Wednesday, 31 July 2019

August's Old Buckenham village newsletter

Something to read
Do you know about the road closures on the B1077, when re-thatching of All Saints is expected to start, parish council thoughts on the proposed weather radar, the wild flowers on the village Green and car parking permits at the village hall?. You can learn more by reading the August issue of the Old Buckenham newsletter.
Copies have been spread about the village. If you don't get one through your letter box you can pick up a copy at the village shop, at All Saints church and the Ox and Plough.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

What's on in Old Buckenham

Diary dates for August

Thursday 1     Parish Council, Village Hall, 7.30pm

Friday 2    Visits from Mobile Library during morning

Tuesday 6    Coffee and Chat, Church Rooms, 10.30am onwards

Wednesday 7    Luncheon Club, Village Hall, 10am to 2pm

Thursday 8    Breckland Flower and Garden Club, 2pm

Wednesday 14    Chapel Friendship Group outing, meet at Chapel, 2pm

Monday 19    B1077 road closure scheduled for 7am

Wednesday 21    Luncheon Club Coffee Morning, Village Hall, 10.15am

Wednesday 21    B1077 road reopening scheduled for 7pm

Wednesday 21    Songs of praise, Methodist Chapel, 7.30pm

Thursday 22    Women's Institute, Village Hall, 7.30pm

Saturday 24    Methodist Flower Festival, Chapel, 10am to 4pm

Sunday 25      Methodist Flower Festival, Chapel, 1pm to 4pm

Monday 26     Methodist Flower Festival, Chapel, 10am to 4pm

Friday 30    Visits from Mobile Library during morning

Saturday 31    Bingo, Church Rooms, 2pm

Sunday, 28 July 2019

How do you spell Old Buckenham?

Road closure of B1077
Remember that work is scheduled to start on road works in Old Buckenham tomorrow, Monday 29 July, meaning that the B1077 is expected to be closed for three days.
It's a pity that those at County Hall don't seem to know the name of our village. We may have a castle but we have not got a palace.

Back again in Old Buckenham

Treasure Quest visits the Airshow
The BBC Radio Norfolk team were back in Old Buckenham this morning looking for a clue at Old Buckenham Airfield.

What's that tucked into the display board?

Oh look, it's clue three.

Better open the clue...

...and take some photos for the TQ Facebook page.

Now off to Diss and thanks for coming.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Road closure in Old Buckenham

Can you follow this diversion?
(Clicking on the image should embiggen it)

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Cycle to or from Old Buckenham

Charity bike ride
This year’s Norfolk Churches Trust Bike Ride will be on Saturday 14 September. Bike, walk, ride or drive around the beautiful Norfolk countryside, stopping off at as many churches and chapels as you can along the way. Be sponsored for your visits or simply make a donation to the Norfolk Churches Trust (NCT) or to a nominated church or chapel and know that your money is helping to preserve these ancient and important buildings for future generations to enjoy. By collecting sponsorship, you can raise money for your local church and the Trust (anything you raise is split 50/50 between the two).
All Saints Church was fortunate to receive a grant of £7000 from the NCT towards the re-thatching work so it would great to be able to support them, as well as continue to raise money for 'Raise the Roof'.
All Saints church will be open all day to receive cyclists who will be coming from all over the county. If you don't fancy cycling yourself would you be willing to spend an hour at the church welcoming riders with refreshments and a pat on the back? Please contact Alison Hannah (01953 861261) for more information. More details are on

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

The Gamekeeper in Old Buckenham

Village meeting on future for The Gamekeeper

The Gamekeeper pub has been classed as a community asset and Old Buckenham Parish Council has been formally told that the owners (Enterprise Inns) are planning to sell the property. The Parish Council has written to Breckland Council stating that they wish to look at purchasing under the community asset scheme. This had to be completed quickly as the initial moratorium ended on Sunday 4 August. Other residents have expressed an interest in purchasing as well as the Parish Council. To further complicate the issue, Enterprise Inns have recently been bought out and the intentions of the new owners are unknown.
To many the overriding outcome needs to be that this community asset is saved, whether that be by purchase by an individual or a community group. It is important that the various interested parties do not unknowingly start competing with other potential purchasers and that any future Gamekeeper business model has no significant detrimental affect on other businesses in Old Buckenham.
So that villagers can discuss the options and decide on a strategy, parish councillor Steve Milner has booked the village hall's Memorial Room for Tuesday 30 July at 7.30pm. 

