Spring email newsletter

 Spring email newsletter

Welcome to the first of our quarterly email newsletters. We plan to keep you up to date on what has been happening recently within Local Action 21 project groups and what other initiatives are happening elsewhere locally. This is just a snapshot of what is now happening in Woking in the sustainability and climate change related arena and there are bound to be many other activities, which we would like to promote, so if you know of something going on which is not noted here, then please let us know.

We would be keen to hear from you as to whether this newsletter is too long, too short, and what else you might like to hear about.

If you know anyone else who would like to receive this newsletter, please forward it on to them and ask them to sign up to it, details at the end.

1.      Conference follow up. Following on from the successful Our Woking Our World conference, attended by over 50 local residents including five councillors, there have been a number of local initiatives and liaisons established – more about those later. Knaphill and St Johns local associations have asked us to attend their local events, and we are liaising with them closely. We have also linked up with the Lightbox- see more below.  For a detailed write up on the conference please see here.

2.      Carbon Detox. Our AGM on 10 June at 7.30 at the HG Wells conference centre, will feature George Marshall with his one man Carbon Detox show. George has written an extremely useful book by the same name. More details here.

3.      Environmental Awareness day The Lightbox will be holding an Environmental Awareness day on Sat 6 June from 10.30 to 5.00. More details here. LA21 will be offering a number of activities for all age groups including:

  • Quiz with prizes
  • Try out the WWF footprint calculator
  • Find out your carbon emissions using our range of mini and monster footprints.
  • Find out how well your loft may be insulated.
  • Find out what food you could grow in pots now, and what you could do to grow more food at home and locally.
  • Give us your ideas about what a ‘Sustainable Woking’ would look like in 2020.

4.        Age of Stupid. The Age of Stupid film, recently premiered with 100% renewable power, will be shown at the Lightbox on 17 July at 7.30pm. The Age of Stupid is a new film from Director Franny Armstrong. Pete Postlethwaite stars as a man living alone in the devastated future world of 2055, looking at old footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

£4 per ticket. 12A certificate (non swearing version)

Book by calling 01483 737837 or at Reception.

5.        Food pilot project Our Food group has been busy arranging a pilot trial for community food growing. There are planters at Knaphill Primary School using dumpy bags and a community plot at Oak Tree House (WBC’s demonstration low carbon house). We also hope to have some more planters at a local church in Knaphill and a 3m x 3m plot in Woking Park to be managed by a group from Woking United Reformed Church, White Rose Lane. We are also keen to hear from people especially community groups who are interested in growing food locally and those interested in sharing gardens, either offering space or interested in cultivating someone else’s garden, at the environmental awareness day at the Lightbox. More details about the garden share concept here (LA21 have registered as a helper on this site.) If you are interested in getting more food grown locally then contact sevan001@talktalk.net

6.        Big Lunch On July 19 there will be a national Big Lunch. “Basically, it’s a party in your street, in everyone’s street. On 19th July we’re asking the people of Britain to stop what they’re doing and sit down to lunch together. Why? Well for lots of reasons really but mainly to put a smile back on Britain’s face.”

There is at least one Big Lunch already scheduled in Woking, arranged by Niraj Saraf. For more details see here and enter your postcode to find your nearest Biglunch. Or why not start your own?

7.        Sustainability awareness day Local Action 21 Low Carbon Living group recently held a successful sustainability awareness day in Woking Borough Council offices where they demonstrated the WWF footprint calculator. During the day council officers were able to visit our demonstration of the calculator, and in the evening, we showed it to a significant number of councillors. Feedback from the sessions revealed that participants had found the sessions interesting and very illuminating. Find out more about the calculator here.

8.        Radio Wey’s Local Action 21 member, Nicci Brighten, interviewed two project group leaders recently on Radio Wey in the Green Room. Gill Stribley talked about the Woking Garden Wildlife Watch survey. Hilary Griffiths, project leader of Community Networks, was interviewed about the forthcoming community conference, Our Woking, Our World, and what living sustainably meant to her. The next Nicci Brighten interview will be on Friday 5th June at 3.00 pm to co-incide with World Environment Day. She will be broadcasting interviews with the Lightbox, local sustainability artists, and Local Action 21 members. Visit Radio Wey to listen online.

