SHDC: Council Suspend Garden Waste Collection Until Spring

To avoid further significant disruption to South Hams District Council’s refuse and recycling service, the Executive Committee have today reluctantly agreed to continue the suspension of the garden waste collections until spring 2022.

Council officers have explored a wide range of options to find possible ways to restore the garden waste service to all residents. Unfortunately, due to driver shortages, the Council and their contractor, FCC Environment, are unable to reinstate the service until Spring 2022; otherwise, this could significantly impact the waste, recycling and clinical collections that the Council legally has to provide.

Officers have also approached other organisations to help with a one-off collection ahead of the winter but this has not been possible because of the operational challenges others are also facing as well as the national driver shortages.

The Council are extremely regretful that the suspension at short notice caused disruption for their residents who may have had outstanding green waste to be collected. A shortage of drivers in August due to the national HGV driver issues and staff sickness meant the Council, together with FCC Environment, had to make the tough decision to prioritise the general refuse and recycling and clinical collections.

South Hams is not alone with experiencing significant delays due to the HGV driver shortages, experienced both nationally and across all business sectors. Locally, there have been challenges, which were highlighted by FCC Environment to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday 13 October.

FCC Environment explained that they currently have 27% of unfilled HGV/LGV vacancies, which continue to affect refuse and recycling collections. Council officers are looking at greener ways to support residents to recycle their garden waste and will report back to Executive in December.

South Hams District Council remains the only council in Devon to provide a completely free of charge. The collection of garden waste is a non-statutory service, which means it is not one that the Council has to provide.

Cllr Keith Baldry, Executive Member for Environment, said: “We haven’t had a great set of options available to choose from, and we have chosen the best of the group.

“I greatly regret that we have to suspend the garden waste service but the alternatives available would mean further disruption for our communities with impacts to their waste and recycling collections, which we’re doing our very best to improve upon.

“Officers have worked tirelessly, doing everything in their power to try and find a resolution and I’d like to thank and congratulate them for their hard work. They’ve been contacting neighbouring local authorities and private waste companies to see if they can provide us with help to collect a one-off garden waste collection. Unfortunately, all came back with a resounding no, due to their own driver shortages and backlogs.

“I regret that we did not have time to write to all residents in August when we first suspended our service. We learnt from our mistake and this time, we will be writing a letter to every resident explaining the situation and offering our apologies.

“I’d like to thank you, our residents, for your continued patience, we know it has been difficult, but please bear with us. I am proud of the relatively high recycling rates in South Hams and I want them to get better, not worse. In the meantime, please continue to home compost or take your garden waste to recycling centres.”

So, how do you get rid of your green waste?

Please do not burn your garden waste. The Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service firmly advises against having bonfires, given the risks of fires spreading, the likely nuisance for neighbours and the potential diversion of emergency services. You can find out more here: www.dsfire.gov.uk/YourSafety/SafetyInTheHome/Bonfires

SHDC – Overwhelming Public Support for Council’s Rewilding Plans

Overwhelming Public Support for Council’s Rewilding Plans

A recent consultation held by South Hams District Council, has had overwhelming public support for its plans to increase biodiversity and wildlife value by at least 10%. The proposals to rewild some of the 50 hectares (Ha) of council-owned land are part of the Council’s commitment to stop biodiversity loss.

A report of the findings will be heard at Executive on Thursday 14 October.

The Council had a huge response to the consultation with over 1,000 respondents, with almost all replying positively (97%) in favour of improving biodiversity in the District.

A large proportion of replies (90%) were also happy with proposals to relax grass-cutting regimes, leaving areas of long grass along the verges and edges of parks, as well as introducing planting of new areas of wildflowers.

These proposals would mean 10Ha land of wilder green space, 3.5Ha of wildflower areas and 3.5Ha of new tree planting. These small rewilding areas could support pollinators, along with a range of diverse wildlife such as reptiles, amphibians, birds, small mammals, and bats.

There was also a range of varied and excellent suggestions from the public to incorporate into proposals as they evolve.

Executive Member for Climate Change and Biodiversity, Cllr Tom Holway, said: "I’m delighted that so many people have engaged with this consultation because it’s such an important issue. Rewilding is a great way to make a big difference to biodiversity at a local level, even with the small amount of land that we’re talking about.

"There is still lots to plan and put into place, but with public support, we’re well on our way. It’s very exciting to think how these habitats will change and grow for the benefit of numerous types of wildlife.

