The Linlithgow Solar Survey - https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/6JKZG8Y
This is the concept we are exploring and would like your feedback.
We'd like to see many more Solar PV installations throughout Linlithgow. A desire to see about 2.5mWh of solar capacity will go a long way to making a decent dent on the £6million we spend on energy annually. Yes £6m.
Our survey is asking some fairly generic questions to find out what people feel about more solar, if they like the idea of community investment in such a scheme, what types of locations are socially acceptable, etc.
It is quite possible to start a local Community Benefit Society to install renewable energy systems with the community being at the core of the organisation. Profits would be re-invested and support would be built in to help those who struggle with energy bills. An equitable organisation from the start.
This survey is step 1 and seeks to find out:
1. Your overall views of solar energy
2. Your views on how and where we should develop local solar systems.
3. Your views on a specific proposal we have to form a Community Benefit Society (similar to a Co-operative society) to support local investment in large and small arrays and to help fuel bills within our neighbourhood.
4. Questions about you to help us understand your personal situation.
For those that share their personal contact details with us, they will be entered into a prize draw. One lucky person will win £50 to spend locally. Trustees of Transition Linlithgow are excluded from the prize-draw. You do not have to support Solar energy to participate. We welcome all views. The output of this survey will be summarised and reported back to the community via our website, social media and if possible in the local town magazine
On 2nd September 2016 walking down Linlithgow High Street, I noticed a Council worker spraying the pavement. When I asked what he was spraying, he replied “Glyphosate – I am getting rid of the weeds.’ I asked if I could take a photograph and he happily obliged.
This bothered me. Not only was he unprotected, but it was a busy day. The High street was full of shoppers, people wheeling prams, dogs licking pavements, children returning from school. Near the health centre and playpark, other sprayers were dousing the grass, whilst people continued their business, enjoying a pleasant sunny day. No one had been informed that the spraying was taking place, nor what was being sprayed – until I asked.
Anyone traveling through Linlithgow by train will have noticed the many solar panels fitted to the roofs of a wide variety of homes and community buildings. There are so many, that within some circles such as the Transition movement, The Energy Savings Trust (EST), Local Energy Scotland (LES), and even the Scottish Government, Linlithgow has been dubbed the solar town of Scotland. It all started with the Transition Linlithgow (TL) and its predecessor Linlithgow Climate Challenge, bulk buy schemes for solar thermal and solar PV between 2010 and 2012. Many people took the opportunity and took independent advice from TL and, if all was well, proceeded with the installation of their solar panels at a discounted price. Just over 400 systems have been installed as part of that project and many more followed independently after that period.
A warm welcome to all of our visitors to this - our new website.
Its been difficult to find the right layout, format and content to encapsulate our vision, past projects and current activities, but we think we've just about nailed it.
We've taken time to include some old content which used to be on linlithgrow.org.uk and summaries of our past projects with and without Climate Challenge Funding.
It will come as no surprise to you that we are constantly changing things and trying to remember every little bit, every person involved and to include all the photos but alas there will be mistakes and things forgotten.
If you would like to help maintain our website or to spot errors, please get in touch. We are happy to make corrections.
Equally if you've got a story to share, then our blog page is open to use.
Lastly, just a reminder that we have two other main channels of communication. Our Newsletter which comes out approximately monthly and our dedicated chat forum on slack.com which can only be accessed if you are invited to join to protect us from spammers.
Enjoy our new website.
While we might automatically think this means the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts, look up the dictionary and discover it also means to protect and inform consumers by requiring such practices as honest packaging and advertising, product guarantees, and improved safety standards.
Living in a society bound up in perpetual cycles of consumerism, working, shopping, failing to get the ‘happiness reward from the goods we buy’ and then repeating yet more work to raise more finances to buy more stuff and on and on…
We’d like to thing that ‘consumers’ make informed decisions when we purchase goods or services? BUT… Do we consider the whole lifecycle of the product when we lift it from the shelf in the shop and place it in our basket? Is it possible to see beyond the brand, image and packaging to know if there are human rights issues, child labour, safe working practices, environmental damage, etc.
The reality for the vast majority of our purchasing decisions is that they are based on other factors. Price, Opportunity Cost, Trying to mirror the actions of our peers, etc. Rarely do we switch bank, energy company or actively look up comparison websites that go deeper than price comparison!.
FairTrade and Organic are two labels we easily identify with and producers/suppliers work hard to protect their accreditation to these schemes and similar campaigns. But there’s a lot of Green-wash out there too. Manufacturers are only too happy to say something is more environmentally friendly, greener, sustainably sourced, fair priced, etc. when they really are not.
An artificial problem, an easy solution.
Consumerism can be linked to many social and environmental issues around the world, such as Climate Change, inhumane working conditions and endangered species. Therefore, the questions that everyone should be asking are, is it worth it? can we do something about it?
There are many different ways to reduce the negative effects of our consumption. From stopping to buy things that we really don’t need, such as new clothes every new season, to buying ethically branded products such as fair trade.
There are many websites where we can learn what companies are the most ethical, which products create more environmental issues and what alternatives we have for buying new goods.
It is our responsibility to know the consequences of our actions, and now it is easier than ever. You will find plenty of information online about consumerism, below are a few examples:
Ethical consumerism and the power of having a choice / voice : Jason Garman at TEDxTeAro
This year our gardening volunteers have created a high street flower bed at the Vennel with the message ‘Healthy Eating, Healthy Planet’. Food accounts for about a third of our carbon footprint, so it’s really important to consider what we eat and where it comes from, and also to save money by not wasting it.
Our bodies are healthier when we eat lots of fruit & vegetables, and reduce meat consumption. This diet is also better for the planet, as fruit & veg require less resources to be produced, and we can grow a wide range locally, cutting down on transport and packaging. Organic food is better for us, and better for the environment: it avoids the use of chemicals, has higher animal welfare standards, and is nutritionally better.
The flower bed is designed in segments which radiate out from the centre: fruit, fish, vegetables, meat & dairy. The fruit segment includes strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants and an apple tree. The ‘fish’ section features an abstract fish shape, represented with silver plants, with a watery blue background. The vegetable segment combines potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, chard, kale, kohl rabi, peas, beans – plus seeds which we hope will germinate over the summer! Meat is represented with succulent red begonias. The dairy section incorporates milk spilling out of a pail (which a naughty chicken has knocked over) as well as cheese segments.
We have kept the environmental impacts of our display to a minimum by growing many of the plants ourselves (reducing transport) in peat-free compost (peat bogs store carbon as well as being good for wildlife), and using recycled materials such as wire for the funky chickens and plants from our own gardens. We have also included flowers to attract pollinators – and the attention of passers-by!
We hope you enjoy the display as it grows over the summer months – our volunteers will be there every week, so please feel free to come and have a chat.
Here’s a link to TL’s annual report for 2015-16 from the chair.
A summary of our annual finances are available upon request or historical information can be seen on the charity commission’s website. OSCR
Thanks to all who attended our AGM on Mon 30th May 2016.
New trustees for 2016-2017 are :
Pamela, Alan, Allan, James & Stuart.
Additional trustees can be co-opted after the AGM so if you are interested, please get in touch.
It only seems like yesterday that we were enjoying a pot-luck lunch in the sunshine at Beecraigs Country Park for our 2014 AGM. 12 months have gone by very quickly and I think that’s due to a year full of varied and interesting activities organised by our loyal and supportive members.
As ever with TL it is a pleasure to look back through diary entries, photographs, press cuttings, social media postings and other memorabilia to summarise the year in a few pages. We are now in our 4th year as a registered Scottish Charity (Feb2011) and I have selected a few highlights and more details covering 2014-15 below:
Thanks in particular to our current trustees Felicity, Pamela, Chris and Neil who have helped to maintain the heart of TL and have injected fresh energy, ideas and fun into the journey we have taken together and to Anne for becoming our book-keeper and keeping our finances tidy and orderly. I’m sure you will join with me in thanking them all and all of our supporters. It has been a pleasure to be your Chair and to watch over another great year of action and progress.
Transition Linlithgow 2014-2015
FULL REPORT and FINANCIAL SUMMARY (pdf)
Spring tantalised us only a week ago, and will hopefully return soon, encouraging us outdoors for a spot of a garden tidying, perhaps followed by seed sowing – and compost buying. But the vast array of compost at the garden centre can be daunting, and most contain peat, so here’s some handy guidance to help you make a more sustainable choice.
In 2013, 1.9 million cubic metres of peat were used in the UK, with around two thirds of this being used by amateur gardeners. Just under half this peat came from Ireland, 38% from the UK and the rest from Northern Europe. It is estimated that globally, peat stores twice as much carbon as forests, and the UK contains about 15% of the world’s peatlands.
Carbon is stored in peat bogs because the acidic and anaerobic conditions stop material from decomposing – think peat bog man! – but when peat is drained, the carbon is released into the atmosphere as the peat dries out.
This contributes to climate change, and is already causing more extreme weather, loss of biodiversity, poverty and conflict over resources.
Peatlands cover more than 20% of Scotland and support a unique combination of wildlife and plants, with Sphagnum moss driving the peat-formation process. Other plants include carpets of colourful mosses and cotton grasses, dotted with bog asphodel, rare sedges, cuckooflower, marsh violet, sundews, common butterwort, marsh cinquefoil and marsh willowherb – providing habitat for butterflies, dragonflies, and birds including snipe, curlews, merlins and skylarks. Peatlands often feel fairly bleak – making them atmospheric, wild, attractive, isolated places – and panoramic for film sets and tourism. They also help regulate flooding, improve water quality, and support other industries including shooting, recreation and sheep grazing. Under typical conditions, peat is replaced naturally at a rate of one millimetre a year. In contrast, harvesters may extract to a depth of six to twenty-four centimetres across the entire surface of a bog.
SEPA recommends that targets are set to reduce peat use in horticulture, and Scottish Government purchasing of peat is due to be phased out this year and in England, the Natural Environment White Paper 2011 set outs targets to phase out peat use completely by 2030.
Peat-free compost options
You may already have a favourite compost, but a well-known independent testing body compares composts for growing seeds, young plants and for container growing, although their recommended peat-free options may not be available locally.
In previous years New Horizon Organic and Peat Free Multi-purpose Compost has come out very well in these tests, but it is not included in trials this year. It is available at New Hopetoun Gardens (£5.99 per 56 litre bag) – and if you are on the New Hopetoun Gardens mailing list this spring, you will have received a voucher for one bag at half price. There are also New Horizon peat-free soil improving composts and gro-bags available at New Hopetoun Gardens.
Klondyke will soon have in stock MiracleGro Peat Free Enriched All Purpose Compost (£5.99 for 50L, or two for £10). This product is a Best Buy for young plants, but did not perform quite as well for seeds or container growing.
Verve Multipurpose Peat Free Compost from B&Q (£3.76 for 60L) is a Best Buy for seed sowing and young plants
Verve Sowing and Cutting Compost was also a Best Buy for young plants (£3.12 for 12L)
For container growing, two out of the top three composts in trials were peat-free, but both are pricey (at £16 per sack) and neither is available locally: Fertile Fibres Multipurpose Compost and Melcourt Sylvagrow.
The Linlithgow DIY shop on the High Street is unfortunately currently unable to stock peat-free composts because of the large volumes which they would have to order.
Peat-free Don’t Buys for the following purposes include Waitrose & Alan Titchmarsh Peat Free Compost (seeds and seedlings), Gro-Sure Peat Free All Purpose Compost with 4 month feed (seedlings and containers), Dalefoot Wool Compost for Seeds (seedlings and containers) and Carbon Gold Gro-Char All Purpose Compost (seedlings).
If you have the time and space, the cheapest way of getting compost is to make your own (also great if you like a bit of exercise and playing with soil…) There are loads of recipes for different compost mixes online, with the simplest being sieved leafmould for seedlings, and equal volumes of garden compost, leafmould and loam (composted turf) for potting on.
Amateur gardeners’ use of peat-based compost creates significant demand for this product – and major environmental damage.
Read the label – if it doesn’t declare that it’s peat-free, then it probably isn’t.
Choosing one bag of compost over another may not feel like a planet-changing act, but if we all put the environment before habit (or confusion), then we can make a real difference.