Transition Bath February 2016 newsletter

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February Newsletter

Happy New Year! This is a bumper newsletter, with lots of news to report. Our food group has helped start 2 new guerrilla gardens in Bath, BWCE has raised £5M for a new solar farm, and has announced the recipients of its £37K community fund and our energy group has received a grant of £5,000 for a new blower door project. We have also responded to the West of England Joint Spatial Plan and would like your help in persuading B&NES council not to make changes to the London Road to the detriment of cyclists.

BWCE has raised £5 million for a new solar farm

Over the course of the last couple of months Bath and West Community Energy (BWCE) has successfully raised £5.1 million through the issuance of shares, bond and debt to purchase a 4MW solar farm in Devon, which will provide 1,000 homes with clean, green electricity

BWCE stepped in to help Plymouth Energy Community raise the finance when the opportunity arose to purchase the farm from the developer. Due to construction timescales, communities local to the solar array site were not in a position to purchase the solar array themselves straight away. Without BWCE’s involvement, the solar array might have been lost as a community scheme. BWCE plans to allow the local communities the opportunity to buy into the solar array at the end of the initial 2 year term of this bond. Further information is available here.

BWCE has also raised £600K in share capital to pay for a solar PV farm at Stowey House Farm and construct a hydro plant at the old Batheaston Mill site.

On a less positive note the government has announced it has severely reduced Feed-In-Tariff income for solar PV, which will make the development of future renewable energy projects by community organisations like BWCE more difficult.

BWCE £37K Community Fund Recipients Announced

One of the benefits of a locally run local sustainable energy generation company like BWCE is that they are committed to paying some of their profit into a local community fund which provides grants for sustainable projects.

This years funding was for £37K, and the projects funded include a £10K contribution forsolar PV panels at St Saviours Primary.School, £5K to Transition Bath for its blower door project, lighting system upgrades forCarers Centre B&NES (£5.7K), The Old School Room (£5K), Percy Centre(2.5K). £5K to Resource Futures for a textile recycling program at 5 Bath Schools, £5K to Time Bank Plus for a fruit and veg growing project, £3.4K to Energy Efficiency Widcombe to provide an energy audit of 4 local businesses to help them to become more energy efficient, £2K to Climate Friendly Bradford on Avon for LED try-before-you-buy kits and other measures, £1.1K to SWALLOW for ceiling insulation and £500 for an energy audit of First Steps Nursery School in Twerton.

West of England Joint Spatial Plan

The West of England’s four local authorities (BANES, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucester) have been developing a joint transport strategy to match and meet the plans for the projected growth in housing (85,000) and employment between now and 2036.Transition Bath’s Transport Group has responded to the latest consultation, their feedback includes the need to better integrated transport options, more bus routes and cycle lanes in urban areas and options to reduce car dependency.

Our much fuller write-up and consultation response is available on our website.

Guerrilla Gardening News

With help from 2 other community groups Transition Bath’s food group have been involved in the development of 2 new ‘guerrilla gardens’ to complement the 3 it already maintains.

Cleveland House: Nat Cross from Foraging Bath, who leads our foraging walks, has permission from the Canal Trust to turn this triangular bed into a guerrilla garden. So far, we’ve planted raspberries donated by Bath Organic Group, rhubarb and globe artichokes donated by an allotmenteer and a Japanese wineberry from our Gravel Walk garden. We would normally clear a site before planting but, being a forager, Nat is retaining some edible weeds!

On Sunday 28th February, from 10am onwards, we’ll be putting in a stone path, removing non-edible weeds and mulching with compost from the nuttery.
We’d be delighted if you would come along and lend a hand. Tea, cake and coffee provided.

Hanna Community Garden, Twerton: In November, volunteers from Transition Bath, Timebank and the University of Bath spent the day transforming a small area of neglected ground in Twerton into a fruitful community garden. Brambles and nettles were cleared, flow beds were dug out, 8 bags of rubbish were collected and variety of kindly donated soft fruit bushes and bushes were planted. This is a space for the local community, where anyone passing by or living in the local area can get involved or help themselves to the odd raspberry, blackcurrant or globe artichoke.More information on the Time Bank website. Hanna Close is situated between Freeview Road and Dominion Road backing onto the Twerton Park football ground
New Year’s Resoluton to combine running and gardening? Earlier this month, volunteers from a local running group, Good Gym, ran out to our community nuttery in Smallcombe and cut some coppiced hazel poles. They then ran to Gravel Walk and made the poles (which had been transported by road) into a compost bay.Even if you are not into running, but have a New year’s resolution to get fit, you could help yourself and help us by supporting us maintaining Smallcombe Nuttery and the 5 guerrilla gardens we help maintain. If you think you can help contact us

Please support us in objecting to the proposed changes to cycle lanes on the London Road

B&NES council have recently proposed changes to the cycle lanes on the London Road. They plan on sharing cycle lanes with pedestrians and to allow delivery vehicles to park across the lanes while loading. We feel this will discourage cyclists, particularly commuters from using the London Road as a fast way of getting into town.

