How You Can Help The Battle To Protect Our Ash Trees

From the District Council website:

Chalara dieback of ash

Posted on 08 November 2012 by admin

What is the threat to the ash population in the District and in the UK?

Cherry Orchard Country ParkChalara dieback of ash is a disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called Chalara fraxinea. The disease causes leaf loss in affected trees, and can lead to tree death.

The Forestry Commission state that it is potentially a very serious threat. Experience of the outbreak in Europe indicates that it kills young ash trees very quickly, while older trees tend to resist it for some time until prolonged exposure causes them to succumb as well.

There is no evidence of any risk to humans or animals from Chalara fraxinea.

Reporting suspected cases

The Council are carrying out inspections of trees that may be affected, particularly young trees in Cherry Orchard Jubilee Country Park, however, if you notice the disease on any trees on Council land or on any tree with a Tree Preservation Order please contact the Customer Services on 01702 318111.

Otherwise please click on the below link to the Forestry Commission website which has a video on how to recognise the disease and a contact number 08459 33 55 77 (open 8am – 6pm every day) to ring to report cases:

Further information

How you can stop the spread of Chalara fraxinea :

We do ask that if you are visiting an area of trees, please take some simple precautions:

  • do not remove any plant material (firewood, sticks, leaves or cuttings)
  • where possible, before leaving the area , clean soil, mud, leaves and other plant material from footwear, clothing, dogs, horses, the wheels and tyres of bicycles, baby buggies, carriages and other vehicles, and remove any leaves which are sticking to your car
  • before visiting other countryside sites, parks, garden centres and nurseries, thoroughly wash footwear, wheels and tyres in soapy water


There are ash trees in Hockley Woods, but thankfully there are plenty of other trees as well. There are also some ash in Kingley Wood.

First Ship To Wallasea Island On The 20th

The first shipload of earth from the London Crossrail project is due to arrive at Wallasea Island on August 20th.

It’s part of a very important conservation project.

Why is the earth needed? The RSPB website explains here:

The island is on average 2 metres below sealevel, having eroded over the years of intensive farm activity, so in order to restore the old marshland the landscape must be built up in carefully planned, natural levels gently sloping up to the new seawall bunds which will eventually provide extensive foot and cycle path access to many areas of the island.
Crossrail’s first ship will arrive on Monday August 20th, when the unloading facility – the pontoon which arrived at Easter and the 800 metre conveyor belt which has been under construction since last Autumn – will be tested and seen in action for the very first time.

Join In The Big Butterfly Count !

The Guardian explains things pretty well here:

If this summer’s 50 shades of grey are getting you down, imagine how miserable it is to be a winged insect. In what is shaping up to be the worst year on record for butterflies, Sir David Attenborough on Wednesday urged people to find a window of sunshine and join the biggest butterfly count in the world.
The wettest April for a century and the dampest June on record has left lepidopterists despairing about the fate of Britain’s 59 species, almost three quarters of which are in decline and one third are in danger of extinction.
Launching the third year of Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count, the biggest citizen science project of its kind in the world, Attenborough said it was more important than ever to discover if butterflies are dodging the downpour. The count, in which people are asked to record online all the common species they spot in a 15-minute window in their garden or local park, will alert conservationists to the species most in danger so efforts can be better targeted to prevent their extinction.

You can find out more on the Big Butterfly Count website.

You simply download and print their identification chart and spend 15 minutes when its sunny noting what butterflies you see.

You could do this in a garden, or park or field, or one of our woods. You can then submit your findings, and they go onto an interactive map:

A couple of thoughts :

  • Our district doesn’t have any results yet on the map
  • This is a reminder of how important wildflower meadows are in places like Sweyne Park.
  • Bumps On the Roof Of Our Cars?

    Nissan with bumps on roof.

    If you drive on roads like the A13 you’ll find quite a few drivers are sticking to 50 mph and cruise control to save fuel.

    Here’s another idea (no guarantees that it works!)

    We found a new article on the Pacific Standard website that’s quiet intriguing.

