It surrounds us, it is a prevalent conversation more than ever, but what does the Environment mean to you?
As you can imagine, the breadth of the topic 'Environment' is eternal which makes it an important element of the Neighbourhood Plan. As part of the development process, we will need to highlight and focus on the diverse and stunning environment that makes Mawgan-in Pydar special.
Check out some blog posts below telling you more of what we have within our Neighbourhood!
BLOG: SUSTAINABILITY AND THE NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
Written by Kate Geall
The Neighbourhood Plan is about the community of Mawgan-in-Pydar coming together to discuss what we want to keep and what we want to change about the area, so that Cornwall Council knows our wishes when it makes decisions about our future. In the absence of a plan, local interests are not always protected.
Most of us think of sustainability in relationship to the global green agenda and managing the environmental impact of human activity, such as building practices and design. It goes beyond domestic heating technology, avoiding plastic bags and beach cleaning.
Sustainability links into global questions that many of us find uncomfortable: What are we supposed to do? Can we afford it? Isn’t this a question for the experts? Have we left it too late? etc.
It can all get a bit political, and we will probably find it hard to agree what is important and what this community should and could do, if it decided it wanted to. As a member of the Neighbourhood Plan Group, I am hoping to highlight some aspects of the topic so we can start a discussion at a local level.
Essentially sustainability is about identifying what we need and want now, in order to protect what we have for future generations. It applies to everything; so we have somehow got to narrow this down to a short list of really important points that capture the essential concerns of people living, working and staying here.
Fortunately government and local government have already written policies that the Neighbourhood Plan has to sit inside, such as where the flood plains are, building regulations, planning law, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
If I were to arrive in St Mawgan in Pydar with new eyes in 20 years time the things I hope to see are:
Historic buildings, particularly older housing, which tell me of the area’s long and ancient past. Could they be vulnerable if we do not find a way to better heat and insulate them. Might they have to be abandoned like the pound house in the Community Orchard?
Local businesses, which feed and trade and employ us. Are they free to operate without constraints, or should there be other considerations? Should we think about transport so that outsiders can continue to work here and contribute to meeting our needs? Do we need to think about housing so we are staffed sufficiently for business and farming.
A community that welcomes me. Since I came to live here the best thing has been a diverse group of kind and friendly locals. Although I am nearly retired I was attracted to the area because there is a village school. There are young families in the village, babies are expected and there are children here to smile at me. Perhaps my own children could live here to enjoy the beach and the countryside and make a home for their children too?
The things I most want to see is green farmland producing food with surplus to sell; the crashing waves, golden sands and rugged cliffs of Mawgan Porth; and a beautiful river valley for me to live in. More importantly I would like to see a beautiful valley for all the creatures we depend on to keep this a healthy home for humans. Yes, that includes the rooks and the horseflies!
Many different interests are involved in creating a Neighbourhood Plan, such as residents, holiday-makers, food suppliers, schools, religious organisations, businesses. We need everyone to contribute by answering questionnaires and getting involved with the planning group or events arranged for discussing this. What would be on your list? I hope you have something to say.
Flora and fauna can be rescued by Neighbourhood Plan
Written by Helen John
A biologist observing over a three-day period from the edge of the land last summer noted 21 species of wildflowers including ramping furnitory that is endemic to Cornwall but becoming increasingly vulnerable. Particularly exciting were the 9 species of butterflies and moths including the Wall Brown butterfly which is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act. She described the land as “a precious area of wilderness in an increasingly developed space.”
However, just a few weeks after the survey was completed, the landowner sent in a digger. As the driver was tearing up the foliage, a group of locals confronted him before he could finish. Some of the trees and shrubs were saved and once again the land is starting to regenerate. It is nowhere near the lush dense green space, rich with bird song and insect life, but it is no longer a brown and depressing wasteland and if allowed, should recover within the next few years.
This might just be the story of one small plot but if green spaces are being dug up without checks and balances the impact on biodiversity will be devastating. The land in question was one of several plots identified by the Restormel Local Plan as an Area of Special Character and as such afforded a protected status enabling planners to reject two planning applications for the site. There is currently no Neighbourhood Plan but plans are afoot to create a new one. The community can determine which plots of land are too environmentally precious to be built upon.
It is not just building on new plots that is problematic but the wholesale erosion of green spaces as homeowners extend their properties to the very boundaries of their land. Big plots with small houses are turning into mansions with small gardens. Neighbourhood Plans can place limits to the extent of redevelopment thereby protecting the rapidly diminishing flora and fauna.
