Sustainable Blackawton – Environmental Policy
1. Introduction to Environmental policy of Blackawton Parish Council
Awareness of the current scale of environmental damage has become much more widespread in this, the second, decade of the 21st century. Concerns about carbon emissions, loss of biodiversity and the many species at risk of extinction, have been expressed by scientists for many years, but now those are voiced by citizens globally.
Climate change with the consequent extreme weather resulting in drought, wild fires, flooding, mass migration, unseasonal high temperatures, stormy or freezing conditions not experienced in living memory, is acknowledged by all but a few in denial.
Widely believed to be due to human activity, these changes threaten populations across the earth with many, various, dangerous scenarios including social and economic disruption.
Action needs to be taken by governments, central and local, by concerned groups and individual citizens to reduce carbon emissions, eliminate pollution, and support biodiversity of all flora and fauna.
Blackawton is a rural parish with virtually no public transport, little local employment and limited woodland. Locally agriculture tends to concentrate on what Devon does extremely well, growing grass to provide grazing for sheep and cattle.
It is the stated policy of Blackawton Parish Council to support, encourage and facilitate actions by parishioners designed to address these environmental concerns.
This policy document is intended to assist the decision-making process of Blackawton Parish Council when considering the impact on both the local and wider environment of all future projects. “Environment” includes social, economic and biodiversity impact together with that on the health and well-being of parish residents.
This policy needs to be reviewed periodically, at least annually or as the council decides.
2. Increasing wild space, supporting nature, and public access to wild space
In order to ‘do our bit’ on a local scale to try and mitigate against the effects of Climate Change it is suggested that we work together to identify areas where trees/shrubs might be allowed to regenerate (re-wilding areas) or be planted.
Supporting nature in this way brings us into closer contact with a common purpose which helps build local links and friendships.
Discussing the possibility of public access to these spaces would also begin conversations between us which would hopefully strengthen bonds and create new ones.
Creating wild-life corridors linking all such areas (and previously established areas) in this parish would give us an over-view of the Parish and enable exciting new possibilities re identifying and documenting species .
2.1 Start conversations with local land-owners/farmers/parishioners/businesses/school/ and school children about the possibility of identifying such areas.
2.2 Contact local parishioners who have a good knowledge of the immediate parish and those who have specialist knowledge of our local bio-diversity and existing species.
2.3 Engage local school children with our aims and plans. Identify at risk species that we would aim to encourage (eg bats / butterflies /moths /birds/ small mammals) and monitor the results.
2.4 Create an enlarged parish map which all could have access to (?Village Hall) so that we could plot existing rich wild-life rich areas (eg woodlands /hay meadows/rivers/ copses) and then discuss how these could be joined to make wild-life corridors.
2.5 Contact local organisation with similar aims ( eg The Avon Valley Project) to see if we can glean helpful ideas and link our corridors with theirs.
2.6 Consider alternative means of weed control in the village. Until recently weeds have been sprayed but some neighbouring parishes are experimenting with hand weeding.
3. Planting trees, planting hedges and allowing more hedgerow trees to reach maturity
3.1 Liaise and work with our local farming community. Invite them to share their ideas about how to achieve these aims with the Parish Council. (ie How to protect hedgerow trees from being cut, where they would like trees planted and what type etc)
3.2 Enlist support, practical help and work with; Sustainable Blackawton, School and groups like WI, Wormcharming , Bonfire committee (to offset the carbon footprint!)
- 3.3 Tree planting work party
- 3.4 Hedge laying, stone-walling courses
- 3.5 Adopt a hedge or tree
- 3.6 Grow a tree
- 3.7 Donate a tree
- 3.8 Tree festival /wassailing
4.1 IT – Research and invoke a community forum /online noticeboard possibly based on Front Porch Forum (a U.S. site). An open page ‘ Blackawton Online Noticeboard’ where anyone can put up a notice- ie garage sale, jumble sale, wanted/for sale, help needed, jobs etc. Link to car share
4.2 One stop site – Make better use of the Blackawton Community website- using this as the one online source for all factual and useful information. Make this short and to the point/comprehensible to all!!!!
4.3 Maybe the Community shop, school or tech savvy volunteers could support those without IT skills
4.4 Non tech options – The Beacon, The church, Village Noticeboards, The George Inn
5. Community local food production (fruit, nuts, seed and veg) and distribution
The Parish encourages community based food production to strengthen community cohesion, to promote wellbeing, to educate and inform and ultimately in the face of climate change challenges to increase community robustness by strengthening traditional self-reliance on domestic food production.