“It would be wonderful if residents also embraced the rewilding idea in parts of their gardens too to really make the biggest possible impact to the District. We can all do our bit if we ensure less frequent grass cutting, more wildflower planting and, where we can, allocate some space to pond areas in our gardens, this will all help to support insect populations and absorb carbon from the air.”

Now that the consultation has returned a favourable response to the idea of rewilding, a proposals green ‘grass’ site map will be created using the Council’s Interactive Map feature. Further consulting with councillors, Town and Parish Councils over the specific detail of proposals will then take place to ensure the approach fits with the aspirations of local residents and to assess their impact within each community.

The full report can be found here: www.southhams.gov.uk/Executive

A further report will come back to committee in January with the next steps.

To read more about South Hams District Council's Climate Change Declaration, visit: www.climatechange.southhams.gov.uk

How do you feel about Rewilding?

Many Town, Parish and District Councils around the country are turning to a concept called rewilding, letting some green and grassy areas return to a more natural state.  The aim for many of these Councils is to increase the amount of biodiversity and wildlife locally.

As a District Council, South Hams currently manages about 50 hectares of green space which is cut every couple of weeks.

Today, the Council are launching a consultation to explore what the public thinks about the Council enabling rewilding on a small proportion of this land. (10Ha for a biodiversity led approach, and 3.5Ha for wildflower meadows).

In 2019 South Hams District Council declared a Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency.

Across the UK, many habitats which are important for supporting wildlife have already been lost. For example, 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost since the 1930s, with a knock on impact on the species which rely on these habitats.

The abundance of habitat specialist butterflies has declined by 68% since 1976 for example.

As part of their declaration and to mitigate against such biodiversity loss, South Hams has said it aims to increase biodiversity on Council owned-land by at least 10% by 2025.

Creating and restoring more biodiverse green spaces and enabling rewilding of some Council owned land, could help the Council reach its biodiversity targets and significantly improve conditions for local wildlife.

This consultation is proposing an approach which could see the Council proactively manage 10Ha land as wilder green space, 3.5Ha of land as wildflower areas, and 3.5Ha of new tree planting. This could support pollinators, as well as wildlife such as reptiles, small mammals, amphibians, birds and even bats.

Cllr Tom Holway, South Hams District Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change, said: “In 2019 we made a very important declaration, namely we declared a climate change and biodiversity emergency.  This means that we made a commitment to proactively do things that could halt the progress of climate change and biodiversity loss.

“This idea of rewilding is a great way for Councils to make a big difference locally.  In reality, South Hams actually owns a small proportion of the green spaces in the District, only around 50 hectares and we are proposing to do this on about 1/3 of that.

“However, I am excited about the difference this could make, and it would be wonderful to get local communities engaged in this process and for them to see these habitats change and grow over the coming year.

“This consultation is all about understanding what the public thinks about this idea and if they would be supportive of it in general terms.”

The Council recognises that some members of our community may be concerned about uncut grasses looking untidy or neglected.

However, the proposals suggest that the areas selected for rewilding would still be carefully managed, often with cut grass framing the area, paths cut through longer grass and clear signposting to show everyone which grassed areas are part of the scheme.

If the consultation returns a favourable response to the concept of rewilding some Council owned land in South Hams, a proposals map will be available in the autumn , and in some cases  there may be more site level consultation over the specific detail of proposals to ensure the approach fits with the aspirations of local residents.

Through this experience and the consultation, South Hams would also be able to support and offer advice to Town and Parish Councils who are also considering allocating space to rewilding.

For more information on the proposal and to have your say visit:

www.engagement.southhams.gov.uk/enhancingbiodiversity

Or to read more about South Hams District Council’s Climate Change Declaration, visit:

www.climatechange.southhams.gov.uk/climate-declaration

South Hams Recycling Update

Following a period of intense activity by South Hams District Council and the introduction of some temporary service changes, the number of collections being missed by the Council’s waste and recycling contractors FCC Environmental has dramatically reduced.

In the last few months, many residents in South Hams have experienced significant disruption to their recycling service, as the contractors tried to roll-out a new kerbside recycling service.

At the peak of the disruption in mid-May, the Council was receiving about 255 reports of collections been missed every day.

The good news is that by the end of last week, that number had dropped to about 64 missed collection reports per day. At the same time, the number of people phoning the contact centre had also reduced by approximately 36%.

Cllr Keith Baldry Executive Member for Recycling and Waste said: “Whilst it is clear from these statistics that there has been an improvement in performance, I think that there are still an unacceptable number of collections being missed.

“Our focus in the last few weeks has been to get everybody a collection on the day that they are meant to have a collection, although it was not the recycling service that we had promised.

“I am pleased the situation has improved but there is still more work to be done.

“The Executive has been very robust with FCC throughout this disruption.  They have now requested that FCC continue to deliver more significant and sustained improvements to reduce the number of missed collections further before we consider reinstating the full Devon Aligned kerbside collection service to all residents.”

South Hams District Council will continue to monitor the daily performance of the service.  The Executive continue to express to FCC that they must focus on the complex and repeat missed collection issues, as well as key priorities such as those households who need assisted collections.

FCC have committed to producing the next steps of their action plan on July 12th.

This will detail a plan for the systematic review of the existing rounds and a detailed plan to roll-out the Devon Aligned Kerbside Recycling Collection Service to all of the residents in the District.

These plans and any progress on them will be reviewed by Officers and the Lead Member and reported back to Council as soon as possible.

Pop-Up Campsites on Private Land: South Hams District Council Explain What Is and Isn’t Allowed

2021 is the year of the staycation, with record numbers of visitors predicted to head to the South Hams over the coming months.  With some local people expected to open up their land as pop-up camping sites, South Hams District Council has advice on what is and isn’t allowed.

A pop-up campsite is when a field or private land is temporarily used for a small number of tents. The Government has passed legislation to allow temporary, pop-up campsites to open for up to 56 days this year. That’s an increase on the usual 28 days. Pop-up campsites do not require planning permission but there are rules you have to take into consideration.

If you are thinking of opening up a pop-up campsite on your land, here’s what you need to know:

  1. You can only accept tents.
  2. You can only place temporary facilities on your land.
  3. Please try and cut the grass as short as you possibly can.
  4. Everything must be removed after 56 days.
  5. You'll need to provide portable toilets, a hand washing station and a supply of water.
  6. If you have a private water supply that has not been certified for commercial use you should provide potable bottled water for your visitors. If you intend temporarily extending a mains water supply you will need to check this is acceptable with South West Water waterregs@southwestwater.co.uk
  7. You may need to put down some mats in gateways if the weather is wet, and remove them after the camp site closes.
  8. You will need to consider how the rubbish from the site will be disposed of and arrange for this to be taken away by a licensed waste carrier.
  9. You need to risk assess your site which must bear relation to any relevant COVID restrictions. You will need to consider the risks on your land and how you can help campers to stay safe. Think about any information that you can provide for them via email or on a temporary notice board.
  10. You will need to manage behaviour of visitors to avoid unreasonable disturbance through loud music etc.
  11. You must display a COVID test and trace QR code which you can download from GOV.UK.
  12. It is your responsibility to keep yourself up-to-date with the very latest COVID guidance for the hospitality industry
  13. Insurance can usually be provided by the insurer who insures your land for public liability. There is usually an additional charge for this.

Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, South Hams District Council Lead Member for Environmental Health said:  “Last year saw an increase visitors sleeping under the stars in the South Hams in pop-up campsites. We’re expecting the same again this year, and hope it will again help to give our local businesses a much needed boost as we welcome more tourists to eat, drink, stay and shop in our area. However, it’s also important that anyone planning a pop-up campsite follows the rules, to help keep everyone safe and ensure no nuisance is caused.”

To find out more, please go to:  www.southhams.gov.uk/popup-campsite

- ENDS

SHDC – Housing Consultation

South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils are asking local people to share their thoughts on the most important issues for local housing.

These are challenging times for the South Hams and West Devon.  If 2020 has taught us anything, it is the importance of our homes and where we live. That is why the Councils want to hear local views on their proposed Housing Strategy 2021-2026. A seven-week consultation on the strategy launches today, 14 December 2020. Titled, Better Homes, Better Lives, it sets out a series of priorities around housing, which will help support the health and wellbeing of residents whilst recognising the unique qualities of the local area.

Many important local issues are highlighted in the plan. These include:

  • The need for quality, affordable housing
  • Access to the Disabled Facilities Grant to fund essential adaptations in homes and to promote independent living
  • The role housing planning can play in meeting climate change targets

This is your opportunity to help shape housing priorities for the future of our communities. Public feedback is vital to the success of the plan and will help the Councils to identify if any significant changes need to be made before it is formally adopted.

