Yellow Rattle Planting at UEA Meadows

Matt Tomlinson of Friends of Strawberry Field and UEA Meadows writes:

“To continue our work to help restore the UEA meadows – UEA estates have kindly cut short an area on the meadow by the lake for us. We can now rake up the arisings and create some bare soil to sow yellow rattle and other strawberry field wildflower seeds. This worked really well last year and it would be great to build on this success. 

Dates and times –

Sunday 8th Oct 10-12pm

Saturday 14th Oct 2-5pm

Please bring a rake with you if possible. I have borrowed 6 if you don’t have any.

Coffee and biscuits provided and of course everyone is welcome.

Hope to see you then” 

Mowing the Meadows

Refuges for insects. Photo: Matt Tomlinson

Matt Tomlinson of Friends of Strawberry Field and UEA Meadows writes:

“UEA meadows had their annual cut and collect this week – important to deplete soil nutrients and control grass vigour. Arisings are being left under the tree belts, which make good habitat piles (for breeding grass snakes especially).

Creating Habitat. Photo: Matt Tomlinson

For the first time you will see uncut strips on the meadows, which act as refuges for over wintering insects. These will be moved every year.

Refuge for insects. Photo: Matt Tomlinson

Big thanks to Norfolk wildlife trust who have been down to Broad Hay Meadow this week to spread some green hay from their roadside nature reserve at Shotesham. A big square has been cut short, by UEA estates, to allow the seeds to have good contact with the soil and to keep the grasses in check. This will be a big boost to the meadows biodiversity and we look forward to see what comes up in the spring !

Thanks also to UEA estates for all their hard work in preparing the area at short notice.

We will be down at UEA in late September to get some more yellow rattle sown.”

NEAT Conservation Volunteering Programme August

Mark Webster writes:

“Summertime, and the Himalayan Balsam is all behind us now – but we won’t look back, instead we are looking forward to a month of making hay, possibly whilst the sun shines, or maybe with scattered showers, but hopefully no more thunderstorms!

This month we will keep caring for our newly planted trees at Bunkers Hill and Netherwood Green, as well as tackling invasive bracken on Mousehold Heath, but mainly we are all about gorgeous grasslands in August, sometimes cutting and always raking up.  This is a vital part of habitat management for wildflowers, keeping nutrient levels low to stop nettles and thistles pushing out the beautiful mix of our rarer species which make up a healthy and diverse meadow.  Locations include lovely quiet Barmer (out in the wilds), the fine old town of Bungay, and two of Norwich’s most special green lungs, Rosary and Earlham Cemeteries.

If you know someone who could join us for a summer holiday in Norfolk (well, a day out anyway) at some point this month, please let them know.”

The Programme for August is here.

Yellow Rattle Seed Collection

Sunday the 23rd of July 10-12am

Meet at Marston marshes – at the bottom corner (go down church lane past Eaton Vale scout centre and on reaching the railway crossing take the footpath on the left, running parallel to the train track, and enter the marsh).

Matt writes: “We have permission to collect Yellow Rattle seeds from Marston Marshes. These will be vital for us to continue to enrich the UEA meadows and it was a great success last year. However, many more are needed this year. Please come along if you can. Please don’t go to Strawberry Field for this one.” 

“Everyone is welcome, I will bring coffee and biscuits dates”.

Please support Matt’s important work on improving the biodiversity of the Yare Valley.

Yellow rattle encourages other wildflowers Photo: June Gentle

Why Yellow Rattle?

Yellow Rattle has a role in creating and sustaining wildflower meadows.  As the Yellow Rattle roots develop, they spread out, and seek out the roots of plants nearby, particularly coarse grasses, and take water and nutrients from them. The growth of the grasses is supressed, and this gives room for other wildflowers to flourish. In addition, the Yellow Rattle is valuable in itself for its nectar rich flowers that sustain pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Monitoring the Meadow: Big Butterfly Count

Matt Tomlinson of the Friends of Strawberry Field and UEA Meadows is organising another of his events to promote interest in the developing meadows of the Yare Valley:

The Big Butterfly Count

and use of a bird song id app.

Saturday the 15th of July 10-11am

Meet at the Strawberry Field top gate (or find us on the top of the field if running a bit late).

Matt writes: “Roger Carter from our group has kindly agreed to do the Citizen science project – The Big Butterfly count, on Strawberry Field. This will simply involve recording butterfly species seen in a 15 minute time window, we will likely use the 2 patches of wild marjoram to do this.”

