Transition Bath June 2016 newsletter

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June Newsletter

In this newsletter we have a mix of Transition Bath news, plus other ‘sustainability’ news from Bath. Its a particularly busy time of year for our Food Group maintaining the various community/guerrilla gardens we support around the city. Our transport group is working hard responding to consultations on the A36/A46 link road, the Bathampton Park & Ride, West of England Joint Spacial Plan and Air Quality. Our Energy Group is resting after the winter which is our main season for activity! If you have 30 seconds, would you mind signing a petition to stop B&NES council making the London Road less friendly to cyclists?

I guess our biggest concern at the moment is the potential impact on Transition Bath’s aims to make Bath more sustainable if we ‘Brexit’ later this month?

Transition Bath Analysis – the A36-A46 Link Road: Is it justified and are there alternatives?

Our local MP Ben Howlett has started a campaign and petition to reignite plans for a A36-A46 Link Road. Transition Bath’s Transport Group has been looking at the proposal and wonders whether it is justified and whether there are alternative solutions?

Our analysis suggests only 13% of journeys through town might be saved if the link road was built, but it might remove 78% of HGVs travelling from the Warminster Road to the London Road. However, because HGV’s emissions are much lower than cars (better exhaust after-treatment) it wouldn’t make that much difference to pollution in Bath.

We therefore wonder whether there are better solutions to reducing congestion and pollution in Bath for example pioneering greater use of sustainable transport? Transition Bath’s in depth analysis of the Link Road appears on our website.

New threat to cycling on the London Road: Please sign petition?

Although there have been recent improvements for cyclists on the London Road our current councillors have decided to make the scheme more ‘vehicle friendly’ to the detriment of cyclists. Their proposed ‘improvements’ would:

1) Extend the loading bays and change the loading times.

2) Remove the on-road build-out that protects the mandatory on-road cycle lane

Both of which would make the road less safe for cyclists, discourage cycling in Bath and ultimately increase pollution and congestion.

A consortium of 4 pro-cycling groups in Bath: Cycle Bath, Bath Cycling Club, Transition Larkhall and Transition Bath would like your help in signing an online petition to try to persuade out councillors to backtrack on their plans. You can sign the petition by clicking here – where more information on the proposed changes is available. Please pass the petition on to anyone else you might know who is concerned about congestion and pollution in Bath. The pro-cycling groups, including ourselves, are concerned that ultimately these changes may lead to the removal of the cycling lanes on the London Road altogether, in favour of ‘increased’ traffic flow.

Newbridge Hill gets a new pedestrian crossing as a result of Transition Bath’s Chelsea Road project

A new pedestrian crossing on Newbridge Hill is under construction as a result of Transition Bath’s ‘Chelsea Road Project‘ whose aim is to promote and enhance walking and other non-car access to Chelsea Road – a local centre to the west of Bath with a variety of shops and other services.

As part of the project residents were surveyed for their feedback on a number of proposals to improve pedestrian access in the area. In the survey 75% of the respondents supported the suggestion of a new pedestrian crossing on Newbridge Hill. B&NES Council agreed with our survey results for the need for the crossing and have started construction which is expected to be completed in the near future.

We’re growing veg but we’re not guerrillas – can you think of a new name?

Vegmead, our ‘showcase’ guerrilla garden in Hedgemead Park, is gradually being re-planted in a more formal layout in response to B&NES’ Parks Department classing Hedgemead as a ‘heritage park’. Our other guerrilla gardens are all cultivated with the agreement of the land owner, except for one where ownership isn’t registered.

Why do we garden this way? Because we want to show it’s possible to grow food in small, unlikely places; because we want to spread the local food message. Each space has a ‘lead gardener’, who designs the plot and organises volunteering sessions.

The term ‘guerrilla gardening’ originated in the USA but in the UK it was championed by Pam Warhust of Incredible Edible Todmarden [video]. This grew into a network of Incredible Edible towns and cities, including Bristol. We’d like to call our urban gardening projects something distinctively Bathonian. Have you any suggestions?

Gravel Walk

Showing how fruit, herbs and veg can be grown is one aspect – the other is to encourage people to pick and eat the produce. We’re currently discussing options for physical and digital explanatory labelling, eg QR codes. Your ideas and input would be welcome.

The Food Group now meet regularly on the third or fourth Tuesday of the month (evening). Next date: Tuesday 28th June, at 7pm, starting at Vegmead [Hedgemead Park], then moving at 7.30 pm to the meeting room at The Bell, Walcot Street. Newcomers are welcome – if you have any questions mail

Nosh at the Nuttery! Friday 24th June, 6.30 pm And don’t forget : Nosh at the Nuttery! Bring food and drink to share (and to cook on the fire, if you like) to the Community Nuttery at Smallcombe. We’ve had some wonderful picnics in the past in this idyllic spot so close to town, and – if it’s not raining – we’ll have a great time on 24th. Everyone invited – unfortunately there’s only pedestrian access (see map).

BWCE News: Two Solar farms, a waterwheel and becoming an energy supplier

New solar farm goes live: Bath and West Community Energy (BWCE) 4MW solar farm in Devon went live a couple of months ago and is producing electricity, it will provide around 1,000 homes with clean, green electricity.

Fund raising for another solar farm: BWCE are now trying to raise funds for a new 5 MW solar PV farm in Crewkerne. They have both bonds and shares on offer to help fund the 5MW farm. The farm will be able to supply electricity for about 1,300 homes and is part of a larger 10MW development. If you are interested in investing more details are available on the BWCE website.

Construction started on Batheaston waterwheel: Work has started at last on installing a water wheel at Batheaston Old Mill Hotel which will generate lots of green clean electricity. The water wheel will generate enough electricity for 25 homes. It was the first project which was considered by BWCE when it was formed (from Transition Bath) back in 2010 – many projects later, and it is finally coming to fruition.

BWCE to become an energy supplier: fed up with your existing electricity and gas supplier? Well, BWCE is planning on becoming a supplier of clean, green, local energy later this year, in combination with Mongoose Energy. More information and the background to the decision from Pete Capener, chair of BWCE here.

Transition Bath wins a prize at Bath: Hacked Weekend

Transition Bath’s project “School Power!” to display Smart Meter data for schools and public buildings won a prize at the recent Bath: Hacked weekend.

Using a ‘real time’ feed we were able to display graphs of half hourly meter gas and electricity meter readings from a number of public buildings in Bath including the B&NES’s Guildhall, Central Library and Manvers Street offices. In addition we displayed data from schools.

The data from the public buildings demonstrated that there should be significant opportunities to save energy, particularly when the buildings are not in use – a number of council offices have a baseload of 40 kW or more of electricity when they are unoccupied overnight. With further analysis of the data, we hope we can identify opportunities to save the council tens of thousands of pounds from their £3M energy bill – we particularly have our eye on replacing the inefficient halogen lighting which seems to dominate the Guildhall!

Having prototyped a website to display this Smart Meter data for public buildings, Transition Bath’s Energy Group have decided we would like to develop it further. We are now seeking grant funding in conjunction with Bath: Hacked, Resource Futures and B&NES council to professionally develop the website as an educational tool to teach primary school children about energy use, and use it to automate a school’s energy competition like last years which saved 13 schools on average 20% of their energy through behavioural change (turning lights off, thermostats down etc.).

More information on the Bath: Hacked event, and our detailed analysis of the electricity usage from the majority of B&NES’s public buildings is available on our website here.

The Community Farm wins Soil Association Award

The Community Farm based in Chew Magna won a prestigious Soil Association BOOM 2016 award for the best Box Scheme in the Fresh Produce Section.

Ped Asgarian, the farm’s Managing Director, who is also our Transport Group’s Convenor was at Borough Market in London to receive the award on behalf of The Community Farm (pictured left).

They have also recently been a finalist in the Western Daily Press Food and Farming awards 2016, and won a silver award at the South West Fairtrade Business Awards.

The farm’s produce is available to purchase from Bath Farmers Market at Bath’s Green Park Station every Saturday.

Bath Abbey: gains £10M Heritage Lottery Grant – including funding for thermal spring powered heating

Bath Abbey has been awarded a £10.7million grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund to help with renovations, realise plans for a ‘Discovery Centre’ and to make it more sustainable.

As previously reported by Transition Bath, they are hoping to use the hot spring’s outflow from the Roman Baths in the building next door to provide underfloor heating for the abbey. Their plans include additional wall and roof insulation, possible double glazing, LED lighting and solar panels.

More information on the grant here and here.

