Transition Bath October 2015 Newsletter










Climate change hustings | Foraging walk & picnic | Chelsea Road

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Transition Bath

October Newsletter

Its been a little too long since our last newsletter, most of us have been busy over the summer working on a whole range of projects. Now that Autumn has set in our Energy Group are about to start their thermal imaging project for the winter season, they have also relaunched their LED Try-before-you-buy scheme with 3 new kits available to borrow from Bath Central Library.

There is also much going on in the area of transport at the moment, with the VW scandal and continuing high levels of traffic pollution in Bath, the Eastern Park and Ride consultation, Rail Electrification and the proposal for a road link between the A36 and A46 to the east of the city.

Are you still using halogen bulbs at home or work?

With 3 new redeveloped LED "Try-before-you-buy" kits in the Bath Central Library you no longer have any reason to continue using halogen bulbs!

Funding from BWCE has helped Transition Bath replace the original and highly successful  "Try-before-you-buy" kit which has been in the library since December 2014 with 3 new updated kits containing a wider range of bulbs. In addition to the original kit's down-lighter bulbs, the new kits include LED replacements for more traditional standard, candle and golf ball shaped bulbs. 

The kit also contains a number of examples of brand new filament LEDs like this one to the right which look very similar to traditional incandescent bulbs but use a tenth of the energy.

Did you know that If you invest £60 buying LED bulbs you can save up to £300 off your electricity bill in the next 5 years - one of the most cost efficient ways of reducing your carbon footprint? Just think what you could do with £300, and at the same time feel smug about helping the planet!

More information on the kit is available here, you can borrow the kit from the library simply by clicking here and they will phone you back when a kit is available for you to pick-up.

Would a new Park and Ride reduce congestion and improve air quality in Bath?

 

 
There has been much debate over the new Park and Ride planned for Bath. But would it really help to ease congestion and improve air quality in the city centre? 

Ped Asgarian, a member of the Transition Bath Transport group, explores the evidence about how successful Park and Rides really have been in as traffic reduction methods in this article, which looks at whether a Park and Ride would work, what would need to be done to make it a success and what other options are available in Bath.

Read the full article here.
 

Air pollution in Bath and the VW Scandal

One curious statistic from last year's B&NES Transport Consultation was that although traffic in Bath had reduced significantly in the last 10 years, air pollution has remained stubbornly high. At the time we guessed it might be as a result of an increase in diesel ownership, but didn't have much evidence. With the recent VW scandal it is becoming clearer that diesels are the primary cause and that car manufacturers and regulators have a lot to answer for.

Given more information has recently become available we have attempted to summarise the issues on our website  here and have come up with some recommendations including continuing to promote a modal transport shift from cars to foot, bikes and public transport; higher parking permit charges on diesels, traffic free Sundays, a low carbon emissions zone in Bath and more support for electric vehicles.

Making Bath Abbey more sustainable

 

 

Local engineering company Buro Happold is working with Bath Abbey to make the Abbey more sustainable. The main area of research is working out whether underfloor heating powered by free zero-carbon surplus hot water from the Roman Baths next door would keep the Abbey warm and more comfortable for visitors and staff alike.

The project is also assessing the benefits of insulation, double glazing, solar panels and LED lighting. More information on our website here.

Solar Farm News: Chelwood and Nempnett Thrubwell

Some good news and some bad news on the local renewable energy front.

With the help of BWCE Chelwood a small village 10 miles of the west of Bath has been successful in raising £2.5million to create a 5 MW solar farm. This will be enough to provide low carbon electricity to 1,200 homes. More here.

Unfortunately the proposed 4.7 MW solar farm at Nempnett Thrubwell was turned down by the new B&NES council administration despite planning officer support. The company involved are appealing the decision but it is unclear whether a decision will be made before the government's planned 87% reduction in the feed-in-tariff for solar PV. More here.

BWCE Share Offer - pre-registration

Your local, award winning, community energy company Bath & West Community Energy will shortly be holding another public share offer to raise to funds to build some more solar installations. The last offer closed early with many disappointed investors. If you want to pre-register for information on their latest share offer contact peter.andrews@bwce.coop
 

Transition Bath responds to UK Government's proposal to kill off the solar industry by reducing Solar Feed-in-Tariff's by 87%

The government (DECC) is currently proposing reducing solar PV feed-in-tariff's by 87%. We have responded to their consultation in a lengthy response. Our main points are:

  • the government seem to have failed to assess the impact on employment in the industry, while at the same time bigging up employment prospects for fracking and nuclear
  • we think the 4% investment return they are proposing won't attract many community projects and will probably largely cause the sector to stop new development
  • The consultation has failed to look to the future 'bigger picture' and try to determine how renewables and new technologies like battery storage will disruptively impact electricity generation, reducing the need for gas, coal and nuclear power stations

We are however pessimistic about the outcome, we responded to DECC's pre-accreditation of solar PV FIT tariff consultation in August where 99.3% of the 2373 respondents argued against the proposal. Despite this the government has decided to go ahead and remove pre-accreditation.

If you would like to help and try to persuade the government to change their mind BWCE have written up their thoughts on how you can respond on their website.

What a bumper harvest! How can we garner it?

Rich pickings in our orchards and back gardens this year!  Colleagues at Orchardshare (now based at our CSA, Dry Arch Growers) have harvested a large number of apples which have been juiced and pasteurised, and plan to pick much more over the next few weeks, not only at their own orchard at Bathampton but also from an orchard in Wellow

Please get in touch with Tim Baines if you can help with the picking:

Bathampton, BA2 6UL: Fridays 23rd and 30th October, 9.30-12.30 Wellow (ask Tim for directions): Saturdays 24th October and 14th November, 1.30-4.30.

We've pressed apples in some strange places before, but  would never have guessed it would include the south transept of Bath Abbey. We took part in their Harvest family day, part of the Great Bath Feast, and it was good to see that it attracted interest from across the age range - partly due to the opportunity to taste it, but the process also fascinated people.

 

Garnering event: supper and film – Friday 6th November

To garner: verb (i) collect, (ii) store, deposit
To glean: verb (i) to collect, scrape together in small quantities, (ii) gather ears of corn after a harvest.
 
We hope to garner interest in gathering and using food that would otherwise be uneconomic for growers to harvest.  Last year, via an organisation called Feedback, we helped collect 3.5 tonnes of organic apples which were too variable in size for a supermarket and would have been left to rot, if they had not been picked and distributed via FareShare.
 
We’d like to invite you to share a meal based on pumpkins, squashes and apples which are unwanted for sale, followed by a screening of Agnes Varda’s film, The Gleaners and I, a documentary which celebrates the tradition of gleaning, but also emphasises that these days food poverty forces some people to rely on it and its modern form, skip-diving.
 
The date is Friday 6th November, at 7pm, in St. Matthews church, Widcombe Hill. We’re asking of donations of £5 pp to cover our costs; if there is a surplus, it will be shared with FareShare/FoodCycle. Please book your tickets here .

Fracking coming ever closer to Bath?

The government has recently offered a large number of fracking licenses for areas around the UK. One of the licenses on offer is a substantial area starting within 5 miles of Bath at Winsley, and covering Trowbridge, Warminster and Westbury.

The government seems to be increasing financial support for fracking while at the same time reducing it significantly for renewables, against public opinion and in the face of VW's fossil fuel derived pollution scandal. More information on the proposed license is available on our website here.

Ethical Investment - fossil fuels or renewables? (20th September)

This event was held at the Friends Meeting House to raise awareness about the argument put forward by Fossil Free Bristol and other groups world-wide, that fossil fuel extraction is effectively underwritten by public sector investment in fossil fuel industries. The Avon Pension Fund is administered by Bath & North East Somerset Council.  From Transition Bath's perspective, it is important to push the corollary, that divested funds should be redirected to investment in renewable energy.

