Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is going to be a major feature of our lives for some time ahead.  The situation is evolving rapidly and anything we write is likely to be out of date within a matter of days, if not hours.  Consequently, the best source of advice for villagers is that which is being provided by the Government.

This advice can be found here on the UK Government website.

The site carries links to such things as:

NHS advice to patients;

FCO Travel advice;

Stay-at-home/Self-isolation/Lockdown Guidance

NHS Advice for health professionals;

Number of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases and Risk in the UK.

No doubt this information will evolve over the coming weeks and months

 

Flood Warning: Environment Agency Update

The Environment Agency has just (Noon 19th February 2020) updated the Flood Warning for the River Till.

Flooding is expected – immediate action required

The groundwater levels in the Tilshead borehole are currently at 99.5 mAOD and slowly rising following the recent rainfall. We believe there is a possibility of flooding for Tilshead, Orcheston, Shrewton, Winterborne Stoke, Berwick St James and Stapleford. Residents are continued to be advised to prepare property flood resilience measures and ensure that pumps are working where they have been installed. Flooding of roads and fields is possible. Residents may experience inundation of septic tanks and sewer systems. The Met Office forecast over the next few days is for more rainfall, so we can expect groundwater levels to continue to rise.

Onboard and Online: Flood Warning Now in Force – Groundwater Flooding For The River Till

Whilst not wishing to cause unnecessary alarm, please be aware that the Environment Agency has now issued a Flood Warning for the River Till.  This is the level above the Flood Alert that we have been under since late December 2019.  Please check with your neighbours that they are aware of this Flood Warning.

The Environment Agency have said:

Flooding is expected – immediate action required.

The groundwater levels in the Tilshead borehole are currently at 98.7 mAOD and rising, due to the persistent heavy rainfall from Storm Dennis. Residents are advised to prepare property resilience measures and ensure that pumps are working where they have been installed. Flooding of roads and fields is possible. Residents may experience inundation of septic tanks and sewer systems. The Met Office forecast over the next few days is for brighter spells with some showers. We are closely monitoring the groundwater situation.”

Please note that since this warning was issued, the water level in the Tilshead Borehole has risen to 98.99m AOD.  That’s back to the level it was on 1st February 2020 overnight.

Some Snippets From the Community Forum

The latest in the series of Community Forum meetings was held at Antrobus House, Amesbury on 12th February 2020. A number of interesting points were made and we are reporting these now as some are of current interest. We will publish or link to the formal minutes of the meeting when published, along with any presentation material that Highways England provides.

National Infrastructure

Jim Claydon, the Independent Chair of the forum noted that the decision, by the Secretary of State, on the Development Consent Order for the A303 Amesbury to Berwick (Stonehenge) scheme is still expected by no later than 02/04/2020. That said, he observed that there were 7 outstanding DCO applications on national infrastructure projects immediately prior to the election, no doubt impacted by the usual parliamentary purdah. These were

2 road proposals
1 airport
2 wind farms
1 nuclear power station

One of the delayed road schemes is the Sparkford section of the overall A303 scheme where the decision was due on 12th December 2019. The Planning Inspectorate have observed that a “Statement to Parliament setting a new deadline for a decision will be made once Parliament is in session.

The Chairman suggested that Angus Walker, a leading blogger on national infrastructure projects, is convinced that any DCO decisions due after 12/03/2020 will be delivered on time.

Highways England pointed out that one major road scheme associated with the A303 schemes has been given the green light and that is the DCO for the A30 Chiverton to Carland Cross Development in Cornwall. It is worth readers taking a look at the Secretary of State’s decision letter (here) as it gives a flavour of what we might expect.

Local Surveys

Highways England will be carrying out what they call a “pavement survey” in Winterbourne Stoke overnight on March 2nd to 3rd 2020 from 20:00 to 05:00. What they mean is that they will be using a specialised vehicle, similar to the one shown, to measure the depth and condition of the road surface and its underlying structure.