It has proved impossible to find a date to suit all those who may be interested so if at present you cannot make this date, please try to rearrange other meetings or write down your thoughts and send them to Steve (  and he will ensure they are read out. 

Monday, 22 July 2019

Plant life on Old Buckenham Green

How many could you find?

Two villagers, Susan Hunter and Alison Frank, took a walk around Old Buckenham Green in July 2019 starting from the path by Old Buckenham High School. They found the following plants: 
Mugwort, Common Mallow, stinging nettles, tansy, brambles (lots!), dock, plantain, speedwell, hogweed, cow parsley, white dead nettles, buttercups, dandelions, lesser knapweed, creeping thistle, yarrow, ox eye daisies, common cats ear, poppy, goatsbeard (looks like a large dandelion clock), red clover, white clover, mare's tail, black medick, dove's foot cranesbill (tiny pink flower), common vetch (has black seed pods), comfrey, nipplewort, hedge mustard, goose grass (also known as cleavers), ground ivy, sow thistle, chickweed, shepherd's purse, greater plantain, opium poppies, scentless mayweed, pineapple weed, angelica, groundsel, viper's bugloss, white campion, two sorts of hedge bindweed in different places on the Green, soft rush, hedge woundwort, sorrel, birds trefoil also known as eggs and bacon (more eggs than bacon on the Green), speedwell, herb bennett, tiny yew trees, ragwort, sorrel, prickly sow thistle, creeping cinquefoil (pale yellow flower), wild barley, prickly lettuce, hawkweed, small willow herb, knot grass, small flowered cranesbill, ribwort plantain, hairy tare and horse radish near the bus shelter. 

How many of these have you seen? Have you noticed any others to add to the list? There are less to see now the Green has been cut but other plants will be seen when regrowth begins.
Perhaps someone else could produce a list of butterflies and other insects that they have seen on the Green during one day. Or maybe a list of birds that they can spot and recognise.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

New crossing in Old Buckenham

A Puffin is coming

Works to construct a new, signalised pedestrian crossing, making it safer for school children and all pedestrians to cross the B1077 will start on Monday 29 July 2019 and will take up to five weeks to complete (depending on the weather.) Some preparatory vegetation clearance will take place a few days in advance of the main work. 
The works will see the construction of the crossing point, extension of the existing footways to the new crossing, local drainage improvements, and street lighting next to the installed crossing. The work will require two periods of road closure along the B1077. These will be signed in advance, with the remainder of the works carried out under temporary traffic lights.
The planned closure dates are subject to change as the scheme can be affected by a number of factors including the weather. However the road closures are currently expected to take place on the following dates:

  • for three days, from 7am on Monday 29 July until 7pm on Wednesday 31 July and
  • for three days, from 7am on Monday 19 August until 7pm on Wednesday 21 August.
Norfolk County Council say that every effort has been considered to minimise the impact on residents, local businesses and highway users alike which is why the work will be carried out in the school summer holidays.

Friday, 19 July 2019

News of Old Buckenham re-thatching

Raise the Roof update 

The thatching work on the rest of All Saints church roof will commence on Monday 16 September with closure of the church building and the preparation work.
A conservation skills day is now planned for Saturday 26 October. Ruth Blackman (architect), Stephen Letch (thatcher) and Etienne Swarts (ecologist) have all agreed to participate, and the builders' stonemason may be taking part too. A leaflet advertising the event will be produced and posters will be up in September. The ramp for wheelchair access to the chancel is now available in the church.
The primary school has visited the churchyard for several 'outdoor learning' sessions with great success. The planning and completion of the heritage and sensory trails will now take place when the church building is reopened after the thatching has been completed. Both the primary and Chapel Green schools are fully engaged to undertake these elements of the project next year. It is hoped to have another open gardens event in 2020, dates to be decided.
From a funding point of view, an application for a grant of £10,000 has been submitted to the National Churches Trust, the outcome of this application will be known in the autumn. Fundraising continues with John and Barbara Frost's recent garden party raising over £1000 in total - half of which will come to Raise the Roof. An All Saints Church Facebook page has been launched and this will include links to the Just Giving site for 'Raise a Bundle for Raise the Roof' - watch out for more details through the Old Buckenham Facebook page and the village blog.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Big discussions in Old Buckenham

