Tuesday, 28 December 2010


Today I have learned that the pollution incident was caused by thousand of litres of Heavy Heating Oil leaking from a large tank on the Lyne Hill Industrial Estate behind the fire station on the southern boundary of Penkridge.  Eventually, the new owners of the Industrial Estate were located and the Environment Agency and the owners are beginning to deal with the mess it has left behind in the Otherton Brook.  This brook flows northwards right through the middle of the large Vale Gardens Housing Estate, through the village centre and into the River Penk near Bull Bridge and the Riverside Old Folks Home.

Over Xmas weekend the smell and fumes has been reported from large areas of Penkridge as the very cold weather has caused the fumes and smell to hang over the lower ground.  It was particularly bad in the village centre where the brook flows under the road past the bakery and village toilets and then into the River Penk near Riverside.   Anyone walking up the footpath from New Road to Wolgarston Way and to Somerfields have also reported it as being very smelly over the weekend.   Not very pleasant and dogs and children must not be allowed to paddle in the stream until all traces of the oil have disappeared.

Wildlife damage is already being reported with the RSPC collecting an injured Heron and other dead birds being found.

This incident does not bode well for the owners of this Industrial Estate who, it is understood, intend to submit a planning application for change of use in the New Year.

Friday, 24 December 2010


Diesel oil would appear to have somehow got into the Otherton Brook near the Fire Station - possibly from an Industrial Unit in the area.   The Environment Agency fixed up a Boom to try and stop it getting into the River Penk but so far this appears not to have stopped it from travelling downstream.  Late this afternoon the smell and fumes was pretty bad in the centre of Penkridge where the brook flows past the Bakery and the Public Toilets and flowed into the Penk by Bull Bridge between the Bridge House and Riverside Old Folks Home.

The EA are investigating for the source of the pollution as well as trying to prevent it from getting into the Penk.  Their staff will be working on Xmas Day because of this and we must thank them for that.   We must find out who has been responsible for this incident which as well as creating an awful smell in the community at Xmas, could also do damage to life in the brook and the River downstream.   Many farm animals drink from these water courses and farmers must be made aware of pollution incidents like this.

Sunday, 19 December 2010


Built over 180 years ago, these Arches must have been seen by many thousands of visitors to our Ancient Penkridge Market.   Many thousands must also have crossed over the River Penk by them on a Train.  However, I wonder how many knew who built them.   It was Thomas Brassey of Chester, who in 1836/7 built this viaduct and 10 miles of track as his first Engineering project.  He went on to become perhaps the most famous Railway Engineer in the world, building railway projects in many countries around the world.   Read all about him at http://www.penkridge.org.uk/folders/brassey.htm
But Thomas Brassey didn't plant these trees close to the viaduct in 1837 - who did I wonder!   And have you counted them?  There are 7 (seven) - the same number as the Arches!   Is that a coincidence or can anyone enlighten us further.  

Saturday, 11 December 2010


An application for Two very large 126 metre (415 feet)  high Wind Turbines have been given the go ahead by a Planning Inspector after an appeal was made after South Staffs. Council turned down the application.
This now means that these two Wind Turbines will be built on the Rodbaston Estate very close to the M6 Motorway, the Canal, and within 1 Km of the ancient heronry at Gailey (putting the herons at high risk of collision and death), within 1 Km of the local Microlight airstrip at Pillaton (again meaning a risk to pilots), and within 1Km of the housing estates to the south end of the town of Penkridge, housing between 8 and 9,000 people, with all the problems that turbines bring to an area, particularly the de-valuing of local property,  possible health risks and no benefits.
This is a big precedent and it is fully expected  there will now be more applications in this area of urban South Staffordshire from industrial sites, large industrial farm units, etc. 
 And I haven’t mentioned the bats – several species (all protected by law) which will be affected and be at risk.   Oh!, and a public right of way goes between the two turbines.    A new road has also to be built on agricultural land to access the site and one of the turbines is to be sited on ancient peat bog.    How green is all this?   And all in the Green Belt too.
Although the Officers of the Council recommended approval, the Councillors of the Planning Authority listened to local people and turned the application down even though a couple of local councillors were prevented from voting because of a non-pecuniary interest .   They therefore could not properly represent the views of their constituents.
If you log on to http://www.epaw.org/multimedia.php?article=news11    you will see a FILM of the views of people living near existing or planned wind farm developments.  Their objections have been dismissed by the wind industry, government and pro-wind campaigners as selfish NIMBYism, leaving unanswered many questions about the reliability and environmental credentials of wind energy.  For full information on the negative effects of windfarms go to:  http://www.iberica2000.org/Es/Articulo.asp?Id=1228

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


A very popular PUNCH AND JUDY SHOW is coming to Penkridge this coming Saturday.

By courtesy of Penkridge Business Association and Tedstones, the Solicitors, there will be three shows on Crown Bridge right in front of TEDSTONES.

The Shows will commence at  11.15am, 12.45pm and 2.15pm

FREE TO WATCH.   You can also enter the Balloon Race for which there will be a small charge.