9.        Knaphill Lower School 180 children from Knaphill Lower School visited Oak Tree House in May and were involved in a number of ‘eco-sessions’ revolving around the topics of ’keeping our houses warm’, ‘making clean electricity’, ‘why growing our own food is so good’, and  ‘using eco-friendly materials’. Two LA21 members, from the Low Carbon Homes project group, helped out with leading the sessions. The children were enormously knowledgeable already and the sessions were enthusiastically received.   

10.    Free Eco-auditing course We are holding a free eco-auditing course to be run by CAfE (Community action for Energy – an Energy Saving Trust initiative) in Woking on Wednesday 22nd July. It’s an all day course (about 10am – 4pm) with free lunch (hopefully to be had in the Lightbox). The course gives you the tools to understand and carry out an energy audit of domestic properties and community/small business premises. In addition it addresses remedial measures which can be taken to improve energy efficiency. A general example of what the course is about can be obtained here. If you are interested in attending this course, or know someone who is, please contact Rod Brans at rodbrans@greenbee.net

11.    Copenhagen fortnight We are encouraging local groups and individuals to organise an activity to co-incide with Copenhagen fortnight in early December.

It is being said that the Copenhagen UN Climate Change Conference, Dec 7th-18th 2009, will be the most important single event in the history of humanity. Thousands of people there will be discussing and debating, prevaricating and protesting about what must be done immediately to reverse the processes which are inexorably leading to catastrophic climate change threatening our future as a species. All the scientific advice is that effective action is needed straight away.

So whatever happens in Copenhagen, what can we – the billions of people around the world – do ourselves that will immediately make a real difference?

We propose a fortnight of glocal action in every locality, home, street and workplace – in every neighbourhood, village, town and city…

Local Action 21 is planning to hold several events during this fortnight: a public meeting, a film showing and we hope that you will feel inspired to hold an event yourselves. We are also planning to distribute a pledge card borough-wide, which we would like you to put in your front window at the beginning of this fortnight, to demonstrate your commitment.

Some other ideas are:

  • Pedal powered disco
  • Carbon –busting coffee mornings (meet up with others to agree steps you each will take to reduce your footprint – and then meet up again to compare notes on successes)
  • Teach-ins/learn-ins (meet up in small groups to find out more about what you can do)
  • Low meat/seasonal food cookery demonstrations
  • Art trails across your village to draw attention to the issues
  • DIY weekends with a buddy to make your houses less draughty and more efficient
  • Recycle/re-use Christmas stall at Christmas fair
  • Hold a vegetarian day/meal and invite your friends.

We shall be generating more ideas for the next newsletter, but if you have any ideas to share with us please let us know.

In the meantime, why not join everyone in making a highly visible pledge to show world leaders that we are all serious about the need to make serious global reductions now here.

12.  EcoCentrium. The new flats at Centrium, close to Woking station, now have a group looking at how energy saving can be made most economically and effectively at the flats. Known as Eco-Centrium, it offers a range of activities for flat owners to reduce their carbon emissions, ranging from activities for the individual to shared activities, to longer term building wide activities.

13.    UK carbon budgets have been set. In April, the Government set its first three 5-year carbon budgets. Last year’s Climate Change Act required the Government to set limits for total greenhouse gases the country can emit over each five year period, consistent with a long term target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050. Under this first set of interim targets, we as a nation will have to reduce our CO2 output by about 110m tonnes by 2020, equivalent to a 21% reduction on actual emissions in 2005 (and 34% on the 1990 figure). This rate of emissions reduction is far faster than the UK has achieved so far hinting that the government has started to recognise the scale of the challenge. The carbon budgets were developed from recommendations made by the Committee for Climate Change in December last year.