    It’s about a Californian deep-sea diver and inventor who’s looked at the tiny bumps on whales. He reckons that if you put the same type of bumps on car roofs you improve the aerodynamics and save on fuel:

    The pods—spaced four inches apart and located 10 inches from the lip of the roof—reduced aerodynamic drag by 5 percent when a two-door VW Golf was driven at 65 miles per hour….

    The pods come in loud flashy colors. Some can be permanently glued to the roof. A more expensive model attaches via magnets. Prices currently range from $60 to $100, but those, Evans said, will come down to reflect how much a driver might save in a couple of months.
    Aside from the monetary relief, Evans said the pods offer drivers the opportunity do something about climate change.
    “People don’t want to be told what to do; they want to do it themselves.”

    The sellers of these bumps have a website here.

    Does anybody fancy being a pioneer? Should County Highways invest in a set and see if they work?

    A LOT of Solar Panels

    There’s a planning application in at the moment to install 109 solar panels on the roof of Philpot House in Rayleigh (the offfice building opposite Rayleigh Station). Officers are recommending approval:

    The building is at the bottom of a hill therefore it would be possible for the panels to be viewed from some of the properties located further up the hill, particularly no.’s 2 – 8 Mount Close whose first floor windows on the rear elevation look towards this building. It is also possible that some properties in Castle Drive and Crown Hill could see the roof area of this building but they would benefit from more of an angled view. As the properties in Mount Close already look onto the flat roof area of Philpot House it is not considered that the panels would provide a more detrimental outlook than the present view.
    The agent has advised that the panels would be angled to the south (which does not correspond with the roof plan submitted which suggests that they would either be angled to the east or west). The agent has also advised that the panels should not reflect light to any great degree as they will be coated with a material to reduce reflection and by their nature are designed so that they absorb light. On this basis it is not considered that the panels would have a detrimental impact on local residents in terms of glare. However, it is considered necessary to impose a planning condition requiring a new plan to be supplied showing the precise positioning of the panels on the roof and their angle.

    By coincidence, there’s another application up for consideration this week involving solar energy. It’s at Church Hall Farm, Pagelsham ,for a grain store with solar panels on the roof.It’s also recommended for approval. You can find both applications here (154 kb)

    Beware Of Bogus People Trying To Sell You Insulation

    There’s a warning on the District Council website:

    Residents in the Rochford District are being warned to be on their guard after reports that a company has been cold-calling people in the area posing as council officials and trying to sell loft and cavity wall insulation.
    The Council has received reports that a company has been cold-calling residents on the telephone and saying they are from the Council’s grants department.
    The Council would like to make it clear that its officers would never, under any circumstances, cold call residents to try and sell them anything.

    We know that Cllr Jo Mcpherson, the Cabinet Member for Community Safety, is particularly concerned about this, and we are happy to repeat the warning on onlineFOCUS.

    As she says:

    “If residents receive a telephone call from anyone saying they are from the Council they can check their credentials very easily. You can take their name, the department they say they work for and ask to ring them back.
    Then telephone the switchboard on and ask to be put through to them or their department.”

    Now, That’s A Lot Of Solar Panels

    Council officers are recommending planning approval for a big array of solar panels at Oldbury Farm, Southend Road, Great Wakering.

    You can download the full report here (104kb) but here’s an extract:

    Location :
    Oldbury Farm Southend Road Great Wakering
    Proposal :
    Ground Works to Cut Away Section of Reservoir Bank and Installation of Ground Mounted 76m Long Array of Photovoltaic Panels.
    Planning permission is sought for the erection of a ground mounted array of solar panels on the side of an existing reservoir at the Oldbury Farm complex.
    The site is located on the outskirts of Great Wakering some 600m due West of the village edge and approximately the same distance from the built up edge of Southend which lies to the South. The site is immediately bordered by open agricultural fields. The site and area surrounding the site is flat and rural in character and appearance with the site immediately bounded by open agricultural fields with sporadic residential and farm complex developments in the wider surrounding area….
    ….. Each photovoltaic panel would be approximately 1.62m by 0.99m with a depth of 46mm. The panels would be supported on a mounting frame at a lower height of 66cm and an upper height of 2.25m such that the solar panels would be supported at a 30 degree angle.

    A Really Good Garden Idea ?