This is likely to involve single lane working and may necessitate traffic control measures whilst it takes place.

Survey work is also going to take place around Countess Roundabout overnight between March 16th and March 19th 2020.

(This information will be disseminated on the Parish Council website, the noticeboard and the Notifications Group asap)

World Heritage Site Studies

The meeting was updated on the progress of the two studies being undertaken by Arup on behalf of the World Heritage Site Committee

Sadly, the Connected Communities project will not consider the Yarnbury Castle crossing of the A303 – hardly a surprise as Highways England has been adamantly against doing anything to this part of the A303, despite the likely increase in usage and consequent increase in the risk to pedestrians, cyclists, and equestrians that the scheme will bring.

The studies, whose development we have reported on previously, will report by the end of March and we would hope to make those reports available to all.

Archaeology

We are going to be publishing and linking to an awful lot of material over the next few years relating to the way the public can engage with the archaeology that will emerge from the road-building project. A lot of this will be funded, at least in the early stages, by monies from the overall cost of the scheme. There were a few interesting snippets.

So far, there have been 462 hours of magnetometer and ground-penetrating radar surveys.

They’ve dug 1700 1m x 1m test pits and 440 2m x 50m trenches.

These have revealed a lot of interesting new finds but three stand-out in particular, a cluster of round barrows on the left-hand side of Winterbourne Stoke Hill, close to where the byway crosses the A303 from Hill Farm Cottages.

The second is what is believed to be a Roman bathhouse that lies behind the Travelodge in Amesbury and close to the river.

Third is a crouch-burial near the Winterbourne Stoke Clump, just off the A303 to the east of Longbarrow Roundabout. One wag at the meeting questioned whether it was really the remains of a motorist taken short in the adjacent A303 lay-by.

We raised one key question relating to the archaeology – given the prominence of the WHS, was it simply going to focus on yet more of the neolithic, given that history did not begin and end with the building of the Stonehenge landscape! What about the things that happened there over the last 5,000 years including the more modern history of WW1 including the Stonehenge RFC/RAF aerodrome and the Plains Railways. We had expected a bit of a kick-back from the archaeologists, but they seemed delighted that this point had been raised. They assured the meeting that the funding from Highways England would be used to make the most of the new archaeology that is found during construction, irrespective of what period it comes from.

Miscellaneous

A parishioner, Mr West, raised the issue of the safety of the current Longbarrow Roundabout; in particular, the road markings which encourage vehicles to take dangerous routes across it. This issue has been raised regularly with Highways England over the last 2-3 years and, despite two revisions, Highways England seems unable or unwilling to correct the situation.  Whilst we have little confidence that Highways England will resolve the situation on this occasion, it was encouraging to have two parishioners present at the meeting.

Highways England were asked (yet again!) to remove their safety barrier and broken equipment casing from alongside the A303 next to the pedestrian crossing.

We drew Highways England’s attention to the fact that Winterbourne Stoke can disappear entirely from digital mapping (Satnavs) when the A303 diversionary route is put into effect, as it was a couple of weeks ago following the serious accident to the west of the village. Basically, once the A303 is flagged as closed, the digital systems can’t find any open route into the village, or through it – even if the crash is nowhere near us. If you enter a Winterbourne Stoke postcode or address into your satnav (this definitely applies to TomTom systems – we are unsure about Google maps) under these circumstances, you simply get a blank screen with the message “Destination not reachable”. You don’t even get a map to show you places nearby as the Satnav doesn’t know where the village is! A very good reason to keep a road map in the car, even if you never use it. Wiltshire Police have also been informed of this issue.

You can keep up to date with the Community Forum activities by visiting the Facebook page.

Onboard and Online: Environment Agency Updates Flood Alerts For The Village

The Environment Agency updated the Flood Alert for the River Wylye and its tributaries (these include the River Till) at 11:52am on Sunday 29 December 2019.  Since then, with no rainfall, the river level has dropped a few inches and inundated land is now reappearing to the south of the village.

