Newsletter June 2017
Our newsletter this month is dominated by the ‘hot topic’ in Bath this month -Transport and Air Pollution.
Following on from our highly successful mayoral hustings, Conservative Tim Bowles has been elected regional mayor. We also recently interviewed Bath’s parliamentary candidates for their views on how to fix Bath’s transport problems – don’t forget the election is on Thursday, and our new MP will be able to influence how sustainable Bath becomes over the coming years!
We are very excited to announce Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Network will be in Bath on July 4th to attend the filming of “Demain” at Komedia, which will be followed by a Q&A session with Rob. All who have seen it say it is an uplifting film promoting positive solutions to our environmental problems – make sure to put the date in your diary.
Parliamentary Candidates’ Transport Q&A for Bath
As an alternative to a hustings we organised interviews with the four parliamentary candidates for Bath over this weekend on the subject of ‘Transport’ in conjunction with Cycle Bath and Transition Larkhall. Ped Asgarian, our Transport Convernor conducted the interviews, and came to the following conclusions about the candidates’ views on transport solution for Bath:
“There were some big differences between candidates and some similarities. All accept there is a problem with air quality and congestion in Bath, and all want to encourage more walking and cycling, whilst trying to make public transport more affordable. All candidates apart from Ben seem to agree that more roads and car centric schemes are not the answer. Joe and Eleanor both see an opportunity to take rail and buses back into public ownership, at least at a local level, and Joe strongly made this the centrepiece of his plan. Wera looks strongly to working within communities to instigate change through movement away from the car, and Ben wants to put the emphasis on reducing traffic in Bath by diverting it where possible on alternate routes. Please take the time to listen to the interviews yourselves and hopefully this will help you make the choice you feel will best serve the city, and our future.”
A full write-up of the interviews and audio recordings are available on our website here.
Interestingly most of the candidates thought it might be reasonable for about 10% of the Department of Transport’s budget to be spent on cycling, but none knew the actual figure, our research suggests the actual figure is about 0.5% (or about £1.38/person/year compared with DoT’s total budget £20Bn/year or £307/year/person).
The candidates are as follows: Eleanor Field – Green Party, Wera Hobhouse – Lib Dems, Ben Howlett – Conservatives, Joe Rayment – Labour.
Parliamentary Candidates’ Transport Priorities for Bath
During his interview Ped asked the candidates to prioritise 11 transport initiatives for Bath (see above). The only project which all candidates could agree on as a top priority is the Low Carbon Emissions zone for the centre of Bath, after that their priorities diverged. Most were in favour of completing rail projects including the electrification of the Bristol to Bath section of the Great Western Railway and new stations at Box and Corsham. The biggest divergence was between Ben Howlett who has been pushing for an A36-A46 link road and the rest of the candidates who are largely set against it. Interestingly even Ben put the Bathampton Meadows Park and Ride project towards the bottom of his priorities. All candidates objected to the Cable Car project from the centre of Bath to Mulberry Park despite the fact that little information is available for the project, like its route and a business case.
Demain – Film and discussion with Rob Hopkins, Creator of the Transition Network at Komedia on July 4th
Demain – Film on at Komedia in Bath on July 4th:
If you are interested in Sustainability and if you are reading this newsletter you obviously are, then you will not want to miss the showing at Komedia of the film Demain. This highly rated film sets out actual, workable solutions to the worlds pending environmental problems: “Showing solutions, telling a feel-good story… this may be the best way to solve the ecological, economical and social crises that our countries are going through. After a special briefing for the journal Nature announced the possible extinction of a part of mankind before the end of the 21st century, Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, together with a team of four people, carried out an investigation in ten different countries to figure out what may lead to this disaster and above all how to avoid it.”
During their journey, they met the pioneers who are re-inventing agriculture, energy, economy, democracy and education. Joining those concrete and positive actions which are already working, they began to figure out what could be tomorrow’s world…”.
The evening will conclude with a Q&A chaired by Rob Hopkins founder of the Transition Network and we will explore how the positives drawn from the film can have a real impact on life in Bath.
Not to be missed – book your tickets click here.
