Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hamwell Leaze plans

These are the plans for Hamwell Leaze - see full details in Cainscross Parish Council offices - and see previous post for details of this.

Monday, February 22, 2010

ConnectRight website launched

A new website helps you check if waste water from your home is ending up in local rivers or streams. With answers to a few simple questions the site quickly tells you the risk that your property is polluting local water courses. The site tells you what to do if there is a problem with your connections and has a useful frequently asked questions section.
Releasing waste water and sewage into our rivers and streams causes pollution and is likely to impact on flooding during periods of heavy water flow.
The ConnectRight website brings together various partners who are working to reduce water pollution. You can read the full list at

Update on Ruscombe Brook projects

This blog entry comes with thanks for info from a variety of sources including Andy Reed of the Land Trust, Ivi Szaboova-Baxendale from SVP, Officers at Stroud District Council and Cainscross Parish - all the best - Philip Booth

1. The Lake at the Lawns - Over £90k bid

Background: During 2006–07, the Stroud Community Land Trust signed a lease with Gloucestershire County Council to take over management of the Lake at the Lawns site, the second site in the Stroud area that it will actively manage. This site, next to Cainscross roundabout, is all that remains of a large country house that used to exist on the site until the 1960s. The lake, small area of woodland, and more formal lawn area is only one of three sites in Cainscross parish that residents have unrestricted access to for walking, picnicking, and generally relaxing and getting closer to wildlife. This gives the site particular importance given that the parish population is over 5,500 people.

British Waterways did carry out some work as part of plans re the canal - see some of the discussion here - the photo above is before the work was undertaken to dredge and improve the site. Considerable work was done although not quite as we had hoped - nevertheless an improvement.

After taking over the lease, Stroud Valleys Project helped the Land Trust to consult with local people about the roles that the site will play in community life, and how the site should be managed. They produced a comprehensive plan which led to a bid being submitted by the Land Trust before Christmas - a major bid for the Big Lottery Changing Spaces programme.

Andy Read, of the Land Trust (and currently Mayor of Stroud) report that they have already been shortlisted from a first stage process. They expect to hear in 10 weeks time. If successful it will be an 18-month project to do most of the repair and enhancement work identified in the management plan for the site. Some of this includes work to reduce the silting: I've requested further details on this as work we will do will hopefully support silt reduction. If not successful in the bid at least they still have everything fully planned and costed and can fundraise on individual items. The total application is just over`£90k - fingers crossed!

2. The Lake at the Lawns - Habitat work

As a result of the Ibstock Cory funding, Stroud Valleys Project were able to maintain and improve biodiversity at this site. This has allowed some on-going improvements to the site. Their work days are great fun and I well remember helping clear Hamwell Leaze and build a 'snake hotel' on one day (see photo) - recent work with volunteers includes:

- built a newt and toad hibernaculum during a habitat creation session for 10 Y9 students from Marling secondary school
- winter bird survey
- organised a training session for volunteers to help with a bat survey
- removed a laurel from the lakeside. This will help improve the water quality by reducing the amount of leaf litter in the water. The laurel will be replaced by a native hedge, which is more suitable for wildlife in terms of cover, nesting opportunities and provision of food.

3. Hamwell Leaze - Plan and Habitat work

Cainscross Parish Council have commissioned a plan to be drawn up for Hamwell Leaze: many months ago I spoke with the project coordinator and am pleased to see that the plan includes a board walk at the willow end. This is different from the 15 year old plan by Water 21 but

Those visiting the site might have seen some trees marked with white paint. It seems those trees are likely to be removed - understandably those who know the site and have been working on bird and insect surveys are worried that the dead wood will be removed even though it's good habitat for insects. I have telephoned the Parish Clerk and asked that this issue is considered and understand quotes for tree cutting will be considered by the Parish Council next Monday.

There are plans of the project now on the wall at the Cainscross Parish Council building (open I think from 9.30 to 1.00 each day). I have not been able to view the final version yet,l but understand they have been approved in principle by the Parish.

As a result of the same Ibstock Cory funding noted above the Stroud Valleys Project have been able to maintain and improve biodiversity for wildlife at this site. Recent habitat work at Hamwell Leaze has includes:
- gapped up the hedge and cleared bindweed/grass around the trees
- used the grass to re-stocked the area used for slow-worm hibernation
- cleared bindweed from oak saplings
- cut back overhanging vegetation near footpaths to make walking easier
- fixed chicken wire onto the bridge across the stream to make it safe
- cleared out bird boxes
- planted native bulbs to increase the biodiversity of the site
- organised a birdwatch session to help volunteers recognise garden birds ahead of the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch
- organised a training session for volunteers to help with a bat survey

4. Acre Place, Puckshole - new culvert and grill details

As reported the new culvert and grill are a great improvement over the previous arrangement (see photo and here). In the past heavy rain has led to houses being cut off by a knee deep river and cars being flooded. The new gulley took the place of the previous vertical pipe in the track: this allows flood water (and normal surface water from the track) to drain away following storms. Unfortunately, this may also occasionally act as a “pressure relief valve” if the downstream pipe is surcharged (full capacity exceeded) – just as the vertical pipe did before. For most of the time it should act as a benefit in draining the road.

The final works carried out at Acre Place included the replacement of 2No. vertical screens with a new 45 degree rake-able bar screen and new headwall (est. cost £13k). During the work, it was found that parts of the existing culvert under the track (formed by large stones with a slab stone over approx. size 0.6m x 0.4m) had collapsed, causing obstruction and a reduced capacity. A new twinwall 600mm diameter plastic pipe was therefore laid across the total width of the track so that the other works (screen, headwall) could be completed.

In addition jetting of the culvert downstream through the builder’s yard (made up of old oil cans surrounded in concrete) was also carried out after CCTV work (est. cost £1.5k).

Residents will now monitor the culvert when there is further heavy rain and RBAG will work on phase 2 of plans at the site.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Minutes of RBAG meeting 9th Feb

Well last night was a Ruscombe Brook Action Group monthly meeting and it seems illness and more has struck the team - we were left with only 4 of us at the meeting. Here are a summary of the minutes below......

Present: Philip (Chair/Minutes - pictured at Hamwell Leaze), Julia, Keith and Julian.
Apols: Kat, Zarin, Simon, Jo, Beth and Clive.

1. Puckshole phase 1 - culvert: see RBAG site here for photos of recent heavy rain. Group noted culvert managed the large volumes of water but did send an inch or two over the road at it's peak. This indicates some form of attenuation could be beneficial. Agreed it needs monitoring. ACTION: Philip to email SDC to clarify what was done.

2. Puckshole phase 2 - attenuation.
- Water 21 will be giving advice with EA on a number of possible projects in the area. Puckshole could be one of those. This would be a good way to get a costed project together on this site and possible others - it would also allow us to look at issues like who will manage any work longterm etc. Then all those projects would go forward to be considered and the chosen one implemented with a grant of £10k that is available. Agreed to wait for more details from Water 21.
- Wheelers Walk: noted Jo's research into poss ways of finding owner but want to gather further information about the site first.
- Gabions at site - no update other than they held a while back. Are they working? Do we need more? Await further info from Simon?

3. Ruscombe Valley development. Keith raised the fact that this issue was back on the agenda - indeed the issue that got RBAG started in the first place. The Council's seven Alternative Strategies have been created as part of the wider Core Strategy and some include significant developments locally. It was noted that all members would do well to comment on the plans. The Core Strategy will form the basis of a new set of planning policies that guide development for housing, jobs and community facilities. By 2026 the district needs to find 2,000 new homes and encourage a new generation of jobs. To tackle this, seven Alternative Strategies have been created. These strategies set out different ways of providing for future development i.e. what could go where. The council wants your views on which of the alternative strategies work best. A mini guide that briefly outlines the seven strategy options has been produced. The 'Your district, Your future' guide is available at all town and parish council offices as well as public libraries. Copies can also be found at the district council offices and Stroud Subscription Rooms. Alternatively the mini guide, along with the full questionnaire and consultation documents, can be downloaded at The deadline for feedback is Monday 22 March 2010. Comments can be submitted online or by post. See Philip's blog here.

4. Water 21 gave updates on new partnerships with work on soils - and the 2 students: Adam and Kat who will work on a hydraulic model for Stroud catchment.

