Colney Burial site gets planning go ahead

At a Zoom meeting today, the South Norfolk District Council Development Committee approved plans for the extension of the Colney Burial site. The extension borders on the River Yare and the Bowthorpe fishing lakes. It takes the form of a narrow strip close to the river connecting to a larger area to the east of the existing site

At the meeting Colney Parish and the Yare Valley Society expressed concerns before approval was given.

The Yare Valley Society pushed for the Development to safeguard, and where possible enhance, the landscape character of the valley, and for there to be no risk of pollution to the river from the burial site. Colney Parish drew particular attention to the regularity of flooding of some of the site from the river, and the increased pollution that could result.

Flooding near existing burial ground

By a vote of 4 to 1 approval was given subject to a number of conditions that went part way to addressing concerns.

Protection of the landscape and ecology will be addressed by a Landscape and Woodland Management Plan. This will include a commitment to increase the proportion of native trees and to safeguard local wildlife. The protection of a heronry will be included in the plan.

The pollution issue is complex. The Tier Two Groundwater Risk Assessment Survey for the site concluded the site to be high risk with the close proximity of the River Yare contributing significantly to the overall risk.

The Environmental Agency, as recently as November 2019, reported the Yare had unacceptable levels of chemical pollution, and that targets for improvement are likely to be missed. YVS argued that now is not the time to be accepting further pollution of our rivers by new developments. Adding more pollution to the river would not bring the pollution problem under control and would result in further damage to our river ecosystems. Flooding would add a further unknown in assessing the likelihood of river pollution.

The approval was given subject to groundwater monitoring of the site, and a flood evacuation plan being in place.

The YVS continues to be concerned about possible contamination of the river and the effectiveness of monitoring. On the positive side, an effective implementation of a Landscape and Woodland Plan should safeguard the visual attractiveness and the ecology of this part of the Valley for the foreseeable future.

Please note that an Eastern Daily Press article on the decision entitled “The hearses will have to go on boats” should have given the correct names of the representatives of Colney Parish and the Yare Valley Society as Bee Korn and John Elbro  respectively.

 

 

Man of stones immersed in his landscape

Man of Stones emerges from the floods

After his survival from the floods the Man of Stones can truly be said to be immersed in his environment. He forms part of the University of East Anglia Sainsbury Centre’s Sculpture Park, and stands between the River and the University Broad. The River and the Broad became as one in the floods.

 

Safety concerns close UEA Mathematical Bridge

Fenced off

Routine safety checks of the Mathematical Bridge on the UEA Campus by a structural engineer has revealed that some of its foundations have been damaged by the recent flooding of the River Yare.

The UEA Estates & Facilities Division have decided to close the bridge until further notice for the safety of the public. Signage is being placed at various points entry points to the UEA Campus to warn of the closure. It hopes to put in other signage for a diversion, probably via the bridge at the end of Chancellors Drive.

The UEA Estates & Facilities Division says it is keenly aware of the importance of access to safe outdoor spaces at this time, and it hopes to resolve the the problem as quickly as possible.

Pollution persists in the River Yare

More than ten days after oil pollution in the river was first reported, and the Environmental Agency inserted booms at the believed point of entry of the pollution into the river, pollution of the river by what appears to be diesel oil continues. Today, 3rd January, the “smell of diesel” remains at the bridge at the bottom of Chancellor’s Drive and a continuous oil slick can be seen moving downstream. Eaton Village Residents Association (EVRA) report the pollution has reached as far downstream as Marston Marsh.

Danger for Ducks

Dog owners can act to avoid their dogs being contaminated, but no such protection can be afforded to the flora and fauna of the valley. The Oil Care Campaign publicises information on the impact of oil in rivers and provides advice on reducing its entry into the environment.

Please continue to report to the Environmental Agency the location of any pollution you see in the River, and so help stop the hazard continuing. The easiest way to do this is to use the Environmental Agency Incident Hotline 0800 80 70 60.

Yare Valley saves homes from Christmas flooding

Christmas Day: Stile to Marston Marsh

We have become used to the Yare Valley providing an attractive and varied green space for informal recreation during the Covid19 lockdowns, but at Christmas it assumed  another important role. It became a vast floodwater storage area holding back many cubic metres of water and in doing so greatly reduced the likelihood flooding of homes situated downstream.

Boxing Day: Boardwalk at bottom of Strawberry Field

The vegetation on the slopes of the valley also had its part to play in slowing down the rate at which the heavy rain entered the river.