July meeting of Parish Council
These notes have been written by the blog editor from the draft minutes and so may contain information that is amended at a later date.
Old Buckenham Parish Council met on Thursday 4 July in the Village Hall. Those present were councillors Jonn Hicks (Chair) Steve Milner Donna Oakley, Adrian Joel, Andy Nicholls, Terry Cook, Mike Farrington. Also attending were Rachel Noyes (Clerk) and nine members of the public. Apologies for non-attendance had been received from Ben Devlin and Gemma Frost.
Mike Farrington and Terry Cook were both co-opted on as councillors (5 in favour). They will complete DPI forms by the next meeting.
Minutes of the June meeting were approved (5 in favour, 2 abstain). There were no matters arising.
Financial matters. Balance in community account is £43,026.99. The Premium Account has been discovered to be a Charity Account and so Donna Oakley will contact the bank and try to understand where this money is from and what it is for.
Income received by the council for the month was £1275 and payments of £985.08 were approved (6 in favour, 1 abstain).
New planning applications. Post Office, The Green. To install three steelground power-operated roller shutter doors (3PL/2019/0550/F). Neighbour is unhappy with the potential noise and vibrations that could be caused by the shutters opening and closing. Several councillors highlighted the need to think of the village as a whole and in order for the family to be protected and continue to run the shop for the benefit of the village. The application was supported (7 in favour).
Southview, Fen Street. Erection of single storey front extension to create sun room, hall and wc (3PL/2019/0661/HOU). Councillors could not see a reason to object. It is suspected that the application fell within permitted development. The application was supported (7 in favour).
Planning decisions by Breckland Council. Crown Lane Cottage, Crown Road. First floor extension to existing single-storey annex and storage/workshop building (3PL/2019/0508/HOU). The application has been approved.
Hunters House, access roads in and around Old Buckenham Hall. Redesign conservatory to a garden room (amended design) (3PL/2019/0385/HOU). The application has been approved.
9 The Old Yard, Hargham Road. Erection of office building with first floor two-bed residential accommodation - revised elevations (3PL/2019/0539/F and 3PL/2018/0887/F). The application has been approved.
Poplar Farm, Fen Road. Demolish existing agricultural building and construct new residential dwelling (3PL/2019/0287/F). The application has been refused.
Proposed weather radar. (A friend spoke on behalf of the couple who live next to the Anglian Water site) They have spent five years extending and developing the house into a home. They enjoy spending a lot of time in the garden and one of their biggest concerns is the effect the tower will have on their view and the light into their house. They are also concerned about the noise as the Met Office have admitted there will be some low level background noise as the radar moves. When asked about the possibility of increased traffic, they have been told that once built, it will only be accessed 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday. They have felt that the communication from the Met Office has been quite poor as they have not had any additional consultation or discussion. They also highlighted that any work with schools would not be allowed to take place on site as it is a working Anglian Water site. There is also concern about the effect of any future house price and sale of the property.
Adrian Joel highlighted the article on the Old Buckenham blog from Matt Wilkins which gave the view point of the Airfield. Andy Nichols felt that the Met Office have been rather strategic in their approach. He also felt that it is likely to come down to a planning committee decision in the future and explained that anyone can attend these meetings and speak. There was a need to raise concerns now, and again once the planning application is submitted.
Despite being requested by Old Buckenham Parish Council, it appeared that residents in Carleton Rode and New Buckenham did not receive the leaflet advertising the drop in meeting at the Village Hall on Friday 28 June.
Steve Milner felt it was important for the council to look into the specific details, facts and figures so that they were fully armed for any debates. The Met Office will be doing a visual impact study. The height of the tower (27m) will be approximately the same height as the windmill (with sails). If we want accurate forecasts of rainfall (and therefore potential flooding) we will need a tower in East Anglia as they have clearly shown the need for it. We should wait for the planning application and raise our concerns then.