Those of you who were unable to get to the meeting may be  interested to see both the Do The Math film by 350.org (which lasts about 40 minutes) and the presentation by Peter Finnegan, industry expert in ethical investment. The data presented by Peter illustrated a key argument in the Fossil Free campaign, that the return on investment in fossil fuels is diminishing, and thus undermines the supposed justification for failing to divest.

Although the Avon Pension Fund Committee, under the new administration, had not shown any demonstrable interest in Fossil Free Bristol's presentation in June, we're glad to report that, at their meeting on 25th September, they agreed that fossil fuels would be listed as a specific field of enquiry in their review of the Fund's "responsible investment".

St Saviours Infants looking to become a Solar School

To celebrate its 50th birthday and to help pupils learn more about caring for the environment St Saviours is looking to raise £18,000 to install solar PV.

If you are interested in helping them raise money for this development a longer write-up of the project is available here.

 

Transition Bath Winter 2015/2016 thermal imaging program

 
We will be running our successful thermal imaging program again this year. This will include free training sessions for volunteers. We are currently looking for volunteer homes to host the training course in November or December, if you can help us by offering your home for 2 hours one evening we would be very grateful - contact us at thermalimaging@transitionbath.org - more information on the course is available here. We have a meeting on Tuesday November 10th to discuss this year's programme.

Transition Bath’s energy group would like to congratulate one of our volunteers,  Sarah Warren on becoming a CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology) student, studying for an MSc in Sustainability and Adaptation. She provided a write-up of the challenges of Transition Bath's thermal imaging project called "Does my home leak heat?" as part of her application for the CAT course. The write-up makes interesting reading if you are interested in helping us with the project.

Keynsham Civic Centre named best workplace of 2015

B&NES council's super-eco DEC 'A' rated new Civic Centre in Keynsham was last week awarded 'Best workplace of 2015' - a national award.

We hope it will act as an exemplar and encourage developers in the area to deliver high quality new office buildings rather than ones built to minimum standards which seem to be all too common. More information on the award and the building here.

Foraging Bath will be leading a walk next Saturday 24th October, leaving the Community Nuttery at Smallcombe at 11am.
If you have an interest in foraging, please turn up
  here - the event is free and open to anyone! (NB, if you approaching from Horseshoe Walk, look out for the red sign saying 'private road - no parking' (a hint that you should walk up the road, not drive!).

 

Other news

  • Energy at Home: Despite the Green Deal Scheme being cancelled by the government in the summer B&NES Council are continuing to offer home energy efficiency grants of up to £6,000
  • British Gas insulation: British Gas also still has free non-means tested grants for loft and cavity wall insulation
  • Free Thermal Imaging Surveys: If you are over 60 or in receipt of benefits, and live in Widcombe, Energy Efficiency Widcombe are again offering free thermal imaging surveys, this winter. More information here.
  • Planning Applications: Transition Bath has responded to 2 recent major planning applications both on the Lower Bristol Road:
    • The Old Bath Press Site- 250 homes: we were generally unhappy with the developer's proposals from a sustainability perspective (our response here)
    • Roseberry Place - 200 flats: the developer seems to be taking a more enlightened approach in making the homes sustainable which we generally support (our response here)

 

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.

Upcoming events include:
 

24th Oct 11.00am (Sat) Foraging Walk
6th Nov 7.00pm (Fri) Gleaned harvest support and film
10th Nov 7.00pm (Tue) Transition Bath Energy Group Meeting: planning this winter’s thermal imaging programme
11th Nov 8.30pm (Wed) Bath Green Drinks
17th Nov 7.30pm (Tue) BRLSI: International Policy Options for Improving Water Management in Agriculture
18th Nov 5.15pm (Wed) University of Bath: Is there a brighter future for sustainable Solar Energy?
19th Nov 7.00pm (Thu) Transport Group Monthly Meeting
24th Nov 4.30pm (Tue) University of Bath (I-SEE): How can the UK transition to an affordable, secure and sustainable energy system?
27th Nov 7.30pm (Fri) BRSLI: A Christmas Tree is not just for Christmas
29th Nov 12.00pm (Sat) Climate Change Day
9th Dec 8.30pm (Wed) Bath Green Drinks

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