Provisional Site Allocation Reduced

Written on . Posted in Community, Countryside and wildlife, Democracy, Gypsy and traveller, Leader, Local plan / planning our future, Older people, Our countryside, Planning, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Go East, the regional office of the Government says the provisional allocation of additional gypsy and traveller site pitches for Epping Forest district has been reduced by ten from 49 to 39. The announcement is contained in the Examination in Public (EiP) Report into the Review of Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation in the East of England published on 18 December 2008. The EiP report now forms the basis of recommendations to the Government which will hold further consultation before issuing its final allocations next year.

Councillors and Planning Officers have consistently argued for a reduction in the number of pitches allocated to Epping Forest district. While Councillors feel the allocation remains unfairly high for Epping Forest in comparison to other districts, the reduction is a vindication of their stance. The Council will continue to press for further reductions.

The reduction for Epping Forest district is in marked contrast to most other parts of the region. Overall, the EiP has increased the regional allocation of extra traveller and gypsy pitches by a further 50 from 1,187 to 1,237.

The Government announcement comes as residents continue to respond to local consultation on the future provision of traveller and gypsy sites in the district.

Councillor Mrs Anne Grigg, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: The announcement is a move in the right direction but I don`t think it goes far enough. Local residents are very concerned about the high number of extra traveller and gypsy pitches the district is being asked to accommodate. Epping Forest district already has more gypsy and traveller accommodation than most other areas. Even with the potential reduction from 49 to 39 extra pitches, we are still being asked to take substantially more than many other areas. We will continue to argue for further reductions.

The Secretary of State will consider the Review of Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation in the East of England and the recommendations of the EiP before issuing any proposed changes in the Spring. There will then be a further period of consultation. Go East says that the Secretary of State will publish the finalised policy in the Summer of 2009.

Landscape Officer Invited to House of Commons

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

Landscape Officer Chris Neilan

Epping Forest District Council`s Landscape Officer and Arboriculturist Chris Neilan was invited to a special reception at the House of Commons hosted by Tree Council Vice President Brian Donohoe MP at which Baroness Andrews, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Communities and Local Government, officially launched National Tree Week.

Chris Neilan said: I was invited because CAVAT (Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees), the tree value method I have developed, is crucial to current major national initiatives to help protect trees. Over the previous few months it has featured in articles in many national newspapers, including a photograph on the front page of the Times and a feature in The Observer and is currently reported on the front of the current Tree Guardian, the Tree Council’s newsletter to their tree wardens.

CAVAT is specifically reviewed in the Trees and Design Action Group Green Paper `No Trees, No Future – Trees in the Urban Realm `, also launched for consultation at the event. The paper includes two sets of proposed guidelines. One is for Large Species Trees in New Development – including maximising opportunities to plant large species landscape trees in new development and overcoming issues such as perceived threats to foundations. The other is for Assessing the Value of Urban Trees – dealing with the potential approaches to assessing the financial value of trees in developments, including their value to the community. CAVAT is reviewed under this heading and its adoption by the insurance, loss adjusting, Local Authority and private arboricultural sectors (in connection with setting evidence levels in subsidence cases) praised as an excellent example of joint working.

Chris Neilan concluded: I was delighted to attend this special event at the House of Commons and am very happy that my tree valuation method is now helping to improve the management of trees and to save trees that might otherwise be lost, well beyond the bounds of Epping Forest District.

Tree Officer Featured in the Observer

Written on . Posted in Countryside and wildlife, Media, Our countryside, Trees and landscapes, Your environment

Photographer Phil Fisk and assistant at work

Epping Forest District Council`s Tree and Landscape Officer Chris Neilan was featured in a major article in The Observer magazine on Sunday 12 October 2008. The subject was his work on Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT), a tree value system intended to help Councils manage their tree stock better and to be able to demonstrate that they are doing so.

CAVAT came to the attention of Lucy Siegle, a journalist from the BBC and The Observer, who interviewed Chris in Berkeley Square in Central London where the (so far) most valuable tree in Britain stands. Earlier in the summer this tree also featured in a number of stories in the national press, including on the front page of The Times. It has been calculated to have a CAVAT value of £750,000. A picture of Chris measuring the tree accompanies the interview.

