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Project Paddock

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Paul Ford View Drop Down
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    Posted: 01 Aug 2012 at 10:50pm

Hi Guys,

Just had a massive life changing event (divorce!) and bought a 1.7 acre paddock with my girlfriend in prime grass snake country (every cloud...)

I have put some tins down on the south facing bank and found slow worms (and toads) already so it’s looking promising.

I have some ambitious ideas for the creation of ponds, compost heaps, bog area, hibernacula etc and a friend of mine (Andy Ryder, chair of ARAG) has obtained a form for me to apply for a grant from the “100% fund” to assist with the cost.

I want to get a move on (we've had the paddock a month already!) and want the digger in whilst the ground is still relatively dry and what could be a stumbling block/delay is obtaining planning permission from the council.

I wondered if anyone knows definitively whether we need permission or not? (A call to the council was basically fruitless as although they did say that we need to apply we have a strong feeling that the person we spoke to didn’t really know and was giving us their default answer!?).

I think I will ask them by email so it will be more difficult for them to fob us off - if anyone knows of some good words/references/ammunition to put in the mail (or future planning application) that would be most useful.

Incidentally, I will start a new thread on the paddock and keep it updated with progress but I am pretty chuffed and excited about it - which I need to be careful of at my age! However there may be a slight delay here also as the ex has custody of the camera…).

Cheers

Paul

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tim-f View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tim-f Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Aug 2012 at 11:17pm
Hi Paul,

Good luck with the project, it would be great to follow progress.  You still in the Bristol area?

Do you need planning permission for what's basically landscape gardening, unless I've misinterpreted?  I thought planning permission was more aimed at houses/structures that might block views or interfere with drainage or add to traffic etc.

http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/

Regards,

Tim.



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Suzy View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2012 at 9:50am
How exciting to have so much land to devote to wildlife! I'm sure we'd all like to follow how you get on. I put coroline down in my garden a month or so ago and within days I had slow worms under the pieces and the numbers have just built up since then.
Good luck with it all.
Suz
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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2012 at 11:22am
Hi Paul,

I agree with Suzy, something I'm sure we have all thought about (buying land for wildlife not divorcing!). So I'll be looking forward to the updates. 

Where you might run into planning issues is 'change of use'. I have met a couple of people who have done the same in the past for wildlife, their attitude was don't tell anyone and just do it. I think though one can fall into a trap with councils of trying to be up front about your plans for them to then only feel obliged to place hoops in the way. On the other hand one wouldn't want to get in the position of a battle with the council and possibly fines or having to fill in the pond etc in the case that they felt planning permission was required.

There is some information here that gives an overview and some factors to consider:


There is also the issue of existing wildlife, if slow-worm are already present how will you mitigate using a digger to create the pond for example? 





Edited by GemmaJF - 02 Aug 2012 at 11:34am
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Robert V View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Robert V Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2012 at 6:53pm

Hi Paul,

depends whether there is an article 4 restrictions on the land - under the general development orders - oh yeah, and what extra council tax you'll have to pay if you install ponds sheds etc. All worth thinking about.

What I would do (if I were you) is dig the pond, give it a year to settle in, then by chance, find a GCN there and bingo, your pond is for life.

Approve

RobV
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Chris Monk View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Chris Monk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Aug 2012 at 11:48pm
Paul
As Gemma says, for the paddock it depends on whether what you do is a change of use. What was the paddock used for before you bought it? If it was grazing, putting a pond in for stock watering often doesn't come under the planning regs, so you could do that first and then just not keep stock on the site.
However I am afraid that changing its use to a wildlife area with ponds is often considered by planners to require planning permission, similarly they may consider what you are doing as gardening on what was agricultural land - again that would be considered a change of use requiring planning permission.

If you put the inquiry in writing (by e-mail or letter) to the planning department, then you will have to live with the resulting answer if they say that a planning application is required and they will be aware of your proposals. Don't forget that they may decide your proposals are inappropriate for the area, based on their plans and policies. In that case it could make it awkward to carry out your proposals. Best thing to do is carefully consider what you want to do, as people always have ambitious plans before they start off which might not materialise. Small changes over a number of years might be best both for wildlife and avoiding getting caught out by planning. Having a muck heap on agricultural land doesn't require planning permission, buildings and amenity/wildlife ponds probably do.
Chris

Derbyshire Amphibian & Reptile Group

www.derbyshirearg.co.uk

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Paul Ford View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Ford Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2012 at 10:26pm
Thanks for all your replies - very useful and plenty to think about there!
 

Last week we got a planning consultant round to pick his brains...

 

He said any small ponds etc would be classed as "de minimis*" and therefore would not require planning permission. As a rule of thumb, anything requiring the use of a contractor or digger would require planning permission.... (I think its basically all about covering yourself in the event of someone complaining - if no one complains you can do pretty much what you want – but its probably best to assume that somebody will complain and to plan for it accordingly).

So if I was just going to put in a few small ponds I would just get on with it – but as we also want to extend a hardcore track (and put in a larger pond!) - what he recommended was that we (he!) approaches the council with an outline proposal of our plans to get their take on it and then apply for formal permission if necessary (which would then be a rubber stamping job hopefully).

