Bio-diversity Demystified – February/March 2021

View from The Wildlife Patch

Bio-diversity is a term which describes every living organism within a single ecosystem or habitat, including numbers and diversity of species and all environmental aspects such as temperature, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels and climate. Bio-diversity can be measured globally or in smaller settings, such as ponds. If that sounds complicated it’s because it is complicated. Symbiosis is the
working together of two organisms to the mutual benefit of both.

Bio-diversity describes all life on Earth working together in an interdependent fragile network. To unpack the term Bio-diversity further – The Sun shines on our Earth’s surface drenching it with energy in the form of heat and light. Green plants have evolved to convert this energy into sugars which are really “packaged energy” that plants use to sustain, maintain and increase their own species.

Over many millions of years life on Earth has developed into a complex web of life consisting of Animals, Plants, Bacteria, Fungi etc. All this life is interlinked on many levels to utilise the energy thus captured by plants to sustain, maintain and multiply their own species. This system is very complicated and involves the intake and release of energy whilst in the process, releasing chemicals. These are in turn taken up by plants which utilise them to maintain their own species in a never ending cycle. Each species has a place in this system that can be occupied by no other species. If any one species – however insignificant – is taken away, the whole system suffers or may even crash altogether.

Along with every other species, Mankind has a place in this complex web. We are ultimately dependent on this system to maintain our own species. Without biodiversity, the health of the planet and ultimate survival of all species including Mankind is at stake.

Right now the diversity of life on this planet is in danger as never before in many thousands of years. The greatest threat to the loss of bio-diversity is human activity. As our population grows, together with our need for food, water and home comforts, it takes over natural ecosystems and replaces them with unnatural ones. Even in these, other organisms can adapt and successfully reproduce, but the levels of biodiversity as compared to the replaced environment are significantly lower.

The two greatest threats to the bio-diversity of our planet are Climate Change driven by Global warming and Pollution.

Global Warming The burning of Fossil Fuels – Gas, petrol and diesel – releases Carbon Dioxide into our atmosphere which forms a layer around The Earth. This “layer” traps in the Sun’s rays causing the earth’s atmosphere to heat up. The effects of this Global Warming are well known and established.

Pollution Exists in many ways at many levels, Pollution from plastic is well known as is pollution from fumes released by transport and industry. We also have noise pollution which affects our own well-being as well as affecting wildlife in ways as yet poorly understood. There is also pollution from chemicals used in agriculture and other industries. In fact the list of pollutants and their effects is much too long for this short article.

The threat from invasive species: Most species have evolved to live in a very narrow ecological niche. In this niche there will be factors that limit their ability to pose a threat to other species’ existence. Some species, when moved from their native location, finding this natural limitation removed, go on to pose major threats to native species in their new environment. There are many examples of this. The introduction of the Grey Squirrel in the 19th century is one of the most well known. Since their introduction form North America, Grey Squirrels have all but wiped out our native Red Squirrels in most of the UK. There are too many other examples of this to name here.

Threat from over exploitation: Over Fishing is an example often quoted. Many would class our trend to turn farmland over to intensive arable farming as over exploitation. We have got so good at growing crops that in almost any local cornfield there will be more Bio-diversity in one metre of the hedge border than in the whole of the 50 or so hectares field that the hedge surrounds.

Are we seeing a loss to the bio-diversity in our area? Globally the number of insects has declined by around 80% since the year 2020. This loss is ever present in our area, and in our Parish. When did you last hear a Cuckoo? How many Swallows did you see this year? Both are insectivores. There are very many more examples of loss of Bio-diversity in this parish that I could quote. We all have a part to play in combating the current decline in this loss. Individually or corporately we need to consider our own practises.

In all that we do, we could ask if we are doing our best to reverse the loss of biodiversity locally or on a wider scale.

In the garden: Do I need to use insecticide? Could I plant flowers that attract insects? Could I cut my lawn less or leave a patch unmown to allow wild flowers to grow there? Are those ants doing any harm? Is there an alternative to using slug pellets, weed killer etc. Are there eco friendly alternatives?

Think about lighting, heating. These are carbon dioxide polluters. Could we be more efficient in their use.

This article is designed to raise awareness of and demystify the term bio-diversity as well as outline some current threats to this bio-diversity. It does not discuss how to measure bio-diversity or provide answers to the question of how to tackle the loss habitat and bio-diversity on a local or wider level.

Dave Musson

Flood Watch – February/March 2021

Flood Watch

2020 will go down in history not only for Covid but for the extremes of weather that set new records for wettest February, sunniest Spring, heat wave in late July/August. Excessive rainfall in October and December resulted in the annual rainfall total exceeding average levels by 20%. Especially noteworthy was the 35mm that fell on 23rd December resulting in flooding levels not seen since March 2016 when the E-W culvert caused flooding in the middle of the Village. River level rose by 2m resulting in extensive flooding along the Nene. Notable was the evacuation of the Billing Aquadrome caravan site down stream of Northampton. The good news was that the alterations to the E-W culvert outflow prevented a repeat of the devastating event of 2016.

