Six speakers talk sustainability

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Transition Bath’s fourth Sustainability Shorts event took place on 8 June at St Mark’s Community Centre in Widcombe, to coincide with the beginning of Big Green Week. Each of the six speakers spoke for 10 minutes on individual themes surrounding sustainability, with a five minute slot for questions after each one. 

In the first half of the evening we heard from Professor David Goode, who talked about the community-led nature project in Lyncombe Hill Fields. The 10 acres of farmland just above Beechen Cliff and adjacent to Alexandra Park is a secret paradise where public footpaths cross the land, linking with a network of longer-distance paths that give access to Bath’s southern slopes and valleys. The Friends of Lyncombe Hill Fields, a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC), have managed the land since 2020 with the mission to conserve and enhance the biodiversity and maintain its wild nature whilst ensuring public access. It boasts more than 20 bird nesting boxes, and on a good day bird species sightings can be up to 26. There is even a resident kestrel family who keep an eye on proceedings! Find out more here.

The next speakers, Erica Davies and Alistair Singleton, introduced the audience to Keynsham #NoPlaceForLitter. Erica and Alistair explained how Britain is sitting way behind the curve within European countries on litter dropping, and, driven to make a difference, #NoPlaceForLitter was launched, organising volunteers to go out and litter pick to clean up Keynsham’s streets and environment. But cleaning up rubbish is just half the problem, so the second aspect of their work is an education programme that works with local schools to encourage every child in B&NES to pick up litter once a year. The idea is that this participation will change views and behaviours and give young people a positive outlet for their frustrations about the climate emergency. Find out more here.

Rob Delius, Head of Sustainability at local architectural firm Stride Treglown, was the third speaker. He explained how the UK is now the most nature depleted country on earth. In protest and to advocate for the need to protect our natural environment and all its life forms, Rob initiated the dramatic Funeral for Nature demonstration that took place in Bath in April. The procession saw a street performance funeral cortege of 500 protesters dressed as Red Rebels, alongside drummers and funeral mourners, with the coffin created by local artist Anna Gillespie and landcape artist Dan Pearson. The key message is that human beings have the power to bring about great change and we can help to shift the culture and move towards a rewarded, biodiverse landscape. Find out more here.

After a tea and coffee break, we heard from Alison Holman, Education Secretary for the Bath Beekeepers Association, who told us how there are 270 species of bee in the UK, including eight bumblebees and the honey bee, and how they all act as pollinators for our wild trees and wild flowers, which  support other insects, and in turn birds, bats, mammals and everything up the food chain. Alison explained how beekeepers work sustainably, using local bees, making their own kit and recycling elements. She also told us about the threat from Asian Hornets, which are now appearing the UK and how they can eat their way through 11 kilos of pollinators within a year. Find out more here.

The next talk from Stella Davies, Principal Drainage Engineer at Wiltshire Council, focused on Climate Change and Flood Risk. The audience discovered how flooding can come from rivers, canals, streams, reservoirs and lakes, and how climate change was increasing the problems with increased rainfall, dry summers and flooding from snow, and how this is dramatically impacting the natural water cycle, resulting in flood levels rising. To combat flooding we need to protect and increase our natural landscapes and trees and where possible avoid non permeable hard landscaping. 

The final speaker was Sue Poole from Bath Climate Hub. BCH was formed because volunteers felt strongly that governments are not taking climate change issues seriously, and wanted to take action. The driving mission has been to encourage as many conversations as possible about the climate, and to do this outside of the safe ‘eco bubble’ with like-minded people. BCH set up a green outreach hub in Kingsmead Square enabling conversations and the sharing of ideas. Now after three years the challenge is to scale up the action to connect communities and to work towards collaborative action for nature and the climate. 

As usual the audience were engaged with and diverted by six diverse themes around sustainability and climate, with each example illustrating how individuals have the power to take action as a community in order to protect what’s valuable and make our world (and our city) more sustainable and vibrant for future generations. 
Third and fourth from left: Erica Davies and Alistair Singleton; fifth from left: David Goode; fifth from right: Stella Davies; second from right Sue Poole; front right Alexander Coles from Transition Bath.