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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.

Police warn against telephone fraud

Click HERE for full information

Two victims were contacted by callers purporting to be from Lloyds Bank and advised there was a problem with their bank debit card and they would be sending someone to collect the cards and that a replacement card would be delivered to their home. In both incidents the bogus caller was wearing a high visibility jacket. We are urging people to be vigilant and on their guard to such calls. Banks will never personally attend a home address to collect or deliver cards or important documents, and bank details and personal information – including PiN numbers – should never be disclosed.

Taxi services and courier companies in the county who have been made aware of the courier fraud offending and continue to pick up ‘packages’ from victims could face prosecution