Transition Bath July 2017 Newsletter

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Newsletter July 2017

Our top news item this month is the cancellation of the Bathampton Meadows Park & Ride proposal and the resignation of Anthony Clarke, B&NES Councillor with responsibility for transport.

We also have a new Lib Dem MP, Wera Hobhouse who claims to be “passionate about the environment: encompassing traffic congestion, the pollution it causes and damage to the health of Bath’s residents” – we hope to catch up with Wera to find out how she can help us make Bath more sustainable in a future newsletter.

Bath and West Community Energy have also issued a ‘Solar Bond’ offering 5% interest. Investment can be via a new Innovative Finance ISA, by transferring an existing cash ISA or by investing as an ordinary bond (see below).

We are also looking to recruit primary schools for Energy Sparks, our free energy education programme which we are running in the Autumn, if you know of a school, please let us know (see article below)?

Transport News

Plans for the Bathampton Meadows Park and Ride scheme have been scrapped after the council spent £3.3million on preparatory work for the project. Following a well organised campaign by a number of local groups over the last 2 years, plans to build a Park and Ride to the east of Bath will no longer go ahead. At the same time the Councillor responsible for Transport, Anthony Clarke has resigned and we look forward to working with Councillor Mark Shelford who has replaced him.

The Council press release announcing the cancelation acknowledged the traffic problems and put forward the following solutions:

  • A36-A46 link road
  • Improved access to Lansdown P&R
  • Improving access to the Odd Down P&R
  • Investigating a light-rail/tram system for Bath
  • Understanding the ‘school run’

However the council’s new plans still make little mention and do not focus on Transition Bath’s objectives of a modal shift of transport usage from private cars to walking, cycling and public transport. 

We wonder how much impact the new plans will have on Bath’s pollution problems in the short-term? The proposed investigation into ‘school run’ traffic is the most positive part of the new plan as research from Transition Larkhall suggests up to 50% of the rush hour congestion on the London Road could be attributed to the school run.

CycleBath ‘manifesto’ to improve cycling and walking in Bath: However the good news is Mark Shelford the new councillor with responsibility for transport has asked CycleBath to present him with a series of short and medium term proposals to improve walking and cycling in Bath. It is also rumoured that Mark is looking to purchase an electric bike, which would be a very positive move as it might help him understand the needs of cyclists in Bath, and the benefits of electric bikes. CycleBath is currently working on their proposals which run to more than 60 pages. Included in the proposal are suggestions for a minimum spend on walking and cycling infrastructure, developing a comprehensive and integrated network of cycle paths, dropping off exclusion zones around schools, a ‘Scholars Way’ – a cycle network to link 13 educational establishments and 22,000 students on Bath’s southern plateau. A summary of the proposal appears on our website here.

Is 20 mph plenty in Bath? Should B&NES remove 20mph limits? An update to last month’s story on this subject – the council has now decided to defer any decision on 20 mph zones until the publication of a government report on the subject later in the year.

Transition Bath Energy Group News

Energy Sparks – the Transition Bath Energy Education programme and website trialled at Freshford Primary School: A website and energy education programme being developed by Transition Bath and Bath: Hacked has been trialled at Freshford Primary School. The aim of the trial was to improve the website we have developed which displays smart meter data from schools in Bath, and allows schools to compete in a competition to save energy by completing a series of energy saving tasks, which earns them ‘awards’. Feedback from the trial will be used to improve the website ready for our Autumn programme of energy education with primary schools in Bath. The programme is FREE and comes with professional support for teachers, will educate pupils on the subject of energy, through curriculum subjects like Maths and Science, and will help schools reduce their running costs via energy savings. If you know of any schools which might be interested please let us know let us know (hello@energysparks.uk) – we are actively looking to recruit more schools. More information on the feedback from the trial at Freshford Primary appears on the Bath: Hacked website.

Bath and West Community Energy Solar Bond Offer: Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE) are raising £1 million via a Solar Bond that lasts for 5 years and has a 5% a year interest rate.  The bond is to refinance a loan taken out to fund BWCE’s first tranche of solar PV panels which were installed in 2011 on nine local schools and community buildings.

You can invest in the Solar Bond bond in 3 different ways. Via the new Innovative Finance ISA, by transferring an existing cash ISA or by investing as an ordinary bond.

Minimum is investment is only £200. But hurry the bond closes on 31 July (unless extended). . More information on the BWCE website here and here.

B&NES Placemaking Plan adopted – 10% carbon reduction for new housing developments: B&NES Placemaking Plan has been adopted after several years of development, consultation and approval by the Planning Inspectorate.

The plan sets out where major housing and commercial development can take place in Bath over the next few years.

The major impact from a sustainability perspective is that subject to viability all new developments for homes and commercial buildings in Bath will have to exceed the minimum regulated energy carbon emissions standards as set out in 2013 Building Regulations by at least 10%. For homes the additional costs of meeting this new target can be as little as a single solar PV panel at a cost of £500. This is a major advance in making homes more sustainable in Bath, and it is the best B&NES could have expected, following the removal of the right of Local Authorities to set higher energy standards (e.g. Code for Sustainable Homes) following the government’s Deregulation Act in 2015.

Transition Bath would like to see even higher standards for new buildings but this will not be possible given the current government’s legislative framework without a change of government, or if new house purchasers insist on higher standards – which they rarely do. Given land prices in Bath are currently running at about £6million/hectare there is significant margin and viability for much higher standard homes without a significant depression in land prices.

Investigation into fuel poverty in Bath: Can you help by completing a questionnaire? Holly Robarts, a second year student from Cardiff University is investigating the impact of fuel poverty in Bath, and is investing how local and national government is trying to reduce the issue. In Bath, 12.4% of residents were in fuel poverty in 2015, which is a relatively high figure for a prosperous area, and can lead to excess winter deaths.

