Sunday, 27 February 2011

Bere Ukes and Friends

The Peninsula's premier ukelele band are holding a 'Bere Ukes and Friends' evening of musical entertainment on Saturday 9th April at Bere Alston Bowling Club. Doors open at 6.45pm and there will be a prompt start at 7.30. Several local musical groups from the Tamar Valley will be performing and the Special Guest is local tenor Tyrone Piper.
Tickets are £5 for adults and £3 for children and will be available soon from Margaret's Hairdressing. Proceeds will go to the Weir Quay Community Watersports Hub Club.
For much more details, including bios and pics, visit the web site at

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Villagers' Group Meeting

The next meeting of the Villagers' Group will be on 9th March at 8pm in the Social Club. At the moment Agenda items will include possible celebrations for the Royal Wedding this April and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee next year, plus plans for a Duck Race this year.
All villagers are welcome to attend and put forward their views.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Devonport Dockyard Incinerator

The Ferret attended a stakeholder meeting with the South West Devon Waste Partnership and MVV Umwelt, the contractor for the proposed waste incinerator at the Dockyard. Significantly, there were no representatives from Tamar Valley AONB or West Devon Borough Council at the meeting - presumably, out of sight, out of mind!
Here is the Ferret's report, as given to the Parish Council and our two Borough Councillors.

Report on the South West Devon Waste Partnership Stakeholder meeting
Plymouth Council House, Thursday 24th February 2011

As the official representative of Bere Ferrers Parish Council, I attended the meeting held to update stakeholders on progress with the proposed incinerator at North Yard, Devonport, to be built, subject to planning permission, by MVV Umwelt.

The gathering of nine interested parties, from an invited list of 150, was addressed firstly by Mark Turner, Project Director from SWDWP, explaining the need for the plant because of the lack of landfill sites and the penalty costs of using them, then by Paul Carey, Director of MVV Environment Devonport Ltd.,an offshoot of MVV Umwelt, who gave a more detailed account of what the plant will do.

Here I should give a brief summary of the background of MVV Umwelt, the parent company. ‘Umwelt’ in German means environment and the parent company was set up 45 years ago in Mannheim, Germany, to dispose of waste products not easily recyclable. The company is 50.1% owned by Mannheim Council, so is basically part of its public works department. The company has many years’ experience of efficient waste disposal. MVV Environment Devonport Ltd was formed to bid for the waste disposal contract.

The partnership is formed by Devon County Council, Torbay Council and Plymouth City Council; the plant will convert all non-recyclable waste from Torbay, part of Teignbridge, West Devon, South Hams and Plymouth into steam and energy. The steam will be pumped into HMNB Devonport and used to heat the administrative buildings in the Dockyard. Some energy may be used to heat the flats in Savage Road, Barne Barton, adjacent to the plant. The plant is expected to receive 245,000 tons of waste per year, mainly household and from businesses, with some minor industrial waste. It can turn 29% of the waste into energy, somewhat higher than the norm.

The plant will be built in a roughly triangular piece of MoD land bordered by Barne Barton, the main railway line and the Dockyard’s Camel Head car park. Its location was chosen because of the closeness to the Dockyard and, more importantly, because it is at the western end of the St Budeaux by-pass from the A38. The MoD boundary will be altered so that the plant is outside the Dockyard and not influenced by Dockyard procedures.

Some concern was expressed by local people about the amount of traffic and the noise it will produce. We were told that most of the vehicles would be the normal Plymouth refuse lorries that collect household waste and it is expected that they will be in and out of the plant between something like 9.30am until 7pm from Monday to Friday. The refuse from further afield will arrive in larger lorries. The plant itself will operate 24 hours a day, with a short annual break for maintenance.

After a question about how noisy the plant will be, we were told that it will be very quiet. The lorries actually enter the building through a large entrance, which is opened and closed very quickly, so that unloading takes place inside. This entrance is on the eastern side of the building, facing the Camel Head junction, so that it is away from residents. Blackies Wood, which runs alongside the north-western side of the plot, is currently a wasteland, full of rubbish and it will be turned into a nature conservation area.