Will you see this one? Photo: Kate Stephenson

“I thought that after that we could use a great little app to see which bird species are around the field margins by recording 10 or 20 minutes of bird song using the merlin bird id app, the app will identify which species are heard. If you would like to do this please upload the app and test that it’s working. It’s really a great app to have!” 

More about the big butterfly count is here.

The Merlin Bird app is here.

Plant surveys on Strawberry Field – Saturday 3rd of June at 10 am -12

Matt Tomlinson of Friends of Strawberry Field and UEA meadows is organising a baseline survey of the plant life on the evolving meadow. Some of you will have heard Matt speak at the recent Eaton Eco Fair and/or at last year’s YVS AGM.

Matt writes: “As last year was the first proper year that Strawberry Field was managed as a wildflower meadow, we are keen to get a baseline for the richness and diversity of plant life on the field. This will give us an idea of the positive impact of this new management (cut, collect and removing arisings off site) and add to the value of the site. It will also give data to the Norfolk biodiversity information service. They are calling for this kind of baseline data and would very much appreciate our data.

A bit early, but you might find a fabulous Bee Orchid. Photo: Matt Tomlinson

The surveys will be by Quadrat (a simple square grid) thrown on the ground and a set number of plants marked if present (rapid grassland assessment). Experienced people will be in the teams to help out. If we have enough people, we can look for plant species not yet recorded on the meadow.

As always everyone is welcome and it’s a great opportunity to get up close with the meadows flora and insect life.”

The more of us there, the more we can achieve, so please join Matt and the Friends on Saturday 3rd of June from 10 am – 12. Meet by the gate at 10 am (if a bit late wander down and look for activity on the meadow).

Reporting on your River or Broad this weekend?

Planet Patrol is asking people to head to their local waterways for about 15 minutes around the 14th, 15th, and 16th of October 2022 to report on their condition. It is part of the Planet Patrol Autumn Water Watch programme.

How clean is the water you swing over?

“Water is central to the health, well-being and livelihood of everyone on this planet. In the UK, the biggest risk to water quality is the ongoing lack of sampling, monitoring and reporting. The impact on both human health and the ecosystems that rely on them are still largely unobserved and unreported. Right now we have a monumental information gap that needs to be urgently filled, and that can be started through simple observations – something we can all do. 

If you don’t truly understand the problem, how can you solve it?”

To take part you can download their App from the Apple or Google store or you can complete their online form.

Proposed building development on Colney Hall Estate in the Yare Valley

The Colney Hall estate lies to the south of Bawburgh Lakes and west of Bowthorpe Southern Park. It is a key contributor to the landscape character and biodiversity of the Valley. Access to the estate is from the B1108 Watton Road.

An outline planning application for part of the Estate, with all matters reserved except access, has been submitted to South Norfolk District Council for a retirement living community of up to 210 extra care units with associated communal facilities, a 20 bed care home, an Innovation Centre to include; academic spaces, flexible office/ research and development spaces and administration offices and 20 student resident 6-bed flats and all matters reserved except for access.

Details of the development can be found at South Norfolk Planning by searching under reference 2022/1547.

A good start point is under the documents tab: Landscape & visual appraisal.

This is a major development on an environmentally sensitive site in the Yare Valley. The site lies outside of the areas approved for development in the Greater Norwich Local Plan. South Norfolk District Council Policies are also in force that are intended to safeguard the green landscape around Norwich, in particular Policy DM 4.5 Landscape Character and River Valleys, and Policy DM 4.6 Landscape Setting.

The Yare Valley Society committee is seriously concerned about this threat to build on the green space of the valley. The development can expect to impact on the visual landscape and biodiversity of the valley, and the effectiveness of the valley corridor in mitigating the effects of climate change (e.g. by reducing flooding downstream).

More about the development can be found in the YVS October 2022 Newsletter.

Please add your voice to that of the Yare Valley Society by writing in to South Norfolk District Council Planning Department giving your own personal view on this proposed development in the green space of the Valley.

Update: Technically the deadline for responses has now passed, but the South Norfolk Planning Department have assured YVS that comments will continue to be accepted up to the time of determination of the application. Please submit your comments ASAP.

Information about Outline Planning Applications

This is an outline planning application with all matters reserved except access. Applications of this kind can be used as a way of establishing the principle of development on a site, without committing to the precise nature of the development.