At

“Groundwater levels are rising in boreholes across Salisbury Plain in response to recent prolonged heavy rain. A few days of more settled weather is forecast though levels are continuing to rise further in response to recent rainfall. Reports indicate that properties are pumping and sewage systems could be impacted and roads affected. We encourage residents with pumps and other property resilience measures to put them in place and ensure they are working. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will update this message as the situation changes.”

We will provide further updates in due course.

Onboard and Online: Flood Alert in Force Now For River Wylye and Tributaries(ie the River Till)

The Environment Agency has just released the following:

Flooding is possible – be prepared

River levels have risen at the South Newton river gauge as a result of recent heavy rainfall and the ground being saturated. Consequently, flooding of roads and farmland is possible for the next few days. We believe there is a possibility of flooding for the tributaries between Norton Ferris and Wilton Flooding of properties is not forecast at this point. The next few days looks unsettled and further rainfall is expected. We are closely monitoring the situation and our incident response staff are clearing weed screens. Please stay aware in case further warnings are issued. This message will be updated when the situation changes.

This information was last updated at

Onboard and Online: Groundwater Flooding Alert for Winterbourne Stoke

The following flood alert was received from the Environment Agency this morning:

A Flood Alert has been issued by the Environment Agency.

Flood Alert in force: Groundwater flooding in the Salisbury Plain area.

Flooding is possible for: Boscombe, Cholderton, Collingbourne Ducis, Hanging Langford, Hindon, Hurdcott, Idmiston, Newton Tony, Orcheston, Porton, Salisbury, Shipton Bellinger, Shrewton, Stratford Sub Castle, Tidworth, Tilshead, Tisbury, Wilton, Winterbourne Stoke and Woodford.    

Be prepared.

Groundwater levels have risen in response to recent and prolonged rainfall. This morning’s level at the Terraces Borehole is 115.07 mAOD on the 19/12/19. Levels will continue to rise and flooding of fields and roads is expected. Following prolonged periods of heavy rain, groundwater levels have continued to respond. Levels are high and further rainfall is expected over the next few days and we would expect to see levels rise in response. Residents are advised to prepare property resilience measures and ensure that pumps are working where they have been installed.

We may start to see flooding on roads in these affected areas. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will update this message as the situation changes.

This morning, water levels in the Tilshead borehole reached 94.83mAOD against a flood level of 99mAOD:

The recharge rate has increased 6-fold over the last two or three days.  If the recharge of the aquifer continues at the same rate, the graph shows that we may have groundwater flooding in the village in less than a week.

No flood alert has yet been given for the River Till. However, water levels are rising rapidly and already the meadow to the south of the village is beginning to flood.  More rain is now being forecast over the next few days and the Environment Agency is advising those with properties prone to groundwater flooding take appropriate measures.

Wiltshire Council advise the following on their website:

As a property owner it is your responsibility to protect your property from flooding. The council is unable to supply sandbags in advance of any flood warnings and you should make your own arrangements to purchase and arrange for delivery to your home by local builders merchants (see yellow pages for suppliers)

If you are in imminent danger of flooding telephone 0300 456 0105.

Sandbags

Wiltshire Council  have a limited supply of sandbags and any requests for them during an emergency will be considered on a case by case basis and prioritised by level of need or vulnerability for example the elderly or infirm and the protection of commercial property to prevent environmental pollution.

Once delivered, sandbags are the responsibility of the householder and you will need to make arrangements for their disposal following the incident.

Locally, sandbags and sand can be obtained from the following suppliers identified by Wiltshire Council:

Please note that Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council is unable to provide householders with sandbags, sand, or gel sacs.

If you experience groundwater flooding, please let the Parish Clerk know.  Whilst we are unable to do do a great deal to assist, we can organise manpower, as we have done in the past.