I asked about the emissions from the chimney, which will be 94 metres above sea level, as Bere Ferrers Parish Council was concerned about pollutants blowing across and onto the Peninsula and beyond. Mr Carey said there will be no problem with air quality; they are strictly governed by the Waste Incineration Directive and the Environment Agency. The plant has to have an Environmental Permit from the Agency, which is the licence to operate. The waste industry is more closely regulated than any other and the Agency has the power to close the plant if the limits are exceeded.

The main emission from the chimney will be hot air, usually only visible as a shimmer at the top of the stack, though it may be seen as a white cloud in cold weather. Pollutants will be present, but only in very minute quantities: in a cubic metre there would be a one thousand millionth part, Mr Carey said.

There will be an Air Pollution Control System, which cleans the filters automatically online. If the filters are damaged they can be shut down and a back-up system used while repairs are effected.

I asked whether the waste would only be coming from the areas mentioned and quoted the example of one of their German plants which, allegedly, receives shiploads of waste from around the world. Mr Carey replied that any extra waste in Germany usually arrives by rail from northern Europe. They did receive some waste from Naples in Italy to ease the waste problem there during strike action. Mr Turner said there were no plans to import waste from other areas.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Social Club AGM

The Social Club's AGM was held last night in the Club and around 32 members were present. Chairman Ron Ball welcomed everyone, then invited President Frank Venning to address the meeting.
President Frank addresses the meeting.
Frank thanked all the volunteers who had done such sterling work during the past year keeping the Club running. Without them, particularly the bar staff, the Club would be in a sorry state. Special mention was given to Keith and Ken, who run the bar on weekends, and who have raised £1,000 for various charities.
The Treasurer, Marita Wakeham, reported that financially the Club were back in the black, after a shortfall in 2009. This was due to judicious spending.
Chairman Ron gave his report, then Secretary David Clark read out the nominations for the available posts on the Committee. Ron was re-elected Chairman unopposed, Marita remains as Treasurer, Maurice Crout was elected Vice-Chairman, while Ally and Ken were formally elected to the Committee.
David thanked all the Executive and Committee members for their hard work running the Club.
After some discussion, the membership format will remain as it currently stands. However, the age limit for Seniors was raised from 60 to 65 for all new members; any current member between the ages of 60 and 65 will retain their Senior status.
For all his work at the Club, Keith Blackhurst was made a Life Member.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Rail Mast Meeting

There will be a meeting to form an action group to fight the rail masts in the Tamar Valley in Bere Ferrers Social Club at 8pm on Monday 28th February. Also an update on the Devonport incinerator.
If you're concerned about either or both of these, come along and have your say.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Red Herring Team Wins Bowls Club Quiz

A team from the Red Herring Club, consisting of Audrey Lashbrook, Barbara Bousfield, Juli Slaughter and The Ferret, won the quiz at Bere Alston Bowling Club tonight.
After the skittles defeat by the bowls club last week, the team were out to make amends and this they did in style.
Leading for most of the competition, they finished with a score of 91 points out of a maximum of 110, the highest score for several years!

More Information on the Rail Masts and How to Complain

The residents of Sandplace, on the Looe Valley Line, have issued a press release about their fight to stop a mast being erected at their station. Here is part of that release:

Local residents at Sandplace in South East Cornwall, fighting to protect their hamlet on the Looe Valley Line from the proposed erection of a 25m communications mast, are succeeding in forcing Network Rail to re-evaluate their plans. Following an exchange of letters with Network Rail’s new Chief Executive Officer David Higgins, which challenged his stated corporate values to be “Open, Transparent, Accountable, and Responsive,” Network Rail has confirmed that they “are working hard to address questions regarding the siting of the Railway Communications System mast at Sandplace.” They have been in contact with the Department for Transport, the Office of Rail Regulation and their project team is currently undertaking further investigations.  “As a result of this there may be more visitors in the area who will be part of this process.”
If they can do it, so can we!
Recommended Action
Write strong letters asking for support from:
Tamar Valley AONB:
Chair is Cllr Neil Burden, Cornwall Council, email:
West Devon Borough Council:
Borough Councillors Robin Musgrave and Christine Grills
Member of Parliament:
Mr Geoffrey Cox, QC. MP, 2 Bridge Chambers, Lower Bridge Street, Bideford, EX39 2BU. Email:
Devon County Councillor: 
Cllr Philip Sanders. Email:

Contact them now – work starts on building these masts on 7th March – don’t delay!

Sandplace Residents said...

