Wildflower Lewes is a campaign to get Lewes buzzing with bees, fluttering with butterflies and brimming with stunning wildflowers. It's being initiated by local councillors, wildlife groups and ecologists - and your help is needed too.
It's a well-cited fact that there has been a 97% decline in wildflower meadows since WWII, which has serious implications for bees, butterflies and other insects and wildlife.
Wildflower Lewes is asking people in Lewes to help identify possible patches of land in their neighbourhood that they would like to see become wildflower spaces, with the opportunity to get involved in creating and looking after them. Read more...
Photograph: Joanna Carter
... A personal rant about the misuse of our sewerage system
Lewesians have first-hand experience of inappropriate materials shoved down our sewage pipes: the closure of Station Street in recent weeks was allegedly caused by bedsheets of all things blocking the underground pipework system. Although that’s extreme, the day-to-day rubbish put down our foul water system, from toilets and sinks, is pretty gruesome if you’re beach-cleaning along our coasts.
As well as the yuk factor, wet-wipes are a risk to wildlife as creatures mistake them for food. The Marine Conservation Society’s Great British Beach Clean survey reported that the number of wet-wipes on UK beaches more than doubled between 2013 and 2014. ‘This rise in pollution of our oceans and beaches is mainly due to the fact that people want convenience and so many people treat their toilet like a bin’. Wet-wipes, like nappies, sanitary towels and cotton-buds are designed not to disintegrate in water; even ‘flushable’ biodegradable ones take some time to decompose. The sewage treatment filters don’t always catch everything – though the water companies still ferry tons of waste from the sewage filters to landfill. Read more...
Transition Town Lewes was host to a field trip by the World Student Environmental Network (WSEN) in July as part of the WSEN 2016 Global Summit held jointly at the University of Sussex and University of Keele.
WSEN is a global hub supporting creative student initiatives to help incorporate sustainability and environmental issues into higher education.
TTL hosted students for an afternoon at the Linklater Pavilion - Lewes's purpose-built centre for the study of environmental change. Delegates from countries including Israel, Kenya, Austria, Palestine and the USA learnt about the global evolution of the transition town movement and TTL initiatives such as community energy company Ovesco and the Lewes Pound. Read more
On Tuesday 12th July groups from all over the county presented a petition asking East Sussex County Council to divest its pension fund from fossil fuel funds. The petition was started by Keep It In the Ground Sussex, part of Transition Town Lewes. Fossil Free Hastings and Climate Forest Row organised the event, and have now set up an official petition on the ESCC website
|The KIIGS petition was received by Ruth O'Keeffe and will still receive attention from the council. Many people feel that not only should we not be investing in new fossil fuel extraction but it may not be good financially either.
The groups have also produced a leaflet for pension fund members, who include teachers, leisure centre workers and many other people employed locally as well as employees of the Town, District and County councils. This includes a card to send to those in charge of the fund. If you would like copies, contact Fossil Free Hastings
We may think (and we’re often told) that many of the positive messages of transition are “…all very well for ‘professionals’ in Europe, but unreal for people living in the ‘real world’ …”. Well, here’s an example that confounds that way of thinking …the spreading enthusiasm for and popularity of ‘naturegain walks’.
People in the Southern Rift Valley in Ethiopia also experience naturegain and it was really lovely going for walks with groups of local people in various locations – from semi-natural woodland to intensive commercial cotton farms, from lake-side biodiversity to smallholder farming plots...
The Ecological Land Cooperative has purchased its second site in East Sussex for small-scale ecological farming. Read more/watch film.
Solar farm near Merston enabled by funding from £1.2m share offer
Meadow Blue Community Energy (MBCE), a community benefit society, is celebrating as the 5MWp solar farm near Merston has been connected to the grid. It will generate enough clean solar electricity to power the equivalent of 1,515 local homes. The finance was raised following a popular share offer, which raised more than the target amount in less than three weeks. Read more...
A personal view by Dirk Campbell
|Because of the way life has evolved, organisms respond to immediate concerns rather than gradual ones – a threat from a predator, for example, rather than environmental change. Humans are like all other organisms in this respect. Because nature has bequeathed us the additional ability to imagine, we can also greatly inflate certain perceived threats and diminish others. Our criterion in any situation is: how does this directly affect my and my family's immediate safety and food supply? Most of us make our choices and decisions on that basis. So we ignore the dangers that we hope won't affect us directly, even constructing counter-arguments to prove that the dangers themselves are imaginary. Or acting in response to imagined dangers, and then regretting it. Such is the complexity of the human mind. Read more|
|A new campaign aims to persuade Lewes District Council to stop using all toxic pesticides in Lewes District streets, parks, schools, and public spaces. There is clear evidence that pesticides used for weed control are harmful to human health (and especially harmful to children). Effective alternatives already exist which are not harmful to people, pets, and the environment. Furthermore, the use of non-toxic alternatives for weed control will encourage greater local biodiversity. Many cities have already become pesticide-free – in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, and the US – and Lewes District needs to follow their example.|
If you want to help the campaign, you can sign the petition or look out for one of the paper copies being circulated throughout Lewes District. If you'd like to get further involved in the campaign, contact email@example.com
Take a look at the Brighton-based Pesticide Action Network UK
In a long essay for the London Review of Books, author and activist Naomi Klein looks at the concept of "othering" and how it has allowed climate change to take place. Othering allows expulsion, land theft, occupation and invasion to happen. She writes: "Because the whole point of othering is that the other doesn’t have the same rights, the same humanity, as those making the distinction. What does this have to do with climate change? Perhaps everything."
Most of us only take one or two flights a year at most, but we’re taxed the same as the tiny minority who fly all the time.
A new report from Greenpeace says the world can be 100% renewable in energy by 2050, and 65% renewable in electricity in just 15 years, reports Dave Elliott on the Environmental Research Web Blog.
The 2015 Energy [R]evolution report, the latest iteration in its global and local scenario series, says global CO2 emissions could be stabilized by 2020 and would approach zero in 2050. Fossil fuels would be phased out, beginning with the most carbon-intensive sources. Greenpeace claims that, at every point during the transition, there would be more energy jobs than before. By 2030, renewable energy will account for 87% of the jobs in the energy sector, with 9.7 million people working in solar PV, equal to the number of people working in the coal industry today, and 7.8 million in wind, twice as many as are employed in oil and gas today.
Read Dave's full blog post here...
The government has recently cut the payments they make to those that install solar panels and a frequently asked question is whether they are still worthwhile from a purely financial point of view.
|A typical domestic solar system is rated at 4 kilowatt (kW). This will consist of about 16 panels and occupy about 26 square metres of roof space. The Lewes district is a particularly favourable area for solar panels. On a good site, facing between south east and south west, angled up at normal pitched roof angles and, importantly, with little or no shading, such a system will generate about 4400 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. This is about equal to the average annual consumption of electricity of local domestic premises.|
This does not mean that you would not need to buy any electricity. Read more here...
You may have read about the recent extraordinary global average temperatures. To give you an idea of how extraordinary these are, the average so far for this year is shown below, superimposed on the famous hockey stick curve, the original Mann, Bradley and Hughes curve from 1999 and the more recent one from the Pages24 consortium from 2013 together with recent instrumental readings.
At the recent Paris summit there was pressure to set the target limit to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level as 2°C would in the long term mean massive flooding in low lying countries. It was only one month, but March 2016 was 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level. Other indications show that things are changing fast. The area of arctic sea ice is well below the area for this time of year seen in the 37 years that we have had satellite images and almost certainly for long before this. The level of carbon dioxide is not only the highest it has been for over 800,000 years, it has shown by far the largest year on year increase in the 58 years we have accurate measurements.
Later this year, TTL will be looking to explore ways in which we can all work together to mitigate the risk of flood in our town, whether from rivers or surface water. Inspiration could come from the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere Project, which has just completed a pilot project to create the first ever 'Rain Garden' in the Biosphere area, with two schemes to be established in parks in Portslade.
A rain garden is simply a low-lying area of ground containing plants tolerant of wetter conditions, which is designed to receive and retain rainfall from surface water run-off from hard surfaces, thereby allowing the water to slowly drain away over time.
Left: Creating the new Rain Garden at Portslade village green (thanks to Gary Grant; photo by Rich Howorth).
With the EU referendum a month away, what would leaving the EU potentially mean for the Transition movement? Transition founder Rob Hopkins presented his personal thoughts in March
See the original article and reader comments here...
|With the Transition movement now being active in over 50 countries, it feels like a good time to pause and reflect on how that is working, what it looks like, and the many wonderful things, and the challenges, that arise from that. To kick off our theme, I want to offer some reflections on the forthcoming EU referendum here in the UK. During this theme, we will look at this from a variety of perspectives, both within the UK and outside. I want to start with some of my own reflections, and how the current debates, and the issues they raise, impact on me. More...|
As the project officer for the Sussex Flow Initiative (SFI) I was very pleased to meet with members of TTL recently to discuss ways that Natural Flood Management (NFM) can help reduce flooding across the Ouse catchment and help with flood resilience for Lewes town. SFI is hosted by the Sussex Wildlife Trust in partnership with the Woodland Trust and the Environment Agency – a partnership that started in 2012 with the Trees on the River Uck (TrUck) pilot project.
|NFM is an approach to flood mitigation that’s been researched, developed and implemented relatively recently and which works alongside man made flood defences (rather than replacing them), harnessing natural processes to slow and store more water upstream to reduce the peak of flooding downstream. Natural additions such as floodplain woodland, across slope hedgerows and shelter belts or leaky dams have all been shown to help to slow the flow of water, making the landscape better able to cope with heavy rainfall and reducing the power and magnitude of flooding. With over 50 different NFM techniques to choose from, these natural enhancements can be tailored to fit a given site, providing a range of further benefits for wildlife, water quality and river health. Read more here...|
When the Lewes for a Living Wage group planned their round table discussion 'What is work worth?' for March 16th, they did not realise that it would fall on the same day as the Government's Budget. The outrage caused by the attempt to deprive disabled people of benefits to provide tax cuts for the better off was already hitting the headlines when we met that evening at the Elephant and Castle.
|Despite appearances, there is poverty in Lewes; many people attending the food banks are in work and cases of scurvy and rickets have been reported.
It is important to distinguish between the national living wage announced by the government, which is £7.20 per hour from April 1st, for over 25s, and the Living Wage calculated for the Living Wage Foundation, which is £8.25 outside London and applies to all employees over 18. This is based on a more realistic estimation of what people have to earn to sustain life for themselves and their families in a civilised society. More...
A house-owner in Lewes has become one of the first in this area to use state-of-the-art lithium battery technology to store energy from solar PV panels. Jill Goulder, owner of an Eco House featured annually in the Lewes Eco Open Houses weekend, has installed a lithium battery storage system linked to her solar PV panels. These recharge during sunlight hours and provide power in the evenings – very useful for households who use most of their electricity outside sunlight hours. The system switches seamlessly between battery and mains supply as needed; a good system will cover a household’s normal needs, though of course major appliances such as washing-machines and vacuum cleaners drain the batteries rapidly and will need mains top-up. More...
Jill with her solar panel and lithium storage battery installations.
© Jill Goulder 2016