News July 2015

We had a beautiful evening for our first verge walk of the season and identified some 50 species on the verge on the minor road we surveyed just north of Caw Gap.

The National Pollinator Strategy for England, published earlier this year, recognises the valuable role of verges as a resource for pollinators and, as part of this strategy the Highways Agency have committed to restore and enhance 3,500 ha of verges by 2021.

However there is little evidence of enlightened verge management on some of the major roads in our area.
The Hexham Courant has recently published a couple of letters from residents concerned about early-season cutting and STS has been contacted by members who have witnessed weed-spraying and mowing on roadsides known for their display of orchids.

STS would like to hear from anyone who notices inappropriate verge management and we'll use this information, together with data collected on our verge walks, to challenge our Council and highways managers to conform to their own policies which, in line with the Countryside and Rights Of Way Act of 2000, require public bodies to show regard to conserving biodiversity in all their actions. (Contact Also, please consider signing Plantlife's nationally coordinated petition calling on individual local authorities to manage verges for the benefit of nature:

Our second verge walk is on Tues 7th July at 7pm. Meet in Allen Banks car park. Short drive to start. Grid ref: 798641.
We'll walk along Ward Way. All welcome, free of charge.
Lesley Silvera and Libby Scott will help us identify flowers so no botanical knowledge required!

Our final walk this year will be on Tues 4th August at 7pm: Haresby Lonnen. Meet at road/ lane junction at western end of Haresby Lonnen. Grid ref: 790661.

Scale of Sustainability
Our Scale of Sustainability season of films finished with the delightful 'We the Tiny House People' screened to an appreciative audience at Burnlaw in Whitfield. Most, but not all, of the tiny house dwellers featured in the film were single people living in urban areas. Some of the very rural Burnlaw community members live in normal sized stone houses but others, including families, live in smaller alternative structures. Living in a confined space in an impermanent structure poses special problems in our northern climes but, nationally, it's planning regulations that most frequently prevent 'little house' dreams being realised.

The Land is Ours (TLIO, ) campaigns peacefully for access to land, its resources, and the decision-making processes affecting them.
The campaign publishes an occasional magazine, The Land, written by and for people who believe that the roots of justice, freedom, social security and democracy lie not so much in access to money, or to the ballot box, as in access to land, and thus to energy, water, nourishment, shelter, healing, wisdom, ancestors and a grave!
TLIO also has its own planning office, Chapter 7, which offers free planning advice for smallholders, caravan dwellers, and other low impact and low income people with planning problems. They have an extensive library of planning law and policy documents, appeal decisions and case law and publish their own DIY planning handbook. Phone: 01297 561359

Flatpack Democracy

The independent councillors of Frome outdid the Scottish Nationalists on election day in May. All 17 of the seats on the council of this North Somerset town (population 25,000) were won by Independents for Frome (ifF) candidates who swept away party political allegiances - of all hues - in favour localism and a new sort of Do-It-Yourself, or flatpack, democracy. The impetus for ifF grew out of a frustration with the inertia of traditional party political local government, coupled with an understanding of the opportunities offered by the Localism Bill, and the realisation that the town had no local response to the threat of climate change. Independent councillors first took control in Frome in 2010 and, since then, have given game-changing help to the local credit union, participated in a new renewable energy cooperative and put money into the setting up of a new "share shop" - as far as anyone knows, the first one in the UK, from which people can borrow everything from drills and gardening tools to children's toys.

Don't forget: STS bowl is the prize for the most points in the veggie classes at Gilsland Show on 2nd August. Schedule and details

South Tyne Sustainability aims to reduce the impact of the community of Haltwhistle and surrounding villages on our environment. This will help individuals, families and our community save money and resources and ensure a more sustainable future for us all.

To join STS contact Sue Seymour, 016977 47359