As the year ended the UK was battered by storm Bella followed by a period of excessively cold weather when temperatures barely rose above freezing. This continued into the start of 2021, interrupted by brief periods when temperature rose to more typical winter levels of around 5 to 8 degrees.

As we move further into 2021 the next major storm Christoph (to be followed by Darcy) could cause more flooding whilst the immediate future appears to remain unsettled with longer term forecasts being even more uncertain. However the only certainty is that daylight hours will continue to increase by 3 hours with the end of winter and the spring equinox and the change from GMT to BST on 28th March. As a result lighter evenings will return.

The flooding on 24th December prompted some research into the archives for the River Nene locally dating back to 1945. As increased flow rates are a sure indication of flooding events a rate of 5 cum/sec resulted in 160 events while 10 cum/sec occurred 11 times. These correlated with my own records of flooding over 23 years with the events of March 2016 and December 24th 2020 corresponding to a 10 cum/sec event. Also apparent was the increase of 10 cum/sec events since 2000, a clear consequence of climate change!

A major event in 2001 year event, namely the Saturn/Jupiter alignment in Aquarius on 21st December was a non-event due to cloud cover.

The E/A has still failed to make any progress in securing funding for completion of flood defences in the Village. As a reminder of the continuing risks I have forwarded copies of photographs of the flooding on 24th December and reminded them of the potential impact of climate change to stress the need for action now!


Nether Heyford Tennis Club – February/March 2021


2020 was the year we can remember for something positive down at the tennis club. After successfully fundraising for many years, we had all the three courts refurbished.

Like all sports our play has stopped, restarted and stopped again over this difficult year and we have had to change our rules and regulations as required. We would like to say thank you to all our members for following all the government and LTA guidelines to enable everyone to play tennis safely. We will continue to offer “Free Fridays” during school holidays. These are for anyone to come along and play – we can also lend kit.

We would like to congratulate Linda Miller – one of our longstanding members – who was given “Volunteer of the Year – 2020” award by Northamptonshire Lawn Tennis Club for many years of contribution to Northants tennis. Well done from us all.

When restrictions allow, we will restart our new “Walking Tennis” sessions. This is a slowed down version of the traditional game. Who is it for? Anyone! No membership or tennis skills required. Equipment will be provided and there will be no charge.

Mondays 10.30 -11.30 am at Nether Heyford Tennis Courts

Benefits – Playing walking tennis can bring real benefits, aside from the physical health gains, players benefit from the boost of being outdoors with the mental health benefits of exercise, interaction with others, and a sense of achievement of developing new skills.

For further information and to book a space please contact Jo on 01327 349094 / 07749 822016 or find us on Facebook 



Full facilities and location details can be found on our Nether Heyford Tennis Club page.

The Story of Heyford (Extra): The Ox Hovel

The Ox Hovel

The ox-hovel was first mentioned in the sale of the farm in 1758. Several local estates were being sold by auction after the death of William, Duke of Powis. The ox-hovel seems to have been built with stone from an earlier demolished manor house. It includes several interesting features such as rounded corners and substantial stonework suggesting this was an important building on the farm.

The auction took place on Monday 13th November, 1758 and the two following days at Covent Garden. The ox-hovel and the surrounding fields were part of lot seven, up for sale for £2200 and they were brought by John Devall for £2440.

The ox-hovel was used for cattle until the mid 1970s when the farm gave up its dairy herd. Over the years the thatched roof was replaced with a corrugated iron roof. At that time this was seen as a great improvement. Since the 1970s the ox-hovel was left derelict and was subjected to various forms of anti-social behaviour and was even set on fire. Restoration work was performed.

This is a rare and interesting building the like of which is not know anywhere else in Northamptonshire and may be one of the few examples of early cattle housing buildings of this type left in the whole country.

Historic England listing:

Jez Wilson

The Prattler – A-Z of Heyford in 2020

Nether Heyford A-Z 2020

People, organisations, events and village news in 2020

A: Astronomy on The Green / A5 Road Closed / Advent Windows

Remembering: Mr Hugh Adams

B: New Basketball court, Bliss Charity School

C: Community Larder & Foodbank, CLASP (Community Landscape Archaeology Survey Project) Urgent Appeal for new Field Centre premises

Remembering: Mrs Sue Corner / Mr Jason Crouch



F: Foodbank & Community Larder, Floods

G: Great community spirit

Remembering: Mr Joe Garratt

H: Halloween Trail – “Track & Treat”



K: Keyworkers. Clapping for the NHS and thanking local keyworkers for their hard work during the pandemic.

L: Last orders….village pubs closed due to restrictions

M: Mick Parker –  Village photographer

N: The River Nene flooded just before Christmas and Heyford ford was back. / New Netball court / New Netball Club  

O: One Stop Shop 

P: The village Playground was due to be replaced and delayed.



S: Shops/Service’s that kept running all through it all.