Transition Bath calling for the Dept of Transport to have cycling and walking board member

Transition Bath Transport Group member Dick Daniel has made a formal request that there is a cycling and walking representative on the Department of Transport’s board or one of its sub groups. Despite having over 60 members on the board or its sub-groups none of them directly represent cycling or walking. Dick has submitted to the Department of Transport’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy consultation the suggestion that walking and cycling needs to have a representative on the Board of the DfT – his formal request appears here.

If you agree with his suggestion why not contact our local MP to see what he thinks?

University of Bath turning pee into electricity!

Researchers at the University of Bath have been turning pee into electricity. Bacteria are used, which when mixed with pee generate electricity. The aim is to produce a device which could be used in the developing world to power smartphones and laptops in places where mains electricity is not available

More information on this BBC video.

Cleveland Pools: to be first naturally treated (no chlorine), heated community-run open air swimming pool

Cleveland Pools, in Bath, the oldest outdoor public swimming pool in the UK built in 1815 which was awarded a £3.7million grant in 2014, has published its plans for the pool’s restoration.

The trust which owns the pools is currently running a consultation prior to submitting planning permission in July 2016. Included in the plans are:

  • Creation of the world’s first community run, heated, naturally water treated (no chemicals) open air swimming pool
  • The creation of a separate children’s pool, along with the existing main pool
  • An educational interpretative information centre

The pool will be heated 6 months of the year, over the summer. They haven’t as of yet decided on how the pool will be heated, Transition Bath would prefer something more sustainable than gas.

More information from the Bath Chronicle here.

Get your restaurant takeaway delivered by bicycle?

On demand delivery service Deliveroo can deliver restaurant food to your home by bicycle. It is currently looking for more cycle couriers to delivery food from 28 restaurants in Bath. If you don’t have the time to pick up your own food, or would like food from a restaurant that doesn’t normally do takeaways then this might be a useful service, and it will hopefully also reduce pollution in the centre of Bath. If using the service, please ask for the food to be delivered by bicycle and not a less sustainable scooter, and tips should be given in cash to the couriers.

Although we don’t recommend commercial companies, we do however wonder whether it would be better to support Deliveroo delivering food by bicycle in Bath, rather than support Uber who are rumoured to be about to offer a similar service but using cars which will only increase congestion and pollution?

More information in a Bath Chronicle article here.

Bath and NE Somerset Council replacing large sections of street lighting with LEDs

Over the next 18 months Bath and North East Somerset Council (B&NES) intends to replace large sections of its old-fashioned sodium lighting with LEDs. This will improve the quality of the light, reduce maintenance and cut electricity usage by up to 60%. Variable dimming technology will be used to reduce light output in the early hours of the morning, reducing light pollution and saving further energy.

Overall 8.500 street lights will be replaced. Currently street lighting makes up about 11% of B&NES’s carbon emissions. Bath council has been a pioneer in the use of this technology.

More information is available here and here.

Motivation, Rejection Of (Climate) Science, Causes, Tools and Effects

In March Professor Stephan Lewandowsky of Bristol University gave and excellent talk at Bath University on the psychology of Climate Change denial.

During the lecture he went through academic research, on the ways climate denialists attempt to argue their case, including using fake experts, cherry picking results and conspiracy theories. He explained how he counteracts their arguments – although persuading them to change their mind is an almost impossible task.

If you missed the lecture but are interested in finding our more, the lecture in the form of a video, along with Professor Lewandowsky’s slides are now available online.

Wessex Water installs 250kW of solar PV on their Combe Down offices

Wessex Water have installed 950 solar panels on top of their Combe Down offices. The 250 kW of panels will contribute to their target of sourcing 24% of their energy from renewable generation by 2020.

More information is available in their press release.

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 at


Other news

  • Government Sitting on Climate Change Committee Fracking Report: The Department of Energy and Climate Change is apparently sitting on a report on the impact of fracking on climate change which might have a material impact on future planning permission for fracking. More information on the background to this ‘issue’ here, and please sign this petition calling on DECC to release the report.The government has already sold licenses to allow fracking subject to planning permission as near to Bath as Winsley and Trowbridge (more information here)
  • Alice Park Community Garden Mowing Volunteer: Wanted – A volunteer to mow the grass in Alice Park Community Garden regularly during the summer months. They have an ‘eco-friendly’ chargeable mower which makes a fine job of it.If you are interested please contact
  • Grants, Loans and Financial Support to make your home more energy efficient: grants for solid wall insulation (£1000), room in roof insulation (free) and cavity wall insulation (free) are still available – more information is provided on B&NES Council’s “Energy at Home” website

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