Please can you ensure your neighbours, who may not have seen this article on the website, the link on Facebook, or the village noticeboard, are made aware of this flood alert.

Should the Environment Agency issue a flood alert for the River Till, or upgrade/downgrade the current groundwater alert, we will issue another notice here.

Some Christmas Entertainment – Studies Associated with the Highways England’s A303 Plans

Although many of the developments associated with Highways England’s plans for the A303 reach the Press, there is an awful lot of work going on in the background that never gets reported, yet has short, medium and long term impacts and potential benefits for Winterbourne Stoke. In some cases, the impact of these activities will exist whether or not the A303 scheme even goes ahead. They all require input from the Parish Council, over and above the “normal” round of activities in which we routinely engage, which for a small group of volunteers can be quite difficult.

As Christmas is nearly here, we thought we should give you an opportunity to get away from presents, yet more food and drink, the pretty much inevitable family argument and see what some of this stuff is all about and give you the opportunity to stretch your grey matter by considering how some of these activities might have a direct impact on you as individuals.

To set the scene a little more. Highways England has provided funding for a number of studies to be conducted on things associated with the A303 and the proposed roadworks, but peripheral to it. Some of these studies will be commissioned directly by Highways England, others in a way that is one step removed. Here, you have the opportunity to see the progress on two of them”

Exploring the World Heritage Site and Beyond

 

Arup has been commissioned to develop a Sustainable Landscape Access, Transport and Tourism strategy for the World Heritage Site (WHS) and beyond, described through a vision, principles and action plan. This project is reliant on the engagement of the people and organisations that will continue to live, care and shape the WHS for generations to come, so community input is essential. The following file gives a snapshot of a workshop conducted at Devizes Town Hall in November 2019 and it s output. This can be found here:

https://winterbournestokepc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Visioning-Principles-Write-Up.pdf

It was a fairly complicated process that began by looking at best-practice world-wide in managing similar high profile sites. It then went on by taking the WHS vision and developing a series of principles on which delegates could vote. Attendees were split into several group representing different interests (The Parish Council elected to take part in the “Local” group) and each delegate ultimately had 12 votes to cast for any of the principles created by their own or any of the other groups.

A number of principles emerged from this and these can be summarised as follows. Please bear in mind that the WHS comprises both the Stonehenge area and the Avebury area and some of these principles apply more to one than the other. :

Landscape Access

• Spread access North and South
• Spread visitors e.g. directing to all spiritual attractions in Avebury
• WHS visitor gateways – to engage visitors in and raise awareness
• Better promotion of the monuments and museum resources
• Promotion of Pagan principles and history
• Promoting local businesses
• Landowners and managers buy-in
• Better communication and public relations between all (farmers, locals
• Consult locals first
• Free access for all (locals)
• Peak spreading to preserve the WHS within environmental capacity
• Seasonal no public access for naturally sensitive/delicate
• Joining up those who will own the legacy
• No public (tourist) access)
• Well maintained and signed rights of way
• Better promotion of walking and cycling in the landscape
• Only sustainable visitor transport within WHS
• Better connectivity between sustainable modes
• Better access to the WHS (and over it) for cyclists and horse from local communities
• Connectivity to the national trails connected by the rights of way over the WHS.

Transport

• Services linking the two WHS
• Horse transport from parking to and around the WHS
• Bicycle hire linkage (Boris Bike Scheme)
• Consult other tourist destinations, cathedrals, Stonehenge bus, etc.
• Stop parking on bridleways and byways
• Vehicles appropriate for the nature of the road
• Zero emissions integrated local/tourist transport
• Route planning for coaches to avoid negative impact on local / wider community
• Consult locals first
• Consult wider about the effects of activities occurring in WHS
• Drive less, see more
• Educate on the benefit of the shift for all, not just heritage
• Walk, cycle, hike to reach the site
• Linkage to national bridleways and footpaths
• Improve public transport options
• Greater convenience with public transport over private
• Promote alternative modes of transport or access
• Better public transport options
• Reduce appeal of car parking in WHS
• Creating more parking outside of the WHS

