Transition News

12 things you can do to help Lewes stay resilient against climate change

Scientists warned this month that we urgently need to transition to a green economy, because fossil fuel pollution risks pushing the Earth into a lasting and dangerous hothouse state. Even in Lewes we’ve experienced a heat wave, drought and flash flooding.

It's easy to feel helpless in the face of such warnings, but Transition Towns are all about making our local community and economy more resilient.

Here are 12 things you can do to help Lewes stay resilient against climate change...


OVESCO Sunny Solar Schools for East Sussex

Lewes based award-winning not for profit community energy company launches its third share offer for £140,000 and our local schools will see the benefit.


The Ouse Valley Energy Services Company (OVESCO) was the first business originating from Transition Town Lewes. We are delighted to let you know about their latest community share offer to raise £140,000 to install solar on local schools. It  launched on Sunday 15th July at the Linklater Pavilion in Lewes and will close on Friday 24th August.  Interested parties can download the share offer document here, or contact for more information.

Read more

Above: OVESCO Directors and local shareholders inspect the solar array at Priory School in Lewes.


DRASTIC PLASTIC by Dirk Campbell

The annual Lewes raft race is on July 1st — Ouseday as it's now called — and the organisers have come up with a new slogan: 'Think Before You Throw'. Last year eggs, fireworks and even a frozen chicken were among the objects hurled at the raftsmen, but the message refers to plastic pollution as well as dangerous missiles. It's a message that could be applied globally: 'Think Before You Throw Away'. As the ecological campaigner Julia Butterfly Hill has famously said, 'There is no "away".' Whether we put plastic in the bin or in the recycling or whether we don't, it's still going to be somewhere. It doesn't biodegrade (unless it’s not actually plastic) and it doesn't evaporate. Obviously we need to consume less of it but what to do about the billions of tonnes that are already out there?

Read more by Dirk Campbell...


Greening Tomorrow

67 people came to listen and debate:
“Greening Tomorrow – What is the plan when there are no slow options left?” Our speakers were Arnold Simanowitz of “Keep it in the Ground, Lewes” and Alan Simpson, adviser on sustainable economics to the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell.

Arnold opened the debate by recapping three key figures from a book “The Burning Question” that had inspired him; namely 2 (degrees Celsius) that the world must stay within to ensure life on earth is sustainable for our children and grandchildren, 565 the maximum number of gigatons of carbon dioxide that can be released into the atmosphere if a temperature rise of no more than 2 degrees is to be achieved and finally 2075 the amount of gigatons of carbon dioxide that is contained within currently known reserves of fossil fuels. What this told Arnold was that we need to keep almost 80% of current fossil fuel reserves untouched in the ground if we are to have a future... Read more


Social Media Vacancy

Do you know a young person who would like to earn £25 pocket money per week helping the Lewes Pound with its Twitter account? If so please pass this on and ask them to get in touch.

The Lewes Pound currently exists very much in the concrete world of paper money and practical purchases of food and drink or films, for instance. However, we would like to have a much bigger digital presence so that we can do much more to support the local community and local businesses.

We're offering £25 (split between Sterling and Lewes Pounds) for two hours work per week delivering a strong Twitter presence for the Lewes Pound. This would involve occasionally attending our regular Friday morning meetings, but could mostly be done at times to suit the successful Twitter wizard.

If you know of someone suitable please ask them to email with a brief CV and a short account (maximum 250 words) of how they would set about raising our profile on Twitter.


Local eco schools meet Sir David Attenborough

A group of school Eco Reps from Chailey, Barcombe and Ringmer got to meet Sir David Attenborough this week. OVESCO the Lewes based Community Energy Company brought the students together at the Charleston Book Festival to meet Attenborough and now have signed copies of his books to give to local schools.


In delivering the annual Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Lecture, Sir David asked the question, can animals appreciate beauty? Ringmer student Jay Taylor-Jones said; ‘I saw amazing examples of the Bower Bird and a Puffer Fish’s ability to design and construct complex structures’.

The connection between our need to protect the natural environment and combat climate change urgently in light of the pressures the human species puts on the Blue Planet were obvious to all.

