Staff Complete Charity Cycle Ride

Written on . Posted in Older people, Our countryside, Out and about, Travel, Your area

Staff from Epping Forest District Council recently completed a 60 mile cycle ride from London to Cambridge in aid of Breast Cancer.

First over the line was ICTs Mark Farrow, who was closely followed by Environmental Health Officer, Fay Rushby. The remaining members of staff all came in within a short time of each other not long after.

Staff from Epping Forest District Council preparing to embark on a 60 mile charity cycle ride

In total the combined efforts of the council riders is thought to have raised approximately £1000.

Adrian Petty, Environmental and Street Scene Officer and Cycle Team Captain said I think it is fair to say everyone had a great day with the added bonus of raising funds for Breast cancer. Well done to everyone who took part.

Ape’s Grove Boardwalk

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Volunteering opportunities

July 8 2010 – Following on from worked started by Essex County Council volunteers, the regular Countrycare Volunteers begin their work in Apes Grove. As you can see great progress was made on the construction of a new boardwalk. The plan for this section of the wood is to now allow it to lie wet. Ditches which have already become blocked within the wood will be left and trees will be cleared to create a open glade within this part of the wood. New benches, signs and waymarkers are also programmed to be installed this summer.

Later in the year, small scale coppice management is planned. This will make the wood more inviting to visitors and improve the prospects of the bluebells and other wildlife.

More Trees Please

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your environment

This year, a total of 180 trees have been planted by the Council`s Parks Department across the Epping Forest district.

A range of species, including Sweet Gum, Turkish Hazel, Rowan, Cherries and Silver Birch have been planted this season. The aim is to put the right tree in the right place. Therefore careful consideration is given to the species selection to try to avoid the tree becoming a nuisance and instead, a long-term asset to an area.

A Tree being planted by Epping Forest District Councils Parks Department

A mixture of bare root and container-grown stock are planted in a range of locations, from paved areas or grass verges to open spaces. The ongoing threats against our trees from climate change, pollution, pests and diseases as well as sadly vandalism, only re-enforces the need to place the right tree in the right spot.

Environmental Co-ordinator Sarah Creitzman said: The Council recognises its responsibility to help protect our local environment and planting plenty of new trees is one way to try to tackle climate change. There are a number of schemes in place, run by the Council to make sure that new trees continue to be planted every season.

Amongst the trees planted this season, a number were kindly donated by members of the public through our Tree Donation Scheme. Details of how to take advantage of this service and to find further information on how the Council aims to preserve the tree population of the district, visit the Trees area of the council website.

New Guidelines for Shooters

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Crime and safety, Local business, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Your community, Your environment

Trespassers firearms and the law posterEpping Forest District Council`s Safer Communities Officer Paul Gardener and Epping Forest Police District Crime Reduction Officer Tony Ellis have been working together to improve policing in rural areas. This is as a result of the National Farmers` Union County Chairperson expressing concerns to the Chief Constable regarding policing priorities towards rural crime.

One action as a result of those concerns was for an email family to be established to exchange information between members about current crime trends and suspicious persons. This now 90-strong group has gone on to form a Neighbourhood Action Panel (NAP) to discuss and resolve rural crime issues – the Prime Minister mentioned the initiative in a recent speech as good practice.

At one of the NAP meetings, a farmer drew attention to a current trend that has become a national debate in some of the shooting magazines. People who are legitimately shooting on land have been approached by trespassers on that land. When asked to leave, the trespasser has reported to the Police that they were threatened by a man with a gun, meaning, in some cases, that the shooter has been arrested and his weapons confiscated solely on the word of the trespasser.

The Police and the Safer Communities Team, in consultation with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and Mick Fidgeon the Head of Essex Police Firearms Licensing Department produced guidelines for shooters which, if followed, would protect them from false allegations. The guidelines will be circulated to every Police Firearms Department in Britain recommending that they be adopted nationally. They will also be taken to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) with the suggestion that ACPO and BASC work together to expand them. Epping Forest Safer Communities Partnership has supported the initiative by funding the production of leaflets and posters, which will be distributed to shooters through shooting schools, firearms dealers, retail farming outlets and shooting syndicates.