Take a look at our Facebook Stop the Mast Campaign you can see what is happening at Sandplace on the Looe Valley Line. Read more at

Shop News

After the meeting in January to discuss the layout of the shop and café, the Steering Committee decided that after all there had their say and letters acknowledged, that most customers are just happy to have the shop and café. However, the principle was established that café tables should always be in the Hall.
The Community Shop and Café continues to be a truly great success with increasing numbers of stalls and shoppers. As it continues to grow it is a pity we can’t enlarge the Church Hall!
BirthdayApril 16th will be the Community Shop and Café’s 5th Birthday. This occasion is a great reason to celebrate that we been open every week without fail for 5 years. We have helped local businesses, financed a great variety of village projects and, most of all, so many of us meet each week, to work together, to shop and talk while enjoying coffee and cakes. The Community Shop and Café continues to be a great way to meet neighbours and friends, exchange information and have fun! The Committee has produced commemorative shopping bags (see photo) that are on sale at the excellent price of £3.20 - get yours at the Shop!
Rota MeetingThe next rota meeting will be on Tuesday 17th May at 8pm in the Social Club, Bere Ferrers, so all team leaders please come along with diary dates for June to the end of September.


Friday, 18 February 2011

Fight the Rail Masts!

Network Rail is erecting two masts in our neighbourhood as part of a new nationwide GSM-R digital radio system for communication between signallers and train drivers, which will cost over £4 billion of taxpayers' money. These 98 feet-high masts will be situated at the west end of Bere Alston station and 100 metres north-west of Bere Ferrers station on the Weir Quay road. They will link with similar latticework galvanised masts at Calstock and St Budeaux.
Nearby residents received news of this at the beginning of February.
No planning permission is required because Network Rail state that this is ‘permitted development’ on their land. However, they will be seen from some distance in the Valley and on the Peninsula.
Both Bere Ferrers and Calstock Parish Councils are most concerned that such structures are to be erected in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on the fringe of the World Heritage and Conservation Areas. There is also the question of potential health risks to nearby residents.
If you are concerned about these developments, then please urgently make contact with The Manager, Tamar Valley AONB, Cemetery Road, Gunnislake, PL18 9FE, with the Planning Dept. of West Devon Borough Council, Tavistock, with your local District and County Councillors and your MP Geoffrey Cox.. The Parish Council (The Council Offices, Bere Alston, PL20 7EJ) would also welcome the views of residents.
Building work is due to start on 7 March 2011, so don’t delay, do it today!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Inconsiderate Parking

There is always a problem with parking outside the Church Hall because of the narrowness of Station Road and most villagers are aware of this and try to be co-operative and park elsewhere.
However, there was an alleged incident last Saturday afternoon when the bus could not turn up Station Road because someone had parked inconsiderately on the corner. When the driver of the car concerned was asked to move her vehicle she refused and went back to the Hall.
Consequently, because of this arrogant attitude, the bus had to reverse at the bottom of the hill and return to Tavistock.
Do we want yellow lines outside the Hall? The answer is No, nor anywhere in the village, but people acting in this manner may be hastening the arrival of the yellow peril to the village.
Already the Parish Council has received a request for yellow lines past the Hall and on beyond Trevethan Park.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Bere Ukes and Friends

Ukes Maestro Mike Grimshaw announces that Bere Ukes will shortly be hosting a fund-raising concert for the Weir Quay Community Watersports Hub Project. This will take place at Bere Alston Bowling Club on the evening of Saturday 9 April. Tickets will cost £5.00 for adults and £3.00 for children and will be available from a number of sources (TBC shortly).  Refreshments will be available for purchase and there will be a licensed bar.
For more details go to the Bere Ukes website.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Red Herrings Bowled Over

The Red Herring Club entertained the Bere Alston Bowling Club to an evening of skittles at the Social Club last night. The match was in two halves with a refreshment break in the middle, a cornucopia of nibbles supplied by both teams.
The contest was hard-fought and the Bowling Club emerged as victors by 386 to 371. The Big Fish, Caroline Clark, presented the winning team with a large box of chocolates and the Deputy Big Fish, Ken Sheaf, won a box of Roses chocs for the biggest individual score.
Barbara bowls while David holds up the wall.
Maggie and Caroline reset the skittles.

