Saturday, 19 December 2015

Christmas Wishes

Not my house, but a house nearby. It's quite spectacular and my photos don't do it justice. The bridge camera does these hand held night shots very well.

Sadly not my house either! This is very pretty.

My tree. I used a star effect setting on the camera and it's also starred the light through the blinds, but nevertheless it's a pretty effect, which I also used on the image above. 

This time last year we were in chaos, having only been in our new home for five days. A busy and eventful twelve months, both good and bad are now behind us and I'm glad about that.

We both have two weeks off for the holiday period and I'd really like to complete some wallpapering in the hall. Apart from that a nice trip out somewhere now that the South Devon Highway is open would be lovely, if only it would stop raining!

All I want for a bit of peace and quiet. What about you?

Wishing you all a wonderful festive season
Until next time

Thursday, 17 December 2015

South Devon Link Road Opens

You may think this is an odd post from me but like the amazing team that worked on the Dawlish railway line repair, I think this is worth a mention.

Otherwise known as the Kingskerswell Bypass the South Devon Link Road has been in the making for many years and residents of Torbay and tourists alike have suffered years of traffic misery, not to mention the people of Kingskerswell.

I was going to call the post The Magical Mystery Tour as coming home late at night on several occasions (from seeing bands play here, there and everywhere) recently, we have been sent on so many detours in the dark we feared we'd never get home.

I can't say that I'm a fan of this type of development, but personally I think a new road like this is much better than the thousands and thousands of homes being built in the region. They destroy habitat which is never put back, use land that is not suitable for large scale housing and are an eyesore. When developers profits come before everything else it's no surprise.

Anyway to get back on topic, even though there are no cute animals, flowers, trees or birds to be seen on the website, it's well worth a quick look. I have to say the website is great and designed by a local Devon IT company.

There's even a Flickr group with all the construction photos. Check out professional commercial photographer Tim Pestridge, who has taken aerial photos of the construction. Whilst your there Tim has many stunning images and a marvellous range of subjects in his gallery.

My personal favourites are the fly-by's and this is the best one by Matt of Skyflicks Media.

On the environmental side of things, it seems to have gone as well as can be hoped for. Here is an extract from the website:

..."the areas alongside the route will be planted with a variety of indigenous trees and shrubs covering an area of 115,000m2 (25 acres).

The plants have been carefully selected to match those prevalent in the area and will be maintained for several years to ensure they become established.

The plans include:

the planting of 63,700 native trees and shrubs to include pine, holly, privet, oak, beech, cherry, birch, alder, hawthorn, hazel, honeysuckle and rose.
300,000m2 (66 acres) of grass (using seed of various types).
900 linear metres of new stone faced and turf hedge-banks.

Specific ecological features have been included within the scheme to improve existing habitat and mitigate for loss of habitat. Features such as bat boxes, a bat loft and a bat chamber have already been created. 

Hibernaculum (artificial hibernation sites for reptiles and amphibians) are to be constructed and facilities for otters and badgers to cross the road through subterranean passages have been built. In addition, a considerable length of special fencing will be erected to prevent these mammals from inadvertently entering the highway".

It doesn't look pretty at the moment as the landscaping still has to be started. Here is the site clearance information (extract from the Community Liaison Group Meeting Feb 2013)

The scheme provides:
3.5km (2.2 miles) of new and translocated hedges,
15.5ha of new woodland, woodland edge planting and scrub, (38.3 acres)
100 new specimen trees.

Site clearance results in the loss of:
5.5km (3.4 miles) of field hedges and 0.44km (0.27 miles) of garden hedges,
70 mature individual trees,
1.1ha of woodland (2.7 acres).

It's such a shame that a lot of mature trees were lost and cannot be replaced.

However if you look at the loss of habitat, trees, hedges and open land that are being flattened for housing e.g. the continuing development at Whiterock, Paignton for example, there are no nice websites, facts or figures that are easily obtainable which show the environmental impact of such development. Who counted the trees?.....who measured the miles of hedgerow to be lost?..........who mapped out the hectares to be flattened?

The South Devon Highway (as it's now called) creates problems during construction and leaves a lasting impression on the landscape, but it has been a very public affair and you know what you're losing and gaining in the process.

Until next time