Birds and Bats of Penkridge Parish - GAILEY IN THE NEWS

When I heard that a new Bird had been sited in our Penkridge Parish it made me think "I wonder how many species of birds have been recorded over the years here".    So I approached friend Richard who quickly sent me his already prepared Excel file with all his records shown on there that he had seen within the Parish.  Brilliant!   Somebody had made the first step and produced a list.  
So now, I am slowly going add to Richard's list the species that will be in my notes over the years and all the others that I know other people have made.  And of course, I will be looking through existing publications such as the West Midland Bird Club Annual Reports which will also have recorded some birds in our parish, particularly at Gailey Pools on the Watling Street. 
Yes - Gailey is in the news BIG TIME at the moment for two wholly different reasons.
First - at Rodbaston College they have applied for a planning permission to build a Windfarm comprising two very large Wind Turbines on land close to the Staffs. and Worcs. Canal and the M6.   If you are in that area, just look out for the large Anenometer Mast which is situated on the site at the moment to measure whether the wind does blow and if it does, how strong.  And please note - that anenometer mast is only half the height of what the two turbines will be if they are approved and erected - they will be a massive 126 metre (415 feet) height to tip of turbine blade when it is at its highest point.   
AND FROM WHAT I HAVE HEARD TODAY, very few people in the Gailey area even know about this proposed development.   For instance - the first application was turned down by South Staffordshire District Council but now the developers have appealed against the decision and anyone has until the end of August to submit written comments to the Inspector who is going to decide the appeal.    (I will continue and give you links to further information shortly).

The Second item of news is that a very rare bird, a FRANKLIN'S GULL, was seen at Gailey Lower Pool on Saturday last and has been seen the last couple of days and has attracted over 100 birdwatchers with binoculars and cameras.
This bird is a rare vagrant from North America and was first seen at Chasewater on the 15 July (presumably the same individual).  It is only the second record for Staffordshire and is the first record for Chasewater and Gailey - and of course CAN NOW BE ADDED TO THE BIRD LIST FOR PENKRIDGE PARISH!

Birds are one of the reasons why there are many objections to the siting of a Wind Farm at Rodbaston.  Within 1 Km of the turbines is a large HERONRY (on the island at Gailey Pool) and all those birds which breed there and their young, fly to feed in the Penk Valley on the River Penk and its streams and tributaries, as well as the ponds and marshes.   Many will inevitably fly through the area where the Turbines are proposed and are at high risk of being killed.   (Wind Turbines kill hundreds of thousands of birds throughout the world, especially when sited in areas close to breeding sites of large birds and in areas where birds of prey hunt and migrate).   For every bird that is killed, 7 (yes seven) BATS are killed by Wind Turbines.   It has been now established that bats (being mammals) are susceptible to changes in barometric pressure.  Pressure changes around Wind Turbines and this results in Barotrauma for the Bats who are unable to cope with the changes and their lungs explode.

Saturday, 10 July 2010


Summer Madness - Well!  Isn't it?    Coalition Government cutbacks, constant Hospital Visits taking others, Constant Watering of greenhouse plants, emergency Parish Council meetings, allotment weeding, bats and bird surveys in parish, hard drive nearly full, book Car in for MOT and service, tiny flying beetles everywhere, hot muggy nights, - and to cap it all I was booked doing 40 in a 30 area as you leave Stafford south on the A449 by a manned camera.   Oh well! that's life.   Just be a little more careful in the future - go by bus and leave the car at home.
With a friend, we were out doing bat and bird surveys in the local woods last night and came across this bird.  It was a young Buzzard but it had a broken leg which was swollen badly and it was unable to put any weight on it.   One wonders how it got broken.  

Yesterday, I also saw my first Large White butterfly of the year.   But the most extraordinary bird find this year in our Parish was the bird my wife found under the Co-op shop window.  It had obviously flown into the window and killed itself.   She brought it home and I identified it as a Tree Creeper, again a young bird.   Rarely does one find many of the hundreds of young birds that don't survive beyond a few weeks after trying to fend for themselves and learning how to feed and avoid predators and dangers.  But if every one of the 10 Blue Tit eggs or the 14 Mallard eggs that were layed in our garden survived and bred themselves next spring, then we would soon be overrun by Tits and Ducks. 

Unfortunately, I am afraid that the Buzzard with the broken leg will probably not survive to breed itself but maybe one of its siblings will.   That's life - survival of the fittest - no where more certain than with our wildlife.

A sure sign of summer - as I write this I hear greenfinches singing in the garden.  But where are the Cuckoos we used to hear and see flying over when we first moved into this house?   I heard one calling on the Eastern boundary of our parish and one has been heard in the Preston Vale area.   

Monday, 7 June 2010


Keith Burton and John Linney (both of Penkridge) set off on 3 June to walk 251 miles from Fort William to John O Groats by the hardest possible route - over the hills, mountains, bogs, rivers and valleys.  All to raise money for the Macmillan Nurses.  They are now 5 days into their effort and I have just had a text from Keith to say that poor John has developed an infected blister and is unable to continue.   Keith, however, has said he will continue alone to the end.

There is yet to come some of the most difficult walking, with four nights of camping or staying at bothys as the way does not pass anywhere near communities who can provide accommodation.  In fact, one of the Hostels they should have stayed in last night was closed down when they arrived.

I am not sure whether John is coming home or staying on and travelling by transport for a day or so to keep in touch and perhaps re-join Keith when his foot is better.  I have text him back and said he must be very careful if he is continuing on his own - there are very few other walkers on this route so he will be very much on his own and although he has a mobile phone, coverage is not very good in mountainous areas.   A twisted ankle when in he middle of no where could mean help not being launched until the evening when he doesn't arrive at his next stop.  ANY VOLUNTEERS WHO CAN JOIN HIM ON THE ROUTE?

The other Macmillan Fund Raiser is Paul Greenway from Penkridge who, with a 70 year old friend, is cycling from Lands End to John O Groats (End to End).   They started on the 6 June but we don't know how they are getting on.  No doubt he will temporarily stop in Penkridge on his way north so we will hopefully get news then.

Keith and John can be sponsored by going to the Penkridge website and linking to his page where you will find a copy of the sponsor form.  Alternatively, give Keith a phone when he gets home.


Wednesday, 12 May 2010


Princefield First School, in its development of its Wildlife Area and Studies, has two Webcams recording activity at nests of Blue and Great Tits.   They can be seen by logging on to the school website.