WCG Annual Report 2015

WOODCOTE CONSERVATION GROUP (www.woodcotecg.org.uk)

Annual Report from the Committee 2014/15

(For Annual General Meeting, 12th November 2015)

The Committee is pleased to present the following overview of the Group’s activities during the year since the 2014 AGM.

Public and membership events

‘Bird Walks’: John Sandford has, as normal, led the regular seasonal Bird Walks around Dean Wood and into the fields beyond the wood. The chart below shows the number of the different species observed during each walks and the decreasing trend over recent years was halted on the last bird walk, at the end of October, when thirty one species were identified. This is one of the highest totals that has been recorded during these walks and is somewhat reassuring. The number of different species being identified on all the walks has risen by one, to sixty two, with a linnet spotted on the last year’s Autumn Bird Walk. Other species that have only been noted once since the walks started are the collared dove, cormorant, cuckoo, greater black backed gull, grey heron and the tree creeper. Fourteen people went on the Woodcock Walk in Common Wood this summer and saw a spectacular roding display by a single bird that overflew the group many times. The group left the area slightly earlier than in previous years in case they were in danger of disturbing a nesting site.

This year’s Butterfly Walk led by Phil Roberts took place for the first time at Hartslock Nature Reserve near Goring on 17th July. It was a very enjoyable outing in fine weather with spectatcular views overlooking Gatehampton and the Thames. It also proved to be successful in respect of the number and variety of butterflies seen during the afternoon including Marbled White, Large White, Small White, Common Blue, Silver Washed Fritillary and Meadow Brown.

This year the Fungus Foray and Bat Evenings did not take place. In the case of the Fungus Foray most of the woodlands around Woodcote have been covered at least once in recent years and last year’s event was poorly attended by the membership of the WCG.

As for the Bat Evening, a combination of bad weather on one occasion and the unavailability of an event leader for the rescheduled event resulted in this activitity not taking place this year.

Working Parties

In December, the hazel harvested at the allotments was left on site for the allotments holders to use as pea sticks etc. Helena McBride has asked if the Woodcote Primary School could use part of this year’s harvest to improve the borders in the school’s conservation area.

The spring working party carried out a litter pick around the outskirts of the village.

As usual, the summer ‘Walking Party’ took place in August following Walk 11 from the ‘Stilehopper’ book of ‘Woodcote Walks’ to the Black Horse pub in Checkendon.

The summer and autumn working parties carried out clearance work at the Greenmoor Ponds.

Chilterns Commons Project

Since the last AGM, members of the Committee consulted another specialist regarding the renovation of the Dipping Well and the recommendation was, with the funds and limited time available, to seal up the open hole, as this would help preserve the brick structure. This recommendation was acted upon and the work completed before the Chiltern Project deadline. The WCG Chairmen wrote a letter to the Chilterns AONB thanking Rachel Sanderson, the Project Manager, for all the help she had given to the WCG As reported at last year’s AGM, a project was set up to publish a booklet on the research into the history of the Dipping Well, set in the context of the water shortages experienced in the southern Chilterns in the past . Sam Peates, Sue Sandford and Susan Maguire are working on the project and it is hoped to have the booklet available before the end of 2016.

Tidmore Pool

The effort to resolve the ownership of Tidmore Pool the issue has become more protracted over the past year because the owners of the adjacent plot have moved their fence closer to the edge of the pond. This has restricted the access to one side of the pond and limited the area to work in when removing silt etc from the pond and generally trying to improve the habitat from a conservation point of view. The Chairman of the Parish Council has agreed to take the issue up with the owners but no progress has been made with getting the fence moved back to its original boundary.

Thames Water Land

At the end of October Thames Water signed a licence with Woodcote Parish Council to enable the WCG to manage the Thames Water land that abuts onto the Greenmoor Ponds site. This increases significantly the area available for conservation around the Greenmoor Ponds and it is hoped that this will help facilitate other organisations like schools to set up their own conservation projects using the land that has now been made available by Thames Water.

Publicity

The WCG website (www.woodcotecg.org.uk) continues to be a useful way for members to find out about Group activities and for the Group to advertise its presence beyond the local community, however, as reported at the last AGM, work is still required to update and refresh the content of the website The Group’s column in the Woodcote Correspondent is the main means of publicity to village residents. The Committee has continued to use the column to highlight the Group’s activities and to write about conservation issues generally but over the past year the Group has not been as consistent as in the past in writing acticles for every issue. Rather than relying solely on Committee members to produce articles if the wider membership has a conservation issue they would like to publicise then they could submit an article to the Committee for consideration.

For first time the Committee decided to have a stall at the Woodcote Festival as another way of raising the profile of the Group with the wider village community. It also enabled the Group to raise over £80 and to attract three new household memberships. The Committee’s thanks go to Sam Peates, who has generously donated to the WCG all the money raised by selling the Woodcote Walks booklets. Another new initiative that helps publicise the Group and raise funds is running a Saturday morning Community Centre Coffee shop. Thanks to everyone who supported the event in October by baking cakes and helping to run the Coffee Shop on the day itself, This event raised just over a £100 which was quite a good effort considering is was held at half term. The Group will be running another Coffee shop on Oct 8th next year.

Woodcote Neighbourhood Plan

Following the donation of land between Long Toll and Green Lane by Millgate Homes the Parish Council has set up a working party to look into what use the land could be put to. The WCG representative on the working party is Karen Woolley.

The WCG Committee made a submission to SODC Planning Dept objecting to the Planning Application for the Old Reservoir Site (P15/S2685/FUL – 41), because it takes no account of the requirements laid down in section HS5 of the Woodcote Neighbourhood Plan. These requirements endeavouring to protect the water supply to the Greenmoor Ponds both during the construction phase and in the future by use covenants were included in the Neighbourhood Plan at the request of WCG Committee.

Woodcote – Low Carbon Village Iniative

At the last WCG Committee Meeting Bob Lewin and Pete Sudbury, on behalf on the Parish Council, asked whether the WCG would consider taking the lead on an initiative to make Woodcote a low carbon village. Their proposal was favourably received by the Committee and following on from the meeting, Pete Sudbury and Liam Woolley met with Moira Dorey (Oxford Brookes University) who manages the Enrich Programme, on behalf of TOE2. The Enrich Programme looks to improve energy efficiency and carbon reduction in local communities through working with the community building committees, parish councils, and environment groups. One of her recommendations was that Woodcote set up a Community Action Group (CAG). Health and Safety

The Woodcote Conservation Group has maintained a good standard of H&S during the past year. No accidents or H&S incidents have been reported on any of the WCG events during the past year. Funding Outside funding since the last AGM has continued to come from the Parish Council. The Committee is very grateful to their ongoing support, and in particular the Council’s latest commitment to contribute up to £500 towards the cost of producing a management plan for the Thames Water site. The Committee is also grateful to the membership for their subscriptions and support. Membership The Group’s current membership has increased this year and now there are in total just over a hundred individual members and family memberships. The Committee One member of the Group, Richard Hart, has volunteered to stand for election along with the other Committee members at the 2015 AGM. There are still vacancies on the Committee, so if any other member would like to be considered then please do not hesitate to put your name forward for consideration.

Liam Woolley Chairman, WCG On behalf of the Committee, November 2015