That is where the Councils need your help.  To make sure everyone has a chance to join the conversation, there are several ways to have your say.  Firstly, you can complete the online survey at www.westdevon.gov.uk/wd-housing-strategy or www.southhams.gov.uk/sh-housing-strategy This should only take a few minutes of your time. A series of super-quick 10-second polls will also run across the Councils’ Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds. These are designed to capture local views on some of the most important elements of the strategy. Please follow us on Twitter @SouthHamsDC or @WestDevon_BC, Facebook @southhamsdistrictcouncil @westdevonboroughcouncil or Instagram @south.hams or @westdevon.boroughcouncil and have your say. Alternative formats are also available on request.

Cllr Hilary Bastone, South Hams District Council Executive Member for Homes said:  “To make sure our plans truly meet local need, we now want our residents to join in the conversation. To make this easier for more people, we’ve got a choice of ways to have your say. We’ve got a short online survey that should only take a few minutes to complete. We’re also planning a series of mini-surveys on Facebook and Twitter. These make it simple to share your views and we hope they will encourage even more people to get involved. ”Cllr Debo Sellis, West Devon Borough Council Hub Lead for Homes added: “This strategy comes at a time of great uncertainty following a year of restrictions and lockdowns as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. A time when “home” took on a stronger meaning.

“As we move forward, it is important that we revisit our priorities and make commitments to change. That’s why we have called our strategy Better Homes, Better Lives. I urge everyone to spare just a few moments to have their voice heard. By telling us what is most important to you, we can deliver a plan that really will make a difference to our communities.”

The Housing Strategy focuses on six important themes:

Housing for Place

  • Ensuring sustainable housing growth
  • Promote balanced and sustainable communities
  • Ensuring that homes support the health and wellbeing of the area

Housing for People

  • Homes that support the health and wellbeing of our residents
  • Make the best use and improve quality of existing housing
  • Ensuring that people can access the support and advice they require

Both Councils have declared a climate emergency and greener initiatives that deliver on carbon reduction, green energy and improving homes in a sustainable way are key aspects of this strategy.

There are a number of ways to join the conversation and have your say about the proposed Housing Strategy.

You can read the Housing Strategy 2021-2026 here: www.southhams.gov.uk/housing-strategy or www.westdevon.gov.uk/housing-strategy

You can take part in the full consultation survey here: www.southhams.gov.uk/sh-housing-strategy or www.westdevon.gov.uk/wd-housing-strategy

To make it even easier for more people to get involved, the Councils will also be asking for feedback via social media. Please follow the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and look out for a series of posts inviting you to have your say.

  • Twitter @SouthHamsDC or @WestDevon_BC
  • Facebook @southhamsdistrictcouncil @westdevonboroughcouncil
  • Instagram @south.hams or @westdevon.boroughcouncil

The consultation runs until 10am on 1 February 2021.

SHDC – Commitment to Climate Change

A report highlighting South Hams District Council’s strong commitment to tackling key climate change and biodiversity issues is to be taken to committee this week.

Developed by the Council’s Climate Change and Biodiversity Working Group, the Draft Strategy and updated Action Plan, will be presented to Full Council on Thursday 17 December to request formal adoption.

Since the Council declared a Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency in July 2019, officers have continued to work on tasks and projects that will help the District to become net zero by 2050.

These include reducing the Council’s own carbon emissions, continuing to work with partners, including the Devon Climate Emergency Response Group and our Joint Local Plan partners, Plymouth City Council and West Devon Borough Council, and to increase biodiversity by 10% in its green and wooded public habitats by 2025.

From the original funding allocation of £400,000, £20,000 has been committed to provide officer support for the expenditure of in excess of £500,000 to improve energy efficiency of residents’ homes using the Green Homes Grant Scheme. The Council is now committing to split the remaining £380,000, with £180,000 to address the Council’s own carbon footprint and the remaining £200k delivered over two phases, to support community initiatives through a range of match-funded grant awards.

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: “I am really pleased to report the progress of our Climate Change and Biodiversity initiatives. We remain committed to using the remaining £380,000 to the best effect. We are determined to reduce our own carbon footprint and also to support our communities to reduce theirs. We will do this through a range of actions including, funding a series of grants. It is important to back up our commitment in a way that maximises the benefits by levering in match-funding and capacity wherever we can.