14.   Renewable Heat. For a couple of years, energy supplier Good Energy has been paying customers who generate their own electricity. This covers both commercial and domestic customers, and the micro-generation technologies supported include Solar PV, Wind and Hydro. Good Energy have just increased their rates and now pay 15p for every kWh the customer generates. Just recently, they have launched their HotROCs scheme for households with solar thermal panels. Based on an estimation of the amount of heat captured by your solar panels, they will pay 4.5p per kWh. If you are on the mains gas network you have to buy your gas from Good Energy to qualify – as well as being an electricity customer. Off-gas households just have to be a Good Energy electricity customer.

It’s widely expected that legislation will come into effect in April 2010 requiring energy companies to pay higher rates for both renewable electricity and renewable heat. The definition of renewable heat may extend to include wood burning heating systems as well as solar thermal hot water. Some commentators suggest that electricity could attract a price as high as 40p per unit (kWh), with a guarantee period of at least ten years.

The purpose of this is to stimulate installations of new microgeneration systems – in Germany and Spain, this so-called Feed-in Tariff has been instrumental in getting vastly more home microgeneration systems installed than in this country. (The UK has about the same solar radiation levels as Germany). Being paid higher prices for generating your own electricity and for running a solar thermal hot water system will significantly reduce the economic payback period. Why leave your money in the bank or building society earning next to no interest, when you could invest it in a solar panel and get a higher rate of return as well as reducing your carbon emissions?

15.     Oak Tree House in Knaphill has been retrofitted to demonstrate many energy and water saving measures and to show how a house can be decorated and furnished using sustainable materials, like flooring, curtains and reclaimed wood. Several tours of the house have been organised for residents, councillors, schools and visitors from Woking’s twin towns on the continent. (Councillor Olly Wells wrote positively about his visit in February). LA21 volunteers have helped out with some of the tours, and we expect to make more of a contribution in the future. If you would like to see Oak Tree House, please let us know and we’ll get the team at ecsc who manage the place to offer you a place on a suitable tour.

16.    Woking Council’s Low Carbon Schools Programme was approved by their Executive Committee in April. Over the next 4-5 years, although participation on the part of schools is voluntary, the programme provides for all schools in Woking to receive free customised advice on energy efficiency and on the feasibility of installing low carbon microgeneration systems such as Solar Photovoltaics and low carbon heating systems such as biomass boilers.

Delivery of the programme involves a partnership between ecsc and Woking LA21 whereby Woking LA21 Schools Group will focus on building relationships with participating schools, and ecsc will focus on delivering the technical aspects.

A letter will be sent to all schools in the Woking area, inviting participation in this Project outlining the details of the programme. The next step will be a pre-assessment survey/site visit, and a meeting with senior school representatives.

Schools and school representatives, who would like to participate in this programme, are invited to register their interest, and forward details of the appropriate contact at the school, to John Swingler, Woking LA21 Schools Group – swinglerfj@ntlworld.com.

*ecsc -Centre for Sustainable Communities, an offshoot of Thamesway Ltd. a company owned by Woking Borough Council

17.   Future meetings

  • Gardening for life project group 27 May
  • Making sustainability fun 6 July
  • Food group soon
  • Low carbon homes soon

For further details of any of these meetings please use the contact details below.

18.   New material on our websites

A little more about our decision to have two separate sites.

On our general LA21 site, apart from the history and aims of LA21, we now have a blog where regular news items will be posted, like future events and other local initiatives which we would like to tell you about. On the same site is a calendar, and newsletters in case you missed the annual paper newsletter or quarterly email newsletters.

Our project group site is where each of our project groups showcase the initiatives they are spearheading and also provide links to useful information resources and information sheets. In particular there is an information centre where there are many fact sheets including the community handbook, a compilation of all our most recent tip sheets, and an information page set up at the request of some schools. Also, on our Low Carbon Homes pages we are starting to compile householder case studies and useful information including some useful extracts from a book on how to plan for your footprint reduction over a period of about five years.

If you know of a local project with sustainability or climate change action at its core and would like more people to hear about it please contact us at clare.palgrave@hotmail.co.uk .