Ken gets a prize and a kiss from Caroline.
Caroline with the winning team.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Eyesore Rail Mast

Network Rail are planning to erect a 30m high radio mast close to the railway station without having to obtain planning permission or, apparently, telling local residents! And our station is not the only one in the area - Bere Alston and Calstock are also sites for masts. Residents in these places are up in arms over the plans.
These masts, which are going up all over the country, are supposed to aid safety and help with running trains, but many people are not so sure.
For more details go to
A representation of the mast from the Mastsanity web site.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Weather Improving

The rain is gently drifting down but the air is noticeably warmer. Daffodils are beginning to brighten up the fields and hedgerows, snowdrops have been around for a couple of weeks and crocuses (or should that be 'croci'?) are poking up through the soil.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Watersports Hub

Resounding support for a new community watersports centre at Weir Quay is the upshot of a recent public consultation.  The centre is being designed to provide a new joint home for the local Tamar and Tavy Gig Club, and Weir Quay Sailing Club, and so ensure their survival. 
91% of people taking part in the public consultation on the project answered yes to the question: ‘Do you support the concept of a new shared facility that will secure the future of both clubs?’ 
“That support is essential,” said Peter Key, Chairman of the development committee. “Without a home the two clubs may not survive.  If they collapse it will be a huge loss to the Bere peninsula community.” 
Since the two clubs lost their old clubhouse and boat storage when the lease ran out in 2009, facilities for keeping boats have been inadequate and on a short term licence.  “If at any time in future that licence is not renewed both clubs are likely to collapse.  You cannot operate, let alone do excellent youth training, without somewhere to keep boats and store their equipment.  You really should also have showers and toilets.” 
“Our public consultation over two days also produced useful feedback about people’s misunderstandings. It is not ‘a great big flashy centre’ that will spoil the area, and we are now modifying our plans in the light of people’s views to make it blend better with its surroundings and reduce the impact of our existing watersports on this lovely area.  It will be set right into the hillside.”
“Some people were also worried it would ‘open the floodgates’ to further development.  It cannot,” he said.  The group has made public a letter from WDBC’s Chief Planner which clearly explains why.
“Others were worried it will increase activity and traffic at Weir Quay.  That is not our plan.  We are simply creating a new home for the two existing clubs, with their existing activities and their existing members.  There are roughly 280 of them and almost all live on the Bere peninsula.  In fact, it will tidy up the current mess of boat parking, and also improve existing car parking.” 
Some 140-150 people attended the consultation in Bere Alston.  102 completed the questionnaire:  89 were positive to the project whilst 10 were opposed and 3 were undecided.
It also asked: ‘Do you enjoy seeing others, particularly youngsters, sailing and rowing on the river?’  95% said yes. 
And, ‘Would you like to see the sailing club and the rowing club remain at Weir Quay for the foreseeable future?’   95% said yes.

Happening soon
“We are working hard towards making a planning application around the end of February and also making a deposit to buy the land,” Peter Key said.   “Once planning is approved we can make the first payment and get onto the site.  The sooner the better, as ideally we would like to be on site and able to do some of the essential work this summer.” 
The development group recently formed a not-for-profit company and have applied to become a charity.  It has had support from local authorities, including pump priming grants from Devon County Council, West Devon Borough Council and the Tamar Valley AONB.  Local community groups have also chipped in with financial help, including the Tavy & Tamar Apple Group, and the Tavy Tars.  The project also has had the support of the Bere Peninsula Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, in particular because of the clubs’ potential to involve young people.
“In addition in selecting the site we consulted with landowners, West Devon Borough Council Planning Officers, The Environment Agency, Natural England, The Tamar Valley AONB, The Tamar Estuaries Consultative Forum, Devon County Council highways engineer and archaeologist, and the Tavistock Community Sports Centre. 
“Without exception, all consultees were supportive of the aims of the project,” Peter Key said.  “They wish to see watersports continue at Weir Quay and expressed an understanding of the urgent need for the replacement facilities, especially for young people.”

Thursday, 3 February 2011


About twenty villagers descended on the Theatre Royal in Plymouth this afternoon for a performance of 'Spamalot', the Monty Python spoof of Camelot.
It was a terrific show from start to finish and the audience loved it. Phil Jupitus was King Arthur', Jodie Prenger was Guinevere and Todd Carty was Arthur's long-suffering servant/horse (you had to be there!).