Fracking in the Mendips

The debate continues and I am delighted that Don Foster signed EDM 2292 which advocates the need for a full impact assessment on the technique before it is allowed in the UK. Here in B&NES the concern is on the possible consequences to the thermal waters of Bath if fracking is allowed in the Mendips.


That this House believes a moratorium should be placed on onshore and offshore exploration, development and production of shale gas via the withdrawal of UK Petroleum Exploration and Drilling Licences at sites utilising hydraulic fracturing (fracking) processes, at least until the publication of a detailed environmental impact assessment into the practice; notes that hydraulic fracturing can contaminate local water sources such as aquifers, which provide about 30 per cent. of the UK’s drinking water; further believes the production of hard to reach fossil fuels is not compatible with efforts to achieve the UK’s statutory carbon budgets; and, therefore, urges the Government instead to give greater support to the generation of energy from renewable sources.

LINK to pursuad your MP to sign is at this LINK

Recreation Ground – Have your say

The Bath Recreation Ground Trust has launched a public consultation on changes to the uses of the Recreation Ground and how space at the Recreation Ground could be utilised in the future. Approval for these changes would then be obtained from the Charity Commission. The consultation will run for 8 weeks.

It is very important that residents make their voice heard and respond to the consultation questionnaire. Go to and complete the online questionnaire. Also encourage your family, friends, work colleagues etc. to respond to the questionnaire.

Energy from rivers

The B&NES planning is currently considering an application to generate power from the river at Iford Manor using an archimedian screw hydopower installation. It is a great scheme and I have put in a comment in support to the application. It is great to see mini generating solutions coming through to generate green clean energy.
The main document can be read at this LINK

Conservative Priorities

My colleague Nigel Roberts has just uncovered the costs of publicising two controversial schemes in Bath and North East Somerset, the Bath Rapid Transit system and our Spatial Strategy. The first will do little to relieve congestion and reduce journey times, will encourage more car journeys, reduce patrionage on rural bus routes and turn a rail linear way into a two lane bus highway so taht for the last stretch of the commute people get out of the car and into a park and ride bus to save a few seconds. The second is all about housing and development needs over the next 20 years.

Bath and North East Somerset Council has spent nearly £150,000 on publicity relating to the Bath Transport Package and BRT scheme. However, only £30,819 has been spent on publicising the Core Strategy consultation programme so far this year.


I think that is an open and shut case for priorities!!

Eric Parry and the Holburne Museum in Bath

Planning in Bath can be controversial. I was on planing for the two submissions of the Eric Parry modern extension to the Holburne Museum of art in Bath. On both occasions I proposed acceptance. The first vote was lost and the amendments made enabled the second vote to be won.

Th scheme adds a modern extension on the back to enable the museum to be able to adequately dsplay its collection, allow access for all and give more space that is needed for the museum to have a viable lon term future.

The building works are progressing well and now the architect, Eric Parry, has had a national award – The Richard Fielden Architect of the Year – for his body of work.

see this LINK  for details.  

RSS – mad housing targets

Bath and NE Somerset – after a prolonged and difficult consultation agreed on a target of 15300 new homes over the next two decades. The Regional Assembly after a flawed consideration upped this number to over 18K and then the Government flicked a coin and set an absurd number of 21300.

A similar process seems to have been going on across the country. In our case the housing numbers were linked with cloud cuckoo economic numbvers. And that was before the credit crunch. What was already absurd in the middle of last year is now farcical. But still this Labour Government with its head ion the sand is pressing on.  After delay after delay after prevarication we are now told that the Government may finalyy (or not as is the case) givesus an answer to our appeal against 21300 by June (no mention of a year though!!!).

These figures are further distorted by the fact that the Government does not even recognize new build student housing as counting against the figures. Don FosterMP and Cllr Shaun McGall are leading a campaign to at least persuade the Government on this issue.

There is now a petition on No 10 website calling on Gordon to scrap these RSS figures. Please sign it.

You can sign the petition at 


Bath has one of the highest concentrations of students of any city in England. On the one hand this brings vibrancy, jobs and prosperity into the City but on the other with the buy to let method of housing students whole swathes of affordable family housing has been taken over by students.

We have been camopaigning on several fronts.

1. To pursuade the two universities to build more student accomodation on campus

2. To pursuade the government on the need for better HMO class orders

3. To get the government to recognize that new student accomodation should at least partially count towards the RSS housing numbers. At present all student accomodation we build is completely ignored by government. How absurd is that when they are looking to cram ever more houses all over the place?

Anyway our campaigns are starting to win the arguement with government.

For immediate release: Tuesday, 30 September 2008



Government “finally” takes action on studentification


Liberal Democrats in Bath are welcoming news that the Government is finally to give Councils the tools to tackle the issue of high concentrations of student houses or ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation” (HMOs) in specific areas of their authorities.


Councillor Shaun McGall (Oldfield) has been campaigning on this issue for a long time. He commented:


“I’m really pleased that the Government is finally beginning to respond to the combined pressure from local residents, Councillors and MPs from across the country who have been lobbying for action to tackle ‘studentification’.


“Councils need the substantive tools to address the development and growth of large clusters of HMOs in University towns and cities – as in Oldfield Park in Bath for example – through the planning system. The Government’s suggestion of allowing local Councils to use planning restraint policies and ‘Use Class Orders’ to control concentrations of HMOs and to help create more balanced, sustainable communities is therefore to be welcomed


“The Government is also looking at a range of parallel strategies for Councils to address community issues such as parking and waste. Some of these are already in place in Bath – such as the landlord accreditation scheme – and some have been tried in the past. B&NES was ahead of its time in setting up the Student Liaison Committee in 2003 to work with the Universities and the student’s union to improve town and gown relations, although its public engagement meetings and budget were cut by the new administration.”


Bath MP Don Foster added:


“I would like to thank those local residents and residents’ associations from Bath who have worked with us and have responded to the Government’s review on privately rented housing. Without their persistence over the years we wouldn’t have got this far.


“As this report is only a first step on a road which could lead to legislative changes work needs to continue to persuade the Government to give Councils the real powers they need to address ‘studentification’. We look forward to seeing a Green Paper in due course.”





Councillor Shaun McGall: 07917 414 382

Don Foster MP: 01225 338973


Notes to editors:

  1. Press release from the Department of Communities and Local Government:
  2. Report on possible planning responses: