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2016 Achievements

In 2016, amongst other things, we:

  • Got lots of people along to a varied range of speaker meetings, on topics relating to sustainability,  raising awareness, knowledge, and energy.
  • Organised energy audits in 4 public buildings in the valley. These have  led to plans to improve energy efficiency, and to awareness of what can be done spreading amongst people who use these buildings.  As plans are implemented, we’ll keep folks informed on the website, and hope to follow up in other ways.
  • Ran a successful Carbon Reduction course – learning how to reduce our carbon footprint.
  • Apple Day – very successful at a lovely new venue – the Bamford Quaker Community. Lots of people came, pressed their apples to make juice, explored the varieties of apples, apple cooking, apple games, making poetry and willow weaving, listened to local music, powered by solar energy….   Once again, National Trust Longshaw, and Grindleford Playgroup made fantastic contributions.
  • Connected with all sorts of others – eg local MP, local businesses, neighbouring transition groups, etc. etc…

We will build on this in 2017.

Is there any good news after BREXIT and Trump?

I am not sure of my economics but I suspect there might just be a glow of light at the end of the tunnel. Taken together BREXIT and Trump’s election seem likely to put a damper on the world’s economic growth prospects. On the one hand my status as a pensioner leaves me thinking that might not be good news for my pension fund. On the other hand my position as a concerned citizen, worried about the rate at which we are using up the world’s limited resources gives me some cause for optimism.
Its all really complicated though. Just look at petrol prices. Since BREXIT the price of petrol at the pump has gone up because the international price is set in dollars and the pound has fallen by about 15%. Economists generally forecast that the impact of Trump’s isolationist policies and what looks like our exit from any form of trade agreement with Europe will result in an economic slowdown in many parts of the world. Lower growth means we will not be using as much of the world’s primary resources i.e. less fossil fuels, less primary forest destroyed, less mineral extraction etc etc. Higher fuel prices also mean more incentives to develop renewable energy sources. However it also makes fracking more cost effective (if you ignore the environmental costs as oil companies do).
Another upside to Trump’s isolationism is the probable abandonment of agreements like TTIP, the controversial trans-Atlantic treaty. If signed it would enable trans-national companies to sue governments if they feel government policies on things like environmental protection have infringed their ability to trade profitably. It could also force more privatisation of public services like health and justice.
I was amazed and devastated by the BREXIT vote and Trump’s election, so I am not pretending either of them are good for the environment. I am just looking for some signs of hope. Two more reasons for hope are that we have still not negotiated the deal that will replace our EU membership and the president of the US cannot do whatever he wants. He still has to work with Congress. Look how difficult Obama found that. Those signs of hope give us a reason to continue campaigning and trying to make a practical difference at a local level.

Peak Park – Reducing carbon emissions

At our latest public talk, Emily Fox, of  the Peak Park Authority, spoke to us about reducing carbon emissions in the peak park.  This is one of their strategic aims, and they have  achieved a 25% reduction in relation to their own operations since 2009, and they are aiming for  30% by 2017.  Contributions to this have come from :

  • Insulating, and installing a biomass (wood pellet) central heating boiler at Aldern House in Bakewell – their headquarters.
  • Insulating and installing sustainable energy generation at other properties – for example they are in the process of installing a ground-source heat pump at their Edale Visitor Centre.
  • Encouraging staff to car-share, and travel by public transport where possible.
  • Reducing travel to meetings by using online communications technology.

More details are in  her slides – climate-change-in-the-peak-district-national-park

She also  talked  about encouraging others in the Park  to develop sustainability, particularly through their planning function  – more info here.

Finally, an important aspect is land use,  including farming practice.  The restoration of moorlands  and  peat bogs, through the  Moors for the future project, is important for keeping carbon locked up.

Yes we can! – Renewable energy and sustainability in the  Peak Park

At our latest public talk,  Emily Fox , the Peak Park’s head of strategy, described how they want to support developments which reduce carbon emissions – albeit within the National Park planning guidelines,  which do  impose some restrictions.  Their policy says: “Proposals for low carbon and renewable energy development will be encouraged, provided they can be accommodated without adversely affecting landscape character, cultural heritage assets, other valued characteristics, or other established uses of the area”   They encourage people exploring improvements to the homes to contact their planning officials for pre-application advice, and they have produced  general indicators of what may and may not be OK .   (For example solar thermal panels, photovoltaic panels, ground or water source heat pumps and biomass boilers may not need planning permission,  but permission may also  be  granted for other technologies.)

To encourage people within the national park to adopt sustainable energy, they have produced five case studies of what can be done .  (Along with videos of two of the case studies.)

Technologies used in the case studies include ground-source heat pump, air-source heat pump,  wind turbine , hydroelectric mill wheel and photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity,  high levels of insulation (including sheep’s wool), wood-pellet boiler, wood-burning stoves, and sunpipes.    They cover both new-build, and upgrading of existing properties.

The same page also links to the Peak Park’s “Climate Change and Sustainable Building: Supplementary Planning Document”.  This contains detailed practical guidance and advice on sustainable building, energy efficiency, low carbon and renewable energy, and water management, and relates it to the planning considerations.

Incidentally, the Friend of the Peak also have useful material on reducing carbon emissions, including a detailed study of the potential for  small-scale hydro power in the  Peak District.

The “Supplementary Planning Document” also contains a nice picture illustrating a vision for a sustainable National Park.

peak-sustainable-energy-vision

  1. Energy efficiency improvements to the farmhouse; biomass boiler or ground (or air) source heat pump.
  2. Converted traditional building taking an energy efficiency approach; also considering ground or air source heat pumps. Photovoltaic solar slates on south facing roof that have the appearance of traditional slates.
  3. Solar panels on south facing roofs of portal framed farm buildings. These should be dark in colour, with a dark frame.
  4. Solar panels (photovoltaic or water
  5. Small-scale hydro power scheme in a converted mill building.
  6. Small-scale anaerobic digester dealing with ‘on farm’ generated slurry. Can be sited in an existing yard area, with the apparatus being generally undergrounded so that the exposed parts are no higher than the existing walls. Screen with a drystone wall to match the existing.
  7. Wind turbine in a Landscape Type that has capacity for wind turbine development and in scale with the group of buildings, located as near to them as turbine performance allows and taking account of topple distance. Protected species issues will need to be taken into consideration.

Emily also  talked  what the  Park has done, and is doing,  to make  their own operations more sustainable  – more info here.

Balcombe: the village that inspired a nation

Balcombe has brought together the two streams we need for a good future: resisting damage to the earth, and building the alternative.  Instead of fracking, they will have solar energy, powering the community.   When Cuadrilla’s drilling rigs moved in three years ago, noone could have predicted this.  It was a solidly Conservative-voting area, and the forces of the government and big business were lined up against them.  But through determination, good hearts, and people from many different backgrounds working together, they have won!  And in 2016 the village has gone solar.

BUT . . . . .

Fight Against Fracking Continues in Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire

Recently the government overturned a decision by Lancashire County Council to refuse permission for a company called Cuadrilla to carry out fracking in the area. A number of groups in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are opposing the possibility of fracking in the local area. Find the group nearest to you: http://bit.ly/2e0BcnR

See also What’s On page: Reclaim the Power National Tour: Monday 17 October, 7pm
Regather Social Centre, 57-59 Club Garden Road, Sheffield, S118BU

 

Local beer

I was sitting in our community owned pub (the Anglers Rest in Bamford) the other night supping a pint of our locally brewed beer (from the Interpid Brewery in Brough) and feeling rather satisfied to be supporting the local economy and enjoying it! Many of us remember the bad old days of Watney’s Red Barrel and Double Diamond – products of massive chemical engineering works which tasted like they had come straight out of a petrochemical refinery. The rise of the craft beer and the micro-brewery movement supported by CAMRA has transformed the beer market. Beer has never travelled particularly well but now there is no need to drink beer that has travelled the length of the countyr or even the world. If you live in the Hope Valley you can enjoy a range of beers fromour own Intrepid brewed in the valley. Even if that is not to your taste it is not so far to Bradfield where Farmers Blonde is brewed or to Bakewell home of Thornbridge Brewery. As well as getting a good craft product with a distincive character you are supporting small scale local industry. It would be great to see one of them producing organic beer but in the meantime I will settle for a local brew in a pub owned by the community. In fact I think I ought to go there right now and put my money where my mouth is!

Coppice Days

Coppice Day 2014  (2nd March)

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Coppice day 2014 was really inspiring again, with hundreds of people taking to the woods to experience their sustaining spirit. It was organised by the National Trust Longshaw, and Transition Hope Valley, in Upper Rough Wood, between Hathersage and Grindleford.

The task was to thin 50% of the larch trees from this enclosed wood to allow space for the native broad leaf trees to grow.  There was story-telling, besom broom making (using heather as well as birch this year, den building, building bird and bat boxes, charcoal making, drawing with the charcoal that had just been made, bodging and green wood work with a pole lathe, tree identification, a walk and talk on the history of the overgrown quarry, up the hill, and more. A portable planking rig produced beautiful planks and beams, in situ, from the just-cut trees. Children in the Grindleford and Eyam playgroup clearing made dreamcatchers using materials of the forest, and boggarts: spirits of the Longshaw moors and woods.

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Big Lad, the shire horse from Green Estate in Sheffield, pulled out lots of wood, which couldn’t have been removed for use in any other way without damaging the woodland.

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Food cooked over the fire included dampers (bread cooked on a stick) and baked potatoes – as well as pre-cooked (but locally made) soup and cakes.  Even the forecast rain held off (pretty much) until the last hour.

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