Environment

Bats on the rise

Since 1999, the populations of greater (and lesser) horseshoe bats, and common pipistrelle bats have been rising thanks to a combination of conservation, regulation and public support.  It's good to see Semington doing its bit to help.

2070 Houses

According to the Office for National Statistics, the three areas where the most houses are currently being built (2022/23) are Newham, Wiltshire and Cornwall. Newham has 2080, Wiltshire 2070 and Cornwall 2040.  Most of the Wiltshire ones are being built along the A350 corridor – quite a lot near Semington.  Is this because there has been a population growth?  Or is the population growth because of all these houses? And the areas with the fewest houses being built are:  Sutton (20), Islington (30), Rutland (30) and Gosport (30).

Carbon Neutrality

Wiltshire Council says that it is "on track" to being carbon neutral by 2030.  It says that it is already "85% there". Cllr Nick Holder, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: We are doing everything within our power and grasp to respond positively to the climate emergency and lead from the front locally on this global issue. I'm delighted that we remain on track to be carbon neutral by 2030. It's important that, as one of the biggest organisations in the county, we are ambassadors for change and hopefully that will inspire others to do as much as they can too. We remain as ambitious as ever, regularly bidding for Central Government funding to help get innovative projects off the ground that will make a big difference now and long into the future. As ever, this is not a burden we can carry alone - we need individuals, businesses and organisations across the county to continue to step up to the challenge. Aims relating to carbon, the climate and the natural environment are at the heart of our Business Plan and that will ensure we continue to take big strides forward in tackling this issue. As the Council Leader has acknowledged, it will take a long time for the county as a whole to neutral.

EV Infrastructure Strategy News

Wiltshire Council has been given £480,000 by the tax-payer over the next two years to develop the electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure across the county.  The funding will be spent on five project officers who will create an EV Infrastructure Strategy that will research and set out the sites and maps of EV charge points that will be installed around the county.  Full details here.

Box Tree Moths in the Village

The Box Tree Moth is a pretty sight: white with a  grey line around its wings.  Its caterpillar is attractive too in green yellow and black.  But it's not good news if you grow box in your garden as some in the village do.  The caterpillars eat the leaves and wrap the plant in silk.  The RHS has advice on what you can do if you spot them. The moth was spotted last week.  Maybe the coming Autumn will see it off – until next year.

Road verges, grassy banks and waste land

Wiltshire's road verges, grassy banks and waste land are unusually ablaze with ragwort.  Normally at this time of year WC's ragwort vigilantes would have been grubbing it up to protect passing horses and cattle (at least that's the rationale for its destruction).  But not this season it seems, and the result is a riot of colour which is good news for the spectacular cinnabar moth whose caterpillars feast on the stuff.  It's probable that the ragwort extermination squad is busy filling potholes – or maybe preparing for another safety audit on the Semington's troubled and dangerous byway.

“Riot … in Steeple Ashton”

If you went to Steeple Ashton in July you won't have missed the striking road verges going into the village.  They were "a spectacular riot of colour" according to The Wiltshire Times which has just noticed them.  The Times reports that local farmers were inspired to sow seeds on verges after seeing colourful displays in Gloucestershire.  Local companies covered the cost. It certainly was colourful but whether these really are English wild flowers is another matter as no English wildflower meadow ever looked like this.  Rather, the flowers looked like the sort you’d find in a Summer garden. The nearest authentic English wildflower meadow to us (sadly there are not many of these left) is on Salisbury Plain just a few miles south-east of Steeple Ashton. Happily the Steeple Ashton displays did attract butterflies and bees, so maybe it doesn't matter all that much that they're not authentically wild.  If you think it does, Salisbury-based Plantlife sells English wildlife seed mixes that will fit your soil type.  All you have to do is to get them to grow …

Red Admirals

Have you seen a lot of Red Admiral butterflies this Summer?  Butterfly Conservation reports a 400% increase in sightings through its 2023 Big Butterfly Count compared to last year.  These popular insects are a migrant species, normally travelling to the UK from the continent and from as far away as North Africa.   It is likely, however, that some at least are now over-wintering in the South of England.  

Tree Warden

Following a £294,800 grant from the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund, Wiltshire Council is relaunching the national Tree Warden scheme. This is a national initiative led by the Tree Council which needs to recruit volunteer Tree Wardens in each Wiltshire town and parish area. Tree Wardens will work with council Woodland Officers and act as local tree champions who help plant, promote and protect trees in appropriate locations in their local area.  Projects that Tree Wardens can be involved in could include:
  • Arranging local tree planting days
  • Watering and caring for local trees
  • Working with the local authorities and community groups to plant and care for street trees
  • Rejuvenating local woodlands
  • Raising funds and finding land for tree planting projects
  • Going into local schools to talk about the value of trees
Interested?  Then click here for more details. You can contact GAPS@wiltshire.gov to register your interest.

Four Green Woodpeckers Strutting in the Road

Although it sounds like the start of a nursery rhyme, the woodpeckers in question were real enough as they milled around in Pound Lane this morning near the junction with Wessex Close. We'd never seen more than two together before so it was a joyous sight.  Something must be ok with the world after all.  They quickly headed off towards the play area as we approached.