We also support distribution of the products of community food production in order to maximise the advantages set out above, to minimise waste and minimise ‘food miles’.
5.1 The proposals drafted by the Food Forest Project need to be put formally to the Parish Playing Fields Committee, discussed with the Allotment holders and developed in light of the wider Environment Policy and Parish requirement.
5.2 Scope for food production will be considered in draft proposals for tree planting in the Graveyard and Cemetery.
5.3 The effectiveness of distribution of surplus food production from the allotments and gardens in the Parish will be reviewed with the allotment holders and community shop.
5.4 Neighbouring parishes have set up composting schemes and there might opportunity to do likewise; along with the normal advantages of local recycling this compost may be used in the newly planted communal areas.
6. Street Lighting
Street lighting in the Parish is limited to certain streets in the village, with no formal lighting provided in the surrounding hamlets.
The benefits of street lighting are seen to be increased safety and security, and particularly the perceived reduction of risk from traffic accidents (notably for pedestrians), attack or harassment, and the security of property.
The disadvantages of street lighting are energy use, the visual impact of lighting infrastructure in the built environment, the direct impact of light on dwellings in close proximity to luminaires and the broader issue of light pollution.
The issue of street lighting has been raised with the Parish Council on a number of occasions, with all comments supporting its reduction or removal. The consultation process on the French Furze development resulted in street lighting being removed from the scheme, a proposal which received widespread support from parishioners involved in the consultation.
The Parish Council has made initial contact with Devon County Council as the body directly responsible for street lighting in the village. It would appear that removal of street lighting would be possible, but may not be a straightforward process. Through this contact, the PC has learned that there is a county-wide programme to replace existing luminaires with lower energy alternatives, although the timetable for this to happen in Blackawton is not clear.
6.1 The Parish Council will open a formal consultation process setting out possible options for street lighting, to include maintaining the status quo and the complete elimination of street lights together with an intermediate proposal that would identify ‘key’ lights to be retained with the rest removed.
6.2 The Parish Council will contact DCC with a view to arranging a number of trial nights for each of the suggested alternatives.
6.3 This consultation will inform the rest of the process (if any) which would thus range from maintenance of the current lighting scheme (with the eventual replacement of existing luminaires) to complete removal of street lighting.
7. Car use, car sharing, public transport, walking and cycling
- 7.1 Car/ bike sharing. Save petrol, lift sharing,
- 7.2 Village car/bike! (electric)
- 7.3 Promote West Dart Community bus which is currently under -used; excellent door-
door service, Dartmouth weekly Friday, monthly Newton Abbot .
7.4 How about during school holidays and occasional evenings to a town/cinema/show/Regatta etc
- 7.5 Walking- safe route, especially to the Forces to catch a bus
- 7.6 Circular Footpath joining up village (from near Greenslade to Playing fields via
7.7 20 mph speed limit
8. Community Shop
Blackawton’s Community Shop and Post Office is located in the heart of the village. The shop is open daily and run by community volunteers and a part-time manager. The shop provides a wide range of goods and aims, wherever possible, to source local products including fresh meats, dairy produce, as well as cakes and bread. In season vegetables and fruits from village allotments and gardens are also offered for a small donation. The Community Shop supports local businesses such as, Rich Chicks Free Range Eggs, Frank’s Blackawton Honey and home-made Flap-jacks, to name a few.
The Community shop provides an essential facility to many residents and a useful amenity for visitors and passers-by. Support for the Community Shop can assist in reducing unnecessary shopping trips to nearby towns, as well as providing social contact and community cohesion, where needed. Community backing and further development in sustainable practices and produce will provide long-term continuity and enhancement of this valuable resource.
- 8.1 Promote further community usage of the shop and facilities – such as the Post Office.
- 8.2 Work with the Management Team to encourage additional locally sourced products and
thus save transport mileage.
8.3 Work with the Management Team to encourage a wide range of sustainable commodities – such as eco-friendly products.
9 Community engagement; and in particular closer engagement between younger parishioners with the over 50s and between the farming families and non farming parishioners[Pending]
10 Co-operation and shared learning with groups beyond the parish
Climate and environmental issues are not constrained by artificial boundaries and tackling them will require coordinated, concerted action between organisations and individuals operating in a range of areas.
This will best be achieved through a detailed ‘mapping’ of other organisations, and the systematic sharing of information through the community website.
10.1 The Parish Council will contact other Parish Councils in the local area to share what it is doing and learn what is happening elsewhere.
10.2 The Parish Council will liaise with District and County Councillors to ensure it is up to date on initiatives being taken at these levels of local government and to lobby for specific actions.