Unfortunately this means that I mustn't do anything with the small ponds in the meantime (and he is now on holiday for two weeks!) so it sounds like there may be a bit of a delay (bugger!)

I can see us not being able to proceed until autumn/winter now which might be a no-goer if the weather is bad.

 

I’ll let you know what happens with this but just for the record I will definitely be putting in those ponds and creating a herp friendly place – in fact I have already started with a few bits and pieces:

 

Log pile

 

compost heap

 

 

damp/shady wood pile (made from old pallets left lying around)

 

 
hibernaculum / basking area (made out of rubble that has been lying around)
 

I'm reluctant to finish this off at the mo as I want it all to "settle" before any reps use it as they might get squashed otherwise if there is any movement (maybe I'm a bit too much of a worrier..!?) I'm thinking of covering half of it with a liner before chucking a couple of feet of earth on top whilst making sure the herps can find there way under the liner at the edges..? - I havent really come up with a better idea yet…?

I’m also having a dilemma about when to cut the grass or strim – if I wait until the weather conditions see the slowies safely tucked up in bed I have to watch out for these little fellas…

 

 

 

It’s not going to be easy though – we own all these pooches too and compete in dog agility…

 

 

So part of the paddock will need to be a dog friendly place….

 
*DE MINIMIS - In legal terms the literal meaning of the full expression de minimis no curat lex is "The law takes no account of very trifling matters".
 
Paul
 
PS Tim - yep its near Bristol ;)
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sussexecology View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2012 at 11:16pm

hi Paul

It's not so much to do with anyone complaining about what you are doing,. it's about whether the work you are proposing to do would have an impact on other protected species.

In general, pond management should be done in the winter months and you shouldn't manage the whole pond in one go. We'll PM you on Monday as it is late now, or if you email us, we can provide you with a checklist of the things you need to look at when creating new ponds or creating new habitats for wildlife.

great what you are doing though.Smile
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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Aug 2012 at 2:43am
I would cover the rubble pile with a couple of feet of soil sooner rather than later else you may well end up trapping animals already using it if you leave it too long. Don't worry about things getting in to the core in the long term, small mammals will produce ideal tunnels in a short while. When you dig the pond you can also use these type of bunds to shield the pond from any chemical run-off from surrounding arable fields if that is an issue. 

I strim in the wildlife garden during late September/October time. It gives time for the 'seed head' species of bugs to do their thing. (Which according to an entomologist I know is important and often overlooked at wildlife sites). No need to strim low either. Do it above 15 cm and amphibians/small mammals should be OK. I pick warmer days when animals are active to give them a chance to move away whilst I work. It lets all the vegetation die off naturally too and then makes things tidy for the winter. Come the spring the low vegetation is ideal for basking herps. By the time they get properly active the vegetation is coming up again and I leave it right through to the following Autumn. 

It's all looking good and I think you are going the right route with the planning permission. I agree with your planning consultant, it is all about people complaining - if nobody complained we could all do anything we wanted. Wildlife legislation is just one 'tool' of the complainers in my experience, (it's amazing how interested members of the public get in GCN when someone wants to build a house next to theirs) hence why I get paid to make sure they have nothing to be complain about. That is the real world of it all and of course planning permission goes far wider than simply the impact on protected species. There is no doubt in my mind all your efforts will only be to the benefit of all forms of wildlife and more power to you for taking the project on. Thumbs Up



Edited by GemmaJF - 20 Aug 2012 at 2:44am
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Paul Ford View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Ford Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 May 2014 at 11:55am

Well I think its about time I updated this thread.

 

I’ve been a busy boy over the last 21 months or so and installed 4 smallish ponds (all dug out by hand! – and some through a layer of slate!!)

 

I’ve made hibernacula from piles of rubble and earth, brash piles, log piles and trailered in horse manure to create a compost heap. I’ve left un-mown areas, created natural refugia with logs and slabs and put down nearly a dozen tins. (I’ve also built myself a large outdoor vivarium which has been immensely satisfying but I guess not really for this forum).

 

Last year I rescued some frogspawn last year and put them in one of the ponds.

 

We found slow worms and toads quite early on which was nice but what I really wanted was grass snakes (I admit to being a little obsessed! I haven’t been out herping this year yet and am starting to get twitchy – I need a regular grass snake fix!).

 

Well guess what!?

 

Last Friday I casually lifted a tin expecting to see maybe a slowie and there ‘s a baby grass snake sat there – not much more than hatchling size! To say I was chuffed is an understatement! – I was straight on the phone to my girlfriend whilst I turned the next tin and guess what..? another young grassy, this one about a foot long!

 

I’ve been reading Richard’s book which has taken me back to my childhood and I remember as plain as day the awe and wonder of my first grass snake – I’m 47 now and the feeling wasn’t dissimilar! (I guess it’s the satisfaction of knowing that all the effort I put in has paid off – or possibly because I’m still a big kid).

 

My computer is playing up at the mo but I will post up some pictures soon. Wink

 

Paul

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