News: October 2023

Lichen image by Uta E. from Pixabay

Air quality: policies, proposals and concerns; Lichens for beginners; New eco-labels for household goods; North Yorks Community Awards: Sustainable Swaledale is a finalist; Nutrient neutrality changes rumoured to have been dropped; One Acre Meadow Whatsapp Group; State of Nature Report 2023; Textile Mountain film; Tree seed box creation day 4 October 2023; Trying to bring back the beaver; Wildflower seed propagation workshop 10 October 2023;

Air quality: policies, proposals and concerns. Research Briefing.

Poor air quality is considered by the government to be “the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK” (it is responsible for 80,000 deaths each year) and air pollution also has implications for the natural environment and economy.

This briefing paper lodged in the House of Commons Library gives an overview of the current outdoor air quality legal framework, the changing governance and enforcement mechanisms following the UK’s EU exit, forthcoming legislative changes and ongoing issues and concerns.

Lichens for beginners

The last of three workshops on identifying lichens, run by Dr Sue Knight at the Arkengarthdale Community Hub at St Mary’s in Arkengarthdale, is scheduled for Saturday 4 November 2023. The session costs £4.00 including refreshments, runs from 10:30 to 12:00 and focuses on  crusty lichens and habitats.

Email or visit the Hub facebook page to book places.

New eco-labels for household goods

New water efficiency labels will be introduced by 2025 for toilets, urinals, sinks, showers, dishwashers and washing machines to help consumers reduce their water and energy usage. The labels will mirror the A-F energy labelling used already. This is part of a plan by DEFRA to respond to increasing pressure on water resources. The latest regional water resource management plans state that as a nation we need to reduce our demand for water.  More information on the government website.

North Yorkshire Community Awards: Sustainable Swaledale is a finalist

Sustainable Swaledale is a finalist for the North Yorkshire Community Awards: Caring for the Environment award, along with ‘Richmond School Eco Club’ and ‘Circular Malton and Norton’. The winners will be announced at the North Yorkshire Council Wider Partnership Conference in Harrogate on Friday 27th October. There will be one winner and two runners-up.

Nutrient neutrality changes rumoured to have been dropped

Following the House of Lords rejection in September of the government’s amendment to the Levelling up and Neutrality bill, that would have scrapped the obligation on house builders to ensure there is no nutrient pollution in areas already suffering from a degree of pollution, it is rumoured that the government is considering dropping the planned changes. This is because of the perceived difficulty in getting the legislation through Parliament.

One Acre Meadow Whatsapp Group

A number of us, who received meadow seed, have been busy posting pictures of our hard work scarifying and sowing on the One Acre Meadow Whatsapp Group. The sizes of plots and techniques utilised have varied across the entries. The group exists to provide mutual support so if  you are not sure of something, post a question on the Whatsapp Group or via email to and hopefully we will find an answer between us all.

State of Nature Report 2023

This annual biodiversity report shows that 41% of UK species have declined since 1970s. The report uses wildlife data from over 60 conservation organisations. Of the 10,008 species assessed, 16%  (1-in-6) are now at risk of extinction with over half of flowering plants having declined in their range since 1970. Factors such as climate change, pollution and intensive farming are all putting pressure on wildlife. There is lots of press coverage and commentary from environmental organisations who additionally express concerns over reports that the government is planning to push back on yet another green policy requiring biodiversity net-gain from construction activities.

Textile mountain - the hidden burden of our fashion waste

At the last Sustainable Swaledale meeting, we watched a film on the social and environmental costs of the secondhand clothing trade, tracing the path of unwanted garments from recycling bins in Europe to landfill and waterways in the Global South. Across Europe, we throw away 2 million tonnes of textiles each year – the equivalent of one garbage truck is either landfilled or burned every second.  While many of us donate our unwanted clothes to charity shops and collection banks, 70% of the donated clothing ends up going overseas for resale in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The problem arises when the garments cannot be sold and the waste fabric is then literally dumped in waterways or goes into landfill. Filmed in Kenya, Ireland and Belgium, this documentary calls on us to re-imagine the way the way we design, wear and reuse our clothes, so that our fashion waste no longer becomes another country’s burden. The film can be watched at:

