ZCC update (April-June 2023)


The following report was delivered to the full Parish Council meeting on 25 July, 2023.  It summarises ZCC activities from April to June March 2023…


Swift Nest Boxes


Bassingbourn has two swift colonies:

                   i.      Fortune Way

                 ii.      High Street


Fortune Way / Church Close has boxes on 10 houses with one more to go up. We believe that we have 8 active nests, which is up from 3 active nest last year. On two houses, box take up has been within three weeks of placement. One house played pre-recorded swift calls (using a small electronic device with a weatherproof speaker) to encourage swifts to investigate the box, the other did not.


The High Street has natural nest sites on at least two houses (at opposite ends of the street). Four boxes have been erected. One house played calls and has reported activity in one box. The other house has not played calls. No nest activity has been reported.


One box has also been erected further down the causeway (Edd Long) and two in Spring Lane (Clive and Jane Taylor; Michael and Jill Reeve).  No activity yet.


Church Project – on 19 June, Peter Tiffin met the Church Warden with Gavin Vicary (of Northeast Herts Swifts) to evaluate the possibility of placing a swift cabinet, with 20 nest chambers, in the church tower. A proposal has been prepared and submitted to the Parochial Church Council (PCC). If approved, the next step will be to submit for Diocese approval.


Swift Brick Petition (#626737) was started by the author Hannah Bourne-Taylor to make the use of swift bricks compulsory in new housing. Peter Tiffin wrote to Anthony Browne to ask for his support when it was debated in Parliament on 10 July.


Unfortunately, the debate stopped short of supporting the request to make swift bricks compulsory and left it to local authority discretion.  Fortunately, the ecological assessment for the East of Spring Lane development includes a requirement to install swift bricks.


SwiftMapper is being updated with the information from this year’s nesting activities.


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Hole Nest Boxes


In line with the theme of “keeping common species common”, the ZCC installed six Schwegler Type 1B nest boxes with 32 mm holes this year.  These are suitable for great tits, blue tits, nuthatches, and tree and house sparrows.

                   ·      Two boxes were installed in the churchyard. No active nests were seen.

                   ·      Four boxes were installed in Ford Wood. One was used by great tits, and one was used by blue tits. The Woodland Trust has been informed.


This type of nest box is included within the ecological requirement for the East of Spring Lane development.



Elbourn Way Tree Project


The trees are showing good establishment. We are checking who will continue to be a tree champion and will update the plan accordingly. Sadly, the area continues to suffer from periodic acts of vandalism. Mainly, this has affected the guards rather than the trees.


Plaques marking the planting in 2022 and its addition to the Queen’s Green Canopy have been delivered and mounted on a backing board, and will be installed once the Parish Council sign has been repaired.


Lastly, three metal guards were installed around trees on the Rec on behalf of the Parish Council in June.


Tree Trail 


Tree tags have been delivered and secured to all the Tree Trail trees.  The map has been added to the ZCC website and the trail ‘soft launched’ on social media, in time for the school summer holiday. Carbon sequestration information relating to the trees is being prepared at the moment.



Gardening for Wildlife Talk 


On Tuesday 16 May, the ZCC hosted a talk by Iain Webb (Community Conservation Officer for the Wildlife Trusts of Beds., Cambs., and Northants.) on “Gardening for Wildlife”. The talk, which was attended by 19 people, showed us how our gardens can support biodiversity within the village.


Rec Chalk Stream Initial Design Scheme


An initial design scheme for the Rec chalk stream, prepared by Ruth Hawksley (Wildlife Trust for Beds, Cambs and Northants), was submitted to the Parish Council in June for consideration.  It was approved in principle and is now going forward for funding.



Bassingbourn Community Food – Veggie Boxes and Salad Club


Libby’s veggie box scheme started in June. She is growing many of the same types of vegetables as last year but is also trying some new ones like turnips and borlotti beans.


Libby has also launched the ‘Salad Club’, born out of a desire to reduce the need for plastic packaging for salads.  The principle is that salad club members can, whenever they so choose, come to Guilden Gate equipped with their own bowl/container to harvest delicious, organic salad straight out of the ground.


Zero Carbon Collective Website


The carbon footprint of the internet is growing exponentially.  We didn’t want the ZCC website to contribute to this problem and so worked with Semibold, our provider, to achieve accreditation under the Eco-Friendly Web Alliance’s scheme.  As a result, the ZCC website has been certified as climate-positive by ensuring that it emits less than 1 gram of CO2 per page view and uses green energy to host the site.


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Action Plan Update


The Climate Emergency Plan, developed in 2020 and approved by the Parish Council at the time, now requires an update and refresh based on experience from the last two and a half years.  It will include a Nature Recovery Plan for the parish.


We will work with our newly appointed Council representative, Cllr Catherall, to ensure the updated plan can continue to be supported by the Council.



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