West of England Mayoral Election Hustings
On April 26th we ran a hustings for the regional mayoral candidates. The event was very successful with a packed audience eager to hear and quiz the candidates on their views. The hustings focused on the mayors areas of remit, namely Transport, Housing & Land Use, and Skills & Economic Development. Ultimately Tim Bowles, the Conservative candidate, was elected mayor of the 4th May. Tim’s top priority for Bath is the A36/A46 Link Road. A full write-up, and a video of the event is available on our website.
Bathampton Meadows Park and Ride: Since our last newsletter B&NES Council has approved further work on bringing this project to a full planning application, despite significant protests. It has since emerged through a Freedom of Information request that B&NES was aware of the Highway Authorities refusal to allow Site B, the preferred location, on safety grounds had been known but not publically divulged at the time the council made a decision on moving forward. More information here and here.
At the moment the application seems politically intractable, with the current Conservative administration fully committed to delivering the project and all the opposition parties against it.
Transition Larkhall and University of Bath Analysis suggests half of Bath’s traffic congestion problems attributable to school run traffic: Following a traffic survey on 4 subsequent Mondays around Autumn half-term, research by Transition Larkhall and Bath University suggests half of Bath congestion problems may be attributable to school run traffic, and a significant proportion of this related to Bath’s private schools.
At the same time B&NES council are consulting on reducing school bus subsidies which in the short-term might increase congestion, but in the long run might deter parent’s from selecting schools for their children at a distance from home which requires car or public transport?
We have also considered whether fining parent’s £130 for dropping their children off at school as Hackney Council have started trialling would be politically palatable?
Would the proposed A36-A46 Link Road reduce pollution in Bath? Transition Bath’s analysis of publically available pollution data in Bath during the closure of the A36 at Limpley Stoke between April and June 2015 suggests there was no obvious reduction in pollution in Bath during this period. The implication of this analysis is that congestion and pollution in Bath is largely caused by local traffic and that the proposed link road is unlikely to solve this problem. Our in depth analysis is available here.
We will be publishing further analysis of the 2011 census data by Adam Reynolds in the near future. Early indications from his analysis are that although Bath is a very walkable city because of its compactness, the bulk of residents use cars for short journeys, often within single parking zones, but very few cycle.
Recent research suggests cycling to work reduces your risk of dying, cancer and heart disease by over 40%.: Until recently Transition Bath’s focus on supporting a modal transport shift from car transport towards public transport, walking and biking has focussed on the benefits of reduced pollution from this shift. However, more recently we have been promoting its health benefits. This has been reinforced by the recent publication of a research paper in the British Medical Journal that commuting to work by bicycle or walking reduces your risk of dying from any cause by 41%, the incidence of cancer by 45% and heart disease by 46% compared with commuting by car or public transport.
This research shows the significant health benefits of cycling may change our emphasis going forward in promoting cycling not only over car transport, but over public transport and walking as well. If everyone commuted to work or school by bicycle, not only would pollution be reduced but costs to the NHS would be significantly lower. Further details on the research here.
Free Bicycle Loan Scheme in Bath: Bath and North East Council in conjunction with 2 local bike shops in Bath and Radstock, are offering anyone who doesn’t own a bicycle the opportunity to borrow a bike for a month to encourage them to take up cycling. There is a choice of 3 different bicycle types: a hybrid, an electric and a folding bike. The electric bike is particularly good for those concerned about their initial fitness levels.
Curo launches Cable Car Consultation: Curo has launched a consultation on building a cable car from the centre of Bath to its new Mulberry Park housing development on the south side of Bath. Our Transport Group has yet to reach a consensus on whether this is a good idea as there is too little information in the outline application to make a sound judgement.
The main benefit if it were built would be a reduction in journey times from Bath’s Southern Plateau from 15 minutes (bus) down to as little as 3 minutes – significantly reducing congestion and pollution. The cable car also has the ability to carry bicycles something currently not afforded by buses. However we would like to see a sound business case for the proposal, and there is a risk such a scheme might make other forms of public transport less economically viable. Residents of Widcombe are also concerned over privacy.