5. Hamwell Leaze - Cainscross Parish have been doing some work on how the site could be improved and SVP are doing a study. ACTION: Philip to get update on plans from SVP, Parish and Community Land Trust.

6. Severn Trent - letter sent - see RBAG website here re meeting planned. No answer yet. ACTION: Jo to pursue date with ST.

7. Stroud Valleys Water Forum - see Philip's blog for 26th Jan for notes here. Next meeting 10th march.

8. Ownership of brook - on hold for next meeting as not clear what stage we are at.

9. AOB
- our water saving tips leaflet has been in Runner and Warbler
- Julia would like to discuss further her role re membership at next meeting as agreed no membership charges. ACTION: Julia to email old contact list to see who wants to stay in touch with RBAG
- Easter egg brook walk considered: anyone time to organise?
- sledging during recent snow left much rubbish and criminal damage to land incl rubbish in the watercourse: needs more awareness. Very little help offered from authorities or community. See comment here.
- Website - ACTION: Philip to put version of this on RBAG website without names etc

NEXT MEETING: Julias house 7.30 on 9th March.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Requesting an update from Severn Trent

RBAG have seen significant improvements to local sewers by Severn Trent in the area but communication seems to have got poor over the last year or so - possibly changes in staff but we are now writing to have another meeting - 4 years since our last formal meeting but of course we have had many phone calls and mini-meetings along the way.

Photo: Ruscombe valley

We are now hoping they can make the next Water Forum meeting - here's the letter we've just written...

I'm writing on behalf of the Ruscombe Brook Action Group (RBAG) from Stroud in Gloucestershire and the Stroud Valleys Water Forum, a new group made up of several local Action Groups. We are seeking a meeting with Severn Trent on 10th March, at 7.30 pm in the Council offices at Ebley Mill Stroud to update us on your plans for the Stroud Valleys. I hope that you will be able to pass this letter to appropriate others in Severn Trent who could also attend.

There are several issues we would welcome discussing:

1. Ruscombe Valley: At our last meeting between Severn Trent and RBAG in 2006 the following were cited as the main contributors to sewage pollution in the brook: a) blockages caused by roots entering the pipe, or b) the consented overflow at Puckshole, c) hydraulic problems
associated with the design of pipe crossing. We are aware of considerable efforts in the Ruscombe Valley by Severn Trent in root-cutting and to assess the extent of the problems. We are also aware sewage incidents have significantly reduced to only one or two each year. We have been told by contractors at the site on several occasions that capacity issues have been identified in the sewers and have been told that there are plans to replace or reline some sections.

We would welcome an official update re what you have found and plan.
You may know that we've recently had success with Stroud District Council who have completed significant improvement works to the Puckshole/Acres End culvert. However we are looking at further flood alleviation measures at that site and would welcome sharing our thoughts on that. You may also know that RBAG have continued to work with community groups to raise awareness around water although have long ago issued all the leaflets that Severn Trent kindly funded for RBAG.

2. Slad Valley: we would welcome an update on the extensive measures being undertaken re sewage pipes and flood alleviation.

3. Other plans for Five Valleys: we would welcome any news you have re other issues. In particular as a group of local volunteers we are well placed to aid communication with the local community and are keen to encourage responsible water use. We would therefore also welcome thoughts you may have on this.

The Stroud Valleys Water Forum meeting will have about 15 representatives from the Ruscombe, Bridgend, Painswick and Slad action Groups and possibly several other interested individuals. We have already had meetings with the EA, GCC, SDC and had support from local councillors and David Drew MP who chaired our last meeting. One of the key challenges we are trying to address is the flooding downstream at Bridgend: to that end we are seeking for agencies to develop a full catchment strategy. We therefore are supportive of moves towards more attenuation in the valleys.

In order to move forward on the above points we'd be delighted if a representative of Severn Trent Water could join us for a meeting of the Stroud Valleys Water Forum on 10th March, at 7.30pm in Ebley Mill Stroud. I'd be grateful if you could let me know by 12th February at the latest if anyone will be available to attend.

Yours sincerely,
Joseph Bottrill Ruscombe Brook Action Group and Stroud Valleys Water Forum, Stroud, Gloucestershire