If Outline Planning Permission is granted further detail of the reserved matters must be agreed at a later stage. This means detail in the application could change, including the development’s appearance, landscaping, layout and scale. For more information see the National Planning Portal at

Time to respond to McCarthy Stone Phase 3 Planning Application!

It would have been nice to report the latest planning application for the McCarthy Stone development on Bluebell Road was a model of best practice development in an ecological sensitive area. Unfortunately the proposals in the application are far from such a model.

Foreground Phase 2 development, background (beyond fence) Phase 3 site

On a first look through the application, some concerns are:

Dwelling Density

The high dwelling density of the development and its design will have a serious visual impact on the landscape of the valley and will degrade environmental assets within and adjacent to the site. The high dwelling density should be reduced.

Policy R42 of the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) envisaged the number of dwellings for the whole of the Bartram’s Site as being “… in the region of 120 dwellings. This figure is based on an assumption that the site will be developed mainly at low densities to ensure that impact on the landscape is minimised”. The GNLP aim was to “minimise impact on the landscape of the Yare Valley and important views”, and for the development to “protect and enhance environmental assets within and adjacent to the site”.

McCarthy and Stone in their latest Phase 3 application are proposing to build 100 dwellings in Phase 3 alone. These will be added to those of Phase 1 (61) and Phase 2 (50) resulting in a total of 211, almost double the number of 120 envisaged in the GNLP. These high densities can be expected to have a detrimental effect on the environment, both visually and ecologically. The proposals breach seriously the dwelling density safeguard of the GNLP.

Location, size and design of Infiltration “Pond”

(N.B. “Pond” is something of a misnomer here, since for much of the time it can be expected to be dry. Basin might be a better name)

The Public Access green space that formed part of Phase 2, should not be degraded by a the insertion of a large infiltration basin. Any such basin should be incorporated within the original site area for phase 3.

While accepting that that an infiltration basin is necessary to reduce runoff into the river and limit flooding downstream, little attention seems to be given to reducing the basin size by a greater use of water permeable surfaces of drives, parking areas etc., and by use of rainwater harvesting within the site. Further reduction in runoff could be achieved by reducing the dwelling density, by retaining more of the existing vegetation, and by increasing the area of planted green space in the proposals. At the same time the site’s ecology would be improved.

Little indication is given of the design of the “Pond”. Properly designed infiltration basins can be made available for public access, and can be planted with trees, shrubs and other plants, improving their visual appearance and providing habitats for wildlife.

Many mature and semi-mature trees will be removed from the site

Ecological Gain

The UK biodiversity is generally acknowledged as being in catastrophic decline. More needs to be done on this site to enhance biodiversity and provide some “ecological gain”

McCarthy Stone’s own Ecological Report makes a number of recommendations for ecological enhancement. These include “Removal of existing trees on site should be avoided were possible” and “Removal of the existing hedgerows on the site should be avoided where possible and kept to a minimum if unavoidable” The proposals include the removal of most of the relatively mature trees and shrubs in contradiction of Ecological Report’s recommendations. The site tree survey suggests that many trees are not perfect specimens, but they are established, (important in drought conditions), and considerably more mature than any that are likely to be planted as part of the development.

Please take a critical look at and respond to the plans at, using application number 22/00298/F and selecting the Documents tab. The Layout Plan, Tree Survey and Ecological Report are good start points. Comment by 24th August 2022.

Your comment is essential if these proposals are to be improved.

Eaton Eco Fair, Dawn Chorus Walk, Eco Trail, and Swaps

The Yare Valley Society will be at the


at St Andrew’s Church and Church Hall in Church Lane, on Saturday 7 May 2022, 10 am to 12 noon.

The Society’s display will highlight the important roles played by the Yare Valley green corridor in combatting and mitigating the effects of climate change. The Society will by joined by organisations such as Norfolk County Council Waste Management, the local Allotment Association, Conservation Volunteers, and more. There will also be stalls run by local companies, shops and business outlets selling environmentally-friendly goods and supplies.


An ECO TRAIL for children and families will be in the Church grounds.


EVRA (Eaton Village Residents’ Association) are inviting you to start the day with a dawn chorus walk  – meet Phil Atkinson at the gate to the Eaton marshes near the golf course at 6.30 am on 7 May.


There’s also a “Swap” event at 5.30 pm in the Hall when you can update your wardrobe, library and toys.

The EVRA website has more details, and the event Flyer is here.