“We continue to work closely with our Devon-wide partners and we are actively working with community representatives to get their views and expertise on an ongoing basis. We have started to change some of our fleet vehicles to electric and will continue to do so, as and when our existing contracts allow. Public electric charging points are in place in some areas of the South Hams with more already in the pipeline. We have supported eligible residents through the Green Homes Grant Scheme to help improve their homes’ energy efficiency.

“We are also publishing a monthly Climate Change and Biodiversity e-bulletin to share updates and good practise with our residents, which you can sign up for on our website. All in all, I am confident that we are making strong and steady progress to our Climate Change and Biodiversity agenda.”

The Council understand that Climate Change and Biodiversity loss are of critical importance and interest to a wide range of individuals and groups across the District. With this in mind, they arranged a Climate Change and Biodiversity Community Forum session, which took place on Wednesday 9 December and was declared a success by those in attendance. Together the Forum will continue this valuable relationship, where the Council and community representatives share expertise and knowledge to work together and support common goals.

Any new opportunities and initiatives will be updated in the continually evolving Action Plan as they arise.

A member of South Hams District Council’s Climate Change and Biodiversity Working Group, and Leader of the Council’s Green Party, Cllr Jacqi Hodgson, added: “This week’s formal publication of our Climate and Biodiversity Emergency strategy is very timely as it coincides with Devon County’s Interim Carbon Plan that was issued last week and the emergence of a number of climate action plans from parishes and town across the South Hams.

“Collaboration and ‘joined up thinking’ across the Councils with strategic incentives and ideas for the public to participate in meaningful actions to address the climate emergency will help us all to reduce our carbon footprint.”

To find out more about the Council’s commitment to the Climate Change and Biodiversity Emergency, visit:

www.climatechange.southhams.gov.uk/achievements-and-activity

SHDC – Grants for Businesses which were Ordered to Close

Businesses in the South Hams and West Devon which were ordered to close when the national restrictions began on 5 November 2020, can now apply for a grant of either £1,334, £2,000, or £3,000 depending on the rateable value of the business.

From today (Monday 16 November) businesses can apply for the grant through the councils' websites – www.southhams.gov.uk

Applications will be processed on a first come first served basis and the first payments will reach bank accounts from Wednesday 25 November.

At the beginning of the current national restrictions, central government announced that there would be further support for businesses who could not trade.  This grant is called the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) and is aimed at those businesses which were told that they must close because of the threat posed by COVID-19.

Businesses  from the hospitality industry, including pubs, restaurants, and holiday accommodation are included in the list of those eligible for the grant. Those which provide personal care, such as hairdressers, beauty salons, and many businesses in the leisure industry such as gyms, swimming pools, and soft play centres are also on the list.

If a business (included in the list) is substantially closed but still able to offer some click and collect or take-away service, it is  still eligible for this business support grant.A full list of all the businesses that were instructed to close, and those on the exemption list can be found on the Government's business advice pages: www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/closing-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england

Once approved the grant will provide those eligible businesses with a rolling 28-day grant, lasting as long as the national restrictions apply.

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council said: “In a matter of days we have made all necessary arrangements for you to be able to apply for this grant. All businesses in the South Hams are really important to us and we know how hard this pandemic has affected you. Our aim now is to get this money to you as quickly as possible.”

The amount of Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) awarded to you will depend on the rateable value of your business premises:
To be eligible for this current Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG), there are four conditions with which your business must comply:

  1. Occupy and be liable for business rates on a property that appears in the Local Rating List on 4 November 2020
  2. Have been trading on 4 November 2020
  3. Have been open as usual on 4 November 2020 and providing in-person services to customers from their premises; and
  4. Mandated to close from 5 November 2020 to visiting members of the public for a consecutive period of no less than 28 days as a result of regulations made under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1994.

You must also have the following information to hand before you start your application process. We do not want your payment to be delayed so please make sure you send in the correct information:

  • Recent bank account statement showing account number and address
  • Your company number

In addition, the councils are encouraging all businesses to keep following them on social media and to sign up for their business email alerts.

Cllr Judy Pearce added: “These grants are being administered differently from the grants we administered earlier in the year. We will not be writing to you telling you to apply, simply go to our website and begin your application.

“We would also strongly recommend that you sign up for our Business E-Bulletin.  That will ensure that you get information about further grants and business support when we publish it.”

Apply for the grant on the councils’ Business Support Pages

southhams.gov.uk/LRSG

Find out which businesses should be closed under current national restrictions

www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/closing-certain-businesses-and-venues-in-england