Members of Ferring Conservation Group have recently been carrying out more practical work in the village in order to improve our local environment and particularly to make it a more welcoming place for our wildlife.
In the first of our regular monthly small work parties, a number of members met at the Glebelands Recreation Ground in the centre of the village to carry out some practical work around the Community Orchard. The main task was to cut back the invasive brambles that had grown up in the small copse of trees that back on to the fruit trees themselves and had threatened to overwhelm them. This was completed quickly and efficiently, and without too many scratches from the enormous thorns! The trees will be very grateful for the removal of some of the competition.
The Group has also arranged the installation of a large Tawny Owl nest box and a slightly smaller bat box in the copses at the Little Twitten Recreation Ground, just off Sea Lane.
The Owl box had been in place at the Warren Pond in the village, but it hadn’t been successful and it was felt better to move it to a location where Tawny Owls have been heard on a regular basis. It was quite a technical task to mount it in a suitable tree, and the services of an excellent local tree surgery company, Mr Tree (based in Worthing), were required to complete the job safely. Proper climbing equipment was deployed the tree surgeon, Shane Jones, and he was able to abseil back down to ground level when he had finished.
The bat box had been donated by two of our committee members, Lindsey and Chris Green, and this was fixed to a suitable large Sycamore tree in another part of the Recreation Ground.
Time will tell, but we hope that the local Tawny Owls and bats approve of what we’ve done for them, especially as their natural nesting sites are reducing in number and suitability. We’ll be keeping an eye on the boxes, which are in addition to the significant number of smaller nest boxes that we’ve already put up around the village (thanks are due to committee member Graham Tuppen for refurbishing many of the boxes this Winter) , and we’ll be reporting on any developments.
The next of the monthly work parties will take place from 10am on Tuesday 6 March, meeting on the Village Green. The task will be to cut back some of the bushes and generally tidy up the area that we look after. Please bring secateurs and loppers if you have them, and wear suitable clothing.
The beach clean dates for 2018 (including the annual Rife clean in March) are now in the Beach Clean Dates section of the website. Please put the dates in your diaries.
Starting in February, we will now be organising monthly work parties for anybody interested to help out at the various locations around the village where carry out practical activities to maintain and improve the local natural environment.
These will always be held on the first Tuesday of the month between 10am and midday. Details of the exact location to be covered and the meeting point will be advertised here as well as at the members meeting at the end of the previous month. We will still be carrying out our various clean ups including beach cleans and other fiixed activities such as the annual clear up of Warren Pond with Ferring Parish Council as separate matters.
We hope to see some of you there, even if you can’t stay for the whole session. If bad weather is forecast, please check this website in case of cancellation.
Members of the Group this week teamed up with volunteers organised by West Sussex County Council to improve the 3 footpaths leading from the village to the Ferring Rife – these are at the far ends of Brook Lane, Clover Lane and Ferringham Way. The paths had been overgrown by vegetation and the surfaces were extremely muddy in places despite some work having been completed by the Group early in 2016. This was the latest in a series of practical projects around the village.
Around 20 volunteers from both organisations cut back brambles, nettles and overhanging branches among other things, using hand and power tools, and between them laid a total of 5 large builder’s bags of the MOT hard-core material to give the paths a firm and more stable surface. The material was supplied by local builders merchants, Benton Weatherstone, who were very helpful in the arrangements, and it was paid for by Ferring Parish Council, with whom the Group works very closely to enhance the village.
At the end of a hard morning’s work (but which included a welcome coffee break organised by the WSCC volunteer co-ordinator), all three paths’ borders had been cut back and the surfaces were left in a good state due to the addition of the hard-core, which will allow residents and visitors to reach the river in comfort even after adverse weather. Thank you to all those who helped out on the day.