Tony Ellis Crime Reduction, Mike Aldiss Essex Shooting School, Paul Gardener Safer Communities

Epping Forest Police Inspector Craig Carrington said: We were asked by the members of the NAP to come up with a plan of action, which would help protect legitimate shooters from falling victim to mischievous allegations. Paul and Tony have worked hard on this initiative and the result is a document which contributes nationally to resolving the problem. This has been a Partnership project with a number of other agencies contributing towards the final product and shows the value of working together with the community to resolve problems.

Caroline Wiggins Epping Forest District Council Community Safety Manager said: “The Farmers` NAP has highlighted a very real concern with the potential to have serious consequences and I am pleased the Safer Communities Partnership has been able to support this worthwhile initiative.”

Epping Conservation Area Character Appraisal

Written on . Posted in Conservation and listed buildings, Consultation, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Our countryside, Your area, Your council, Your environment

The final version of the Epping Conservation Area Character Appraisal has been published by Epping Forest District Council. This follows public consultation when local residents were invited to comment on the draft document.

Epping Conservation Area was first designated in 1969 and encompasses most of Epping Town Centre. When the appraisal was compiled, the area was surveyed and photographed in detail. A range of historic maps was consulted and documentary research carried out.

The purpose of a character appraisal is to define the character of the conservation area, review its boundaries and highlight any parts of it that may be in need of improvement. The character appraisal for the Epping Conservation Area covers topics such as public spaces, shop fronts, and highway signs as well as sites with potential for improvement or development.

A limited number of hard copies will also be available. These can be obtained by telephoning 01992 564582 or emailing contactLB@eppingforestdc.gov.uk. Alternatively, the appraisal will be available to view at the District Council`s Planning Reception in the Civic Offices in Epping from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

The Council is soon to be printing a character appraisal on Bell Common after public consultation earlier in the year.

Food and Garden Waste Wheelie Bins

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Countrycare, Our countryside, Recycling and waste, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

Green lidded wheelie bin for food and garden waste and black wheelie bin for non-recyclable waste

Following the introduction of new food and garden waste wheelie bins by Epping Forest District Council some residents with very large gardens have expressed concerns about the amount of their garden waste they will be able to recycle using the new bins.

One of the most important factors the Council considered in developing the new system was the need to reduce the total amount of waste being collected. Although the food and garden wheelie bin only holds the equivalent of four or five of the former sacks, unlike the old sacks system, the food and garden waste will be collected weekly. In the vast majority of cases this should be sufficient, especially where residents are also composting waste at home and storing the garden waste to allow it to dry out and reduce in weight and volume.

The Green lidded wheelie bin is for food and garden waste and the black wheelie bin is for non-recyclable waste.

However, the Council recognises that there may be exceptional circumstances where a second wheelie bin is appropriate, and therefore at the Cabinet meeting on the 7 September 2009 Councillors looked again at the particular problems of a small number of residents who have very large gardens and agreed that in these exceptional circumstances a second food and garden wheelie bin might be made available, following an individual assessment.

People who think they might qualify for a second wheelie bin will need to talk to the Council first to make sure other options, such as garden composting and storage of garden waste have also been considered.

In addition, the Council will consider, again on an individual basis, providing a garden wheelie bin to residents in flats who are currently maintaining garden areas themselves and who wish to continue to do so. This will enable residents to continue to keep their surroundings tidy and ensure that garden waste is recycled.

Land Banking Scheme

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Local business, Our countryside, Planning, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your environment

These commonly advertise small plots of agricultural land for sale, on the internet, by phone or through the use of leaflets and brochures or newspaper articles. These parcels of land are advertised as potential investment opportunities. The premise is that planning permission for a new housing development can be sought and if approved, the value of the land should increase at which point it could be sold on to a developer for a substantial profit, or the purchasers could build their own homes. The sales information often gives the impression that planning permission is shortly to be granted, or the use of the land is to be changed via the Development Plan process.

There are examples all over the UK of such schemes, where unsuspecting buyers have purchased plots of land believing that the value will increase significantly. There is no example to date where planning permission has been granted for all or part of an area of land that has been divided into plots in this way. Purchasers are left with a piece of land with agricultural land value, and very little prospect of being able to sell it on or develop it.