Tree seed box creation day - 4th October 2023

This event, organised by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust,  ran on 4th October at Hazel Brow Farm.  In groups of two, we spent most of the day creating new seed boxes to keep seed collected earlier this year.  The boxes, made with wood donated by Atkinsons, were made with mouse proof mesh lids to prevent rodents pinching the contents and filled with a 50:50 mix of peat free compost and sharp sand.  Towards the end of the day, we looked at the seed and nuts available and took one or two batches of seeds back with us to process and then plant out.  Hazelnuts just had to be pushed into the mixture but some of the berries had to have the flesh removed before the stones were planted. Some of the small seeds such as alder and birch required pre-soaking and then scattering on the surface and a thin layer of sand sprinkled over. Some of the seeds will germinate next spring while others might require two winters before they break their dormancy. If you have taken seed/nuts/berries and not completed the spreadsheet which helps us track what seed has been planted by whom, please complete the spreadsheet.  The link has been sent out to all workshop attendees but let us know if you need it sent out again. A Trees Nursery WhatsApp group also exists.

Thanks to Carol and Matt from the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust for running the workshop and sponsoring the lovely lunch. Mel has kindly created a film of our activities so if you would like to see our collective wood working skills and completed boxes, you can view the following link:

Trying to bring back the beaver

Excellent webinar for the Yorkshire Rewilding Network by Derek Gow, a landowner based in Devon who is trying to rewild some of his 300 acre farm. Liz describes it as a no-holds barred look at the complexities of species reintroductions (focusing on the beaver) and the ability of UK landscapes to support them. Hard-hitting in places and thoroughly engaging: a recommended watch. If you want to find out  what singles out the UK and the Vatican City from the rest of Europe, you will just have to watch!

Wildflower seed propagation workshop 10th October 2023

Following glowing reviews by Caroline of the workshop she attend down in Broadrake near Chapel-Le-Dale, Tees-Swale: naturally connected arranged for Rachel Benson to run her wildflower seed propagation workshop at Hazel Brow Farm, Low Row on 10th October. Rachel took over what was described as “rank grassland” some 10 or more years ago and has gradually changed the fields to a species rich meadow by introducing wildflower seed from commercial sources and also raising plug plants by collecting seeds from her fields for planting back into the fields.

Rachel took us through the basics of collecting seeds and storing the seed in envelopes in dry conditions.  Some seeds are best  scattered in situ such as yellow rattle but other seeds can be sown and seedlings raised as plug plants for planting the follow spring. Rachel is all for reusing containers and as well as re-using seed trays and plug planters that have come from nurseries, Rachel also recommends a range of food trays and fruit punnets which can be filled with the compost mix.  Trays with a lid are best to deter mice and if your tray is without a lid, it is usually possible to find another tray which can be inserted into the top to form a lid. All containers should have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

We had a practical session whereby we planted a range of seeds in a mixture of 1/3rd sand, 1/3rd compost and 1/3rd limestone chippings.   The smallest seeds were scatted on the surface with larger seeds pressed into the compost and a handful of limestone chips scattered on top. Once seedlings start to show their second set of leaves (often their first true leaves), the seedlings can be carefully pricked out into bigger pots.  As seedlings develop at different rates, it is not unusual to prick out several times from the original container.  The young seedlings should be periodically watered (just to keep the compost damp) and kept in a frost free location (eg cold frame, sheltered corner or unheated greenhouse) until the spring when they can be planted out as plug plants.

We discussed the time and effort required to create a really rich environment capable of  supporting a range of insects but Rachel’s advice is that one can make a difference with only a small patch and that the most important step is to just make a start.

My betony and red campion trays are in the greenhouse and as I speak, I can see some miniscule seedlings coming up.  Thanks to Christa and Joe at Tees-Swale: naturally connected for arranging and sponsoring the event.

Core Group Meeting

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

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