February 19, 2018

Citizen science schemes can be used to detect decline of wildlife populations


Woodland Trust and BTO schemes used to track common cuckoo populations

A recent paper published in Avian Biology Research1 has suggested that data from citizen science schemes can be used for detecting the decline of wildlife populations.

The paper took data from Nature’s Calendar, run by the Woodland Trust, and BirdTrack, run by the British Trust of Ornithology. Both schemes record common cuckoo sightings. When reviewing this alongside other studies into the population of the cuckoo, it was shown that information gathered by citizen scientists reflected similar decline patterns as other scientific investigations (the cuckoo is a Red Listed species).

‘Citizen science’ refers to projects where members of the public are responsible for gathering data, as opposed to expert scientists. This supports the use of citizen science data in other, wider studies of species population.

Charlotte Armitage, citizen science manager for the Woodland Trust, said: “It’s great to know that Nature’s Calendar data can be used to detect species decline. It’s yet another reminder that citizen science is a powerful tool, that can help us better understand our natural world. However, we need more people to contribute to these schemes; more records, means richer data. By recording as part of day-to-day life, you can become part of something much bigger and far-reaching.”

Prof Tim Sparks from Coventry University, added: “Records on cuckoo arrival go back well over a century, thus giving us a better picture on how this species has fared. The Woodland Trust are adding both historical and current records to their database which will enable us to put recent changes into context.”

Nature’s Calendar is a continuation of seasonal recordings which date back to the 18th century. By recording the timings of natural phenomenon, thousands of people have enabled Nature’s Calendar to become the leading survey into how climate change is affecting UK plants and wildlife. Find out more at: naturescalendar.woodlandtrust.org.uk

BirdTrack is a partnership project run between the BTO, RSPB, Birdwatch Ireland, the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club and the Welsh Ornithological Society, that looks at migration movements and distributions of birds throughout Britain and Ireland. BirdTrack provides facilities for observers to store and manage their own personal records as well as using these to support species conservation.

Broadway Malyan secures its largest UK masterplan consent


A masterplan developed by Broadway Malyan for a major new neighbourhood in Suffolk has been unanimously approved by planners.

The proposals for the 279-acre site adjacent to the Adastral Business Park on the outskirts of Ipswich will see the creation of  2,000 new homes and is the practice’s largest UK planning consent to date.

The successful outline planning application comes more than a decade after the site was first earmarked for potential development and Broadway Malyan director Jeff Nottage said the practice had worked hard with other stakeholders to bring forward a scheme that met the needs of the client while respecting the sensitive nature of the site.

He said: “Our aspiration for the site was to create a viable and thriving new mixed use community that was based around a high quality community hub while fully embracing the site’s beautiful natural setting.

“From the outset the project has been designed in the context of the adjacent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and we have worked closely with key stakeholders including Natural England and local wildlife groups to create a sustainable and walkable scheme that includes a large central area of natural landscape set around a lake.

“As well as the natural landscape, the masterplan also incorporates a heritage park accommodating  a series of scheduled monuments. Working closely with the council, client and consultant team we have managed to achieve the support of officers and local members for this exciting new development.”

The main elements of the new development will be 2,000 new homes, 500 of which will be affordable including homes for rent and shared ownership. There will also be a new all-through school across a 13-acre site with 20 acres of sports grounds with a new sports pavilion.

At the heart of the development will be a new public square overlooking a lake with a series of small shops, cafes, a community centre and a purpose built medical centre. The settlement will include a 1.5-acre employment area and more than 50 acres of outdoor space and play areas.

The masterplan was prepared on behalf of Carlyle Land and CEG, who have also been working with BT to deliver improvements to the northern quadrant, a site to the north of the development, which could have a new higher education facility with a view to attracting tech giants such as Apple and Facebook.

John Kenny, development director at CEG, said: “The decision to approve this application will enable a sustainable development which will deliver extensive new and improved infrastructure including education and health provision and a £15m investment into transport improvements alongside new homes. We have taken a very sensitive approach with high quality design which respects the setting with extensive green and open spaces.” The new homes are expected to be delivered by 2028.



Westside developer Urban&Civic receives planning permission


City of Wolverhampton’s £55 million Westside scheme has reached a major milestone.

Urban&Civic has received outline planning permission for the first phase of their development on 6.4 acres of land at the heart of the city.

Enabling works continue on the leisure led mixed use scheme, and strong demand from occupiers means construction on the first phase remains on track to start in 2018.

A multiplex cinema, 50,000 square feet of additional leisure space, new restaurants covering 40,000 square feet, a 100 plus bed hotel, and a multi storey car park are lined up for phase 1.

Phase 2 will deliver new city centre homes and additional retail and leisure space.

Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “This is going to be a big year for regeneration in the city with the Westside project leading the way.

“The scheme has already attracted unprecedented demand from occupiers and being granted outline planning approval means the finer details can be agreed in terms of occupier expectations.

“Urban&Civic possess an excellent track record in delivering comparable high quality schemes in the UK and have the financial support in place.

“There is a general enthusiasm around the Westside opportunity, and optimism concerning the groundswell of regeneration activity across the city, where £3.7 billion of investment is on site or in the pipeline.

“The outstanding proposals put forward by Urban&Civic perfectly meet our expectations of a regenerated Wolverhampton.”

Construction on phase 1 of the project is expected to be complete in 2020. It encompasses land between Penn Road Island and Salop Street, including the current School Street and Peel Street car parks and the area around Market Square.

Phase 2 incorporates parts of land between Salop Street and Darlington Street, including the Fold Street car park. Works on this section of the development are likely to be completed in 2022.

Philip Leech, Property Director for Urban&Civic, said: “We are delighted to have reached this important milestone in the delivery of Westside.

“We have had an exceptional level of interest from occupiers and look forward to starting construction this year.”

Image: Artist’s impression of the Urban&Civic Westside development at night

London’s toxic air-level has ‘improved overnight’ after introduction of low emission bus zones


Low-emission bus zones on some of London’s most polluted high streets have been praised for leading to an “overnight improvement” for toxic air levels.

No road-specific annual toxic air limits have yet been breached in the capital, which is an improvement after last year the threshold on one major street was broken in just five days.

London environment experts said this change is “largely” due to the roll out of new cleaner bus routes in the capital’s worst offending areas such as in Brixton Road, in south London, and Putney High Street, in west London.

Frank Kelly, environmental health professor at King’s College London (KCL), said London mayor Sadiq Khan’s scheme could have led to an “overnight” improvement.

He said: “If you remove the vehicles that create the problem, pollution just disappears. It’s as simple as that. The introduction of these eco-buses in places like Putney High Street would be a main reason why we have seen an improvement.”

It comes after last year London’s filthy air broke legal limits on annual levels of traffic fumes just 120 hours into the New Year.

Readings taken in Brixton Road five days into 2017 found levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) repeatedly breached the EU limit.

Under EU law, the average hourly level of NO2 must not exceed 200 micrograms per cubic metre more than 18 times in a year.

Mr Khan launched the first two additions of his planned network of low-emission bus zones in the capital last year on the worst two “offending” roads in Brixton and Putney.

The mayor said in December that the Putney route, which was the first to get the new buses in March, had seen a 90 per cent reduction in hourly breaches of toxic air levels.

Professor Kelly added that the capital has seen a “pretty clean” start to 2018 generally, in terms of pollution levels, which he said is reflected in NO2 data for this year.

But while the new buses appear to have had a major impact, Professor Kelly said the weather has also proved to be a contributing factor to lower levels of toxic air.

He said: “When we see the very worst of levels of pollution in London it is totally down to the weather. [Toxic air] travels from other countries like France and contributes to it here. It’s a global problem, not just London’s.”

It came as a new study on air quality in the UK revealed that three quarters of Britain’s worst pollution hotspots are in the capital, showing that Hyde Park Corner and Marylebone Road in central London have the most polluted postcodes in the country.

A newly-launched tool based on the data, created by air quality experts EarthSense and the BBC, allows people to check the pollution levels in their postcode.


Image: Sadiq Khan/ Twitter

Residents invited to public consultation to view Govan’s £17m regeneration plans


Residents who live, work or visit Govan are being asked to attend a public consultation event to view the council’s masterplan for the area.

The £17 million proposal will look at the potential for a whole new development at Water Row, from housing to retail and leisure facilities.

The vision is a ‘lively attractive destination’ where the old Harland and Wolff Shipyard once stood, drawing on the historic buildings around Water Row and tourist attractions like Govan Old Parish Church and the Riverside Museum across the water.

It will mean up to 100 mid-market rentals and 32 homes for social rent, with work expected to start around September 2019.

However, the council wants residents’ views to ensure the plan is the best for the whole community.

The public consultation event will take place on Thursday, January 18 at the Pearce Institute between 3-7pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.


Image: google maps