The State of Nature Cornwall Report (2020) observes that 5% of breeding birds, 24% of mammals and 21% of butterflies are vulnerable or endangered. Additionally, 51% of Cornwall’s native plant species have declined since 1999. While there are many reasons for this across the county, the erosion of green spaces is evidently a threat to biodiversity within the parish. We can intervene with an effective and carefully considered Neighbourhood Plan.
In recent years it had been a joy to see the plot of land near to us in Mawgan Porth, come back to life with a rich green foliage providing the perfect habitat for a myriad of birds, butterflies and mammals. Bought by a developer, ten years ago the green space had been razed to the ground and pegged out for a potential development for one or more houses. As planning applications were rejected, a barren wasteland had effectively rewilded itself spectacularly.
In responses to the Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire about housing development in the parish people were concerned about damage to the environment and the landscape in both rural and coastal areas of the parish.
The natural environment supports many different forms of plant and animal life, whether in hedges, trees, fields or gardens. So we need to make sure of support for all the many different plants and animal life, whether it's birds nesting in hedges and trees and on the ground in fields, or seagulls dancing on the garden lawn to draw the worms up to the surface to eat (they can’t do that with plastic grass!). When a green wild area, garden or lawn is replaced by concrete, tarmac or plastic grass they become barren areas for anything that grows and every bit of wildlife. Then there is nowhere to absorb the rain when it falls – as it has rather a lot recently! It will run off into the already overflowing street drains. We all need green spaces around our buildings to support nature.
Our local natural environment shows how just one oak tree that is a hundred years old supports every bit of wildlife, thousands of living flora and fauna, from tiny bacteria to large badgers. The roots of the tree provide information about nutrition, water and ground type because of where and how they grow. The soil carries all the roots so the good or bad growing information can be shared where the roots from each plant engage with other. Underground fungi join various roots to pass physical support to each other. The plants that grow provide food for the thousands of living things that exist both above and below ground. Remove or destroy the old living tree and the whole area will take many, many years to recover.
Our Neighbourhood Plan needs to consider the whole Mawgan in Pydar area to ensure we keep the balance for the whole environment so all living things – plants, invertebrates and animals, including humans, are fed and healthy. There will need to
be development, but it must respect and not destroy the other natural life forms in the natural environment.
We are lucky to have such an amazing beach at Mawgan Porth, with room for everyone to enjoy the beach experience they want.
Indeed, over 85% of the respondents to our Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire said they visited the beach daily. The sandy beach provides space for everyone to engage in beach activities, whether that be sunbathing, ball games or building sandcastles. Having fun in the sea was popular in the questionnaire responses, people enjoy surfing the waves safely or paddling in the shallows, between the flags set by the ever watchful RNLI lifeguards for most of the year. It’s a dog-friendly beach with space for dogs to run
and play which was also reflected in the questionnaire responses.
So many people enjoy what the beach has to offer, but sadly not everyone remembers to leave only their footprints and their thanks. As the tide comes in the sea sorts all the debris, both natural and human, by mixing it into the sand or moving it into the eddies and pools and piles, amongst the scattered rocks across the whole beach. The stormy waves throw the leftovers of every sort against cliff and path and dune, weathering and breaking the environment. As the sun comes out, the tide retires down the beach leaving the broken pieces of land and litter highlighted on the reshaped sand. The beach walk and child play is now amidst debris ranging through plastic from tiny nurdles, single use barbeques, paper food wrapping and dog poo, to fisherman’s
boat nets. The cleanliness of the beach was very highly rated in the questionnaire responses, so it is important to all of us to keep the beach clean. Fortunately, the Parish Council have high standards and employ a hard-working team, who are prepared to do whatever is needed, whenever it must be done. So the beach that is important to us all is kept just how we need it, when any of the many users want to be there. The costs for this are paid by the Parish Council, but they rely on annual donations from local businesses to share the cost.
In the past this has worked well. Every business gave an annual amount to maintain the level of cleanliness of the beach that they would expect for their clients. This year though, donations are down, maybe some of the businesses have changed hands and the information was not passed on, maybe it has just been overlooked, or maybe rising costs have led to budgets being trimmed,
but those donations are really important.
The ethos provided by the whole environment of our Parish Council area is one of the most important foundations for the Mawgan in Pydar Neighbourhood Plan. Please help us to keep it by contacting the Parish Clerk with your donations if you have yet not done so for 2023: