Saturday, October 5, 2013

Corky-fruited water-dropwort found

We met recently in The Crown to hear an update on the works by Severn Trent and their contractors - there are some on-going issues to say the least! We also discussed next steps for improving the biodiversity of the brook and have several possible ways forward that are dependent on landowners and the works by Severn Trent....

Also worth noting is that recently we had some seriously knowledgeable wildlife experts walk along the brook - several findings were made including the wonderfully names Corky-fruited water-dropwort. See more info at:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Is it safe to swim in the sea?

Lucy Siegle writing in The Guardian today poses that question - see here. The Ruscombe Brook Action Group was formed because of sewage incidents, so it is sad to see that authorities are still not getting their act together....

....."this year water bathing quality classified as excellent has fallen to its lowest level since 2000....And, in two years, when EU standards come in which are twice as strict in terms of tolerance of microbial loads in water samples, 50 British beaches might be condemned."

Friday, July 12, 2013

Key flood consultation - agreement re insurance but where next?

During the Flooding in November 2012 the Prime Minister made a brief visit to Gloucestershire and attended a Strategic Coordinating Group meeting re flooding. The issue of access to affordable insurance for households in flood prone or affected areas was raised with him, and was accepted as an area that needed addressing. This is not just a local issue and has been highlighted around the country - and been an issue raised at the previously active Stroud Valleys Water Forum.

On 27th June a joint announcement was made by the Government and insurers on a memorandum of understanding :
Alongside of this announcement, the Government is consulting over the longer term approach to flood insurance.  The consultation document is at:

The direct link to the consultation is

Monday, May 13, 2013

Quiz night at The Star in aid of Ruscombe Brook!!!!! Don't miss!

Update Tuesday: £340 raised!!!!

 The Star Inn in Whiteshill are hosting a Bangers & Mash Quiz on Bank Holiday Monday 27 May for Ruscombe Brook. £5 pp Entry. Any Size Team. Do please click on poster below and help publicise this event. Prizes down to Sixth Place  including Fly Casting Lesson for 2 (1hr dry-land casting lesson - equipment provided), Bird Box, Bottle of Wine, Homemade Cake, Cornish Knocker T’Shirts and Carling T’Shirts. Eat from 7pm and quiz at 8.00pm.

Ruscombe Brook Action Group members have been busy with questions and more - it should be a fun local event.....

Friday, April 19, 2013

Damage to brook and land in Randwick

Landslip in Randwick - click to see larger.
At our meeting on Tuesday in The Vine Tree we discussed more about a poss quiz on 27th May at The Star, more about plans for biodiversity, welcomed two prospective members and discussed the works being undertaken by Severn readers of this may know, since 2006 we have been trying to reduce sewage incidents in the area - back then we had repeated bursts which led to land and the brook being flooded with sewage. Over the years root cutting in sewers and other measures have improved the situation considerably.

This last year, work has been undertaken on relining the sewers - we have given a huge welcome to Severn Trent for this - fantastic! However some problems have arisen; this is the letter sent from RBAG. The good news is that I am led to understand that Severn Trent and their contractors are coming to an arrangement to find a way forward that will hopefully work for all....I know the allotment group have also had extensive problems from the silt and have been working to repair their water supply. I'm keeping fingers crossed that things will start to improve for all as we go into the Spring. Here's the letter:

I am writing on behalf of the Ruscombe Brook Action Group, of which I am the Chair, to express our concern and disappointment that the positive works undertaken to re-line the main sewer on both the Ruscombe Brook and and the Randwick tributary in Stroud, Gloucestershire, appear to have caused a number of other environmental impacts.

The grasslands alongside the Ruscombe Brook are of historic and biodiversity importance and we are concerned that some of the re-instatement of this land has still not been completed. Some areas have suffered from compaction and will need improvement works to restore to their previous quality. Of more significant concern to our group is the additional soil and sediment that has entered both brooks as a direct result of the works undertaken on the sewer. We understand that the sewer relining works themselves will be a great improvement and should prevent the leaking of sewage into the brooks, but we aware of two areas where soil and sediment has entered the brooks as a direct and foreseeable impact of the works. In addition, we are aware that there was a leak of sewage into the Randwick Brook which was discovered and rectified on the 31st January 2013.   This leak could have caused substantial ecological damage too, and we seek your re-assurance that this will not happen again.

The first of the sediment issues is the large landslip caused by your contractors in November 2012 in the More Hall Convent land. We would urge you to restore and rectify this as soon as possible as this is now a major source of soil and sediment into the Randwick Brook and therefore the Ruscombe Brook downstream of their confluence.  I attach a photograph of the landslip taken on the 16th April 2013 (see above). As you can see, this is a large piece of land and the quantity of soil involved will cause significant ecological damage and potentially increase flood risk for downstream residents.

The second major sediment source is at the cattle drinking area of the Archway fields. The works here were completed in November 2011 and the land above the drinking area (which was churned up by your contractors vehicles) is still acting as a significant source of sediment into the Brook. The landowner has been unable to use the drinking area for long period of time as this would cause further environmental damage. Due to the lack of vegetative cover for an extended time over which we received a large amount of rain, a significant amount of soil erosion has taken place and this sediment has gathered at the entrance to the culvert immediately downstream, substantially increasing flood risk for the residents of Acre Place . We understand that this material is being removed soon, but we would advise you to restore the land above the drinking water area to prevent this accumulation of silt from occurring again.

We look forward to your reply to our concerns and your company progressing these improvements as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Chris Uttley
Chair Ruscombe Brook Action Group

Sunday, March 24, 2013

RBAG meets...another sewage incident

We met recently at The Star to see how we can take plans forward re mapping and improving biodiversity, considered a local planning application that some thought might impact on the brook and about a fund raising quiz for RBAG at The Star.

However one of the big issues was the massive sewage 'event' that occurred in the orchard at Humphreys End on 31st January 2013. It may well have been running for 4 - 5 weeks in this state. This seems to have occurred because of faulty workmanship by the contractors of Severn Trent who have been relining the sewer across my land since October last year? Sanitary waste and fat were trapped around the manhole cover and this burst was the end result - see photos.

This left the land and stream polluted for several weeks and significant debris in the stream - and also shows that Randwick residents have been depositing sanitary waste and fat into their toilets which should be disposed of elsewhere. Another problem has been the silting up of the water supply to the allotment and drinking trough. Various actions are planned to see how best to remedy all this.....and we had thought we'd seen the last of sewage leaks locally....

Friday, January 25, 2013

Meeting Ruscombe Valley Action Group

Back on Wednesday 16th January we had a meeting of the Ruscombe Valley Action Group and the Ruscombe Brook Action Group at the Whiteshill and Ruscombe Village Hall. About 25 people attended with 9 apologies. The evening started with two presentations and then went to discussions/actions. Here's a summary based on the minutes I put together and looks at the possible threat to the Ruscombe Valley.....

1. Ruscombe Brook Action Group. Philip Booth opened with a brief history of RBAG dating back to 2005. He considered how the group formed in response to threats of development in the valley and a series of sewage incidents that led to the brook being polluted. Photos of sewage were available to see! Then looked at the many actions the group have taken including a number of clear ups of silt and rubbish, 4 conferences, talks to schools, walks along the length of the brook to consider biodiversity issues, exhibitions, consultation meetings re Hamwell Leaze and The Lake at The Lawns, support to other action groups to establish locally, MSc students on placement testing the brook and working to get a new £13,000 grill installed to reduce flooding at Puckshole. In addition there have been many consultation meetings with Severn Trent and others to improve the sewers. Various works have taken place over the years but it has only just been in the last months that the problem sewers have been relined in the Ruscombe valley and along the Randwick tributary.

For a look at the first two years see:

2. Ruscombe Valley Action Group. Rebecca Charley outlined the history of RVAG; it is now almost 8 years since the land in the Ruscombe Valley was advertised for sale. Gladwish Land Management bought the Land and put it up for sale as 184 individual plots. The Ruscombe Valley Action Group was formed, with the objective of maintaining the fields as agricultural land. Much work was done to protect the fields, develop cross-party support for no development there and challenge the practice of landbanking.

Some of the history can be found at:

Philip then gave some more background to the threats to development on the fields over the years. Some of that can be found at the link above. We are now at the point where locally the immediate threat (in terms of the Local Plan) to development on Randwick fields has been removed. The Planning Advisory Panel at the District Council debated the latest update. See Core Strategy Consultation details at:

Those draft papers (164 pages) reported an update on the consultations re the threats locally:

Point 0.71 re the Stroud Valleys notes agreement that 300-800 new homes in the Stroud valleys was about the right level of development. Specifically it is noted:

By far, the most commonly raised reservations related to the Preferred Strategy’s suggestion that some ‘edge of settlement’ greenfield sites might be used to supplement the development of brownfield sites in the valley bottoms. The consultation document specifically identified land at Callowell Farm and Grange Fields as possible options (Concept Diagram 1.1iii): there was almost complete consensus (amongst those respondents who specifically mentioned these sites) that these proposals should be omitted from the Plan. However, a small number of respondents did concede that Grange Fields in particular was a relatively sustainable location, close to the town centre.

There was vigorous opposition to any possibility of developing other such sites (including Rodborough Fields, and several sites in the Slad Valley and the Ruscombe valley), none of which were specifically proposed in the consultation document.

Next steps as I understand: This document was to inform Members, the public and stakeholders about key findings from the Preferred Strategy consultation. It provides a summary of the responses and is not an exhaustive itemisation of all representations. The report will help now inform decisions on the policy choices and direction in preparing a “Pre-Submission” Local Plan document. The Pre-Submission document will then face consultations - the final Local Plan will be refined taking into account those representations and will then be submitted and subjected to examination by an independent Inspector. The Inspector will consider whether the Plan is ‘Sound’ and will indicate whether it may be formally adopted as the key document within Stroud’s Local Development Framework. It is hoped the allocations will be agreed by councillors in the Spring.

There has been huge opposition to any development in the Ruscombe Valley and indeed to Callowell and I am hopeful that councillors will take that into account when looking at the plan. However there is much negotiation and discussion as councillors have strong views about development sites. For example if the site at Eastington/West of Stonehouse or another proposed site did not go ahead that would put pressure on to look at all sites again.

Lastly Philip noted the worrying development in Cam. The inspector approved on 11th January a potentially 71 home development at what is called 'Land Opposite 6 Box Road, Cam'. This is worse than "bad news"! The inspector, wrongly in my view, dismissed the council's claims to have a five year housing supply - this is of grave concern as it means that if we don't have allocations in place very soon it wont be democratically elected representatives, but rather government inspectors making the decisions. Already it can be a battle to fight developments even where there is virtually unanimous opposition; the government's moves will only make this worse. It is also in my view, shows the mess the government has made of planning with the NPPF; even it's own inspectors are openly disagreeing on what the district's housing supply should be! It seems to be 20% higher or lower depending on which inspector you get.

Poss useful info -
Frequently asked questions: it is from last year but most info still correct in view of SDC:
Planning Strategy:

We discussed actions and ways forward - and there will be another meeting 12th March in The Star - contact me for details.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ruscombe Valley: is it threatened by housing development?

Come and hear about what both the Ruscombe Valley Action Group and the Ruscombe Brook Action Group have been doing in the valley. What more is needed? The informal meeting will be at the Whiteshill and Ruscombe Village Hall at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 16th January 2013. It is free to anyone to attend. Do telephone me if you need further information 755451.