Sunday, 28 February 2010

March in Snuff Mills

There are lots of events and activities coming up in the valley over the coming months as part of our People's Millions project.

This month we have lots of chances to get your hands dirty.

Join us in sprucing up the garden on Sunday 7th March between 10-12noon. We'll also be litter picking between 2-4pm that day. Please wear gloves and bring tools or sturdy bin bags if you have them.

We'll be gardening again on Sunday 21st March between 10-12noon.

If you don't fancy any of that, come and join us on Monday 15th March between 7.30-9pm for a Snuff Mills supporters meeting at Stapleton Baptist Church, Broom Hill. Find out what's happening with the People's Millions lottery money and what you can do to help. We'll also launch our photographic competition and talk about our oral history project. Everyone who supports improving the valley is welcome.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Site works

Over the next few weeks a few things will be happening in Snuff Mills as part of our People's Millions project to improve the valley for everyone.

Volunteers from The Green Gym will be in the valley every Friday for the next three weeks clearing some of the scrub between the paths to create views across the valley from the upper path. They will also be cutting back some of the vegetation from the entrance to Snuff Mills to make it more welcoming.

Bristol City Council staff will be removing some of the trees and bushes that grow in the garden and next to the river. We need to do this to get more light in to the garden so that we can continue to renovate it.

A contractor will be removing trees from around the toilets to make them feel safer and to try to deter anti-social behaviour.

We will be removing some of the old benches and soon the paths will be resurfaced and new benches installed.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Children help the birds

Children from Begbrook School have been getting involved in improving the valley for wildlife recently.

They have even made bird boxes and put them up with help from Avon Wildlife Trust. We've already seen birds investigating the boxes and we hope that the children's efforts will be rewarded when they join us for an early morning dawn chorus walk in April.

Thanks to the People's Millions funding, we are able to involve every single child from the school in the valley over the next year.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Chainsaws in Grove Wood

This morning two men were seen cutting up some of the large logs along the footpath near Broomhill Bridge using a chainsaw. Who they were is not certain but we suspect they were stealing the wood to burn or sell as neither of them appeared to be the owner or any of his previous workmen. They took the cut logs away quickly and didn't return during the day. We are concerned about the use of chainsaws in Grove Wood for obvious reasons; will live trees be targeted next? There is a tree preservation order (TPO) on the entire woodland so any damage to living trees or saplings is a criminal offence. Please keep an eye out for the people doing this and report it to the Police or to SMAG if you see them again.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Kingfisher Killed By Fishing Line

This rare kingfisher was killed by a hook and nylon fishing line left tangled in a tree by an angler. The bird died an agonising death - one of its wings was practically torn off as a result of its struggle to escape. Can you imagine what that must have been like? We have put a close up picture of the bird at the bottom of this post. It is not for the squeamish, but we thought people ought to see it.

It's an unfortunate fact that far too much debris and litter is being left by anglers and others along the Frome. A Canada goose was found with a hook in its gullet and two foot of line hanging from its mouth a few months ago. It was rescued fortunately or it could have been another fatal casualty. We would ask everyone who uses the area to be very careful and take all their rubbish with them and to not fish under trees. If line does get caught please remove it. Just think of the suffering that might result if you do not do this. Surely spending some time collecting fishing line is better than having the death of a rare and beautiful bird on your conscience.

A large amount of hooks and line have been cleared from the river in the last couple of years by Snuff Mills Action Group members but we can't do it all. Please respect this precious environment!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Grove Wood container update

This article appeared in the Evening Post on Friday 29th January:

A landowner is due in court charged with breaking planning rules for failing to remove an 'eyesore' storage container from riverside woodland in Stapleton.

Lord Houshang Jafari will appear before Bristol Magistrates' Court next month to face an allegation that he failed to remove a temporary building from Grove Wood despite being ordered to move it by the city council in September last year.

Campaigners who have protested over tree-felling in the woodland next to Snuff Mills Park believe the blue and white metal 'shipping container' should be removed because it ruins the look of the area.

Steve Micklewright, chairman of Snuff Mills Action Group, said: "It's right at the entrance to the wood and it's an eyesore. It has been broken into and someone was living in it over the winter. It's making the woodland ugly and it's serving no purpose. We've been campaigning for its removal because the woodland is in a conservation area.

"It's good the council is trying to act on it."

Mr Micklewright said the temporary building first appeared in May 2008 and has only been used on a handful of occasions. He said it was moved, but only further into the woodland, once the city council ordered it be removed in September last year.

Grove Wood, which is part of a Conservation Area next to the River Frome, has been at the centre of a long-running row between residents and Lord Jafari.

It was bought by Lord Jafari at public auction in November 2007 and part of it was felled without permission in January 2008. A woodland tree preservation order was made on it in April last year, protecting it from further felling.

Campaigners are now calling for the council to make a footpath in the upper part of the woods a designated public footpath.

John Mair, agent for Lord Jafari, said the alleged breach of planning rules was nothing to do with Lord Jafari and was connected with his company Rhino Group Limited, which he says owns the woodland.

Mr Mair said: "We will defend ourselves. This is not a breach of the regulations. We've not done anything wrong and we are only trying to run our business. We are trying to clean up the woodland and the riverbank. We are planning to reinstate styles and walls which have fallen down.

"We have an obligation to manage the woodland and ensure safety on the public right of way. The container is used for equipment used to clear a public right of way, to cut up wood and also for a generator to keep our guys warm when they are working.

"We bought the woodland for our own private reasons and want to look after it. Before we had it, the land and public right of way wasn't being looked after."

Lord Jafari, of Downleaze, Sneyd Park, is due to enter a plea to the allegation before city magistrates on February 17.