If you support us in our view and that of other cycling groups in Bath, it would be great if you could help by writing to the council to try to persuade them the proposed changes are not a good idea.

Further details about the proposals and how to repsond are available on our website,

B&NES Council awarded grant to install 30 electric car charging points

Under the government’s Go Ultra Low Cities government funding scheme Bath & North East Somerset Counci is sharing a £7.5million grant with 3 other local councils (Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset) to encourage uptake of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs). B&NES will be using their share of the grant to increase the number of electric car charging points in B&NES from 20 to 50.

B&NES also plans to use the money to convert at least 25 per cent of its light vehicles to ULEVs. This will result in a significant saving on fuel bills as well as a reduction in the harmful emissions being pumped into the air. More information here.

Help us shape our new blower door project

Following the £5,000 BWCE Community Fund grant our energy group received to create a blower door project we are having a meeting on Tuesday 1st March to discuss this new project. Please put the date in your diary and come along and contribute to making this project a success.

For those of you who don’t know what a blower door is, it is essentially a very powerful fan which you insert into the front door of a house, and is used to quantitatively assess how draughty a house is. We will use the project to compliment our existing thermal imaging project. The blower door has the advantage over thermal imaging in that it can be used year round, and you can get a figure for how leaky a house is before and after remediation. Its an exciting project, as far as we know the first of its kind for a community group. We are also hoping to use it to conduct formal research with the university into reducing the leakiness of our existing homes.

Bath: Hacked: Environmental Sustainability

Bath: Hacked is a local voluntary Community Interest Company whose aim is too use or create open data to spark innovative ideas and better local decision making. Past projects include a website to display food outlets’ hygiene standards, a iphone app to display data on Bath, a map highlighting deprived area in Bath, a map that provides alerts for you area of Bath (flood, planning applications, crime,house prices), and a website which provides information on historical plagues in Bath.This year’s focus is on Environmental Sustainability. They are interested in your ideas for this year’s Bath Hacked weekend on the 13th/14th of February, Transition Bath have already provide some suggestions including a presentation on using Schools’ Energy Data to make Bath schools more energy efficient. We would also like to see BWCE’s solar PV site data being made available once again on their website.

If you have any ideas on how data could be used to make B&NES more environmentally sustainable, contact Bath: Hacked here.

Are you still using halogen light bulbs?

As you might be aware from previous newsletters Transition Bath has been running a highly successful LED try-before-you-buy scheme from Bath Central Library. A large number of Bath residents have taken the opportunity to use the kit to help them replace their existing halogen light bulbs, saving significant amounts off their electricity bills and reducing their carbon emissions.
We would like to encourage you if you are still using halogen bulbs to replace them with LEDs. Borrowing the kit couldn’t be simpler, just phone the library and ask to borrow the kit – we have provided instructions on how to do this here.

An optimists view of the future sustainability of personal transport

Transition Bath takes an optimistic view of the future sustainability of personal transport. He feels that the advent of autonomous ridesharing electric vehicles in the next 15 years will disruptively impact personal transport as we know it. From the environment’s perspective he believes this change will be good news; leading to a 70% reduction in road traffic and energy used for transport, a 90% reduction in car ownership and therefore parking requirements, and an almost 100% reduction in roadside pollution.

He feels that these changes will be market driven, and wonders why from a planning perspective government and local authorities continue to plan for a significant increase in car ownership and usage?

His argument in full and an opportunity to provide feedback is available in an article on our website.

B&NES’s Energy at Home Scheme Funding change: claim your grant by Feb 28th

The current very generous scheme to top up grants in B&NES to make your home more energy efficient are coming to an end. If you have any plans to make improvements to your heating systems including gas, electrical and oil fired systems, install internal, external, or cavity wall insulation, and loft insulation, or replace glazing including secondary glazing, double glazing and external doors and want grant support for it then you need to act quickly. More information on the scheme is available here.