Other points raised were that the tower will help forecasts for East Anglia but there will be no direct benefit for Old Buckenham. Other towers in the country have been placed at airfields so why can’t it be placed at an empty airfield? It was felt by many that the Parish Council should write a letter asking for more specifics and details on several aspects.
Terry Cook felt that the phrasing of the letter was very important. As the tower was being built by the Met Office and had the support of Anglian Water and The Environment Agency, it would be difficult to argue against it in terms of requirements or environmental impact. There was a need to argue on behalf of the residents as all other arguments are likely to be shot down. Need to think with our heads, over our hearts and to contact councillor Stephen Askew and George Freeman MP for their help and support
A member of the public wondered if it was worth getting the support of a large company/individual who would be able to help the fight. After a passionate comment from Steve Milner, Andy Nicholls left the meeting. Steve Milner followed and the councillors spoke privately. Both returned and Steve Milner expressed his apologies to Andy Nicholls and the Parish Council. Andy Nicholls accepted his apologies.
There was a need to contact both Carleton Rode and New Buckenham parish councils to gather their opinions. Also our village opinion might be based on people’s own view of the tower (or lack of) and might not be considerate of the neighbours view. Could English Heritage/Defra help provide arguments against it?
The residents by the site left an open invite to the parish council members to visit any time they wanted.
A letter from the Parish Council to the Met Office would ask why Old Buckenham out of all the possible sites, where were the other sites, what considerations went into the selection, what about other sites nearby and what would be the impact on airfield? (note from blog editor – the Met Office have produced a report of the consultation meeting that gives further information on most of these points. The report’s text [some 2,500 words] was posted on the Old Buckenham blog on Saturday 6 July if you wish to read it)
Chairman’s Report. The Village Hall management and the Parish Council had met. They discussed the Recreation Area as it was discovered last month that the Parish Council was paying rent for the Recreation Area, even though they own it, plus maintenance. The Village Hall agreed that the Parish Council could stop rent payment but would still pay for the upkeep.
Playdale have visited the Play Area and are going to send quote for replacing the rope bridge and a few other parts that need maintenance. There may be a need to close the playground on Sunday 11 August for all the work tidying it up.
Enterprise Inns (Ei) are putting the Gamekeeper up for sale. It is listed as a village asset and so the Parish Council would get the opportunity to purchase. Firstly, the price needs to be confirmed and a way found to gather village opinion. Andy Nicholls explained that similar purchases have been made in Garboldisham and Redgrave. He also explained that the Parish Council is able to borrow money at a very cheap rate. A member of the public explained he had received a letter from someone stating they would fully support the purchase and maybe even running it.
Ben Devlin has not completed work on the phone box. The Village Handyman to quote to Andy Nicholls a price for cleaning and sandblasting it. The Council already have the paint and a resident is offering to paint it for free.
Paint is needed for the roof of the bus shelter. Thanks were due to the gentleman who commissioned and paid for the art work which looks excellent and is a lovely feature of the village. Thank you also to the artist who painted it and those who helped install it.
Village Green Working Party. They had requested approval for the Green cutting for the next year at £1000. Andy Nicholls explained that the original agreement with Suggit was for three years at £1000/year anyway. The Green cut has been delayed till Wednesday 10 July and will require bailing as it is now so long.
Councillors’ reports. Steve Milner stated that they now have all the money needed for SAM signs through donations and grants. He is now waiting for a reply from D Jacklin (Highways) about possible locations and what equipment will be required for installation.
Andy Nicholls asked if local road closure dates could be posted on Facebook. Adrian Joel said that Dave Tranmer at the Ox and Plough wanted it highlighted that while Ben Devlin had done the first grass cut for Two Wheel Tuesday, he now pays for it to be cut commercially.
Items for next agenda. These will include a work plan for the village handyman, the Weather Radar and the Gamekeeper pub.