Tourism

• ‘One destination’ visitor experience
• Give visitors an understanding of the range/variety of experiences available
• Provide different experiences for different types of visitors
• A more spiritual experience
• Spiritual tour rather than archaeological
• Visitors gain an understanding of the place
• A deeper experience, stay longer, make return visits
• Engagement with national tourism providers
• Consult locals first
• Young people, schools, hands-on interactions
• Deliver benefit to local community
• Integrated attractions benefitting communities e.g. tourist brochure
• Reimbursement of parking charges for visitors to local amenities
• Lower the impact of visitors, e.g. seasonal closure
• Conserve by educating and training
• Discourage fleeting visits
• Encourage self-directed tourism

The ideas generated by the workshop were subsequently used at the Highways England Community Forum and further nuanced responses gleaned.

Arup will now take these and other inputs to develop an Action Plan for the World Heritage Site. This will include a monitoring scheme, which is one of the biggest shortfalls in the current WHS Management Plan that Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council has been fighting for several years.

Connected Communities

The second study is the Connected Communities project, being undertaken by consultants WSP on behalf of Highways England. It is examining existing sustainable transport links between communities on the edge of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. This includes facilities for walking, cycling, horse riding, and bus provision and identifying where gaps exist in current provision to enable residents to commute, shop or access essential services.

This was tabled at the Community Forum meeting and gave local Parish Councils and other local groups to sanity check the work that had been done to date.

See here for an outline of the work that was presented:

https://winterbournestokepc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Community-Forum_4-December-2019_Connected-Communities-slides.pdf

The meeting was asked to consider:

Do your experiences agree with our findings?

Are we considering the correct corridors? Are there any specific improvements to the facilities you would suggest?

• pedestrians
• cyclists
• equestrians
• bus users

The study team was given a lot of food for thought and there was considerable concern about some fairly obvious omissions from the study. For instance:

• the western edge of the study area did not include Yarnbury Castle, a key north-south crossing of the A303 that links to local byways
• lack of consideration of east-west transport needs across the WHS (eg by those who live in Shrewton and work at Dstl or Qinteiq)
• the impact of the new doctor’s surgery in Larkhill and its impact on east-west local transport needs
• the recreational needs of locals.

We will report these studies again when complete, or if there is an opportunity for involvement by the broader community.

We would be happy to give further insights into either of these two studies if there is sufficient community interest.

Onboard and Online: Flooding – Information from Wiltshire Council and the Environment Agency

Background

In the last 24 hours we have received two communications from the Environment Agency and Wiltshire Council regarding the grounwater situation across Wiltshire. Clearly, these have direct relevance for all of us living alongside the River Till.

The bottom line of both these documents is to urge town parish councils to be aware of the current situation and to adopt such measures as they can. In turn, we are now asking parishioners, particularly those of you owning/living in properties known to be susceptible to groundwater flooding, to be aware of the situation and take appropriate measures for your own properties; for instance by checking that water pumps are functioning and that other measures you have adopted in the past, sandbags, moving furniture and carpets to higher parts of the property, etc., can be initiated at short notice and carried out quickly.

The Current Regional Situation

“We have noticed the recharge (the aquifer starts to refill) season started earlier this year due to the wetter autumn that we have experienced, in fact bore hole levels across Dorset and Wiltshire are recording levels considerably above average for this time of year.

Below is a graph of the Groundwater level at Woodyates (on the Dorset / Wiltshire / Hampshire border) the dotted blue line is the mean October 31st level. This site is used as a national indicator for groundwater levels as it is fairly central and has a long period of recorded data.

