Sign the petition to preserve Saunders Field

The petition to “decouple Saunders Field from unconsulted development” is at

It is important for the Council to show that together we can improve water collection, conservation, enhancement and extraction within an accessible natural green space for conservation and leisure.  This would also satisfy the UK Environment Agency EU Water Framework Directive delivery expressed within a Loddon Catchment Based Approach River Basin Managment Plan.



BTN response to Council’s Local Plan

BTN members submitted the following responses to the proposed Local Plan by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

local plan submission by member of BTN

comments by another member, 3 Oct 2013


The draft Plan is available at:

In addition, members of BTN attended the meetings of the Council Planning and Infrastructure Oversight and Scrutiny Committee on 14th November and 30th January, and made the following points:

1. The targets for house building in the Plan cannot be met unless the disposal of sewage for the borough is radically re-thought, e.g. with anaerobic digestion and reed beds;

2. Environmental assessments of planned developments should be commissioned independently of the developers, although paid for by them;


Transition Drinks


Once a month, Basingstoke Transition Network, along with Cafe Scientifique, hosts a social event in the town centre, which provides an opportunity for people involved in local environmental issues to meet up for a fun, relaxed, interesting evening out. As well as that, it enables people to share information and ideas, network, find moment of serendipity, and make friends.

There are no formalities – it’s just a way to meet friends and acquaintances for a catch up and a drink.  If you’ve never been to any of our events before, then this is the perfect way to get to know what we’re about, as we do our best to make everyone feel welcome. Just come and say ‘hello’.

We meet every last Monday of the month at the Tea Bar at the top of town at 6.30 pm, before the main Cafe Scientifique presentation at 7.30 pm, where you’ll find a pleasant atmosphere and a wide range of drinks to choose from.  Please contact us for details.

To find out about upcoming Transition Drinks, you’ll find details on our facebook page.

Elderflower champagne


Late spring is a glorious time for the wild food forager, when the flowers are in bloom and the leaves are young and sweet. Wild garlic, dandelions and nettles are all at their prime, but for many the flowers of the elder bush are the highlight of the season.

People have been making champagne from this fragrant blossom for generations, and its easy to see why. Elderflowers contain natural yeast, which when left to ferment produces a delicately flavoured, refreshing bubbly drink that is ideal for quenching your thirst on a hot midsummer day. Elderflowers can also be used to make a sweet cordial, and later in the year the berries can be used to make elderberry wine.

To make your own elderflower champagne, all you’ll need is:

  • A gallon of warm water
  • 700g sugar
  • Juice and rind of 2 lemons
  • A tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 15-20 elderflower heads

In a spotlessly clean bucket, dissolve the sugar in the water, and leave to cool for about 10 minutes. If the water is too hot, it will kill off the yeast and you won’t get any fermentation. Add the elderflowers, lemons and vinegar, give it all a mix, then cover with a cloth and leave to ferment. The natural yeast will begin to do it’s magic on the sugar, transorming it into alcohol and tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide. It will need to stand for at least two days for the fermentation to start properly. The mixture can be left anything from two days to a week before bottling.

Once you’re ready to bottle up your champagne, you’ll want to strain the mixture to remove any bits from it. You’ll need to clean, sterilise, rinse and dry your bottles before flling them. The easiest bottles to use are swing-top bottles which are designed to withstand pressure or plastic fizzy drink bottles, but these will generally need to be checked every day to make sure they aren’t building up too much pressure or they may explode.

A week or two later, and your champagne should be ready for drinking!

If you’d like to have a go at learning how to make elderflower champagne, the Smart Future Centre will be making plenty of it at Northdown Orchard, as one of the activities on offer during their Pot Luck Picnic. As well as taking part in the elderflower making workshop you can bring some picnic food and drinks to share, have a tour of the farm, and take part in the raffle.

To make sure that there’s enough chairs for people to sit on and enough space for people to park, the organisers are asking people to RSVP their attendance by phone on 01256 614895 ; email ; or joining the event on facebook.

Bullington Cross Wind Farm


On 8 April 2013, EDF Energy submitted its planning application for the proposed Bullington Cross wind farm. The proposal would involve constructing 14 wind turbines, with a combined generation capacity of 28MW. Averaged out over a year, the turbines would generate enough zero-carbon energy to supply 13,000 homes.

We need as many supporting comments as possible to be posted on the Council planning websites  Basingstoke Council, Test Valley Council, Winchester Council. It’s best to add your comments to all three sites if you can. But if you can only do one then pick Test Valley. Continue reading

Springtime birdwatch

Photo by Barry Stalker

It feels like spring is finally here, now that the sun has appeared for more than three consecutive days; it almost makes one feel like bursting into song, or at least a spot of poetry…

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz
I wonder where the birdies is?
The little birds be on the wing
But that’s absurd! The wing be on the bird!

A fair amount of birds seem to be in my garden (and neighbouring areas), judging by the chorus coming through my open window; even the nearby traffic can’t drown it out and the appearance of my sun-seeking moggy does nothing to put them off. Continue reading

Just what is a Transition Initiative, anyway?

A vision of transition

It’s a question that gets asked a lot. What is this Transition thing all about? What exactly is it that you guys do? Who’s in charge? Do you really expect to make a difference? And – most importantly – why should I care?

The one-line answer is that a Transition Initiative is “a place where there’s a community-led process that helps that town/village/city/neighbourhood become stronger and happier”.

The concept of a ‘Transition Town’ was first created by a guy called Rob Hopkins and some of his friends in the town of Totnes in Devon. Rob was a permaculture teacher, and had become fascinated with the response of communities facing a decline in the supply of energy, due to peak oil. Out of Totnes the Transition Network grew, and there are now Transition Initiatives in the shape of cities, villages, counties, islands, institutions, sports teams, and many more. Continue reading