Welcome to the website of the Save the Vale Association, a group of volunteers based in the Blackmore Vale, in the South West of England, whose primary objective is the preservation and conservation of the region’s natural beauty, the baobab tree of life and natural environment.

Our association is not opposed to all development in the area, but closely monitors planning applications for inappropriate industrial developments.

Some of the issues we are currently involved in are:

Henstridge The Airfield Master Plan was finally approved earlier this year by South Somerset District Council. A major feature of the Plan is that the owner of the Airfield will not proceed with his proposal for a vehicle de-pollution centre, which would have generated a huge number of heavy lorry movements. The Plan is regarded as a qualified success by local parishes and Save the Vale, which have been involved in months of negotiation - it is not all we had hoped for, but is the best possible compromise. Save the Vale has also supported plans by Green Spirit Fuels to develop its bioethanol plant on the airfield, using locally grown wheat to produce this environmentally friendly fuel and, as a by-product, non GM cattle feed for local farmers. This will replace the more expensive GM feeds imported from North America.

Calf Rearing Unit Boyes Transport, who currently operate a heavy vehicle transport business in Stoke Trister, have been granted planning permission for a ‘calf rearing unit’ on the outskirts of Buckhorn Weston. Save the Vale opposed this development on the grounds that it would result in a significant increase in heavy vehicle movement on the narrow lanes in the area. We will now monitor the development and take further action if our fears are justified.

Sandley Stud A modified planning proposal has been accepted by North Dorset District Council. Save the Vale did not object to this proposal. The predicted increase in heavy vehicle movement through Quarr has not happened despite two breeding seasons having taken place. A watchful eye will be kept on this and, if necessary, a report sent to the Council.

Masha Estates The Masha website claims that more than 80 sites have now been sold on their field between Wincanton and Buckhorn Weston at an average price of £6000. However, following representations from Save the Vale, SSDC has applied for ‘Article 4’ restrictions. This effectively prevents, with immediate effect, any development on the site.

Somerset Wind Energy Initiative SCC has recently launched this initiative to investigate building wind turbines on Council owned land. However, the Press Release issued by the Council makes it clear that they favour the initiative. The ‘public consultation’ exercise is in fact intended to persuade people to accept the development. Save the Vale will examine the plans carefully and try to ensure that inappropriate development does not take place.

The Save the Vale AGM took place on Friday 20th October 2006 in the Arthur Morison Memorial Hall, Cucklington. We were delighted that more than 60 existing members and some new members attended. The minutes of the meeting are shown below.

  1. APOLOGIES. Apologies were received from Mr and Mrs D Willy, Mr C Holloway and Cllr D White.

  2. RESIGNATIONS.

  3. MINUTES of the meeting held on 16th September 2005. These were agreed and accepted.

  4. MATTERS ARISING. There were no matters arising that would not be dealt with under subsequent items.

  5. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT. The Chairman paid special tribute to those stalwart members who had been part of the original group formed to fight the plan to build inappropriately sited wind turbines. He welcomed new members and especially those who came to the meeting as a family and who were not living in Cucklington at the time of the opposition. The Chairman welcomed Malcolm Shepherd who is leading an important local project developing biofuel and also welcomed the presence of District Councillor Tim Carroll. He recalled that although our initial objection to the wind turbines had been based on fears for their impact on a much-loved landscape, there was also an instinctive feeling that the local population was being misled by the claims being made for their effectiveness and contribution to climate change. This was later borne out by scientific examination. He pointed out that Germany, Denmark and Spain all have increased greenhouse gas emission and have not closed a single power station although these countries are committed to wind powered energy. In England, not one single wind turbine has achieved the 30% load factor that has been promised. The Chairman stressed the importance of STVA in seeking to protect our environment and to have input to plans for local developments. Security of supply will be a key issue for the foreseeable future and the only secure long-term answer is likely to be nuclear power.

  6. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN’S REPORT. The Deputy Chairman reported that STVA is now a voice that is listened to at District Council level and encouraged members to bring concerns to the attention of the committee so that it can conduct enquiries and make representations at an early stage. He referred to SCC and its plan to install wind turbines on council owned agricultural land. He believed that the consultation was more about where to put them rather than whether. He paid tribute to Lachlan Fraser and his work on green lanes. The Association had less success with the Boyes calving unit at Buckhorn Weston and was keeping a watching brief on the Sandley Stud and its impact on the locality. Masha Estates have reportedly sold 85 plots of land at £6K each in the field they acquired near Wincanton. Tim Carroll said we need to continue to be vigilant in this matter if we are not to have another North Curry on our hands, and asked all present to stay alert.

  7. TREASURER’S REPORT. The Treasurer reported that the £5K received from the Polygon Trust was to be treated as a reserve to fight any future battles. It is not to be used for day to day expenses. The accounts had been audited and showed income of 677.25 and expenditure of 374.13.

  8. SECRETARY’S REPORT. The Secretary noted that the renewal of annual memberships had been a priority to ensure that we retained existing members and also recruited new ones; a plea was made for those members on an annual subscription to consider moving to standing order. North Dorset issues remain part of the Secretary’s brief and although Henstridge Airfield was not currently an issue for the Association, it was up to the membership to bring concerns to our attention. For example, it was discovered that there had been a small local group in Buckhorn Weston fighting the Boyes calving unit development. We could have assisted them had we known.

  9. ELECTIONS. The following officers were elected unopposed: Chairman - Campbell Dunford; Deputy Chairman - Brian Trueman; Treasurer - Tony Watson; Secretary: Dee Worlock. The following Committee Members were elected unopposed: Alex Gibbs, Lachlan Fraser, Stephen Harrison, Christopher Holloway, Karen Dunford, Charlotte Cannon, Angela Cherrett.

Malcolm Shepherd, Managing Director of Green Spirit Fuels based at

Henstridge, then gave a very interesting talk on the production and use of bioethanol and wood burners; he also covered the financial backing needed to develop the Henstridge operation and others being planned at Humberside and other sites. He spoke favourably of efforts by SSDC to use vehicles adapted to run on bioethanol and noted that Morrisons sell the fuel locally. The issue of conflict between the need for grain for human consumption and grain for fuel was addressed. He believes that it can be demonstrated that there is still grain growing capacity in the world, and that supplies can be balanced to meet both needs. Mr Shepherd also believes that farming could show a natural resurgence with more crop growing and less need for set-aside. The type of wheat grown for fuel purposes requires lower fertility and less nitrogen and is therefore more eco friendly.

Mr Shepherd was thanked for giving his time to talk to the Association members and for the interesting and informative presentation.

Our thanks to Faraway Furniture Ltd for the kind donation Faraway Furniture Ltd

The evening closed with an informal supper which was enjoyed by the Association members and their guests.