Tree Officer Chris Neilan being photographed in Berkeley Square

For comparison, an average street tree in Epping would be worth around £5,500 and the most valuable tree in the District so far surveyed would be worth £250,000. This stands by the green, south of St John`s Church in Epping. Chris has been working on CAVAT for the last ten years, largely in his own time but with the support of John Preston, Director of Planning and Economic Development.

Summer of Hugs

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community

Favourite Trees

Countrycare, Epping Forest District Council`s countryside management service, is holding a `Summer of Hugs` event at High Beech in Epping Forest on Saturday 5 July 2008.

The free event is to celebrate the District`s veteran trees and to launch the 50 Favourite Trees book. Visitors can drop in any time between 10am and 4pm on the green outside the King`s Oak Pub and Epping Forest Conservation Centre in High Beech – Grid Reference TQ 41150 98208. There will be displays, maps and guided walks about tree recording and photography.

The 50 Favourite Trees Book is available free of charge from Countrycare or Epping Information Desk at the Civic Offices. A donation of £5 to former Chairman of Council Councillor Caroline Pond`s charities is requested from anyone who enjoyed the book.

Favourite Trees introductionFavourite Trees featuring Paul Hewitt

For more information, contact Countrycare on 01992 788203.

Roding Valley Lake Environment Agency Statement

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about

The Environment Agency has said that blanket weed is the probable cause of the rapid drop in oxygen levels that led to the death of fish at Roding Valley Lake.

In a statement, the Environment Agency said: We have investigated the matter fully and there are no indications that there is any sewage polluting the lake. All indications show that it was a natural event, caused by excessive blanket weed, which led to lack of oxygen in the main body of water.

Roding Valley Lake Oxygen Levels Near Normal

Written on . Posted in Countryside and wildlife, Loughton, Out and about, Your area

Oxygen Levels approaching 50 percent have signalled a major improvement in the condition of Roding Valley Lake.

Councillor Mitch Cohen, Leisure and Young People Portfolio Holder said: The good news is that oxygen levels are now approaching near normal thanks to a combination of natural recovery and aeration equipment. Therefore thanks to the improvement in conditions over the weekend there is no need to continue artificial aeration and the equipment will be removed. However, this does not suggest that we are becoming complacent and will continue to monitor oxygen levels.

He continued: Some more dead fish have appeared but have probably been dead for some time. A few more are likely to appear as decomposition gasses bring them to the surface and we will have a further clear up later this week.

The experts from the Environment Agency are still struggling to understand exactly what happened at Roding Valley Lake. It now seems very unlikely that a sewage leak was to blame. It is much more likely to be what they would call a natural event, possibly associated with a sudden growth of blanket weed or algae although this remains speculation.

Our staff will continue to work with the Environment Agency to find the cause. A meeting will be scheduled in the next couple of weeks once the tests have been completed. We will then be in a position to see if there was anything we could reasonably have done to foresee such an event and whether it could be possible to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.


Bobbingworth Tip – the Problem and the Solution

Written on . Posted in Business, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Work begins on Monday 19 March 2007 on the long awaited improvements to Bobbingworth Tip.

For more than ten years in the 1960`s and 70`s the former gravel pit near Ongar was being used as a landfill for domestic rubbish. Although landfill seemed like a cheap and easy solution to rubbish disposal at that time, tips like Bobbingworth have left a legacy of pollution. Now the Council is investing £1.35 million into turning the site into a public asset.

The works now getting under way to clean up the site will create huge underground barriers and drains to help control the flow of water leeching through the refuse. By the end of the project only clean, healthy treated water will flow from the site. The aims of the project is to control the volume of leachate leaving the tip and going into the Thames Water Utilities Ltd sewage works as Epping Forest District Council can be in breach of licence and incur penalties. Native trees and hedgerows will be preserved and enhanced with new planting and landscaping to provide a park for people to walk in and enjoy.

Tips like Bobbingworth pollute the local environment by giving off gases and contributing significantly to global warming. After so many years the gas emissions at Bobbingworth are now falling, but problems remain of pollution escaping as water seeps through the tip and affects land and watercourses around it. The smell of  gas may have faded but the water pollution is clear to see.

Over the course of the building works, a large number of lorries will bring materials to the site for the construction of the various structures and topsoil to cap the site properly. Care is being taken to keep the disturbance to residents caused by these lorries to a minimum.