The next Parish Council meeting will be on Thursday 1 August at 7.30pm in Old Buckenham Village Hall.

Recycling in Old Buckenham

Recent Women's Institute meeting
Old Buckenham Women’s Institute are keen on recycling and many members are skilled needlewomen so the talk by Julie Porter on 'Recycling with a Difference' at the June meeting went down well. This inspiring young woman has set up a business turning old fabrics into useful and beautiful items. She makes bags from, would you believe, supermarket plastic bags, jeans, t-shirts and tights. Julie demonstrated how she cuts and stretches these items to create narrow lengths which she then knits or crochets to make the bags using various 'found' oddments to decorate them. She also makes skirts and dresses from men's ties and hats from a variety of fabrics including waterproof ones from umbrellas.
At the start of the meeting there was a minutes silence in remembrance of three members who had recently died.
Christine Potter from Bunwell and Carleton Rode WI (who represented Old Buckenham at the National Federation of WIs Annual Meeting in Bournmouth) gave an interesting report on her visit. Among the 9,000 attendees the Norfolk Federation was well represented and Christine encouraged members to go to one of these meetings if the opportunity arose. At this meeting the two resolutions selected by all WI members were debated and voted on. The vote for tackling the decline in rural bus services gained 96% in favour and encouraging more women to take up cervical screening gained 97% in favour. One main speaker at the meeting was Lord Bradley, chair of the Care not Custody coalition and trustee of the Prison reform Trust, on diverting mental health cases away from the prison system. He praised the WI for their tireless work for this cause. The second speaker was Maggie Philbin, OBE, once a TV presenter and now an ambassador for encouraging and improving science and technology in schools and founder of TeenTech to help young people get involved with science and engineering with an emphasis on supporting girls to pursue science.
Members were encouraged to knit scarves for St Martin's Housing Trust. These scarves will be made into a 'house' to be displayed in Norwich Cathedral from Monday 7 to Monday 14 October after which they will be sold to raise funds for the charity.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Fund raising in Old Buckenham

Evening garden party
Last Saturday was time for the annual garden party at the home of Barbara and John Frost. Despite the damp weather and numerous other events being on at the same time, The evening event raised over £960 for All Saints Church.

The man dispensing the drinks

Where are the tombola customers?

Wish the sun would shine

Waiting for your lucky ticket to be drawn in the big raffle

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Cutting Old Buckenham Green

It's been a big job
Some of the largest and heaviest vehicles that have ever been seen on Old Buckenham Green have been hard at work today cutting down the grass. They have also been removing the mowings (which are being taken away to a nearby anaerobic digester to be turned into a methane-rich gas that can be used as a bio-fuel and a digestate, which is a source of nutrients that can be used as a fertiliser). Removing the mowings will also reduce the fertility of the Green and this will be beneficial for the growth of wild flowers in future.
Three big machines were involved, one to cut down the grass, one to pick it all up and another to cart it away.


Because of the size of these vehicles they could not reach all of the more congested areas and it will be necessary to return and cut those with something a bit smaller.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Visitors to the Old Buckenham blog

Over 2000 posts
The blog editor has just noticed that there have been 2008 posts since this blog began in December 2008. The total number of visitors (if you can believe the counting software) is 116,174 with 84% being from the UK and 7% from the USA. No other country reaches 1% and 22 countries, including Afghanistan, have only provided one visitor since the blog started over ten years ago.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

New bus timetable for Old Buckenham

Same times, just a new number
This morning a new timetable was fitted into the case fixed to the bus shelter. There are still only two buses to Norwich in the morning and three buses back in the afternoon. Nothing on Saturday or Sunday. But it's now a number 5.

Old Buckenham weather radar consultation

Notes on the public meeting 
A public meeting regarding a planning application for a new East Anglia weather radar was held at Old Buckenham on Friday 28 June 2019. Here is a summary, produced by the Met Office, of the questions raised by those attending the meeting.
A weather radar in East Anglia would reduce risk to property and life by improving flood and weather warnings throughout the region and will aid the efficient planning and use of water resources in the region.
A radar network review recommended the addition of a radar in East Anglia to improve network coverage, providing better more detailed observations of rainfall further east than currently possible. This would address a deficiency in coverage and improve the lead-time of warnings for significant weather and flooding, such as the ‘Beast from the East’.
It would particularly help meteorologists deal more confidently with Easterly and North-easterly snow situations that impact East Anglia, as well as summer convective storms, and slow-moving weather systems.
A new radar at this site would also benefit the wider UK. Data obtained from the radar will be integrated into weather prediction models and provide increased resilience for the wider network.
The Met Office, Environment Agency and Anglian Water were pleased to be able to speak to around 60 members of the public, over the course of the day, to answer questions and explain more about the proposed radar.

