Thousands of new spring bulbs and pollinator plants on Exmouth seafront aim to give a boost to nature

Spring bulbs and pollinator plants in their thousands have been added to Exmouth seafront in a bid to attract wildlife and insects.

Becca Gliddon eastdevonnews.co.uk 

The Beach Gardens, on Exmouth seafront, is now home to more than 2,500 herbaceous perennials and around 3,000 bulbs, that will return year after year as they have been selected to survive harsh coastal weather conditions.

The planting was carried out over five days by Exmouth in Bloom with East Devon District Council (EDDC), and the displays will make up part of the town’s Britain in Bloom UK finals entry next summer.

Exmouth

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC portfolio holder for coast, country and environment, said: “It is brilliant to again see EDDC’s Streetscene operatives and Exmouth in Bloom volunteers working in unison to improve the seafront for everyone to enjoy.

“They all work tirelessly to make our green spaces look vibrant and beautiful, as well as ensuring our local wildlife and nature can thrive.”

EDDC promises a ‘sea of colour’ in the spring when the new bulbs and plants bloom at the Beach Gardens.

Bulbs such as Alllium, Daffodils and Sicilian Honey Garlic have been planted for their tolerance to the harsh coastal environment and their benefit to wildlife.

The district council said it aims to make its gardens and open spaces ‘more environmentally friendly while looking after delicate eco-systems’.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “The extended flowering periods, blooming right through from February to October, will make the plants key in providing pollinators with a steady source of nectar and pollen, at a time when flowers are scarce.

“Seed-heads and stems will also be left over the winter as an important food source and habitat for birds and insects.”

They added: “EDDC’s Streetscene teams, along with Exmouth in Bloom volunteers, have been working hard to complete the planting designs before winter frosts arrive – putting in five long days of work.

“The scheme will be another string in the bow of Exmouth as the town prepares for the Britain in Bloom UK Finals in summer 2023.”

 

Ministers to take us to court to keep Covid review secret – Open Democracy

Jenna Corderoy www.opendemocracy.net 

The government is taking openDemocracy to court to resist having to publish its secret “lessons learnt” review of the Covid pandemic.

Chiefs at the Department of Health and Social Care only last month agreed to publish the document, following an 18-month Freedom of Information battle that ended with a disclosure order by the independent watchdog.

But we were told today that the department had lodged an appeal against the order by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). It means an information tribunal is likely to be held next year.

Layla Moran, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, called it a “blatant attempt by the government to gloss over its cack-handed management of the pandemic” and “an insult to the British public”.

The news coincides with the launch and publication of former health secretary Matt Hancock’s pandemic diaries as a hardback book – and the same department’s refusal to hand over his official ministerial diaries covering the same period.

openDemocracy has a strong record of winning Freedom of Information cases – our most recent being against the Cabinet Office.  

The existence of the ‘lessons learnt’ review was revealed by HuffPost UK last year. But the DHSC refused to hand it over, claiming that its release would be “likely to undermine the safe space for experts and government officials to debate live policy issues”. 

It is thought to be the work of civil servants in the DHSC conducting internal assessments of what went wrong to improve best practice.

An independent inquiry into the UK’s response to the pandemic is already under way. Officially launched in July, the inquiry will examine how well prepared the UK was for a pandemic, as well as the decisions taken by the UK government once Covid arrived.

We rely on the backing of our readers to keep going. If you think it’s important that the government release documents like this, back our work here.

Environment Agency to boost natural flood management after pilots

Low-tech “natural” flood management such as using natural materials to slow river flow and storing flood water on meadows will play a key role in preventing future floods, according to the chief executive of the Environment Agency.

[Don’t forget the Beavers. – Owl]

Patrick Barkham www.theguardian.com 

Sixty pilot natural flood management projects have helped protect 15,000 homes and create storage for up to 1.6m cubic metres of flood water, while also helping nature recovery on 380 miles (610km) of river and on 4,000 hectares of wetlands and woodlands.

Announcing the results of the four-year natural flood management pilots, Sir James Bevan, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, said: “The warning signs of the climate crisis are stark – and sadly devastating flooding is likely to become a more familiar sight over the next century. By harnessing the power of nature alongside our traditional flood defences, we can not only help to keep communities safer, but also create wildlife havens and tackle the climate emergency.”

Natural flood management helps to slow the flow of water across the landscape via measures such as restoring meanders to canalised rivers, recreating wetlands that store flood water, and planting trees and hedges by rivers that also help absorb water.

The £15m pilot projects included Cumbrian schemes whereby farmers removed compaction in their soils to reduce water runoff, more than 100 “leaky” wooden barriers built by the Forestry Commission on streams, and a drystone wall redesigned so that it could hold water.

In Warwickshire, the community-led Shipston Area Flood Action Group built 700 leaky barriers and ponds to slow the flow of water on the River Stour during heavy rainfall, reducing the flood risk to 17 villages and towns.

In Sutton, Greater London, sustainable urban drainage systems have been installed in six schools. These systems capture rainwater runoff from surfaces like roofs, roads and pavements, preventing the drainage network from becoming overwhelmed and filtering out contaminants before the water enters drains and ultimately flows into a river.