Is 20 mph plenty in Bath? Should B&NES remove 20mph limits? B&NES Council are in the process of reviewing the 20 mph speed limits in Bath. Their contention is that they are not working as they have not significantly reduced speed or road traffic accidents. It is unclear whether their intention is to remove the 20 mph zones as a result of this review? However, Transition Bath, with the help of Rod King of the 20’s Plenty for Us Campaign is planning on fighting to maintain and extend 20 mph zones, as we feel the review is too narrow, does not look at the benefits to residents of the zones, their impact on modal transport shifts from cars to walking and cycling, and feel that the council analysis is flawed. A more in depth analysis is available on our website.
Operation Close Pass Launches in Bath: Plain clothed police officers riding cycles on the Lower Bristol Road in Bath have been videoing and ‘re-educating’ motorists who cycle too close to cyclists on the road. Car drivers should leave at least 1.5 metres of space when over-taking cyclists, unfortunately many motorists ignore this guidance. Drivers caught driving too close were offered the opportunity for some ‘road side education’ as an alternative to prosecution. More information on the initiative is available on the Avon and Somerset Police website here.
Adam Reynolds, chair of Cycle Bath, and a member of Transition Bath’s Transport Group has been voted the 10th most influential person in Bath in a highly scientific poll run by the Bath Chronicle, beating off fierce competition from fellow transport campaigners and experts Sir Peter Hendy – Network Rail, chairman (40th), Anthony Clarke – Bath and North East Somerset Council, Cabinet Member for Transport (50th).
Transition Bath Energy Group News
Transition Bath Primary Schools’ Energy Education Programme is recruiting to take part in the project in the Autumn: We are currently looking for primary schools to take part in our FREE energy education programme this Autumn For our ‘Energy Sparks’ project which uses our recently launched website. Schools should be able to reduce their energy bills by up to 20%. The programme also includes educational resources, lesson plans and professional support for teachers. Pupils will learn about energy, and at the same time enhance their abilities in other subjects like maths and science. The website allows schools to look at their energy consumption through the use of up to date smart meter data, and innovatively allows pupils to compete to save energy by competing tasks for which they earn points – gaining badges and achievements using gaming technology. If you know of a school who might be interested in becoming involved – we would be very happy to talk to them, contact us at email@example.com – more information is available on our website.
150 fold increase in renewable energy capacity in B&NES in last 6 years: According to an article written by Pete Capener, CEO of Bath & West Community Energy (BWCE), the renewable energy capacity in B&NES based on data from Ofgem has increased from 150kW to 22MW in B&NES between 2010 and 2016, a 150 fold increase. The current production is enough to provide electricity for 5.600 local homes, and much of that extra capacity has been provided by BWCE.
Pete points out that although a B&NES report from 2010 demonstrated significant potential for medium scale wind energy projects in B&NES, virtually nothing has been built.
And, carbon emissions in B&NES drop 23% in 10 years: Using government data our analysis shows carbon emissions in B&NES have dropped 23% in the last 10 years, most of this is from reduced home emissions (more efficient lighting, appliances, boilers, more insulation) and commercial emissions. Unfortunately transport which represents about 30% of B&NES’s emissions has only dropped 9% during this period.
Our more in-depth analysis of both carbon and electricity emissions trends is available on our website here.
If you are still undecided about who to vote for in the General Election, Carbon Brief has produced a handy summary of party policies on Energy and Climate Change here.
Transition Bath Food Group News
Mayor Celebrates Community Food Growing With Transition Bath: The Mayor, Cllr. Paul Crossley, held a reception for Transition Bath food group and Bath Organic Group on 22nd May. He told us that he strongly supports the concept of Transition and the contribution Transition Bath makes towards creating a sustainable city. As cabinet member, he authorised the allocation of land for Bath Organic Group to establish its community garden 26 years ago. It was a great opportunity for the food group to acknowledge the help we receive from our volunteers and our close working relationship with Bath Organic Group.
Park Street Resident Garden Frog Needs Your Help! Transition Bath’s guerrilla gardeners created this productive community growing space in 2009. Sadly, as people moved away, it got a bit neglected last year, but enthusiasm abounds again. From a leaf-strewn state in February, it is now transformed into a flourishing food garden once again.
