Newsletter of Blackshaw Environmental Action Team (BEAT - www.blackshawbeat.info). Issue no 44 - March 2016.
Our next six-monthly village clean-up is on Saturday 9th April. As usual we meet at 10AM at the Chapel where you can get litter pickers, plastic bags, etc. If you have some garden gloves and a high visibility jacket to put on it may be an idea to bring those.
The clean-up is expected to take an hour or two at the most – depending on how many turn up. Children are welcome too if supervised by an adult.
After the litter collecting there will be tea, coffee and cakes at the Chapel. Thanks to the Chapel for letting us use their premises as our HQ and thanks to the cake makers. Special thanks to Phil Knowles for organising it all.
Let us keep our area free of litter!
Calderdale Council has kindly offered to bring a van of woodchip for our community orchard. However, as the van cannot get access to the orchard we have to get the Council to drop the woodchip at Carol and Garry King’s land at Shay Bend, which is half way between Jack Bridge/New Delight Inn and Blackshaw Head village.
The woodchip will be used as mulching around the 75 fruit trees and the 35 soft fruit bushes.
We will be putting the woodchip into plastic bags on Saturday 16th April at 12 noon and bring them to the entrance of the orchard. If you are able to come and help that would be great as we will have to fill around one hundred bags. It should not take more than an hour to do this.
If you have a shovel and/or some large strong plastic bags please bring them along. If you are unable to come but have some plastic bags we can use please let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01422 846863).
If you want to use your car to transport some of the bags with woodchip to the orchard the job will be done faster.
Some of the asylum seekers from the Together We Grow project will be coming too to help. They worked on the orchard site last year.
At some point we will then put the woodchips around the fruit trees and bushes. That does not have to be done on the 16th April.
Chris Bird: Local Sustainable Homes – How to make them happen in your community (2010). Transitionbooks.net, £14.95, 240 pages
Domestic buildings in the UK account for almost 30% of all energy use. With climate change there is an urgent need to reduce all energy use and our homes have to play a big role if we are to achieve 80-95% reduction by 2050.
It is not just a question of how much energy our houses use per year but also how much energy it takes to build them. The housing industry contributes around 50% of all pollution in the world, with cement alone responsible for 8% of all our greenhouse gases.
It is estimated that 87% of the UK's existing homes will still be in use by 2050. Nearly all of them could be insulated to a much higher standard. To retrofit our 24 million homes over a short period will be a big task, but it will save 15 times more CO2 than demolishing and rebuilding them.
There are also many good social reasons why we need sustainable housing. Thousands of people die each winter because they cannot heat their homes enough, millions live in fuel poverty and the numbers are increasing. We have around 80,000 households that are homeless with over 60,000 people in temporary accommodation. More households live in overcrowded conditions, according to Shelter.
Chris Bird's book Local Sustainable Homes gives a comprehensive picture of how individuals, groups and communities try to make sustainable homes – often with protracted battles with the planning officers. The book contains a wealth of case studies on newbuild, retrofitting, co-housing, low carbon communities, Low Impact Development (LID), eco-villages, etc. Throughout the book you will find suggestions on how to go about making sustainable homes and where to get help and advice.
Chris Bird advocates using local materials for house building but also making houses that are nice to look at and live in. Where possible the residents should have full control of their homes and use renewable energy.
The book ends with a chapter on green homes from around the world.
It is really inspirational to see how many people in the UK have started just doing sustainable homes rather than waiting for the government, so a lot of lessons have been learned which we can benefit from.
The above pictures are from the public meeting on 19th March at Hebden Bridge Town Hall. A packed hall heard Mike Potter (flood management group) and Nick Odini (hydrologist scientist) from the "Slow the Flow" project in Pickering and Stuart Bradshaw, a geo-hydraulic engineer from Hebden Bridge. The speakers from Pickering had visited the landscape around Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd on 18th March and agreed that many of the lessons from Pickering can be used in the Upper Calder Valley to reduce the risk of flooding.
Tree planting 'can reduce flooding'
Planting trees around rivers could reduce the height of flooding in towns by up to 20%, according to a new study for the Environment Agency. Trees round a feeder stream can slow the rush of rainwater and save properties from flooding, the research concludes. The study advises taking a strategic approach, because foresting a whole catchment would be "counter-productive". There has been a rush of interest in natural methods of flood prevention, the BBC reports, although the study warns that natural methods do not always work. Roger Harrabin, BBC News
'Vital' UK flood research funding slashed by nearly two-thirds
Figures obtained by the Guardian show a 62% cut to the research budget to improve forecasting and defences over seven years, despite calls for such evidence in the wake of winter flooding. The annual funding fell from £4.89m in 2008-09 to £1.85m in 2015-16. The news comes after forty-six flood warnings were in place in England and Wales yesterday. Kerry McCarthy, the Labour shadow environment secretary, told the Guardian: “These short-sighted cuts to research funding completely undermine the government’s claims to be taking an evidence-based approach to policy. To cut Defra’s funding of this crucial R&D programme by half last year, yet again demonstrates this government’s failure to prepare and protect our country against the floods.” Damian Carrington, Guardian Environment
How a Vegetarian Diet Could Help Save the Planet
New research by scientists at the Oxford Martin School finds that shifting to a mostly vegetarian diet would make a large dent in greenhouse gases, bringing down emissions by 63%. Even cutting meat consumption by enough to adhere to health guidelines could cut global food-related emissions by nearly a third by 2050, the paper adds, while shifting to veganism would see emissions fall by 70%. The Washington Post, The Guardian and Climate Central all have the story while The Conversation has a commentary from one of the authors explaining his research. Justin Worland, Time