December 2014 Newsletter

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Welcome to this month’s Transition happenings in Bath…

December Newsletter

The most important item in this month’s newsletter is our parliamentary Hustings which we have organised for Monday 23rd March 2015. Please book a ticket and make an entry in your diaries – see below.

Who will you be voting for in the May elections?

To help you make up your mind Transition Bath have assembled all the 5 main candidates in one place for a hustings specifically on the topics of climate change and environmental sustainability.

Early next year we will be crowd-sourcing the questions that you the good people of Bath want to ask the prospective candidates. In the meantime put 7.30 Monday 23rd March in your diary and reserve your ticket. They are FREE but places are limited. Tickets can be booked here and more details can be found on the Transition Bath website

This is your chance to find out how the next MP to represent Bath proposes to address the urgent issue of climate change. They are all asking for your vote – how will they use it?

LED Down-Lighter Try-Before-You-Buy Kit now available in Bath Central Library

Do you think you are green, and do you still have halogen down-lighters? We think you can’t be green and still use halogens!

Switching to LEDs is probably the easiest and cheapest way of reducing your carbon emissions. LEDs are up to 10 times more efficient and have only 10% of the carbon emissions of halogens. With the development of our ‘Try-Before-You-Buy’ LED kit we feel people still using halogens should have no real excuse for not switching to LEDs.

Transition Bath has developed the kit which contains 40 different recommended GU10 and MR16 down-lighters to make it easier for you to switch technologies, reduce carbon emissions and save money at the same time. The idea is you borrow the kit from the library, test and try our recommended bulbs, find one you like, purchase your replacement LEDs and help save the planet! More information is available here, and we are looking for feedback on how to improve the kit as we believe this is the first such kit available in the world!

Apple Tree Planting and Twelfth Night Wassail

Come and join us at Dry Arch Growers on Saturday 10th January 2015 and take part in a traditional Wassail to produce a good apple crop from this orchard in Bathampton next year.

Volunteers are needed to help with tree planting, at 11.00am (lunch provided). Why not sponsor a new tree for just £10? Details here. The celebratory Wassail and bonfire starts about 2.30pm. More information is available here.

Energy Saving Team Competition for Schools in Bath

Do you think your local school could do more to save energy and teach our children how to conserve our resources?

If you do then B&NES Council and Resource Futures are challenging schools to reduce their electricity usage by inspiring staff and pupils to make simple, everyday changes in their behaviour. The new B.E.S.T. (B&NES Energy Saving Teams) competition includes an introductory workshop, free resources, great prizes and, for schools that sign up quickly, free in-school support from Resource Futures’ Education Team. Many schools in B&NES have made excellent improvements in their energy efficiency – have a look at Widcombe Juniors’ progress in recent years. What can your local school do?

If you have links with a local primary school please encourage them to sign up for this opportunity to save money, reduce carbon emissions, and inspire young people. Contact the council or click here for more information on our website.

BWCE successfully raises £2.6M

Congratulations to Bath and West Community Energy who, subject to the final stages of due diligence for the £500,000 loan from B&NES, have successfully raised the £2.6M needed to build the Wilmington Farm Solar Array. The installation, which is due to be completed in January, will generate 2.34MW of clean electricity enough to power the equivalent of almost 600 homes.

BWCE have further plans for the New Year more details can be found on their website.

B&NES Community Energy Strategy Consultation

B&NES Council have launched their Community Energy Strategy consultation which calls for 7 MWp of renewable electricity and 11 MW of renewable heat every year for the next 15 years. It is ambitious because only 7 MWp of renewable electricity capability has been installed in B&NES to date. We are however hopeful that the target is not unrealistic with the rapidly reducing cost of installing solar PV, the examples of BWCE’s 2.3MWp Wilmington Solar Farm and Green Switch Developments 7.3 MWp solar farm (currently in planning) would more than meet this year’s target.

The consultation coincides with the publication of the first part of Transition Bath’s Carbon Descent Plan (see below). If you have time, we would encourage you to support the council and provide feedback on the draft strategy, more information is available here.The deadline for responding is 30th December 2014.

Transition Bath’s Carbon Descent Plan: Part 1 – Electricity

Transition Bath Energy Group has long held the ambition of developing a ‘Carbon Descent’ plan – working out what we need to do to deliver a low carbon future for Bath. This month we have published the first instalment of this plan – an analysis of Bath’s current and future electricity consumption and production.

Our analysis suggests that if we meet the targets set out in the B&NES Community Energy Strategy and the government meets is target for grid de-carbonisation then by 2029 carbon from electricity emissions in Bath will have reduced by 87% and local renewable electricity production will supply 18% of our demand, even after we build an extra 13,000 homes in the area. But, there is no room to be complacent!

