Community orchard
Community energy workshop
Want to learn more?
Green News
Book Review
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UpBEAT no 54,                                                                               January 2018
Newsletter of Blackshaw Environmental Action Team (BEAT -
Happy New Year to all our readers.

Community orchard

BEAT has been awarded a grant of £800 from the People's Postcode Lottery. The grant will enable BEAT to create steps from the entrance to the orchard to the picnic table and the bench on the top of the slope, create a leaflet about the orchard, arrange pruning courses, etc during 2018. We are very grateful for this grant.

You can make a donation to BEAT via at any time and have it Gift Aided if you are a UK tax payer.

The apple trees in the orchard have been pruned. Many thanks to Mark, Becky and Laura. It is getting easier to prune the trees each year as it gets rarer to see new branches inside the tubes.

Community energy workshop

Calderdale Community Energy (CCE) is organising a workshop on how to do community energy projects on 6th March from 9.15am to 1pm, including a free lunch.

The workshop will be held at Hebden Bridge Town Hall in the Waterfront hall. Community energy projects will be presented by people who have done them, explaining what can be learned from their experiences. There will also be presentations on possible funding options for future community energy projects.

The event is specifically for those who own, operate and love community buildings – community centres, schools, churches and children’s centres.

Pennine Community Power (PCP) is one of the founding members of CCE and has helped designing the workshop and will be part of the program.

This will only be the first in a series of workshops. Participants at the March 6th workshop will be able to decide what topics they would like covered in future workshops.

Want to learn more? is a site with hundreds of online courses. One of the categories is


There are many advantages to these courses: they are free, you can do the studying when it suits you, it does not matter when you finish the course, all the materials are available online (videos, articles, tests, etc), there are often students from around the world participating who contribute with their experiences and knowledge.


These are just a couple of the many courses starting in January and February:

Green news

You may have heard that China is no longer taking waste plastic from other countries, including the UK. China wants other countries to deal with their own waste. In 2016 British companies shipped 2.7 million tonnes of plastic waste to China – about two-thirds of UK’s total waste plastic exports.

The Telegraph reports that plastic scrap is already piling up, according to UK recycling groups. Unearthed has extensively reported on what has been called a looming crisis for the UK recycling industry. You can read their coverage here.

For years Lidl in Todmorden has accepted plastic and card board back from members of the public. It does not matter what type of plastic it is and where it was bought. Lidl just prefers it to be fairly clean – so not full of food.

Lidl sells the waste plastic, which gets melted and used to make road kerbs, planks, garden furniture, etc. The two benches and the picnic table in BEAT’s community orchard is made out of recycled plastic and they last for decades. However, once Lidl moves to the big, new store in Todmorden they will no longer be able to take the plastic, quoting lack of space.

So, what is the alternative? Do we put all types of plastic in the white recycling bags that Suez collects every week – although it is only meant for certain types of plastic? If you have any suggestions please email

Analysis: UK government slashes outlook for new gas power plants
The UK will only need to build a small number of new gas power plants over the next two decades, as it continues to shift to low-carbon sources of electricity. This is according to new energy and emissions projections published by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which see renewables overtaking gas by 2020 to become the UK’s number one source of electricity generation. The projections include less than half as much new gas capacity by 2035 as expected last year and a quarter of the 2015 figure. In contrast, by 2035 BEIS now expects twice as much renewable capacity as it did in 2015 and twice as much battery storage as projected last year. Carbon Brief takes a detailed look at the new projections. Simon Evans, Carbon Brief


Book review

Steve Wyler: In Our Hands – a history of community business, 2017, CoVi Productions, £8.99, 233 pages.

The book presents the amazing story of how communities since the Roman Empire created many varieties of businesses to provide mutual help to members of their communities.

It is a very easy, readable book with no prior knowledge of community businesses required. It is an inspirational book that shows how communities over hundred of years have been very creative in improving their lives.

The book takes examples from the UK only, but from all parts of the UK. For example, there is an interesting chapter on Scotland.

A community business is trading, owned and controlled by members of the community and has a social purpose. It is therefore different to a private business or a voluntary organisation.

Hebden Bridge has a rich history of community businesses. In a previous issue of UpBEAT we reviewed Andrew Bibby’s book, All Our Own Work, which gives the history of the first production cooperative in the UK. (Rochdale was first in creating a wholesale coop). However, Wyler’s book does not mention the Hebden Bridge pioneers nor Bibby’s book, which seems to be an omission.

Some of the more recent social movements creating community businesses, like the Transition Network and the Incredible Edible movement, are not given full credit in the book either – apart from a brief remark about Totness.

However, this only shows that there is a need for a second book about community businesses today: what problems they face, how they overcome them, etc.

‘In Our Hands’ was commissioned by Power to Change,, which is a trust with £150m to stimulate the growth of community businesses in England over a ten-year period.

As a member of their Community Business panel since its start it has been an eye-opener to see the variety of community businesses, from shops like Great Rock Coop, pubs like Fox & Goose, energy generation like Pennine Community Power, community hubs, leisure activities (sports centres, swimming pools, etc) to libraries, social care, breweries, housing, etc.

It is easy to be carried away with all this creative activity to think it is the solution to our social problems. Wyler occasionally makes some generalised comments in that direction.

Community businesses are a great way to empower communities in shaping their own communities and in that way address some of the local social problems. However, in themselves they are not able to solve our bigger social problems, like poverty and inequality. Community businesses can show that an alternative is possible to what we have at the moment and Wyler’s book is a shining example of what communities can do when acting together.

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Blackshaw Environmental Action Team · Warcock Hill Barn · Long Caursway · Hebden Bridge, HX7 7JB · United Kingdom

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