The questions raised at the public meeting are outlined below.
Why this site? Building a radar at this site would involve the re-development of an existing brownfield site owned by Anglian Water, rather than a green field site.
A thorough investigation of possible sites across the region considered the benefits, likely costs, impact on the local environment and community and associated risks for each location.
This is the only one of the potential sites that would provide 1km resolution coverage over the whole of Norfolk, right up to the coastline. This is the finest level of detail possible, much like a large scale map. This site also offered the most cost-effective option to the UK taxpayer.
What would the visual impact of the radar be? The radar radome would be visible above the tops of trees as it needs to exceed the tree line to be able to collect observations without interference.
A metal lattice tower would be built at the site. This will have a white radome on top (this is a dome that covers the radar) and will reach to a total height of just over 27m or 89ft. There will be a small communications cabin at the base of the staircase, and access stairs forming part of the tower structure. This compares to the Old Buckenham windmill which is 54ft (without the sails) and The Big Tower Tacolneston Transmitter, which is 147m, 482ft.
The project team understands that local residents have concerns about how the tower would change the view. We have now commissioned a visual impact assessment to better understand this, and the report will suggest available options to reduce the visual impact if applicable, eg planting of trees as screening.
Will it be the same height as the chicken farm chimney? The nearby chimney (located off Old Buckenham Road to the east of the proposed radar) is 27.5m high, according to records from the local planning authority (planning ref 2008/0816). This is approximately the same height as is proposed for the radar.
Will there be any noise? Will I be able to hear it? Radars do make some sound. Whether they can be heard depends on wind conditions and distance. We have conducted an acoustic assessment to ensure likely levels are at a minimum above existing background noise such as the sound of leaves rustling and bird song.
Will it have any effect on health? Weather radars do not present a risk to the public, biological habitats or species. The Met Office contracted Public Health England (PHE) to carry out an assessment of exposure to electromagnetic fields from weather radar to fulfil its duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This survey was undertaken at Ingham radar. The proposed radar would be built using the same technology.
The results of this survey concluded that there are no hazards associated with exposure to microwave signals from the Met Office weather radar at the Ingham site.
Will the radar be manned? The radar does not require people to operate it. There will just be occasional visits by engineers for routine or reactive maintenance.
Will there be construction traffic? Yes, there will be construction traffic. When we start construction at the site (which will take approximately 2 weeks) there will be an increase in traffic because we will be having deliveries such as portable toilets, site welfare, fencing to make the safe site before we start work, although these will be one off deliveries. When we are ready to start work, one of the first work activities will be to clear the site so again a number of vehicles will be required to carry out this work and remove all waste material. It is proposed to manufacture the tower off site enabling the tower to be delivered in a number of pieces and then put together on site, likewise the comms building will come via a single delivery as it is pre-fabricated. There will be a number of vehicles needed for the duration of the project, these will be mainly vans/cars for contractors/engineers and electricians.
What route would construction traffic take through the village? Any routes for the construction traffic and working hours will be confirmed as part of the planning process. We understand that the Parish Council may have a preferred construction traffic route, so that traffic going directly through the village centre is avoided.
Will there be lights on the radar and will they be on all night? There would be lights on the radar that can be switched on for rare cases of maintenance during low light conditions. There may also be a low intensity red aircraft warning light on the top of the radar. Whether this light is needed and, if so, needs to remain on all night, will be confirmed as part of the planning process.
Could the tower be made smaller? The radar would need to reach above the surrounding trees, which grow to around 20m in height, as it needs to be able to take measurements without interference. It also needs to exceed the height of the crane used by Anglian Water on the site adjacent to the proposed site. We are revisiting this aspect of the proposal to see if there is anything else we can do to reduce the height of the tower, whilst still receiving clear observations.
Will people be accessing the site at weekends or at night time? Weekend or night time visits are highly unlikely, apart from in an emergency. An emergency might include the radar needing immediate servicing or repair in the event of approaching severe weather.
Can the radome be made any smaller? The radome cannot be made any smaller than planned, with a diameter of 5m. It needs to be this size to fit the radar inside.
How would the tower be protected from lightning? The tower will have its own lightning conductor.
How will the Met Office communicate about the plans going forward? We will make sure that the Parish Council is kept informed of any changes or developments. They will be able to update the community through the parish council meetings and minutes.
Is this just the start of a wider Met Office development? No, the Met Office has no intention of developing the site further. The site belongs to Anglian Water and the Met Office would be leasing the land for the radar.
How will the site be secured? Will there be anti-clamber features or anti-vandal paint? The structure will be fenced and access to the stairs will be bolted.
Could we paint the tower a different colour? The project team would be open to discussing painting the tower a different colour if it was thought that it would lessen the visual impact of the structure. This would involve some additional expense.
Which were the other short-listed sites? Sixteen potential sites were assessed. These were Marham, Wattisham, Lakenheath, Honington, Mildenhall, Neatishead, Old Buckenham, Stoke Ferry, High Ash Hill, Brandon High Lodge, Riddlesworth,  Soham (water tower), Newmarket (Warren Hill), Newmarket (Long Hill), Saxham Hall and Sparhamhill.
