walkers going past a house with a path waymarker in the foreground

Walking in and around Walsall

Welcome to the Walsall Ramblers group. We seek to bring the pleasures of walking to as many people as possible in the Walsall Metropolitan Area. We feel that being in a predominantly urban environment is no reason not to be involved in walking with the group. We have excellent motorway and road links from the town and hence we can be in many completely different areas of the West Midlands region within an hour of setting off.   

Our primary Walks Programme provides two different types of walking experiences. We have Sunday Walks which are generally in the region of 7.5 to 10 miles . We aim to run one of these alternate Sundays throughout the year with extra walks in the Summer period (April to September). These last from early morning to mid-afternoon and walkers will need a packed lunch.  The Group operates a car-sharing scheme for travel to these walks.

We also have a weekly Saturday Walks Programme throughout the year with walks up to 6 miles for those who either are new to walking or have perhaps not walked for a while. These are designed to gently encourage potential new members to try us out in a safe and friendly atmosphere. These walks are generally held within about 30 minutes of travelling time from Walsall itself.  Walkers will usually have to make their own way to the start of the walk. The Saturday walks are intended for people who are new to walking or are out of practice. 

 The terrain can be anything from the flatness of the Trent Valley to the hills of South Shropshire and the Peak District. However, there are few major hills within the Saturday walks area. Walks average about 2 mph including a mid-morning refreshment break on all walks and a lunch break on the Sunday walks. New walkers are always welcome and can contact the walk leader for details of each individual walk.

 

Join our walking community

Joining the Walsall group gives you the opportunity to make new friends, improve your fitness, and explore the countryside of Walsall and the wider West Midlands, though some walks do keep to the built-up areas.  

Alongside the walks, the Group has a programme of social activities with an event every month under normal circumstances. 

 

Leaders required

The Walsall group currently requires leaders for the following dates in the next two months:

Sunday 09 June

Sunday 16 June

Sunday 23 June

Sunday 14 July

Saturday 20 July

Sunday 21 July

A special event is planned for the weekend of 06/07 July.

Any group member interested in leading please contact Peter (for Sunday walks) or Tracey (for Saturday walks).  Anyone who has not led before should give plenty of notice as Central Office has laid down mandatory training for new leaders.  This entails reading a 16-page online booklet and watching two videos which together last 2.5 hours.

 

Chapel Lane Battery Storage Proposal

Introduction

This message is intended to keep members of Walsall Group of the Ramblers and their friends aware of the renewed Planning Application by Anesco, (https://anesco.com), to create a battery storage facility off Chapel Lane, Great Barr, immediately adjacent to the Duckery and on what is currently Green Belt land.

The application is described as follows:

Construction of a temporary 49.35MW battery storage facility to include 28 energy storage container units, associated controls, PCS inverters, cooling, and fire safety system, 14 Transformer feeder pillars, two substations and compound, each with an open-air transformer, dedicated access track, security fencing enclosing the site, 15 low voltage cabins each with an open-air transformer and high voltage switchgear. Intended lifespan of 40 years.”.

Battery Storage Facility

Background History

This is not the first application by Anesco to create this facility at this location:

Initial Application (21/1720) launched in June 2022.

Application Refused by Walsall MBC in December 2022

Appeal process launched March, 2023.

Appeal withdrawn July 2023

New Application, (23/1286), started October 2023

Planning consultation, (when objections can be received) closed December 2023.

Decision by Planning Committee expected early 2024.

 

Further Awareness

Although the proposed installation does not impact directly on any Public Rights of Way, (PROWs), it will have a detrimental effect on the walking environment in that area. More significantly perhaps, it will place what is essentially a commercial factory-type premises in the already scarce Green Belt around Walsall Borough. This is a site close to historic landmarks, open country, an area of scientific interest, and the proposed implementation will reduce spatial and visual openness and appears to be the least suitable type of installation that might be considered for use in the Great Barr Conservation Area.

Over 300 comments (from around 200 properties) raising objections to the proposals were received during the consultation period for the first application including those from local ward Councillors, MP Valerie Vaz (Walsall South), MP Nicola Richards (West Bromwich East) and local groups including Beacon Action Group.

Anesco urged for approval of the initial Planning Application in 2022 on the basis that the site would allow for the storage of over-produced electricity from the Grid, until it was required at a time of higher demand when it could be delivered back on to the Grid as required. Hence much of their argument is based on the national need for greener energy and the savings this scheme could generate towards that goal. These factors are cited as part of the very special circumstances which would allow such a development on Green Belt and which Walsall MBC have rejected.

However, this is a relatively small version of the type of facility compared to the 900 units planned for a site in Buckinghamshire, but it will not only occupy and deface local Green Belt, but will continue to do so for a ‘temporary’ lease period of 40 years as requested on the application.

The new application predominantly contains further arguments for utilising the Duckery site, but does not in any way alter the size, capacity or character of the equipment involved. There is more included about the unavailability of any other site in the Black Country where this can be done – which may beg the question - is this a suitable solution to greener energy in this area at all?

 

Current Situation

The latest application is presently undergoing scrutiny by the Council’s Planning Officers who will be examining the extensive documentation associated with the request, but eventually it will have to go to the Council’s Planning Committee for a decision.

If it is again rejected by the Council the applicant will have the right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate who will hold a formal enquiry in Walsall prior to making its decision, which will be binding.

Walsall Group of the Ramblers have never been against greener energy and a cleaner environment, but part of our organisation’s aim is to preserve and improve the countryside wherever possible for future generations to walk in and enjoy and the introduction of this installation in an area with so many historic and natural contradictions seem to suggest that, if approved, a precedent would be set for further similarly-argued schemes anywhere in the borough.

We believe that if this second application is referred to the Inspectorate, then it will be important for Ramblers, and others within the Walsall Community, to attend the enquiry to show the strength of feeling that exists at the potential further loss of our Green Belt environment.

This is a brief summary of what has happened and what is proposed, but if you wish to see the Planning Applications in detail then they are available at:

https://planning.walsall.gov.uk/swift/apas/run/wphappcriteria.display by entering the application number in the planning reference box.

This page will be updated as the situation develops – please keep a look out for this.

Dick Turton.

Walking Environment Officer, Walsall Group of the Ramblers.

 

 

Join the Ramblers and enjoy

  • unlimited free access to 50,000 Ramblers group walks
  • a library jam-packed with thousands of tried-and-tested routes
  • a welcome pack teeming with top tips plus our quarterly Walk magazine
  • exclusive discounts from our partners
  • knowing your support is opening up more places to walk and helping more people discover the joy of walking

Find out more

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What we do

What we do

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Campaign with us - protect the places we walk

Walking is a simple pleasure that should be open to everyone, so we campaign to remove barriers to walking and we protect the places we love to wander.

Join the Ramblers and enjoy

  • unlimited free access to 50,000 Ramblers group walks
  • a library jam-packed with thousands of tried-and-tested routes
  • a welcome pack teeming with top tips plus our quarterly Walk magazine
  • exclusive discounts from our partners
  • knowing your support is opening up more places to walk and helping more people discover the joy of walking