Remembering: Mrs Smallbone

T: Teddy Bears of Lockdown – daily garden displays


V:  The Village Hall celebrated 60 years old. / V.E. Day street celebrations / Village Volunteers

W: The Women’s Institute (W.I.) celebrated 90 years old. / Walking Football

Remembering: Mr Alan Watson


Y: Youth Club 


Send submissions via email or via Facebook

Compiled December 2020 – via Facebook 

The Prattler has just published its 439th village newspaper edition in it’s 43rd year of printing and distributing through the village.

Thank you to all the people who have helped The Prattler this year, in 2020.

  • Newspaper delivery people – Street by street volunteering to deliver the news each month
  • Contributors with letters, articles, information, history & events   
  • Our Advertisers – Thanks our local business and tradespeople that pay to advertise
  • Our sponsors and organisations that provide financial grants.

Sue Boutle – Ed. & Jez Wilson – Dig. Ed – December 2020

The Prattler is run by an active voluntary committee comprising of Sue Boutle, Christine Watts, Vicki Hamblin, Jez Wilson, Nick Essex, Richard Musson and Mary Rice. If you would like to submit articles or have any suggestions for future issues, please contact us.

The newspaper is supported by donations from the Parish Council, the Parish Church, the Baptist Church, Heyford W.I., Heyford Gardening Club, Heyford Singers, the Bowls Club, the Village Hall and Heyford Picturedrome as well as our advertisers.

Thanks are also due to the volunteers who distribute it every month.


Local Government Reorganisation. All Change for Councils in Northamptonshire – 2021

Local Government Reorganisation. All Change for Councils in Northamptonshire.

Local government in Northamptonshire is changing. The existing system, which has been in place since the 1970s, is like a three-tier cake.

The bottom layer is parish and town councils which typically cover one village or town. The middle layer is borough and district councils, which are responsible for things like planning applications, collecting the bins, tourism, and dealing with benefits. The top layer is the county council, which is responsible for things like social services, education, and highways.

From 1 April 2021 the top two layers of the cake are being replaced with one layer, known as unitary councils. There will be two in Northamptonshire: North Northamptonshire Council, and West Northamptonshire Council. Parish and town councils remain as they are.

West Northamptonshire Council will cover the area currently covered by Daventry District Council, Northampton Borough Council, and South Northamptonshire Council. The area contains the towns of Northampton, Daventry, Towcester and Brackley and nearly two hundred villages and hamlets. West Northamptonshire Council will be one of the larger unitary councils in England. It will be responsible for all the services currently being provided in the area by the district, borough, and county councils.

The main reason for replacing the district, borough and county councils with unitary councils is to save money. Northamptonshire County Council had well-publicised financial issues in 2017 and 2018, which led to a government inspection of the council. The inspector’s report recommended that creating unitary councils was the best solution.

Most people will not notice any difference, certainly in the first few years of the unitary councils. In fact, great efforts are being made to ensure that is the case. For example, the lorry collecting the rubbish might have a different logo on it, but the bins will still be collected. Council services will continue as normal, and any changes will be gradual.

From 2021 you will see three lines on your council tax bill. You will pay an amount for the parish or town council that looks after your village or town, an amount for Northamptonshire Police, and an amount for West Northamptonshire Council for all the council services it provides. The amount you pay to each body is set by that body.

West Northamptonshire Council will have 93 councillors, who will be chosen at the local elections on 6 May 2021. Some will be people who have been district, borough, and county councillors before; others will be new. Anyone over 18 and living in West Northamptonshire can put themselves forward to be a councillor. The councillors elected in 2021 will serve a four-year term of office and may seek re-election in 2025.

Council meetings are held in public, and all the information, reports, and papers for the meetings are published on the council’s web site. Councils are open and democratic bodies and are accountable to the people they serve.

More information:

Letters: Hugh Adams

It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of one of our oldest residents of Nether Heyford. Sadly recently, Mr Hugh Adams passed away.

One of our most long-standing Nether Heyford residents from one of Heyford’s most longest-standing families. A family that has farmed the surrounding area for a very long time.

This year Hugh provided The Prattler and the county news teams with a wealth of information, particularly around VE Day and his experience of VE Day in 1945.

The Prattler has been very fortunate to obtain the interview from BBC Radio Northampton from Martin Heath who interviewed Hugh in May this year in regards to VE Day.

“Hugh Adams (96) from Nether Heyford has been telling me about driving a jeep into Copenhagen in May 1945 as part of the Allied Liberation Force. He also collected guns off German soldiers and sold them to buy a car!”

Martin Heath:

Some Nether Heyford history articles connected to Hugh:

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Nether Heyford WW2 veteran Hugh Adams recalls VE day in 1945

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Heyford Residents who served in WW2

The Story of Heyford (Extra): VH 60th Grand Opening: 7th May 1960

The Story of Heyford (Extra): Sheep Dipping in the early days at Whitehall Farm – Hugh Adams

The Story of Heyford: Nether Heyford Women’s Institute V4C1

The Story of Heyford (Extra): The Baptist Chapel

Hugh will be sadly missed by all his family, friends and neighbours.

The Prattler team