Why are there no other suitable Anglia Water sites? In total we looked at nine Anglian Water sites in the region. The site at Old Buckenham would provide 1km resolution coverage over the whole of Norfolk, right up to the coastline. This is the finest level of detail possible. This site offers the best balance between the benefits of the specific site and anticipated costs and risks. All further Anglian Water sites were either unsuitable, had no spare land available or were already earmarked for other uses.
Are there other industrial areas we could use to site the radar? We have worked extensively with other landowners to identify possible sites where we could site a radar. We must be confident of how the land is likely to be used for the next 25 years, or for the life of the radar. If we used an industrial site, we would need assurances from multiple owners as to how they intend to use the site in the future. We would also risk a greater certainty of conflicting development, which could affect the effectiveness of the radar.
Would the Met Office be willing to house a mobile phone transmitter on the radar tower? This is not something the Met Office has been actively pursuing and we have not been approached by a mobile provider. As the land is owned by Anglian Water, it would need to be approved by them.
Will the radar affect TV, radio or wi-fi? No, the weather radar operates within a narrow frequency band, which is reserved for weather radars by OFCOM. TV, radio, wifi, etc. All operate in areas of the electromagnetic spectrum, reserved specifically for them and are in a different area of the spectrum from the weather radars.
Will this affect the airfield? We have talked directly with the airfield management, and are now working with a specialist consulting firm to understand the technical details around the concerns raised by the airfield.
What are the benefits to us? There are several local benefits:
Short-term local forecasts for precipitation will be greatly improved in the area.
The forecasting of snow coming in from across the North Sea will be much more accurate.
The forecasting of high-impact summer storms for the region will be much more accurate.
Valuable information about lightning and wind shear will improve local aviation forecasts that will aid pilots when landing and taking off in the region.
The radar is designed to provide continuous, real-time information.
The Environment Agency will be able to use the data to help predict and issue flood warnings, to help reduce the risk to property and life.
The Met Office will be able to use the data collected to help predict and issue weather warnings, to help reduce the risk to property and life.
Anglian Water will be able to use the data to help maintain balance in the sewage system, ultimately helping to prevent outflow into the ocean and protecting bathing water quality.
Anglian Water will be able to use the information to inform agricultural businesses about the best times to plant, harvest or apply treatments to land.
Flood planners can use the information gathered for managing future risk.
Information from the radar will be used in numerical weather prediction models to help inform longer term forecasts.
Why now? The Met Office, with the support of funding from the Environment Agency, has recently completed a project to upgrade all the radars throughout the UK. Our focus is now on adding additional radars where coverage needs to be improved. This will help us to increase the lead-times of warnings for significant weather and flooding events.
When will it be built if planning permission is given? Current plans are for work to start in early 2020.
How long will it take to build? Building works, including groundworks and installation of the radar, will take approximately six months.
Will the land be made good after the building work? The Met Office is committed to sustainable development and any flora removed during the building work will be replaced or replanted.
Is it true that, if the radar gets built, the Met Office will be able to veto all further planning applications in the area? The Planning Direction for England gives the Met Office a right to be consulted on planning applications based on maps we submit to local planning authorities outlining when and where we wish to be consulted. However, the Met Office cannot just veto applications. There are provisions where, in the worst case, if a planning authority was going to approve an application against the advice of the Met Office, a Direction under Section 77 of the Town & Country Planning Act could be considered which would effectively request that the application is ‘called in’ for determination by the Secretary of State rather than the planning authority.
Met Office have never used these provisions and our preference is to maintain contact throughout the planning process and to work with a developer to ensure that any concerns can be addressed and overcome where possible. In this instance, a map will be prepared based on the height of the radar, surrounding topography and distance from the radar tower to identify heights of structures that may be of concern, and as such where we would wish to be consulted if a planning application fell within the identified zones.
However, Met Office are primarily concerned with tall structures such as wind turbines which are at greater risk of causing interference to the radar. Structures below the level of the radar are unlikely to be of concern. As such, more domestic style planning applications are rarely a cause for concern.
What happens if Anglian Water sell the site? Anglian Water has confirmed that it has a long-term commitment to this site. However, should the site ever be sold, provisions are being agreed to ensure the radar can continue to occupy and operate from the site.
Is the Met Office offering any ‘benefits in kind’ to the local community? The Met Office has long experience and a great reputation for engaging with schools and colleges on STEM activities. We would be delighted to work with the young people of Old Buckenham and the surrounding area in a similar way. As the radar would be financed by public money, we cannot offer to fund local amenities (eg by providing a children’s playground) in the same way that a private developer might.
Why didn’t I get a leaflet telling me about the meeting? We paid for a distribution of leaflets to the following postcodes NR16 1, NR16 2, NR17 1, NR17 2. We understand that some people did not receive a leaflet and are following this up with the distributors. We would welcome any information from individuals who did not receive a leaflet, so that we can follow this up.