BWCE has applied for planning permission to install a water turbine at Batheaston Old Mill

After a hiatus of 108 years BWCE is planning on bringing the water wheel at The Old Mill Hotel, Batheaston weir back into industrial use. This was the original project thought up by the Transition Bath Energy Group that led directly to the formation of BWCE. We have all had our fingers crossed for four and half years and subject to the final stages of planning work will begin next year.
We have written a short article on our website providing more detail about the capability of the new wheel and the history of the site.

Biochar – good for gardens?

Local gardeners have been taking part in a national biochar experiment managed by Garden Organic and Coventry University. Biochar is produced by ‘thermal degradation of organic material in the absence of air (pyrolysis)’, but fortunately for the gardeners, the charcoal-like soil additive was delivered in sturdy brown bags!

Biochar can remain in the soil for thousands of years, so is a form of carbon sequestration. The big question is: does it also impact on crop yields? Gardeners made matching 1-metre square plots, and managed them identically in all ways except the addition of the biochar to one plot.

A few of the experiments went astray – or proved very tempting to the local slugs – but first indications from Coventry University’s analysis of the national results suggest that there was probably a small positive impact on yields. There are plans to run the experiment again next year. Contact if you would like to be kept informed.

Energy Efficient Widcombe Raspberry Pi Home Monitoring Project

Energy Efficient Widcombe (EEW) are currently involved in a £100,000 Technology Strategy Board project to investigate the use of home sensors in monitoring the well-being of elderly ‘Assisted Living’ patients. EEW’s aim is to see if by monitoring inside and outside temperatures they can reduce the energy use while still maintaining comfortable living temperatures. More information on the project is available on our website.

B&NES Placemaking Consultation

This consultation runs until 30th January 2015 and describes a framework for the development housing, offices, hotels and schools in numerous locations throughout B&NES. It also includes policy proposals on food, transport and energy – something Transition Bath will be formally commenting on.

We have provided a summary of the 300+page document on our website and would encourage you, if you have the interest and the time(!) to respond to the council’s consultation.

BWCE Community Energy Fund

The deadline for applications to the Bath and West Community Energy Fund has been extended to the 23rd of January. The Fund gives grants of up to £5000 to organisations in B&NES and surrounding areas with special interest in applications from organisations near our projects. The areas of support could range from improving transport to local food production, from addressing fuel poverty to fighting climate change – all you need to apply is a workable plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Alternative uses for a church?

  • Nexus Methodist Church at Claremont in Eastborne Avenue, Bath is asking the community for suggestions on its future use. The congregation are moving their worship to a sister church in Walcot and the local minister Greville Mills has been inviting people to “Pop in for a chat and tell us how you think we should use this building for the community….” You can contact the church with your ideas via or twitter @cc4camdenBath or e-mail .

Hustings: 23rd March 2015

And, another reminder, please book this event and put it in your diary!

Other news

  • Thermal Imaging: our 2 thermal imaging training sessions in December sold out very quickly and we are now considering running another free course in the New Year. To determine demand, could you contact us if you are interested in attending a training course in January, or complete this form if you have an interest in having your home surveyed?
  • Grants for home insulation, boiler replacements etc: there are 3 schemes currently running which could provide subsidies to help you increase the energy efficiency of your home:
    1. B&NES Council’s Energy at Home Scheme: provides grants of up to £7,000 to provide solid wall insulation, underfloor insulation and replacement gas boilers. More information on the scheme is available here, but be quick as the offer may be time and fund limited.
    2. The Government’s £120M Green Deal Home Improvement Fund: relaunched earlier this month, it potentially provides grants for 40+ energy saving home improvements. Again you will need to be quick – the solid wall insulation part of the package ran out of funding within 24 hours of its relaunch. MSE’s website provides a good overview of the scheme. The B&NES Energy at Home scheme is probably a better deal.
    3. British Gas’s Free Cavity Wall and Loft Insulation Scheme: this free non-means tested scheme is still available. Free means-tested boiler replacements are also available. More information is available here. If you go via the MSE website free gift vouchers are also available!
  • Is your tradesperson suitably qualified? B&NES council under their ‘Energy at Home’ scheme are providing up to 75% subsidies to train local tradesman in more sustainably building methodologies and technologies. Next time you employ someone to work on your house, could you ask them whether they have taken any these courses and if not could you encourage them to do so?
  • Car clubs: there is a new entrant into the Car Club scene in Bath. Co-wheels, a social enterprise is offering electric vehicles in the centre of Bath, they appear cheaper than the incumbent Bath City Car Club but there are restrictions on using their vehicles during the working week as they are shared with B&NES Council.

Please contact group convenors if you’d like to get involved, plan an event or start a project: