Author Archives: MCHeath

Air Pollution in Basingstoke

Over the last few months BTN has been producing a report on the high levels of air pollution that exists in our town. In some parts of the town air pollution is already at illegal levels.

Along with Friends of the Earth we installed 14 air quality monitors all around the Town.  The results confirmed what the Council has already found – that in key areas air polluttion is above legal levels.

The Gazette has already reported on it.  See their report here. We have produced a report of our findings.  Our full report is here.

Overall we found 9 sites across Basingstoke where air quality levels might be below the legal limit. Whilst our results are not conclusive they do show that we, like other growing towns, have an air quality problem.

These are the results. The sites in red and orange are above legal limits for air pollution.

As part of Basingstoke Green Week we will be hosting a public meeting on air quality and what can be done about it. We and FoE will be there. We have invited local politicians to be there as well. The meeting will be on Thursday 21st Sept at Brookvale Hall 7pm.

 

 

Basingstoke Green Week 2016

Yes – the Basingstoke Green Week is back again.

Last year’s Green Week was a huge success.   Along with many other local groups we hosted loads of green themed events.  This year the Green Week is back and it’s bigger and better. And it’s longer! To squeeze in all the events it’s a ten day week.

The full programme oLogo Green Weekffers events and activities showcasing environmental living in Basingstoke and Deane. Most events are free – these include village markets, family fun days guided tours and cycle rides, advice and information days.  We even have a pop-up shop in Festival Place.

Our Green Week is all organised by volunteers and supporter by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Festival Place.

 

Whatever your age there is something for you. So join in, take part and enjoy.

Here are just some of the events.

Saturday 17th September

It all kicks off with Basingstoke Green Fair in Castle Square at 9pm.  There’s lot of stalls with local products, organic veg, and a chance to find out about local groups such the Energy Co-operative, Basingstoke Vegans, Incredible Edible, Natural Basingstoke and a lot, lot more.

That afternoon there is a chance to look behind the scenes at Chineham Energy Recovery Centre. This is where all Basingstoke’s waste goes to be incinerated. It is a real eye opener to see what happens to all the stuff we throw away.

Sunday 18th September

Start the day with a guided walk around Old Basing then finish that off with a plant-based BBQ and a beer at the Bounty Inn.

Monday 19th September

Work off the weekend excesses with a guided cycle ride around the countryside south of Basingstoke. Or you could visit the Swap Shop in Chineham or the learn how to repair furniture in Houndsmill.

Tuesday 20th September

Are you a local small business and want to know how you can increase profits reduce costs and become greener? Then pop along to the Carbon Management Workshop which will give you tips on how to cut your fuel, gas and electricity bills. You might also find out how to generate more revenue.

For lunch way not stop by at the Mug & Biscuit Café in South Ham

Tuesday and Wednesday 19th and 20th September

Want to find out more about saving energy and money? How to keep warm in the winter, how to give new life to old furniture? Well pop-in to our pop-up shop in Festival Place.

Heard about this revolutionary new technology called LED lighting? Come and learn more at the “Lighting Event” in Porchester Square.

Wednesday 21st September.

Mid-week blues? Lots happening today. A cycle ride to Oakley for morning coffee. Lantern making at the Ridgeway Centre and Herbs and Health in Kempshott should keep you busy.

Thursday 22nd September

The fun continues on Thursday morning by turning waste material into scarecrows in South Ham. There’s a Surplus Food lunch in Buckskin all made from locally grown surplus food.

That evening is the big get together with the Basingstoke Environment Groups’ Networking Evening. This is where all the people involved in making Basingstoke a more sustainable place to live at work meet up and learn about what each of us are up to.  It’s a great place for new comers to find out what’s going on. All welcome.

Friday 23rd September

Friday is practical day. Enough of the theory – let’s do something real! Two great workshops today. The Cycle Maintenance Course teaches you how to fix that old bike and how to make new ones work better.  In the afternoon the is the “Off-grid” Workshop.  Come and build your own off grid solar power electrical system- all materials provided – and get a free lunch.

Saturday 24th September

The big day. Lots of events in Buckskin, Sherborne, South Ham, Brookvale and Oakley. The biggest is Brookvale Sustainability Day.

Sunday 25th September

Did you know Basingstoke has its own Organic Farm? Well come along to the Northdown Orchard open day and learn at lot more about organic farming and enjoy an oven baked pizza.

Monday 26th September

Phew. The last day of a busy week (well 10 days). Did you know that by 2050 with current rates of growth there will be more human made plastic in our Oceans than fish! In conjunction with Café Sci with have a world leading expert coming to talk to us about our oceans and how we a dumping millions of tonnes of un-degradable plastic into them every year.

Want to know more?

Details of times and dates of all events are here  Green Week Programme Final August 2016.

Do please come along to as many events as you can. We are always short of volunteers so if you want to help out at any event contact us or the organizers.

Thanks – and please share with friends.

 

 

 

Green Week – We want your Feedback!

A great big thank you to all those who helped organise this – particularly Serena, Malc and Lucy.  It wouldn’t have happened without these wonderful people.

Now – we need your feedback!  What did you enjoy most about Green Week?  Which activities did you go to?  Were they well attended?  Which didn’t you go to, and why not?  We are planning next year’s Green Week and we want to offer more of what you would like to see to make our Borough greener and encourage people towards the transition to a greener lifestyle all round.

Email info@basingstoketransition.org

To remind yourself of the 23 amazing events see Green Week Programme

Transition Drinks

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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

small-elderflowers

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 info@smartfuturecentre.com ; or joining the event on facebook.

Bullington Cross Wind Farm

windfarm_rainbow

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

Community Orchard – War Memorial Park

communityorchard

Last weekend, after a couple of weather-related false starts, a group of volunteers completed work on the new community orchard that has been planted in War Memorial Park, right in the centre of Basingstoke. This accomplishment would not have been possible without the work of the dedicated people at Incredible Edible North Hampshire. The orchard is sure to become a source of enjoyment for many people in the community in the years to come.

The trees may have been successfully planted in the ground, but this project doesn’t stop here. Right from the start, this orchard has been planned to act as an educational aid and as an inspiration to as many people as possible. Continue reading

My story: Andy Molloy describes his journey from corporate engineer to community eco-activist

Andy Molloy

I am a mechanical engineer and I have maintained an enthusiastic interest for machines and mechanisms from an early age.

Whether dismantling clocks or building steam engines and high-performance internal combustion engines, I’ve always had a curiosity about how things work.

But more than that I was keen to discover why one solution is more appropriate at a given time than any other. Continue reading