Many residents from Park Street and the nearby area are already enjoying fresh herbs, and awaiting with anticipation the crops of onions, potatoes, beans, carrots, beetroot, courgettes, chard and squash. The gooseberries bushes are laden with fruit and the blackcurrant bush will need netting soon so that we do not share our harvest with the local blackbird population.
One very welcome resident is a handsome and well-grown frog, who is hopefully feasting on the slugs. A small area of comfrey provides input for the compost bin as well as cool, damp shelter for our frog friend.
Gardeners and food lovers are welcome. Sunday morning 11am-1pm is the regular slot, weather permitting. It’s also a delightful place to enjoy the sun any time, any day. If you want more information or to be informed of special events, email firstname.lastname@example.org .
A new community garden for a special community
Over the last week Transition Bath’s Lyn Barham and Nat Cross have worked in Broad Street Place with immediate local residents who often spend most of their days on the streets of Bath. The result is the transformation of a weed infested neglected border outside the YMCA into an edible garden. The aim of the revitalised plot is to provide people in food poverty with fresh wholesome produce.
The challenge in coming months will be to help people, some with good cooking skills, but many without cooking facilities, to make best use of the produce.
If you can help us, please contact email@example.com
Transition Bath Food Preservation Workshop: Harvesting your own fruit and vegetables and foraging hedgerow fruits is wonderful during the summer. Would you like to learn how to eat them all year round? We are holding another preservation workshop on Saturday 5th August, from 10am – 2pm, in the Methodist church hall, Bear Flat. The workshop will contain a new element, fermentation, which will be taught by Carol Stone. In previous workshops, we’ve found that participants pick up new ideas from each other, so please bring samples of foods that you’ve preserved for others to taste.
The cost of the workshop will be £15, and will include lunch and some fermentation samples to take away. To book a place on the workshop, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s not easy being a sustainable consumer: Members of Transition Bath welcomed a PhD researcher, Cristina Longo, to their ranks in the period up to 2014. Cristina was conducting research into the practice of sustainable consumption: everyday spending being guided by concern for planetary sustainability. In her discussions with us, the individual dilemmas were more obvious than the solutions, to the extent that a recent summary of her research identifies that ‘the more knowledgeable people become, the more it can result in paralysis or the inability to act on one’s sustainability ideals or goals’.
For us, this is not a lost cause but a further catalyst to pool our efforts and to support each other. It also serves as a reminder of how complex sustainable consumption is for those not active, knowledgeable and committed to such principles.
Cristina’s PhD thesis is publicly available. Further information here and here.
New “Love Co2mbe Down” community forum launched: A new community group in Combe Down has been launched called “Love Co2mbe Down”. The aim of Love Co2mbe Down is to enhance the community through projects that bring people together to share ideas, resources and support, and to have fun. A core belief is that local projects are an important response to climate change, political changes and conserving the natural world. Connected and active communities, as well as being more pleasurable places to live, can adapt to change better, reduce loneliness and have even shown to be good for local business. They have a website, a Facebook page, and regular events and meetings.
- Cleveland Pools: has been granted planning permission to restore the oldest the UK’s oldest surviving Lido, it will be only outdoor naturally treated outdoor pool in the country, and will be heated by a water-source heat pump: Transition Bath supported this application
- South Quays Development: has been granted planning permission. Transition Bath objected to this application on the basis of zero affordable housing, and a confusing hybrid outline and full planning application. We did however support some of the energy components of the application i.e. the CHP and Solar panels, despite the vagueness of the wording
- Rotork, Brassmill Lane, Redevelopment: We supported this application for its thoughtful energy design and commitment to providing cycling infrastructure. Planning permission has now been granted.
- Ensleigh, The Chill: Transition Bath objected to this planning application (which is still pending) on the basis it doesn’t meet B&NES’s Placemaking Plans Energy standards (here)
- Communities, Transport, Environmental Policy and Scrutiny Panel: on March 13th we provided feedback on air pollution and transport planning (here)
- Foxhill Redevelopment: Demolition and rebuild of estate: objection to poor energy standards, developers incorrectly overstating energy savings, lack of affordable homes (here)