meeting notes

ACE Meeting Notes From 23rd January 2024

Meeting Title: ACE Monmouth Open Meeting

Meeting date and time: 23rd January 2024, 7pm

Venue Details: Zoom

Present: Cherry Taylor, Rebecca Cunningham, Charles Emes, Peter Davies, Catherine Fooks, Katharine Pitts-Tucker, Sarah Read, Vivien Mitchell, Fiona Wilcock

Apologies: Jen Bara, Nicola Awni, Liz Williams, Karen Cornish

Agenda and Notes

1. Welcome and apologies for absence

2. RLDP

The Revised Local Development Plan outlines the new housing for Monmouth which will incorporate 35-60 houses at Tudor Road, 70 houses and 60 houses in two locations by the Rockfield estate, 110 houses on the Drewin Farm site by Kingswood Gate and 270 houses on the Dixton Road site.

Rebecca Cunningham raised concerns around the conservation element at the Dixon Road site and the air pollution across town.

Rebecca has spoken to 3 ecologists and read a number of policy documents and reports. The concern is the proximity to the SSSI protected bat site at Newton Court, which is home to Lesser and Greater Horseshoe Bats. They have their roosts and possibly hibernation in this location. Reviewed reports and legislation specify a 1-2km minimum radius of these sites that must be protected , and one calls for a 5km radius. Part of the proposed Dixon development lies within 1km of the roosts. Therefore Rebecca cannot understand how this development is being allowed to proceed.

Action: Catherine Fookes to use the links Rebecca sent on to raise within MCC.
Action: Catherine to find out and feedback what the normal planning process is with the ecologists within MCC to see at what stage is this all considered?

Rebecca also raised concerns over the current air quality around Monmouth after the last measurement in 2015 was reported at 48μg per cubic meter, which is over the 40μg which is considered safe. Hence the concern over increased houses and traffic.

The new houses on Dixon Road are very close to schools and nurseries. See below.

Action: Charles will write to MCC and town council counsellors on behalf of the ACE Monmouth community expressing concerns about the development proposal based on previous air quality measurements and the protection issues for the bat population.

The meeting participants agreed that it is the role of ACE Monmouth to consider the environmental impact of any significant development proposed within Monmouth.

3. Air Quality Monitors

ACE volunteers have been considering what can be done for this for a long time. Bryan Miller (Transition Monmouth) has contacted Make Monmouth about building Air Quality Monitors that could be used around town to measure the air quality. Make Monmouth provided a prototype which will be able to measure PM2.5 – particulates that are monitored by the European Union to determine air quality in urban areas. Existing town monitors are static and only measure NO2 annually. These new monitors could be placed around town and will monitor continuously.

ACE has agreed to pay for 3 AQMs at £150 each.

4. Seed Swap

The Seed Swap will be held in Bridges on 17th February from 10am – 1pm. This event is in its third year and has proved to be very successful. Last year saw the event crowded with the local community swapping seeds and plants.

Action: Cherry will get a banner made as this is now likely to be an annual event.

ACE is grateful for Sarah for offering to provide a cake on the day and to Sarah, Cherry, Charles, Peter, Emily (and James) for help on the day. If anyone else can help or bake, please contact seedswap@acemonmouth.org.

Action: Everyone –spread the word and offer to help! PLEASE!!!.

5. Repair Café

The monthly events are busy and many repairs are being completed during the events; mainly electrical. Levels of donations are not high however.

Action: Kath to remind the RC team that if required, ACE can cover expenses for hall hire and materials .

Action – Kath. It would be great to have a volunteer write half a page for the Beacon to remind people about the clothes mending side of the café, which is currently underutilised.

6. Schools Garden Project Update

Karen Cornish has sent a plan for the work she will be doing at Trellech school to extend the raised beds to other year groups. ACE agreed to provide funding to the sum of £450 with potentially more funding being available to this school in the spring.

If schools in the Monmouth and surrounding area would like to take advantage of the funding to create small garden projects for children to learn about growing food then please contact info@acemonmouth.org.

Action: Everyone – spread word to local schools.

Action: Charles – put a call out to the allotments and allotments committee and gardening clubs and ask if anyone know of any schools who would like to put a project forward.

7. Farmers Group Update

The mentoring project is progressing.

Regen Ben was filmed in late December, talking about Regen Ag and the mentoring project specifically. Monmouthshire Food Partnership has created a generic Regen Ag film and the rest of the footage will be used by ACE Monmouth and Size of Wales.

Action: Cherry to get hold of footage, or agree how much ACE needs to pay to access to the footage. Sarah Read is willing to help edit it.

Action: Cherry & Charles to discuss having a webpage for the mentoring project with a view to getting the videos onto it.

In addition, there are funds available for a project with MCC’s Local Nature Partnership and possibly Gwent Wildlife Trust teaching volunteers from the community how to do biodiversity audits.

Action: Anyone – This needs a volunteer team to take on the project – please get in touch if you are willing to lead, coordinate or just be a part of this to make it happen.

There is scope to partner with Greener Abergavenny and other Monmouthshire climate groups. The regen farms that could be monitored are part of Old Lands (Dingestow).

8. Haberdashers School Sustainability Conference

The Haberdashers School will be holding a Sustainability Conference on Jun 30 – July 2 at the Girls School. Charles, Cherry and Sarah met Gerry Stentiford of Haberdashers School to understand more about the aims of the conference and the role ACE might play.

For days 2 and 3, other local organisations and schools could be invited to attend and participate, with the aim being to hold “show and tell” style sessions that schools across Wales could participate in. These events would be interjected with high profile speakers. All of this needs to be discussed further and agreed within Habs.

Gerry suggested Day 1, Sunday June 30, could be the day that ACE leads on, with use of a large marquee (500-600 people) with stage and PA system for the afternoon and evening. Nicki (Size of Wales) felt like Day 3 of the event could be quite useful with more of a practical, plan making approach, making it more constructive rather than just providing information.

This is a great opportunity to link to the schools in Monmouth and beyond. It will also be in a different location so we may draw in different people.

The meeting agreed that ACE would take up the offer and use it for the venue of a “mini festival” in place of the Climate Festival in September.

Action: Charles to ask Habs if it is possible to use their mini-buses to shuttle people from Monnow Bridge up to the Girls School and back. ACE could also consider whether we get the festival ‘bees’ back to drum up interest at the bus stop in town.

It has been noted that the Monmouth Carnival has been announced as the same Sunday.

Action: Charles will reach out to Martin Sweeney to discuss the possibility of linking together rather than competing with each other.

ACE should think about marketing from both parties so that it is all linked up. We plan to use all the ACE festival branded items again.

ACE could hopefully get schools and other groups we have funded to come and talk about their projects (and to get more people involved).

9. AOB

The banner location was discussed. Action: Charles to ask John to move the banner to the bridge by the lights next to Waitrose. We have put a request for this into MCC.

10. Date of next meeting

February 13th, via Zoom, 7pm.

Opportunities for Action:

Doing small things together makes a big difference. This is your chance to take action on the climate and nature emergencies! Help is needed with the following tasks:

  • ACE needs more volunteers to help with setup and manning the stall for the Seed Swap on February 17th 10am – 1pm at Bridges.
  • The Garden Mentoring Scheme still has room for someone who would like help from our mentor Jen Bara.
  • The biodiversity audit project needs a coordinator to get it off the ground.

If you would like to get involved in these, or any other elements of ACE, please email info@acemonmouth.org.