Investigations into these types of schemes have been carried out by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), Trading Standards and several national newspapers. Some that have claimed to be able to seek planning permission for a collective of plot owners have been closed down. Such collective investment schemes need to be authorised by the FSA to be legal.

Emerging Property Partnership (EPP) is currently advertising plots of land for sale on land within the Blunts Farm area in Theydon Bois.

    However, the planning policy position has not changed:

  • The land is entirely within the Green Belt, and therefore the normal restrictions on development apply
  • The areas of land are isolated from the existing built area of Theydon Bois, and the services it provides
  • No means of access has been shown to the parcels of land. Policy CP3 would require this is addressed before any planning application could be made
  • The land has been submitted to the District Council under the Call for Sites exercise, but this does not mean that there is any certainty that this land will be allocated for development purposes
  • The allocation of 3,500 new homes claimed by the vendors refers to the requirement in the East of England Plan for the whole District over the period 2001 to 2021

EPP does not offer to seek planning permission for plot owners, nor does it give any guarantee that planning permission will be forthcoming. However, Planning Officers have received a number of calls about the land available, and feel it is important that people should be advised of the true planning policy situation.

Gypsy and Traveller Reduction

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Democracy, Gypsy and traveller, Leader, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Residents, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The Secretary of State published the final East of England Plan policy (H3) for Gypsy and Traveller pitch provision on 20 July 2009. Epping Forest District Council is required to provide an additional 34 pitches in the period 2006 to 2011. This would mean that the minimum number of authorised pitches in the district should total 128 by 2011. The policy expects pitch provision to be made through a combination of Development Plan Documents (DPD) and development control decisions and that opportunities should be taken to secure provision within major developments.

Councillor Di Collins Leader of Epping Forest District Council said: “We argued long and hard that the overall number of extra gypsy and traveller pitches allocated to our district was unfair in comparison to other Council areas. I am pleased we had some success. From an original draft allocation of 49, it was no mean feat to get the Government to reduce the figure to 34. However, I think the vast majority of Epping Forest residents will agree with me that the allocation is still too high and should have been much lower.

“Having confirmed our allocation, I think it is now up to the Government to listen very carefully to the views of local people about where the extra pitches should go in the district. Those decisions should be taken locally in conjunction with the needs of all our residents and not imposed by Government-appointed Inspectors.

The District Council is continuing to analyse responses made to the consultation for additional pitch locations within the district, which ran from November 2008 to February 2009. Discussions with GO-East about a revised timetable for submitting a draft DPD continue. Beyond 2011 the East of England Plan policy requires additional provision based on an annual 3% compound increase and advises that DPDs should consider the need for rural exception sites and the alteration of Green Belt boundaries.

The County of Essex and the Unitary Authorities of Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock are also required to make provision for 30 transit pitches by 2011.

Policy H4 deals with pitch provision for travelling show people and requires Essex, Southend and Thurrock to make provision for an additional 103 plots by 2011 with an annual 1.5% compound increase thereafter. Councils are again advised to consider rural exception sites and changes to Green Belt boundaries.

The implications of these two policies will be considered in the Autumn by the Council’s Local Development Framework Cabinet.

Recycling Initiatives at Epping Forest Schools

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Our countryside, Recycling and waste, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

 

Epping Forest District Council is helping to boost its already excellent recycling levels by offering schools across the district the opportunity to take advantage of free recycling facilities. Recycling will enable schools to reduce the waste they produce by more than 70% and cut the cost of their waste collection, making money available for other budgets.

Most schools typically recycle paper from their classrooms and offices. Some also recycle cans and glass. Every classroom/office taking part in the scheme has a blue box identical to those provided by the Council to all households across the district, enabling children to make the link between recycling in school and at home.

Portfolio Holder for the Environment Councillor Mary Sartin said: Learning about waste management can be a valuable source of education, linking directly to both Citizenship and Education for Sustainable Development. Recycling projects also provide an opportunity for the entire school to work together as a team.

Schools are able to develop their pupils` knowledge and understanding of such issues, preparing them to make informed choices in the future, which will no doubt influence how rubbish is tackled in the future.

If your school, or playschool/nursery is not yet using Epping Forest District Council`s recycling service, please phone 01992 564608.