Above: Jay Taylor-Jones, Tamar Bowers, Jamie Peacock, Josie Barton, Ollie Pendered, Rosie Pendered, Chris Rowland, Sarah Pendered, Stan Pendered Kathy Wren & Summer Wren.

OVESCO is responsible for solar panels that are installed at schools in the local area: at Ringmer’s Kings Academy, Priory School, Wallands Primary School and Chailey School. The solar projects are owned by community shareholders and annually the solar scheme’s profits provide a community fund that benefits the local schools. Chris Rowland said; ‘We are delighted to be able to provide the schools with Attenborough’s books, it was great for some of the students to meet Sir David in person and listen to his fascinating talk’.

A copy of ’21 stories in Transition’ signed by Rob Hopkins was handed to Sir David with a Lewes Pound. You can now down load ‘21 stories in Transition for free here...



Refill Lewes asks "Have you got the bottle?"

A national campaign to get people asking for tap water refills instead of buying plastic bottles of water has launched in Lewes. The 'Refill' scheme encourages cafes, pubs, shops and other outlets that are willing to offer free water refills to anyone with a reusable bottle to display the 'Refill' logo. Outlets can also join a mobile phone app that tells anyone where their nearest 'Refill station' is.

Over 30 businesses in Lewes have signed up to the scheme so far, with more joining every day. You can download the Refill app at

Plastic bottle facts
One million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and it's predicted that figure will rise by another 20% by 2021. In the UK, 35 million plastic bottles of water are being bought every day, of which nearly 16 million aren't being recycled.

However, it's estimated that if just one in 10 people in the UK refilled once a week, there would be 340 million fewer plastic bottles a year in circulation.


In case you missed it....



Jill Goulder goes to a trio of local talks on your behalf.

It's surprising what you can find to go to if you keep an eye on the odds and corners of local media and allow for last-minute new things in your diary. Here are accounts of three recent under-promoted events of central interest to TTL members which should have had huge audiences.


18th April 2018, on our water. Aimee Felus of Brighton ChaMP for Water (a SDNP-sponsored project concerned with groundwater quality in the Brighton/ Lewes area) gave a brilliant presentation at the Linklater about our aquifer, though with an audience of only about 8. I came away inspired and appalled. We're in one of the dryest areas in the UK; but have you ever thought about why we have no local reservoirs as in the Weald? Because we have a huge chalk 'reservoir' consisting of the very ground that we're on and the Downs around us, which hold all our water: Southern Water have 13 boreholes in the Lewes area, and there are many more private ones (such as the Linklater's own). So the lovely news is that we're drinking our own Lewes water; but the unfortunate news is that we're busy polluting it.

One of the biggest polluters is of course nitrates: the Downs have very thin soil and farmers have to fertilise to get returns, and the excess soaks into the chalk. Another gateway to pollution is the thousands of soakaways in the Brighton area, which deliver polluted drain-water from roads etc deep into the aquifer. And on the matter of roads, Aimee pointed out that a huge ocean polluter (totally dwarfing micro-plastics!) is car tyre- and brake-wear particles washed off the roads. All that grey slush when we have snow? Yes.

Two pieces of better news. First, we don't have rubber particles in our water as our Lewes chalk does a good job of filtering them out. Second, we can combat the pollution going into the sea from these particles by planting 'rainscapes' (rain-gardens) near roads. Apparently these can absorb c.80% of the vehicle-generated gunk: so efficient are they that vegetation and silt removed from rain-gardens during maintenance actually have to be treated as contaminated waste; but the contaminants are so valuable that there are now companies buying this waste and extracting the metals/ chemicals.


21st April 2018, on transport. The South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment (SCATE) launched their New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast at a meeting at the Town Hall lecture room, in which various speakers (from Friends of the Earth, Sussex Community Rail Partnership and others) discussed some of the key principles and findings of the report. The event clashed with TTL's Electric Car Show in Harvey's Yard – and promotion seemed to appear quite late – but there was a reasonable audience. SCATE's objectives are set out in their website,; their aim, underlined at the meeting, is to maximise transport choices 'as you leave the front door'. A couple of cogent points from the meeting:

  • - There is irrefutable evidence now that if more roads are built, people drive more – for example, shopping at more distant places. This is called 'induced traffic'. This dominant 'predict and provide' approach is extremely flawed.
  • - We should get children used to not having a car, leading to a cumulative lifetime effect of reducing car-mindedness. The good news is that driving-licence ownership among young people is very much down.


26th May 2018, on our green Depot. Our own Depot queen Carmen Slijpen gave a fluent and informative talk on the Depot cinema's considerable green credentials; this unfortunately didn't get promotion outside the Depot's own mailing list, and I noticed it by chance the day before in a post in Facebook's Lewes Present group. So we were a tiny audience, but included a couple of very attentive children.

The Depot's eco-friendly infrastructure is truly impressive: a ground-source heat pump (with pipes going 200 metres into the ground), solar panels, a green roof with local wildflowers, krypton double-glazing, a retriever of cooking fat for recycling, low water-use loos .... As visitors will know, the Depot sell no drinks in plastic bottles, and they try to minimise plastic packaging for snacks, though this remains a knotty problem, as does the question of containers for hot drinks taken into the cinema. The staff’s uniforms are recycled from plastic bottles! and will be re-recycled into plastic bags when worn out. The Depot has a very splendid cycle-rack, and a wall with holes for bird- and bat-nesting, and local materials where possible (flint, Sussex chestnut for the shutters).

Carmen was honest about the bumps along the route, not least the huge fossil-fuel bill which she is tackling. The Depot roof could have held more solar panels, but they would have been intrusive on the beautiful Downs view from homes above the building; the ground-source heating needs tweaking for efficiency; and in fact cooling is quite an issue, with the Depot's sunny position, though they do what they can with roof and window vents. LED lights are a literally brilliant success, but pose dimming problems. Meanwhile, irrigation has had to be installed for the green roof and the grass in the courtyard. But these are the difficulties that pioneers endure on our behalf, so that installers and users learn and improve. What a privilege to have this initiative in the heart of Lewes.


Living on the edge

I learned a new word a few months back - ecotone. It is used by biologists to describe the boundaries between different habitats, and of course these are where most of the interesting stuff happens. Woodland margins are ecotones, and so are beaches and riverbanks. I don't know the equivalent term in human geography, so let us borrow this one. Read more by Jon Gunson of TTL


Happy Birthday to The Lewes Pound

Hurrah, the Lewes Pound celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018 - a significant milestone. Indeed, the Mayor of Lewes hosted a reception for the Lewes Pound on 25th April in the town hall – a chance to thank everyone who has been involved - directors, businesses that accept the Lewes Pound, residents who use the Lewes Pound and issuing points. A framed collection showing our first ever note and our newest note was presented to the mayor. We also remembered the late Adrienne Campbell, who was such an inspiration at the start of this journey. Read more...


In Service to Hope


The Rojava project is a revolutionary socio-political idea which could, if it were allowed to survive, transform the middle East and perhaps our entire world. My daughter Anna, other foreign friends like her and thousands of Syrian Kurds have been, and still are, willing to sacrifice their lives for it. Which means it must be a very powerful idea indeed.


Read more by Dirk Campbell


Left: Anna Campbell 


Photo: Katie Vandyck, Lewes.


Lewes Town Council taking steps on single-use plastic

By Sue Fleming and Juliet Oxborrow


Plastic Free Lewes was pleased to meet in March with a new working party at Lewes Town Council which has been formed to help phase out single-use plastics from the council's activities.

Lewes Town Council has voted unanimously to phase out single-use plastics from its premises and encourage groups and organisations hiring the Town Hall, the All Saints Centre, Malling Community Centre and Pells Pool to do the same.

Half of all the 300 billion tonnes of plastic produced globally is estimated to be used once before being discarded.The biggest contributors towards single-use plastic pollution include disposable water bottles, plastic bags, drinking straws, takeaway coffee cups and plastic food containers.