Contact details and further information. For more information or specific queries, please contact

Friday, 5 July 2019

Old Buckenham school fete

Enjoyable fund raiser
Chapel Green School are delighted to have raised over £1500 at their fete on Saturday 29 June. Here are a few photos taken on the day showing some of the activity including a visiting dinosaur,  equipment to measure the steadiness of your hand and drawing the tickets for prizes in a huge raffle.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Old Buckenham Weather Radar

A view from the Airfield
Matt Wilkins, the Aerodrome Manager at Old Buckenham Airfield, wishes to point out their views on the proposed weather radar installation.
The proposal as drawn would penetrate the protected area around the airfield’s main runway. This would therefore be a breach of the Air Navigation Order. The Civil Aviation Authority would become involved and take the necessary action to block the application.
Even if the Met Office's plans are changed to lower the radar sufficiently so that it is not a technical breach, they have been made aware, in no uncertain terms, that the Airfield will object on a raft of other technical grounds, all based on Statute and the latest National Planning Policy Framework.
The Airfield have not stated that they have no issue with the frequencies that are put out. What they have said is that they would need specialist and detailed advice. They have also pointed out that they transmit to aircraft at very long distance with potential effect on their machinery.
They have pointed out that an unlit structure of height is a bad idea and that on basic grounds of safety there would at least need to be a red light at the top of the structure. Perhaps most importantly the Airfield have made abundantly clear that, in a county of precisely three Air Traffic Zones, "sticking a golf ball on a very tall stick in the middle of one of them" is idiotic.

A similar installation elsewhere in the country
Everyone needs to also be aware of one point. If this project is built then the Met Office will automatically become a statutory consultee for all applications and have immediate right of veto. In other words if someone in the village wants to do anything requiring planning permission they would have to seek the approval of the Met Office as well as the usual list of consultees. Equally anyone putting anything up under Permitted Development which interferes with this radar in any way will risk being at the thick end of an injunction. This is a major factor for consideration; doing anything in the surrounding area could become a lot harder, including any necessary home improvements, modest extensions, etc. 
The Airfield do make clear that they are not going to object on aesthetic grounds. They have been approached by several villagers about it, some of whom say they will have their views ruined, shadows cast and a host of problems. The Airfield can only object on aeronautical grounds and will do so. Their objections will identify the various points of law and planning policy that affect them. Their advice to anyone who will also object is to this do so stipulating the piece of law that you think will be impinged upon. Simply saying that it’ll be a grotesque eyesore won’t be enough; pointing to a relevant chapter of the Town and Country Planning Act, however, has decidedly more impact.

Monday, 1 July 2019

The latest Old Buckenham newsletter

What to look out for
This edition has a lot of important news for you including the minutes of the Parish Council's AGM and news of future events.

You can now read the Old Buckenham newsletter online via the Old Buckenham Facebook page. 
Please take a look at the details posted on  Facebook on 28 June and then spare a moment to comment and let us know whether this is useful - do you want to have future editions published on this Facebook group?