On the previous weekend, nearly 30 FCG members carried out the last Beach Clean of the year on Ferring beach. The whole stretch between the bottom of Sea Lane and the Bluebird Cafe and beyond was thoroughly cleaned, with potentially damaging litter being removed. Results of the clean were forwarded to the Marine Conservation Society as this was part of their Big Beachwatch weekend and will help form a picture of the problem nationally.
One of the most rewarding parts of the clean was finding under a breakwater a lost smartphone, wallet, credit cards and cash. After members of the team made a number of enquiries locally to trace the owner, we were able to find her on the beach when she saw the litter pickers in their high vis-jackets, and the phone and other items were safely re-united with a very grateful lady.
The Group’s annual Summer Social takes place at Ferring Village Hall on Sat 26 August, starting at 6.30pm.
As usual, this will include a hot buffet style meal and a dessert, as well as a your first drink. The menu this year will be as follows:
Choice of Chicken breast in cream and mushroom sauce, or Beef bourgignon, or Goats cheese and mediterranean veg tarts, plus selection of seasonal salads (apple coleslaw, tomato and mozzarella, green mixed salad) and French bread and butter
Followed by choice of gateaux selection and cream, fresh fruit salad and cream, or Banoffee pie and cream.
There will also be a good quality prize raffle, a variety of interesting prize quizzes for your entertainment, and of course good company and conversation.
Tickets priced at £10 per person will be available at our next members’ meeting on Friday 28 July also at Ferring Village Hall, starting at 7.30pm, and also from our treasurer, Gloria Moffatt on 502139. Tickets are limited, so please get in quick!
Our hedgehogs are really struggling. Have a look at a new short article in the Nature Notes section of this website, written by committee member, Graham Tuppen, to see what you might be able to do in your garden to help them. A number have been seen recently around the village in gardens, so there is some hope for them if we all do our bit.
Latest planning applications
Ferring Conservation Group objected to two recent applications for flats in Ferring. The Beehive Lane flats were, in the end, allowed (with some reduction in scale). FG/198/16, for the demolition of the existing house and building eight 2-bedroom flats at 1 Sea Drive, was finally approved on 24 August.
Such a development here, on the corner with Sea Lane, just a few yards up from the seafront, is completely out of place – having a disastrous effect on the immediate neighbours and adding to traffic hazards for drivers and walkers. It could be the thin edge of a long wedge in Sea Lane.
We keep a close eye on all applications for new houses or businesses. and send details and guidance on objections e mail circulars to members. If you are a member (or would like to join – £1 a year) and would like to receive these circulars, please e mail EdMiller43@msn.com..
David Bettiss – Chairman, FCG
In the latest of their busy schedule of activities, Ferring Conservation Group recently organised a well attended evening Bat Walk around the village, which was hosted by Laurie Jackson from the Sussex Bat Group.
Before heading out on the walk, Laurie entertained members with a highly informative talk about bats, highlighting the fact that West Sussex is one of the best counties in the country for them, with virtually all the native bats using our area. She answered a wide variety of questions from those present, but the most popular part of her talk was her demonstration of 2 bats from the Sussex Bat Hospital in Hurstpierpoint. These were a Common Pipistrelle (our smallest UK bat alongside the Soprano Pipistrelle – weighing between 4 and 8g) and also a Serotine (one of our largest bats weighing between 25 and 30g). It was great to have such a rare close up view of these tiny creatures.Serotine Bat (Photo by Laurie Jackson)
The group the headed out to the Ferring Rife at sunset and armed with bat detectors to help with tracking, we were able to detect a number of Common Pipistrelles probably feeding near the water, and then at least one Soprano Pipistrelle was seen nearby. The walk continued back into the village via the St Andrew’s Churchyard, Little Twitten recreation ground and finishing in the Ilex Avenue. A small number of bats were detected by some members, but generally bat numbers do seem to be down this year, suggesting that they are under threat for various reasons, including habitat loss. We had hoped to see or detect a Daubenton’s bat over the Rife, as this is a species that trawls prey from the water with comparatively large hairy feet, but sadly none were heard during our visit.Daubenton’s Bat (Photo by Laurie Jackson)
On the following morning, over 30 members and visitors met up on Ferring Beach for their final Beach Clean of the year. This one was part of the national Big Beachwatch Weekend in conjunction with the Marine Conservation Society, where a proportion of the rubbish collected is itemised and fed back to the Society to give a national picture of the problem of marine litter.