10.3 The Parish Council will create a dedicated ‘Sustainability’ space on the community website, to report on its actions and to create a directory of resources and contacts.
10.4 The Parish Council will liaise with organisations within the Parish seeking to promote sustainable measures.
10.5 The Parish Council will meet with such groups annually to review this policy and its implementation and to identify priorities for the year ahead.
11. Renewable energy, car charging and other new technology
Blackawton Parish will endeavour to move towards a ‘zero carbon footprint’ utilising and encouraging the installation and use of renewables wherever possible. Encouraging and promoting the use of home EV and community EV use. Research the utilisation of a Community EV min-bus. Promoting all current and future low carbon energy generation from, Wind, Solar, possible hydro and any new forms of generation.
- 11.1 Encourage energy efficiency as a first step towards a lower carbon footprint.
- 11.2 Work with the Parishioners to research into and install a Blackawton Carshare
11.3 Engage with the Parish Council and the District Council to encourage the installation of EV points within the Blackawton Parish.
11.4 Engage with the Parish Council and the District Council to find ways of encouraging the use of home low carbon energy generation.
11.5 Engage with the Parish Council and the District Council to find ways of encouraging the installation of a community low carbon energy generation.
12. Reduction of Waste, (especially single use plastic).
Blackawton Parish will aim to reduce waste wherever possible and encourage and assist the community to find ways to reduce waste in the home environment. In the UK about 177 million tonnes of waste is generated every year in England alone. This is poor use of resources and costs the state and households money. It also causes environmental damage – for example, waste sent to landfill produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Blackawton Parish will endeavour to move towards a ‘zero waste economy’. This does not mean that no waste exists – it means encouraging society to recognise that resources are fully valued,
financially and environmentally. It means reducing, reusing and recycling as much as possible, and throwing things away only as a last resort.
Overuse of plastics is considered to be one of the factors which can cause serious damage to eco- systems, human health, wildlife, habitats, as well as ending up in the oceans every year, killing and harming marine life. Blackawton community will be encouraged to tackle plastic pollution and the overuse of plastic, as well as promoting and encouraging an end to single use plastic.
12.1 Foster a culture of valuing resources by making it easier for people and businesses in Blackawton to find out how to reduce waste, to use products for longer, repair broken items, and enable reuse of items by others.
12.2 Engage with the Parish Council and the District Council to find ways of reducing household waste and enhance environmental care in the community.
12.3 Publish a community “handout” to all households with ecological recommendations to help protect the environment and with examples on how to reduce single use plastics.
12.4 Continue to publish “Sustainable Ideas” monthly in the Beacon Parish Magazine to provide suggestions for reducing waste and the benefits of engaging with eco-friendly practices and customs.
13 Local employment
We aim to maximise local employment opportunities (both paid and voluntary), to promote both employment opportunities and local businesses within the community and to foster a social “business/skills” network.
The business units currently being developed at French Furze provide a significant employment opportunity and the need for more volunteers for the community shop and Post Office presents an ongoing challenge.
13.1 Blackawton Business Units CIC
- Engage the local community through a membership scheme.
- Raise the necessary funding to complete the final 3 business units.
- Finalise commercial terms and market available business units.
13.2 Blackawton community shop and PO – consider a more proactive approach to engaging new volunteers – perhaps targeting new residents within the village, notably French Furze.
13.3 Further develop the use of the Beacon and the Blackawton community website to promote both employment opportunities and local businesses.
13.4 Consider the re-establishment of the BBC (Blackawton Business Club, circa 2011) as a vehicle for a social “business/skills” network.
All abilities and access requirements will be considered and factored into any design of environmental improvement, including wheelchair accessibility. Encouraging the widest possible use of any new paths will also allow an opportunity for older or less robust parishioners to enjoy as much time as possible in nature close to their home.
14.1 The field next to the allotments is more accessible than the area where the bonfire is held; so the field next to the allotments ought to be planted first.
14.2 Any new routes should suite someone with restricted mobility and energy; but also parents with prams or toddlers. So far as possible steps and steep slopes should be avoided, and paths should be wide enough for wheelchairs, prams and other wheeled walking aids.
14.3 To bring nature closer to those that can’t walk far to access wildlife; plant a wildlife friendly native hedge between the field and the allotments to support birds, pollinators, insects and small mammals. Promote a relaxed program of trimming to allow for blossom, fruit and habitat.
14.4 Create a dedicated disabled parking space at the village hall and also one for parents with young children who may have mobility issues.