Working with Plastic Free Lewes, the town council is looking to:

- Send out a leaflet to anyone seeking to hire one of its venues, explaining alternatives to using single-use plastic.

- Phase out single-use plastics from all its offices and encourage workers to use reusable water bottles, coffee takeaway cups etc

- Provide posters throughout town council premises giving tips on cutting personal and business plastic use

- Provide access to taps in the town hall for anyone to refill reusable water bottles.


The town council is also to vote on becoming a strategic partner to Plastic Free Lewes so it can support and promote the group's initiatives. Town councillors who have joined the single-use plastics working party are Annabel Ashby (Green), Janet Baah (LibDem), John Lamb (LibDem), Susan Murray (Independent Green), Ruth O'Keeffe (Independent), Chelsea Renton (Green), Esther Watts (Green) and Stephen 'Caitlin' Wischhusen (Independent).

We are now seeking to meet with Lewes District Council, which has recently made a similar commitment to phase out single-use plastic where possible. We also intend to approach East Sussex County Council to see if it would like to formulate its own plastics policy.

You can learn more about Plastic Free Lewes here or join the Plastic Free Lewes Facebook Group here


How you can help get our MP to support parliament divesting from fossil fuels

Divest Parliament is a campaign getting MPs to show leadership by divesting the parliamentary pension fund from fossil fuels. They are asking all those concerned with climate change and responsible investment to lobby their MP to sign a pledge supporting this action. So far 100 cross-party MPs have signed. This is part of the general campaign for divestment from fossil fuels with which Keep It In The Ground Lewes (KIIGL) and Divest East Sussex are associated.

So far Lewes MP Maria Caulfield has not signed. Every effort should be made to bring her on board and the more people that contact her requesting her to sign the better chance of getting her to do so. In the first place send her an email. Divest Parliament have prepared a template for an email which can be personalised to deal with any issues on which the writer feels particularly strongly. Details of the template and of the pledge are at Divest Parliament

It is always better when lobbying your MP to meet and talk face to face if you can. You can do so individually or in a group. If anyone would like to join a group to try and meet Maria please contact TTL or Arnold Simanowitz of KIIGL at


Tingle's Way


When Colin Tingle died in May last year there was a strong feeling that we wanted to create something that would recognise his work and unique contribution. Tingle's Way is beginning to evolve; it will be a routeway for walkers & cyclists coming off the South Downs Way, through the urban centre of Lewes and on to Egrets Way leading along to Newhaven. It will also be a tangible way to understand Colin's philosophy around the vital benefits that Nature brings to our lives. He saw the natural capital as the 'stock' of nature and the ecosystems services as the flow of benefits from nature. Actual 'goods' are provided from ecosystems services that in turn impacts the lives of all of us.

Colin was passionate about educating and inspiring people to see how valuable nature is and how everything is connected. 

Colin worked collaboratively with these ideas and so many people from various approaches are keen to help connect on this project. A Steering group is forming to coordinate efforts and various sites have already been identified as being specific points of interest to illustrate the concepts of natural capital & naturegain. Discussions are underway to see if Tingle's Way can officially form a link to the South Downs Way.

If you'd like to know more about this or identify certain key sites that you like, please get in touch:


Plastic Free Lewes – what’s happened so far

Plastic Free Lewes was launched as a town-wide initiative at the end of 2017 to help reduce unnecessary plastic use in Lewes and has seen huge response and support.

Here’s a quick update on what’s happened so far, including initiatives both by Plastic Free Lewes and others...


The ultimate in recycling: Freegle and Freecycle



I’ve been freecycling for about 11 years now. It’s been brilliant for me, getting rid of stuff I no longer need, knowing that someone is going to appreciate it and without worrying that it’ll go to landfill or incineration. Win, win. I’ve had to clear two family houses during that time, and it would have been deeply upsetting to throw away so much that was still usable but that I couldn’t sell. And now that I don’t have a car, Freegle and Freecycle are particularly useful: for example last week someone came and took away eight used fence panels, dismantling them to get them into their car!

Read more by Julia Waterlow here...