As you can see, we ended the first month of the traditional re-charge period in October at around 91.0 mAOD (Ordnance datum (mAOD) is based on the mean sea level at Newlyn in Cornwall) compared to a twenty year mean of 76.0 mAOD. It is the second highest level on record after 2012 which was a bit of an anomaly as there was almost no recession that summer due to a Groundwater flooding event. As you can see we are at a level that is already higher than average for this time of year.


The Flood Alert level at this site is 98m mAOD and we would consider issuing a Flood Warning at 102 mAOD.

The Current Local Situation

As of 9:15 this morning, the water level in the Tilshead borehole stands at 90.24m mAOD. Levels have been rising for the last three weeks, but it is fair to say that the rate of increase over the last few days, with less rain, has begun to slow. The graph looks as follows:

The red arrow indicates the level this morning. We are only 4 metres below the 6-year average MAXIMUM winter level and in a credible worst-case scenario, less than two weeks/9 metres from possible groundwater flooding. If that looks scary, don’t forget that the average winter maximum is 94m. The good news is that we should have several days of dry weather over the next week and the rate of increase should fall and may even reverse. That said, the Environment Agency make the following point: “With Groundwater levels currently higher than average for this time of year, if we continue to have heavy rainfall events across Dorset and Wiltshire we anticipate issuing Groundwater Flood Alerts across Dorset and Wiltshire before Christmas”. Even then, it is far from certain we will have flooding here.

Winterbourne Stoke Parish Council will continue to monitor groundwater levels in the aquifer and publish weekly updates with the first due to appear on Sunday 8th December showing data collected for the first week. Keep an eye-out here for any interim bulletins or on the village Facebook page.

Please let the Parish Clerk (or any Councillor) know if you have concerns about specific properties, are seeking further help, or believe that a flooding event is imminent or underway.

Further Information

The Environment Agency and Wiltshire Council are holding two drop in sessions to enable town and parish councils and residents an opportunity to discuss groundwater issues in your area, share flood maps that maybe helpful for you to identify areas at risk of flooding and share knowledge on what to look for in your area. We can also give you more information on the Groundwater flood warning service available for your community.

We would also like to hear about your observations and feedback
If you have not made or updated your flood or emergency plan it’s not to late! If you need assistance, help or advice contact: drainage@wiltshire.gov.uk

Drop-in Sessions
Tuesday 10th December 2019 – Amesbury
Shears Dr, Amesbury, Salisbury SP4 7XT
10 – 6

Tuesday 17th December 2019 – Wilton
Castle Meadow Pavilion
SP2 0HG


To sign up for flood and groundwater warnings, click here https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings
or
FloodlineTelephone: 0345 988 1188 24-hour service

It’s Still Raining

Although we are not reporting weekly water levels in the aquifer, we are keeping an eye on them and the rainfall. Some of you will have noticed that some of the springs have broken and that the river is flowing again.

The reason for the latest update is that Autumn has arrived with a vengeance and whilst the colours of the trees are glorious, they are no longer taking up as much water as they were only a week ago. That has had a huge impact on the water levels in the aquifer which have risen 3 metres in the course of just a few days. To put that into context, as of this morning, the water level in the Tilshead borehole stands at 84.17 metres. That’s some way short of the flood level of 99 metres, but as we’ve said in previous years, once we get close to the 85 metre mark, the aquifer becomes very sensitive to small changes in rainfall.

So, how do we stand in comparison with previous years:

Season Date levels passed 84 metres

2013-14 04/01/14 (The last flood year)

2014-15 25/12/15

2015-16 07/01/16

2016-17 09/02/17

2017-18 10/01/18

2018-19 19/01/19

That means we’ve hit the 84 metre mark some 6 to 8 weeks before we would have in an “average” year. Given we have what is “normally” the rainiest part of the year (December and January) yet to come, that doesn’t mean we are going to have a flood this year. The rains may have come early, or we may have a particularly dry end to this year and start of the next. We will be keeping a close eye on the situation and produce another bulletin if things change markedly before the start of December. If there is any other information we can let you have in relation to floods and flooding in the village, please contact us.