of 2023.

Small-scale renewable energy installations in homes and businesses now have a total capacity of 4 gigawatts (GW), greater than the nuclear power plant being built at Hinkley Points and almost double the capacity of Europe’s biggest gas power plant at Pembroke. Numbers are, however,  still way below UK government targets of reaching 70GW of solar capacity by 2035 and installing  600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.

WingIt update

Further to the coverage by Andrew Flagg, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Publicity officer who interviewed Rachel and Stacey on the project and produced a blog article  and press release,  articles have appeared in Richmondshire Today and the Yorkshire Post. The Friends of the Dales have also asked for something for their next newsletter, which is focusing on positive action. 

Many of our WingIt swift boxes were occupied by other birds this season so some thought may need to be applied to discouraging early occupation by other birds before the swifts return. The project team is also looking at helping house martins with nesting cups.

Group Meeting

The September  meeting will take place at the Two Dales Bakery on 7 September  at  7.00pm. Please get in touch if you’d like to join us.

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