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Developer Gives Land for Bats

A celebration of the transfer of land from Strongvox to Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group (YACWAG) was held on Friday 18thMarch on site at Cobthorn Way, Congresbury, with the Chair of North Somerset Council, Cllr Richard Westwood, unveiling the site interpretation board with Bill Richardson, Planning Manager for Strongvox , and Tony Moulin, Chair of YACWAG.

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Left to right Tony Moulin (YACWAG), Bill Richardson (Strongvox), Cllr Richard Westwood (Chair, North Somerset Council)

YACWAG’s new Cobthorn Reserve in Congresbury is being created especially for bats. This ground-breaking new project has been facilitated by North Somerset Council working with Natural England through the planning process, and has resulted in the developer Strongvox giving a field of about two and a half hectares to YACWAG to manage for bats forever.

When 38 new houses were built in Furnace Way, a larger area of farmland was lost as a feeding ground for bats. In order for Strongvox to gain planning permission on this sensitive site, North Somerset Council ruled that the developer had to compensate for lost habitat by creating a nature reserve on part of the site to give the bats continuity. There are only about 12,000 Greater Horseshoe Bats in the UK – which is their stronghold – and amazingly 500-1000 of them are living close to Congresbury. Their preferred landscape is one with grazing animals and tall, wide hedges with scattered flowering trees that attract insects. The Cobthorn Reserve will provide this kind of habitat. Grazing by livestock is especially important in this project because young bats need a particular kind of dung beetle to feed on. YACWAG members have been busy thickening up the hedges with additional hedge plants and their graziers, Jo and Andy Milward, will be providing the animals to produce the essential dung.

Councillor Mark Canniford, Executive Member for Business, Economy and Employment at North Somerset Council, said: “I’m pleased to see the Cobthorn Reserve in Congresbury come to fruition. It’s a fantastic example of how planning can be used to have a positive impact on wildlife. This type of protection is important to North Somerset Council and is carefully considered throughout our Local Plan.”

YACWAG Chair, Tony Moulin, said, “We are very excited and immensely proud of the achievement for wildlife at Cobthorn. Local people can be assured that the nature reserve will never be built on, that they will always have ‘nature as their neighbour’. We hope that more such schemes will follow this excellent example of planning gain for biodiversity. It is exciting that we will be able to give these rare bats a handy ‘eat-in restaurant’ on our new reserve with plenty of dung beetles on the menu.”

Local people will be able to find out more about the reserve at an Open Day to be held on Saturday 14th May.

For more information please contact Tony Moulin 01934 834282 or 0744 384 35

Portrait of a Greater Horseshoe Bat by Daniel Hargreaves

YACWAG announce a new nature reserve in Congresbury

Yatton and Congresbury Wildlife Action Group are creating a new reserve in Congresbury. ‘Cobthorn Reserve’ is at the end of Cobthorn Way, bordering the new Furnace Way housing development.

Planning permission for Furnace Way was granted by North Somerset Council (NSC) with a proviso that an area of the procured land was set aside for the benefit of Greater Horseshoe Bats – a protected species that use this land for foraging. The area is only small part of the original habitat available to the bats in this location – much has been lost to the housing and its associated amenity area.

The original developers, Sunley, did not want to undertake the maintenance of this mitigation area which would involve planned grazing and careful management. NSC suggested they contact YACWAG to see if they would be interested in taking over the land in perpetuity for the benefit of bats. Following discussions between Sunley, NSC and YACWAG an outline agreement was reached. Sunley subsequently passed the development over to Strongvox, who continued with the agreement and YACWAG are hoping that the legal transfer of the land will happen later this summer.

With the support and help of Strongvox, the reserve is being adapted ahead of the legal transfer. Separate sections have been fenced off to allow for flexible grazing by cattle and sheep and new hedgerows have been planted. Further hedgerow and larger tree planting is planned, which will help transform the reserve. Information lecterns will be installed within the next couple of weeks and it is hoped Dexter cows will soon be grazing there.

For more information about the bats, a plan of the site location and how to contact YACWAG if you would like to help with the project, click here.

Café pledges to support village organisations

In liaison with Debbie Fortune estate agents, who  generously donate the use of their premises and facilities for Congresbury’s Community Café, surplus profits from the café, will go back into the community to be used to support village organisations and village activities. More details and how to apply can be found on the café website Supporting the community (congresburycoffee.org)

For the next two weeks the surplus profits from the café sessions will go to help the school PTA to fund new playground equipment at St. Andrews school.

Successful Coffee Morning

The community cafe and Debbie Fortune estate agent’s coffee morning on Friday 25th raised £610 for Macmillan cancer support.

Thanks go to the volunteers who manned the cafe, covered the cafe’s costs, and donated the homemade cakes as well as those who donated throughout the day.

If you missed it there is the option to donate online through the website – https://www.macmillan.org.uk/donate.

Big Breakfast

Save the date. The Big Breakfast in aid of Weston Hospice will be on SATURDAY 26TH OCTOBER at the Methodist Hall 9.30-12 noon. Come along with friends and family to enjoy a delicious full English breakfast, or just a cup of tea and toast. Cards, cakes and jams also for sale.

Quilting Exhibition

Quilting enthusiasts raised £300 for the Children’s Hospice South West at an exhibition of their work in Congresbury on Saturday (Oct 27).
The event was staged by the 12 members of Congresbury Quilters in the Old School Rooms, where the group meets every Tuesday.
Pat Baker, who launched the group some three ago, said: “It was amazing. Our members put in lots of energy, enthusiasm, hard work and served some lovely cakes too.”
An exhibition is held every two years for the Children’s hospice.
“New members are welcome – they can pop in any Tuesday afternoon 1.30 – 4.00 pm,” said Pat.Quilting Exhibition

Definitely up this year!

Music, lights and laughter filled Broad Street for the annual Christmas Fair.

A new feature this year was the mini Ferris wheel, emblazoned with festive lights, which continually took pairs of children up and over the street to look down on the hectic activity.

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The new Christmas street lights, organiseded by the Parish Council, and the superbly illuminated Christmas tree added to the jolly atmosphere.

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Success for The Big Breakfast

The Big Breakfast held on Saturday raised a whopping £1,480 for Weston Hospicecare. Well done to everyone who worked so hard to make it a success, and to all those who gave their support and bought a big breakfast. Special thanks go to Julie Gosling and family, without whom it would not have been possible.

Remember to take all your unwanted clothes and items to the Hospice shop in Broad Street, and while you’re there, have a look round, there may be just the thing you were looking for.

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