In order to complete her research it would be very helpful if you could complete this quick survey by clicking here.

Transition Bath Food Group News

Transition Bath’s Flourishing Community Gardens:  With growing season in full swing, Transition Bath’s small community gardens scattered around Bath are flourishing. Gooseberries have all been picked and tomatoes are swelling nicely. Gardening sessions are fairly regular at Park Street (Sundays 11am-1pm, weather permitting) and on an ad-hoc basis at Donkey Lane, Broad Street Place (YMCA courtyard) and Gravel Walk. Email food@transitionbath.org if you have the time to help us maintain these small gardens which not only make Bath a more pleasant place to live but also provide seasonal fresh vegetables for the community.

We are particularly proud of the garden at Broad Street Place, outside the YMCA which we only started in May when it was covered in weeds (see recent photo above).

Wild Walcot: This welcome addition to the Bath street scene is a collaboration between the Walcot Street Traders, Avon Wildlife Trust and Vegmead. The intention is to create green spaces all along Walcot Street. The first project has transformed the waste ground at the top of the entrance to the Cattle Market car park, to provide seating, flowers, herbs and tranquillity. Fencing has been made by dismantling old pallets, and the Wild Walcot team have offered to liaise with the Broad St Place gardeners to create some fencing at their garden too.

Updates and gardening sessions are publicised at https://www.facebook.com/wildwalcot/

Hatto Barbers in Broad Street have got in on the act by planting topiary to represent the tools of their trade:

Transition Bath Food Preservation Workshop: Harvesting your own fruit and vegetables and foraging hedgerow fruits is wonderful during the summer.  Would  you like to learn how to eat them all year round? We are holding another preservation workshop on Saturday 5th August, from 10am – 2pm, in the Methodist church hall, Bear Flat. The workshop will contain a new element, fermentation, which will be taught by Carol Stone. In previous workshops, we’ve found that participants pick up new ideas from each other, so please bring samples of foods that you’ve preserved for others to taste.

The cost of the workshop will be £15, and will include lunch and some fermentation samples to take away.  To book a place on the workshop, please email food@transitionbath.org.

Demain – the film and visit of Transition movement founder Rob Hopkins

On July 4th Komedia working with Transition Bath and the Bath Film Festival put on a showing, to a packed house, of the film Demain.

One of the leading lights of the Transition Towns movement Rob Hopkins was there to take a Q&A session after the film

Demain is a fantastic, uplifting film, already shown to millions around the world, that shows positive solutions to some of our many environmental problems. We at Transition Bath can thoroughly recommend it. It is rumoured that there will be another showing in September at the Twerton Football Club. If not we will organise  another one ourselves. Keep reading your newsletter and visiting our website for more information.

Other News

The fourth ‘R’: Reduce, Re-use, Re-cycle – and Repair

Repairing is the new, on-trend ‘R’ in waste reduction. The concept of the 3Rs – reduce, re-use, recycle – was originally developed by WRAP (Waste Resources Action Plan). Now repair cafés are starting up across the country, mainly in the larger cities where there is a greater pool of expertise. Bath Repair Café was started in April this year by Lorna Montgomery. These repair sessions have proved very popular, with greatest demand for bike repairs and repairs of electrical goods. Bath Repair Cafés are held on the third Saturday of the month at New Oriel Hall, Larkhall. Time Bank Plus in Twerton will be holding monthly repair cafes on the first Saturday from September.

Bath Repair Cafe have a great team of repairers but would like to hear from anyone with computer skills or general mending skills to become a regular or fill-in repairer. They would also  be interested in anyone getting involved with the general administration or development of the group (contact Lorna at bathrepaircafe@gmail.com or on 07815643698)

Popular items for repair and re-making are textiles. The Big Mend is a long-established Bath group who repair textiles, either conventionally or in an unusual, decorative way. The group meets on the last Wednesday of the month at the Museum of Bath at Work. There’ll be a session on Wednesday 26th July, 6-8pm, and everyone is welcome (bring your own project or help make some hearts).

Bath University develops biodegradable microbeads: Scientists and engineers from the University of Bath have developed biodegradable cellulose microbeads from a sustainable source that could potentially replace harmful plastic ones that contribute to ocean pollution.

Plastic microbeads used in cosmetics and toothpastes have been leaching via river systems into our oceans, ingested by wildlife and entering the food chain. Manufacturers of these products have been under pressure to reduce their production, and the government is considering implementing a ban later in the year.

Bath University have developed biodegradable microbeads from cellulose which breaks down in the environment and will not have the same polluting impact as the current plastic beads. More information on this project is available here.

Bath based commercial property developer HPH invests £20K in electric car charging points for its tenants: To meet demand from tenants HPH has invested £20K, plus a further £6K of government funding in providing electric car charging points following demand from its tenants. It has installed charging points in Kingsmead Square, at its car park in Monmouth Place and other local sites. Each charging point can charge up to 4 vehicles. Its has also bought a Renault Zoe electric car which it will use to help manage its local properties, reducing local air pollution.

More information on the installation is available here. HPH have strong sustainability policies which aim to minimise and offset the carbon footprint of the properties they manage.

Events

If you are aware of any events and sources of events we have missed and should add to our calendar please let us know by emailing website@transitionbath.org. We try to keep our website calendar up to date with a list of all the sustainability related events in Bath:  http://transitionbath.org/calendar/

Wed 26th July 7:45am Building the Infrastructure for Sustainable Energy Transition – Low Carbon Business Breakfast
Sat 5th August 10:00am Transition Bath Food Preservation Workshop
Wed 9th August 7:30pm Bath Green Drinks
Thu 17th August TBD Transition Bath Transport Group Monthly Meeting – Annual Social

 

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