Boxing Day: Path on south side of University Broad

As the effects of climate change and residential development continue to make flooding events ever more frequent, the need to protect and enhance the green space of the Yare Valley becomes ever more urgent.

Christmas Day: A change of view on Marston Marsh

Widespread opposition to Government White Paper Proposals

A big thank you to all who responded to the Yare Valley Society call to respond to the Government’s White Paper “Planning for the Future” Consultation. It was not an easy undertaking. The consultation ended on 29 October.

Another thank you if your added your name to the CPRE (Council for the Preservation of Rural England) petition against some of the key proposals.

The YVS committee saw the government’s proposals as a major attack on local democracy and a threat to the ability of the YVS and its members to safeguard the green space of the Yare Valley in the future.

We are not alone.

On 8th December the CPRE with other campaigners headed to Westminster, to hand in 310,265 signatures calling for the government to stop its “disastrous plans” to change our planning laws.

The CPRE writes:

“We commissioned a poll of MPs and found that over half of Conservative MPs weren’t happy with the proposals – the same proposals that had come from their own party! So it came as no surprise to us to see a fiery debate in the House of Commons where 46 MPs spoke out against the plans – and even more wanted to, but the debate simply ran out of time.

Of these 46 MPs publicly voicing their unhappiness with the suggested changes, a huge 33 were from the Conservative Party – including former Prime Minister Theresa May. The issues that they were raising were just as we’ve been saying for many months: that the plans would lead to building on green spaces near to where people live (the very local green spaces that have been so important to so many of us during the pandemic year); that fewer homes that people could actually afford to live in would be built; and that the chances for people to get involved in shaping the future of where they live would be eroded.

And it’s not just the government’s own MPs who have problems with the plans. Organisations from across the environmental, housing and planning sectors have come together to say a big NO to the existing proposals. We were one of more than 30 groups who sent a letter to the Prime Minister warning of the disastrous impacts on nature and people if he dismantled the planning system.”

YVS will be looking for a positive response from the government to address the concerns raised. If it fails to do so YVS will be asking members to take action again.

Yare Valley Society responds to “Planning for the Future”

The Yare Valley Society response to the consultation on the Government’s White Paper on the future of Planning can now be read on the Consultation Page.

Do not leave it to the Society alone. Please make your personal response to the consultation. More information on how to do this is on the Consultation Page.

Don’t forget to sign the Council for the Protection of Rural England’s (CPRE’s) petition

 

Look before you Leap – what the divers found

Cringleford Bridge has been a popular place for some young people to take a jump into the river. This is not a practice to encourage, and a recent underwater exploration has revealed some of the hidden dangers.

A team of scuba divers, limited in their activities by the lockdown, ventured into the depths of the river Yare below the bridge and over a few hours successfully retrieved eight shopping trolleys, three bicycles, a single bed frame, two road traffic cones and an assortment of metal and scaffolding poles. The team reported that their haul was only a quarter of the rubbish in the river, and that the river bed was strewn with rubbish.

From the depths

Some of the objects were at a depth of only two metres and so could present a serious hazard to anyone entering the water unwarily.

A big thank you to the diving team for bringing this hazard to the attention of the public, and for their work on improving the river environment. Pictures and more about their work can be found here.

CPRE says “Don’t let the government deregulate planning”

Sign the Petition

The Council for the Protection of Rural England is calling on all of us to take action on the Government plans “Planning for the Future”

 “The government has devised some new plans that could pose a huge risk to the countryside and the communities living and working within it. 

Ministers want to take decision-making powers away from communities and local councils, handing it over to housing developers and central powers in Westminster.   

Under these new proposals, our ability to shape the future of where we live – a right communities have had for 70 years – could be lost with the stroke of a pen.” 

The Government plans are a serious threat to our ability to protect the Yare Valley from development in the future. The Yare Valley Society Committee urges you to sign the CPRE Petition to be found here.

This is only a tiny step to expressing opposition to the Government’s proposals. Please respond to the current consultation on the proposals. See Consultations for details.

Donkey Detour

Closed Footpath

Hoping to take a quick walk round the University Broad? It will take longer than you think. The section of boardwalk at the south east end of the Broad has been closed. A diversion has been signed which, from the University side of the Broad takes you along the lower edge of the donkey fields as far as the recently opened Strawberry Field Meadow. The return is along by the river.

Diversion Map

To give you a better idea of the extra distance we have marked with a star the point at which you reach the Strawberry Field Meadow. Children will enjoy seeing the donkeys.