    With the price of food going up , more people want to grow their own vegetables and fruit. But a lot of modern gardens are really too small for this, and there’s often a waiting list to rent an allotment.

    On the other hand , some people have a big garden but are either too frail – or too busy – to make the most of it.

    So an idea in the Guardian last week seems rather a good one. It’s to have schemes that help garden-owners and frustrated vegetable growers get together, and share the produce:

    “I grow as much at home as I can to try to save money on food bills, but we live in a flat so it’s mainly herbs and salad leaves in window boxes. When I heard about this scheme I was really interested. I had an interview about the kind of growing I wanted to do and got matched up. It’s worked so well.”
    The garden was initially overgrown; the owner was too busy with work commitments to look after it. They now share the planting and watering with two other women and divide the produce, which includes peas, beans, radishes, beetroot, potatoes, rocket, spinach and carrots.
    “I didn’t know much about gardening but I did a lot of research online and picked it up as I went along,” Gloster says. “Things like salad leaves and sweetcorn can be quite expensive, so we make a good saving there. And I keep or swap seeds for the following year to keep costs down.”

    There’s a number of schemes operating. One is a national website called Landshare which is worth a look. But there are also some local schemes in different places – the Guardian article mentions Edinburgh, Totnes and Brighton.

    Should we be thinking about having a similar scheme in our area? Or is there one already?

    A Dimmer Future….

    As the Echo explains here:

    This week Essex County Council decided it would push ahead with plans to turn off 70 per cent of the county’s street lights between midnight and 5am, saving £14million in electricity bills and cutting carbon emissions Lights in town centres and at major junctions will stay on.
    The lights will stay on in the Thurrock and Southend areas, which come under unitary authorities…..

    It will save energy, in the medium and long term it will save money, and it will allow us to see more of the night sky (which can be something beautiful).

    On the debit side, people will be concerned about more crime….

    In response to this, Tory County Councillor (from Rochford) Tracey Chapman was quoted as saying:

    The woman behind the proposals, Tracey Chapman, Essex County Council’s Tory councillor responsible for street lights, said people’s fears were unfounded.
    She said a trial of part-time lighting in Uttlesford and Maldon had seen crime fall during the light switch-off.
    In Maldon, offences between 11.30pm and 5.30am dropped by 14 per cent, while offences dropped by 12.6 per cent in Uttlesford.
    Mrs Chapman, who announced the proposals at County Hall, said: “Many people are worried about crime statistics going up, but we have seen from the trials we have had in Maldon and Uttlesford that crime statistics did not jump. I hope having these trials already will put people at ease.

    This looks like being a talking point for quite a long time, with mixed views cutting across party lines….

    Bees And The Future- And Sainsbury’s

    Sometimes the issues that people talk to you about on the doorstep don’t fit neatly under a political label.

    And one issue that is cropping up is the decline in the bee population.

    Here’s an interesting post from South London Lib Dem David Boyle, particularly where he says:

    I took this up with an important looking manager in my local Sainsbury’s in Crystal Palace this morning, asking him – as I usually do – where the English honey was. Long search, and – sure enough – they don’t stock it.
    But he did tell me that every Sainsbury’s store within the M25 will soon have its own hive, and that did take me aback. It’s difficult for me to say anything good about the supermarket giants, but I thought this was rather far-sighted. The next stage is to get them to have more than one, and make their own honey locally.

    Airport Expansion Given The OK For Takeoff

    As the BBC reports:

    The government has approved plans for a runway extension at Southend Airport in Essex.

    Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government John Denham claimed the right to a final say on the extension earlier this year.

    He could have called for a public inquiry on the decision made by Southend Borough Council planners.

    But he has now told the council he is happy for the council to progress with the plans.

    Get A Thermal Image of Your Home

    One of the useful things about a snowfall is that you can look at your roof and see if the snow is melting. If it is, you have poor roof insulation.

    But instead of waiting for snow, you can now ask the District Council to bring their thermal camera to your home and take a picture. That gives you an indication of how well each part of your home is insulated.

    You can ask here for them to come. If you look at the comments at the bottom of the page, they already have one satisfied customer!