The members were resplendent in their new Ferring Conservation Group branded high vis vests, which together with some additional beach cleaning equipment, was purchased by the Group after a successful application to the West Sussex County Council Community Initiative Fund. The vests were supplied by local Rustington and Littlehampton company, Ricara.
It was very gratifying to see a good number of youngsters taking part in what would have been their first ever beach clean, and showing that they and their parents do care about our local environment.
Ferring Conservation Group in partnership with Ferring Parish Council and local District Councillors is fighting plans by Arun DC to close and demolish both of our village public toilets – at the Village Green and at the Rife near the Bluebird cafe.
At a well attended public meeting earlier this week, there was total opposition by local people to these ridiculous proposals, which would have serious public health consequences for both residents and our many visitors. We believe that the process to identify which toilets across Arun might be closed purely to save money is flawed and grossly unfair to the village of Ferring.
We hope that Coun Paul Dendle, who represented Arun DC at the meeting, took away the message from Ferring that we were very angry and would not accept our toilets being knocked down.
In order to re-inforce this message to Arun DC and to provide some form of consultation for local people which has been sadly lacking so far by Arun, Ferring Parish Council has devised a simple questionnaire to gauge local opinions and provide some evidence to Arun’s officers. If you’ve not already so, please complete one of these questionnaires and return it to the Parish Office by the end of Weds 31/8 – this is urgent. You can obtain a copy from the Parish Office, by requesting an electronic copy by e-mailing email@example.com, or via their website – www.arun.gov.uk/ferring
To keep members updated on important Ferring village matters, please see the below:
- Proposed closure of both Ferring public toilets – Arun DC are proposing to close both of our village public toilets to save money and provide better facilities elsewhere in the district (not much use if you need them urgently!). I have written to one of our District councillors, Roger Elkins, outlining our concerns, and he has replied to me as follows having spoken a the recent Environment Working Party meeting: “The proposals were not well received, and more consultation and detailed information was requested before any recommendation is made”. We hope that common sense prevails and our toilets are preserved.
- Sea Lane traffic issues – we are also concerned with speeding traffic and poor visbility for drivers emerging at junctions on to Sea Lane. Today, I met on site with our County Councillor, Peter Evans and a WSCC Highways officer, where we discussed the problems and potential solutions. It was agreed that immediately an extra sign warning of the concealed Sea Lane Gardens junction can be installed, and Coun Evans has agreed to request at the upcoming WSCC Highways Group that WSCC investigate various options (including our suggestions) to improve safety and reduce speeding. Further updates will hopefully follow.
- Goring Gap north – Persimmon Homes Ltd are working on a planning application for the Goring part of the northern gap. They submitted some preliminary documents to Worthing Borough Council, which you can see on the WBC web site, under reference EIAOPINION/0002/16, relating to an estate of 475 houses.The documents said, explicitly, that the proposed development does not include the small part of the northern gap on the Ferring side of the border. Access would be from Goring Street, near Goring station, not from anywhere in Ferring. The estate would occupy the land between the stream and the railway, leaving the stretch between the stream and Littlehampton Road free for agriculture.
The application was made to test whether Persimmon (or rather their agents) needed to submit to a full Environment Impact Assessment for the planning application that will follow. The documents discuss the environmental importance of the site, which – of course – they disparage. Worthing Borough Council said Persimmon certainly would need to submit a full Assessment.
Ferring Conservation Group Committee will liaise with our friends in the Ilex Conservation Group, and others in Worthing,if a planning application comes forward to see how we can best help them mount a campaign against it.
David Bettiss – Chairman