New Lewes Pound Issuing Points



The Lewes Pound is delighted to announce that it has two new issuing points.

The Patisserie Lewes on Station Street has agreed to be a new #lewespound issuing point. And it's a great cafe too, so you an exchange your Lewes Pounds and enjoy an excellent coffee!
Skylark, downstairs in the Needlemakers, will also now exchange your sterling for Lewes Pounds. While down there you can enjoy a great selection of books, cards and artistic wares, including fairtraded items.

We would also like to extend our thanks to Laporte's and to Cheese Please, both of which are very sadly closing down. They have been great supporters the Lewes Pound, as well as being issuing points. We will miss you.


Keep your home cosy with SNUG

As the single-digit winter temperatures persist, lots of us want to know how we can make our homes less draughty and more energy efficient without going to huge expense.

SNUG was set up by Transition Town Lewes to offer practical information and help with draught-proofing. Experienced "eco builder" Olivier Sauer (pictured) is on hand to offer free advice and recommendations on insulation, draught proofing, magnetic secondary glazing, energy-efficient thermostats, ventilation and managing humidity.

If you would then like any work to be carried out, Olivier can provide a cost estimate - or you can use your own preferred builder or handyperson. You can see more about his work, including magnetic secondary glazing, here...

Olivier is available from 7 March onwards and can be contacted at



Jon has something to say about water



As a general rule, I will agree that persuasion through reproach is a bad idea. Nobody likes being told off, nobody appreciates being told what to do, and anyway there are too many beams in my own eye to complain about the motes in another's. However, within the quiet precincts of an inoffensive newsletter of modest ambitions, where I am preaching only to the converted - and, presumably, some desperately bored civil servant in an office somewhere in Cheltenham - what the hell is it with the bottled water? Are we to meekly accept its alleged indispensability? Let us consider precedent.

Photograph: Tom Lovell

As Alexander led his army through a burning desert in eastern Persia, one of his scouts found a tiny pool of water; filled his helmet, and took it to his general. "ls it enough for a thousand men?" asked Alexander, and, seeing the man shake his head, poured away the water on the sand. Flavius Arrianus sees this as proof that Alexander was a great man. Personally I think it makes him look like a right pillock. To be fair, there are many different versions of this story - some attached to other historical figures, Confucius among them - and Arrian himself admits that he is not quite sure which particular desert he is talking about. However, in none of the classical works I have consulted is there any suggestion of the Macedonian army refusing to proceed unless they were supplied with a sufficiency of bottled water, or of anyone writing to the municipal authorities of Gedrosia ( or possibly Bactria ) requesting the construction of a network of drinking fountains. And if Alexander's men could march from Issus to the Indus on little more than pitta bread and a handful of olives, why can't a healthy twenty-first century adult make it from home to Waitrose without pausing for therapeutic hydration? Because there is a downside to this, isn't there? Plastic is bad: single use plastic is worse. Water is heavy, and moving it around wastes carbon. If you want spring water, hitchhike to Buxton ( where the water is quite nice ) or Bath ( where it is apparently quite foul ). If someone can come up with a sound medical reason for the phenomenon, do let me know. Or are people making a hobby of micturition?

And as for coffee! You don't need it. Or rather you only need it - coffee being somewhat addictive - because you have got used to it. If on the other hand you must insist that good coffee is one of life's great pleasures, you will have my enthusiastic agreement. Coffee is a delight, and one of the few good reasons for international trade. This being so, however, why would you drink it through a plastic lid on a cardboard cup while hurrying down the road? Sit down somewhere warm and comfortable, with a good book or a good friend, and treat your coffee with the respect it deserves.

Next month: Jon explains why you should never let your kids have any fun.

Jon Gunson, TTL.


Beacon (eco village) Community



Beacon (eco village) Community is an intentional community in formation aiming to build in Sussex or Kent, but most likely within a 10 mile radius of Lewes close to good transport links.They have a blueprint & a development path through the various stages culminating in the built community & are looking to recruit more households so that they can begin vital processes.

Read more here: A World Waiting To Be Born

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