Help sabve threatened invertebrate site

Steve Preddy Steve.Preddy at
Wed Jan 13 18:58:29 EST 1999

First, I apologise in advance for copying this to the lepidoptera and
homoptera newsgroups as it is not solely about those orders. 


An important site for invertebrates and plants in Great Britain is
currently threatened by plans for housing development.

The proposals which have have been submitted to Bath and North-east
Somerset Council will almost certainly result in the local extinction of
two nationally notable species of Hymenoptera (Nysson dimidiata and
Nysson trimaculatus) and the nationally scarce plant Fine-leaved
Sandwort (Minuartia hybrida), and threaten the only local population of
the nationally scarce plant Bithynian Vetch (Vicia bithynica). I am
trying to persuade as many people as possible to object to these
proposal, either by writing letters themselves or signing a copy of a
letter drawn up by local campaigners. All objections must be
lodged with the council by 21 January 1999. Further details are given

You can fax your letters to the council on 01225 394199. Address them to
David Audsley, Development Control Office, Keynsham

or you can write to him at:
Temple Street
BS31 1LA

As there are two separate proposals you will need to quote both of the
following references:
Application Numbers 98/03185/OUT and 98/03234/REM

If you are interested in helping force a re-think on the proposal,
please get in touch for a copy of the letter or further information.

Thanks for listening

Steve Preddy

Email - Steve.Preddy at
Phone - work 0117 989 9000 x4963 
Phone - home 0117 9852472


Radstock in a small town just to the south of Bath. It doesn't have any
huge nationally important wildlife sites (a la New Forest, Norfolk
Broads) in the immediate vicinity, but as a result of past industrial
activity there are several disused areas (so-called "brownfield sites")
within the town which have become quite important wildlife sites in a
local context.

Radstock Railway Sidings, widely regarded as the best of these sites has
been subject to the threat of development for some years. Because its
interest was only fully realised only relatively recently, it hasn't yet
been designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) - which
would protect it against development - although it certainly meets the
criteria. The reason is that is has been earmarked for development, and
so those in Bath & North-east Somerset Council who want the site
developed have been blocking SNCI designation. 

The site has 3 parts - (i) a large embankment, half of which is covered
in scrub & half of which is calcareous grassland. This supports
Bithynian Vetch (Vicia bithynica), a nationally scarce plant species
(ii) a large area of flat trackbed, which has a rich ephemeral plant
community - highlights here include the nationally scarce Fine-leaved
Sandwort (Minuartia hybrida) at its only site in the former county of
Avon, plus 14 other locally notable plant species. This part of the site
also supports an excellent invertebrate community, including two
nationally notable species of Hymenoptera (Nysson dimidiata and
N.trimaculatus), glow-worms (Lampyris noctiluca), and 19 other locally
notable insects (iii) a stream and adjacent "corridor".

Two development proposals have been submitted. Both involve a large
part of the site being lost to housing. They have two additional effects
(i) an access road is needed - and this is planned to run along the
centre of the site (ii) there is a plan to revive the railway - the
housing proposal effectively removes the ecologically sensitive
option of siting the railway away from the best areas, and effectively
means that the ecological value of the trackbed will be destroyed. In
addition, the threat of cutting into the embankment is quite real, and
as the Vetch is largely quite low down on this embankment, it is very
much threatened too.

An invertebrate survey carried out this summer stated that "most of
[this interesting and diverse invertebrate site] would be lost or
severely degraded if the site were to be developed". The environmental
impact assessment commissioned this autumn said "The overall impacts ...
are likely to result in the local extinction of three species of plant
and insect. They could be avoided only by considerable re-design of the
development leaving the bulk of the former track-bed intact".
The EIA goes on to say that if the housing were removed from the
proposal, the railway could be sited there instead and the bulk of the
wlidlife interest would be left intact. There is considerable local
opposition to the plans, including a great deal of skepticism from
residents of Radstock (not just the environmental community) that the
houses are needed. There are plenty of other sites in the area which
could accommodate them if they were.
I am involved in the campaign to force a re-think over the development
proposals. We urgently need as many letters of objection to be sent to
B&NES council - the deadline for comment is 21 Jan 1999. I have a draft
letter which people can sign copies of if they've not the time to
compose a letter themselves. If you feel you'd like more information,
I'd be happy to talk to you. 



The list of notable invertebrates and plants is as follows

Cryptocephalus moraei 
Oedemera lurida 
Lampyris noctiluca, Glow-worm

Conops quadrifasciata 
Physocephala rufipes 
Dichetophora obliterata 
Chrysogaster chalybeata 
Chrysotoxum bicinctum 
Eristalinus sepulchralis 
Helophilus trivittatus 
Metasyrphus latifasciatus
Pyrophaena rosarum
Xanthogramma pedissequum

Hylaeus annularis
Hylaeus communis
Hoplitus spinulosa
Megachile centuncularis
Gorytes quadrifasciatus
Nysson dimidiatus (Notable B)
Nysson trimaculatus (Notable B)

Thymelicus lineola, Essex Skipper
Melanargia galathea, Marbled White

Information from Green, D. (1998), Invertebrate Survey at Radstock
Railyards, Bath, Conservation Consultancy, and surveys by Cam Valley
Wildlife Group.

Status of species is Local (as defined by former NCC), apart from the
two Nysson wasps, and Essex Skipper and Glow-worm, which are locally
notable in the Bristol region.


Aconitum napellus, Monk's-hood (LU, NS)
Anacamptis pyramidalis, Pyramidal Orchid (LS)
Calamagrostis epigejos, Wood Small-reed (LS)
Catapodium rigidum, Fern-grass (LU)
Cerastium semi-decandrum, 
Small Mouse-ear Chickweed (LS)
Chaenorhinum minus, Small Toadflax (LU)
Cruciata laevipes, Crosswort (LU)
Epilobium lanceolatum, 
Spear-leaved Willowherb (LS, W)
Erigeron acer, Blue Fleabane (LU)
Geranium columbinum, Long-stalked Cranesbill (LU)
Hieracium maculatum, Spotted Hawkweed (LR)
Linaria repens, Pale Toadflax (LS)
Minuartia hybrida, Fine-leaved Sandwort (LR, NS, W) 
Poa compressa, Flattened Meadow-grass (LU)
Saxifraga tridactylites, Rue-leaved Saxifrage (LU)
Thlaspi arvensis, Field Penny-cress (LU)
Vicia bithynica, Bithynian Vetch (LR, NS, W)
Vulpia myuros, Ratstail Fescue (LS)

Information from Lawrence, D. & Higgins, R. (1998), Ecological Impact
Assessment - Proposed Development at Railway Land, Radstock, Wessex
Ecological Consultancy (Appendix 3)

LU = Locally uncommon (occurs in 51 - 150 1km squares in the Bristol
LS = Locally scarce (occurs in 8 - 50 1km squares in the Bristol
LR = Locally rare (occurs in fewer than 8 1km squares in the Bristol
NS = Nationally scarce (occurs in 15 - 100 10km squares in Britain)
W = "Species of Importance to Wansdyke", as defined in the Wansdyke
Landscape &  Nature Conservation Strategy, a document adopted by B&NES.

The Bristol District is the area to be used for the fothcoming flora of
this area, and equates to the former county of Avon.

Monk's-hood occurs on the streambanks here, It may be a garden escape,
but it occurs naturally on riverbanks in the neighbouring Mells Valley,
so may be wild at this site. 

Bithynian Vetch occurs only on the railway embankment.

Spear-leaved Willowherb has not been recorded since the 1980s.

All other species are present currently (1998) on the trackbed.

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