This scheme, including planters and rain gardens built on playgrounds, is now preventing more than four hectares of hard surfaces sending rainwater into the River Wandle, helping reduce pollution in this chalk stream.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “We know that flooding can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, homes and livelihoods. That is why we are investing a record £5.2bn in flood and coastal defences to ensure more communities are better prepared – and nature-based solutions are a key component of this.

“The additional benefits of natural flood management for people and wildlife are vast – helping us reach our ambitious net zero targets, providing vital new habitats and creating areas of natural beauty for people to enjoy for generations to come.”

Each natural flood management scheme in the pilot cost an average of £250,000 – far less than conventional “hard” engineering such as flood walls. “That’s on a completely different scale to most flood projects,” said Julie Foley, the director of flood risk strategy at the Environment Agency. “For the benefits, given they are so wide-ranging, that’s incredibly good value for money.”

Foley confirmed that the Environment Agency would now spend more of the £5.2bn earmarked for flood management between 2021 and 2027 on “mainstreaming” natural flood management, with a target of doubling the schemes it supports.

There were 85 partners involved in the pilot, including the Rivers Trust, Wildlife Trusts, local authorities, universities and local businesses.

The pilot project report found that involving landowners and land managers was crucial because they are responsible for maintaining the natural defences in the future.

The government’s environmental land management schemes are set to include payments to help landowners provide the “public good” of flood alleviation via such natural solutions.

Sarah Fowler, the chief executive of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, one of the pilot partners, said: “Wetlands help us mitigate and adapt to the consequences of climate change, which is why WWT is calling for the restoration and creation of 100,00 hectares of wetlands in the UK.

“This report demonstrates the power of nature, and wetlands in particular, to tackle flooding. I look forward to WWT working with the Environment Agency, using our expertise in wetland science and wetland delivery, to build natural flood management solutions at scale to manage current and future flood risk.”

Devon families to get £45 supermarket voucher for Christmas

Devon families with children who receive free school meals are being given a £45 supermarket voucher to help buy food over the Christmas holidays. Devon County Council (DCC) says the lump sum also covers February half-term next year.

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com 

The council has confirmed there has been a significant rise in the number of children from low-income families in receipt of free school meals a year with numbers now almost reaching 20,000 across Devon. Before the end of the current school term, each eligible child will automatically be sent a £45 supermarket voucher to replace the meals they would have had at school during the day.

It’s the equivalent of £15 per child per week of the two school holidays during the two-week Christmas break and the half-term in February. DCC says it is being distributed in one lump sum now to allow families some flexibility on how they spend the vouchers and try to help with the additional pressure the festive period puts on household budgets.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for communities said: “With the cost of living crisis starting to bite, more families in Devon are eligible for free school meals for their children than ever before, with numbers continuing to soar to the highest levels on record. Around a further 1,000 children have become eligible for free school meals over the last year, rising to a total of approximately 19,500 pupils.

“It’s been a tough few years for some people, particularly financially with incomes changing suddenly as businesses struggle to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Food and energy prices have risen dramatically in the last few months and household budgets are stretched.

“Many people are finding it especially difficult now as we move into colder winter months, and the financial challenges faced by some families can be intensified during the school holiday because of increased costs such as food and reduced incomes due to childcare. We are concerned that some are being forced to make some very difficult decisions to put food on the table or heat their home.

“Thankfully the government’s decision to continue its household support fund, for now, means we’ve been able to buy nearly £900,000 worth of supermarket vouchers to support these families during the Christmas and February half-term holidays so their children don’t go hungry. We are continuing to work with our local government, voluntary and community sector partners to support people in Devon experiencing hardship and make sure we identify those who are struggling so we can make sure they get the help they need.”

For more details about the vouchers please visit freeschoolmeals@devon.gov.uk or call 0345 155 1019.

Greenwash Tories and just so much hot air!

Hot air from Johnson a year ago. Gove takes us back to the future- Owl

Boris Jonson Cop26 Nov 2021 (Extract)

“while a red digital clock ticks down remorselessly to a detonation that will end human life as we know it

and we are in roughly the same position, my fellow global leaders, as James Bond today

except that the tragedy is that this is not a movie, and the doomsday device is real

and the clock is ticking to the furious rhythm of hundreds of billions of pistons and turbines and furnaces and engines

with which we are pumping carbon into the air faster and faster- record outputs

and quilting the earth in an invisible and suffocating blanket of CO2

raising the temperature of the planet with a speed and an abruptness that is entirely manmade

and we know what the scientists tell us and we have learned not to ignore them

2 degrees more and we jeopardise the food supply for hundreds of millions of people

as crops wither, locusts swarm

3 degrees and you can add more wildfires and cyclones – twice as many of them, five times as many droughts and 36 times as many heatwaves

4 degrees and we say goodbye to whole cities – Miami, Alexandria, Shanghai – all lost beneath the waves

and the longer we fail to act

the worse it gets and the higher the price when we are eventually forced by catastrophe to act

because humanity has long since run down the clock on climate change.

It’s one minute to midnight on that doomsday clock and we need to act now.”