More food group seasonal news

.Back in November, forty Transition Bath supporters gathered together for a meal made using smaller-than-required squash and pumpkins generously donated by the Community Farm and fallen apples from Orchardshare.

We screened The Gleaners and I, a documentary which records traditional gleaning still practiced in rural France and modern-day, urban equivalents – gleaning discarded food at the end of markets and skip-diving supermarket waste.

Funds left over after paying for the venue were donated to FoodCycle Bath and to FareShare South West.

The word ‘wassail’ comes from an Anglo-Saxon toast meaning ‘Be of good health!”. These days, in January, we toast the health of apple trees by shouting ‘Wassail!’ after drinking from the wassail cup, and hang toast on the trees’ branches. On 17th January, a crowd of supporters of all ages came along to Dry Arch, our local CSA in Bathampton, where the fruit trees are maintained by Orchardshare.

New! A hazel coppice at Folly Food Forest

Come and join us in planting a small hazel coppice of 105 trees at the Folly Food Forest, onSaturday 13th February from 9am onwards. Learn about the benefits of coppicing as an ecosystem management practice, and help get some trees planted! More information on the event is available here.

Please make use of our thermal imaging camera?

We have had a relatively quiet winter with the project this year, the mild weather has made thermography more difficult and has given people less of an incentive to insulate and draught-proof their homes. We have however been able to train 30 people to use the camera, including groups in Bradford-on-Avon and Corsham.

The camera can be used for more than energy surveys, we recently used it to trace hot air vents in a concrete floor under a village hall, something which would have been impossible without it.

The camera is available through an online booking system, if you want to borrow the camera, please get in contact:

Bath University is looking for volunteers to have the temperatures in their homes monitored for research purposes

Bath University are researching the heating patterns of traditional buildings. As part of the research they would like to measure the internal temperatures and heating patterns of a number of homes, ideally about 50 pre-1919 and about 50 post-1919. If all goes well this will give them a suitable basis to compare traditional heating methods with modern ones to better inform retrofit possibilities.

To do this they are looking for volunteer homes, they will send you three iButton sensors (they’re about the size of a 2p coin), to be placed in your living room, main bedroom and one on a radiator and they’d stay in place from July 2016-February 2017. At the end of the study you would need to complete a short questionnaire.

If you can help with this very useful research could you contact Caroline Hughes.

Transition Bath believes newly built schools should be built to be more energy efficient than Victorian schools

In 2013 we were involved in a professional project to provide free energy surveys to 72 schools in B&NES. One of the conclusions of the project was that schools built in the last few years, despite better standards of insulation (e.g. insulated cavities versus solid walls) consumed similar amounts of gas per squared metre to Victorian ones.

We are hoping that B&NES council, developers and architects can learn from the the 2013 Energy Survey when designing the 3 new schools which are about to be built in B&NES (Ensleigh, Cross Street Keynsham, Mulberry Park). In an article on our website we have outlined some of the often low costs measures which could be used to improve the energy efficiency of these schools. We are trying to pursue these recommendations with B&NES council, the developers and the architects of the 3 schools; this could be quite challenging in an environment where the government requires all newly built schools to be Free Schools outside local council control.

Bath FoodCycle is looking for new volunteers and customers

Bath FoodCycle is looking for more volunteer cooks, drivers and fundraisers to help with its excellent free meal service, using surplus food.

FoodCycle tackles food poverty, food waste and social isolation across the UK. It does this by running volunteer-powered projects producing tasty, nutritious meals within local communities. Since its start in May 2009, its volunteers have served over 125,000 meals using 146,000kg of otherwise wasted food.
If you think you can help more information is available here.

Other news

  • British Gas insulation: British Gas still has free non-means tested grants for loft and cavity wall insulation available. This offer may run out soon given it was announced today that British Gas are making their 500 insulation staff redundant – apparently there is less of a need to insulate houses in the current climate!
  • 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 4 recent major planning applications
    • Ensleigh Primary School: This is a new build school which we would like to encourage to be built with high energy efficiency in mind – our comments are here.
    • Keynsham Cross Street Primary School: another new build school with verysimilar comments
    • Site of Old Gas Works: Upper Bristol Road – 400 student flats: we were supportive of some aspects of the application and object to others, our comments are here
    • 100 home development off Charlton Road, Keynsham: we objected to the poorly presented sustainability statement associated with this development