    To reduce disturbance:

  • Opening times will be restricted:          Monday to Friday 8:00 – 18:00
              Saturday 8:00 – 13:00Note: there will be no operations on Sundays and Public Holidays
  • Low noise plant and equipment with effective silencers that are properly maintained
  • Work on Saturdays (when possible will be conducted away from the site boundaries)
  • On Friday afternoons soil deliveries will stop at 16:00 rather than 16:30
  • A maximum of 90 lorries on any one-day
  • No soil deliveries on Saturdays

The lorries entering and leaving the site will be restricted to a 30mph speed limit. Random checks will be carried out by Veolia (an environmental service) to make sure that the lorries delivering materials to the site are driving properly, and are driving at the right delivery times. Local residents are encouraged to report to Veolia any problems caused by the lorries. On site wheel-cleaning facilities will prevent lorries transferring mud onto clean roads.

    Contact details for Veolia are:

  • Telephone number for Veolia 01277 723 552
  • Or email the Veolia environmental manager darren.cole@veolia.co.uk


Ongar Tree Strategy Public Meeting

Written on . Posted in Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your environment

A public meeting is to be held in the Budworth Hall on Wednesday 25 October 2006 at 7.30pm to discuss the production of an Ongar Tree Strategy.

The proposed Tree Strategy will be reviewing the tree and landscape history of Ongar, assessing what is there now, and planning for the future.

    This is a chance for residents of Ongar to come along and add their contributions: 

  • Do you have any interesting anecdotes about the trees and landscape of Ongar?
  • What would you like to see in Ongar in the future?
  • Do you have any skills you are able to offer to help in the production of this document?
Click here to view Ongar Tree Strategy poster

The document is being produced by Epping Forest District Council in partnership with Ongar Town Council and the people of Ongar. So don`t miss this opportunity to come and have your say.

Council Objects to East of England Plan

Written on . Posted in Business, Conservation and listed buildings, Countryside and wildlife, Local plan / planning our future, Our countryside, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Development of North Weald on the scale proposed in the East of England Plan is not only excessive but could also undermine the regeneration of Harlow according to Epping Forest District Council. Councillors met at the Civic Offices in Epping on Tuesday (8 March) and Thursday (10 March) to agree their response to the East of England Plan consultation.

If the Government goes ahead with proposals to develop North Weald Airfield and surrounding land at the same time as developments in Harlow, Councillors believe the effect would be for people and businesses to gravitate towards North Weald. Harlow would struggle to attract the same people and businesses the Government believes the town needs for effective regeneration.

Councillor Robert Glozier, Planning and Economic Development Portfolio Holder said that undermining the regeneration of Harlow was one of many reasons why the number of new houses and businesses proposed for North Weald and other parts of the district should be reduced.

He said: Aside from the potential damage to Harlow, development at North Weald and to the South West of Harlow does not look sustainable. The impact on the environment from so much development in the Green Belt would be immense. There are fundamental issues ranging from basic health, welfare and education service provision through to concerns about the supply of water. Even if promises of huge investment in infrastructure such as public transport and roads can be afforded, many other questions remain unanswered.

Councillor Glozier continued: There is an enormous amount of concern among local people. They range from those who believe the great historic significance of the Airfield should prevent development to those who fear the scale of development overall would destroy the fundamentally rural character of our local environment.

Councillors voted to tell the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) and the Office of John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister that the overall proposals of 11,000 extra households plus employment developments were too much for Epping Forest district. They specifically rejected the proposal for 6,000 houses at North Weald and 2,700 to the South West of Harlow. District Councillors also believe that whatever the final number of houses allocated to the district, planning control should be retained by the Council and not transferred to a non-elected organisation such as an Urban Development Corporation.

Councillor Glozier said: We are not saying no to any development in the district. By our own assessment we know we need to find capacity for something like  3,000 new houses over the next 16 or so years. We are particularly concerned about the cost of housing and the need to provide affordable homes for young families and key workers such as nurses and teachers. We want to provide homes for these people.

He concluded: We are saying to the Government that we believe their assumptions about the needs and capacity of our district are wrong. They need to stop and rethink their whole strategy.

Residents demonstrated their opposition to the East of England Plan before listening to the debate in the Council meeting. Epping Forest District Council`s objections to the Plan were sent to the Regional Assembly before the deadline for submission of comments on 16 March.

The next main stage in the process will be an Examination in Public (EiP) starting on 13 September. A Panel of Inspectors will identify topics for consideration and may call local people and organisations to give evidence. The Government will expect to receive the recommendations of the Panel in early 2006.