Lauren Tucker is our youngest volunteer Media Advisor at only 17 years old but her passion for wildlife, photography and local conservation issues has really impressed us and we are looking forward Lauren’s future work. This article focuses on the conservation issues around the village of Newton St Loe.
Wildlife and Conservation Issues at Newton St Loe
Newton St Loe is a small village (pop. 631) located between Bath and Bristol. The majority of the village is owned by Duchy of Cornwall. Its name comes from the first owner of the mansion house ‘St Loe’.
There is evidence of a 3rd century Roman villa on the site of Newton St Loe. It was first discovered in 1837 when the Bath to Bristol railway line was constructed; most of the remains were destroyed when the railway line was built but two of the biggest mosaics were taken from the site and placed in the Bristol Art Gallery where they can be seen to this day. Further investigation was made in 1968 when the A4 was being widened to accommodate the increase of traffic in and out of the city but the investigation was unsuccessful and there is still little known about the villa.
The green land around the village is very important for wildlife and is also used for farming. There is a campus on Newton Park that is used by Bath Spa University and currently leased from Duchy of Cornwall. The campus has a lake, nature reserve, woodland and the rest is used for farmland.
Local people are opposing the housing plan to build 2000 houses on this land because it is a beautiful countryside with plenty of wildlife and history to it all. If houses were to be built it would decrease the wildlife numbers, get rid of all the history and wipe memories for the people that live in the surrounding area. The history would also be forgotten.
A number of petitions have been set up to protect the land, one which received over 200 signatures. NSL Conservation, English Heritage, Corston Parish Council are just a few companies that are opposing to the idea of the houses being built.
So far, the housing plan has been rejected but another plan has unfortunately been put in place. Hopefully this one will be rejected as well.
I have lived in Twerton, just outside of Newton St Loe for all 17 years of my life and feel that it is very important to have green land left in between cities for wildlife and for farming that produce local food for the surrounding cities and villages. If we keep building on the green land we will eventually have no free land left and the wildlife will be severely threatened by a reduction in land for farming, which is where most wildlife gets their main source of food from.
I have recently got into bird watching, I walk 3 times a week around Newton St Loe and find it a beautiful little village with a large variety of nature and wildlife. I have started doing a walk that consists of walking up to and around Seven Acre Woods, the amount of birds I have spotted recently is amazing. There are two pairs of nesting buzzards in the woods, skylarks nesting in the fields around the woods, and over the past week two new birds have been spotted: a Whitethroat and a Chiffchaff which will let you get quite close to them, considering their environment. There are also another 15 different species which I have seen over the past couple of months including Siskins, Yellowhammers, Wagtails, Pipits and Fieldfares. I have not only spotted birds but also a number of deer including Chinese Water Deer. There are also pheasants and hares that are common to Seven Acre Woods. The amount of insects I see is amazing and uncountable with such a large variety of species!
Walking through the lanes just before Newton St Loe village on the road I saw a Common Lizard that had unfortunately been hit by a car, despite it being dead it was still a new species which means that it is likely to be more in the area. It is also a species I never thought I would get to see!
Since the beginning of the year, whenever I go out walking I see another new species whether it is a bird, insect or another kind of wildlife, but this means that it is a perfect area for wildlife with all different plants, trees and fields for different species to nest in, the population for wildlife is improving more and more every day.
If houses were built on this land there would be nothing as near as what there is now and the loss could be irreplaceable.
To get involved or for more information, please contact the ‘New Environmentalist’ or contact one of the local conservation groups at: