Friday, 31 May 2013

Hopper Bus...

... has started up again.

Sidmouth's Hopper Bus Service will run daily from the 23rd May through to the 30th September, excluding 2nd to 9th August during Sidmouth Folk Week

Sidmouth Hopper hits the road

Stefan Gordon Friday, May 31, 2013 

The Sidmouth Hopper bus launched for 2013. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 3005-21-13AW
DIGNITARIES turned out in force to celebrate the valued Sidmouth Hopper bus hitting the road for the 2013 summer season.
The free-to-ride service was launched last Thursday – earlier than usual - and enjoyed a busy first few days.
Hopper co-ordinator and town councillor John Dyson said: “The bus had a good bank holiday weekend and has fully justified the decision to bring forward the start date by a week.
“We are delighted to welcome a few new contributors, including Seasalt, which has come on board after just a few months in the town.”
Last year was the Hopper’s most successful to date. The 16-seater bus carried more than 13,500 passengers.
The service costs around £21,000 to run each year and every penny comes from the town.
Respective contributions of £7,000 are made by a raft of businesses, the town council and the Sid Vale Association’s Keith Owen Fund.
“We are grateful indeed for the support,” said Councillor Dyson. “Without that, it wouldn’t carry on.”

Sidmouth Hopper Bus


Esplanade, Town & Hill Summer Service
Hourly service from 29th May to 30th September
excl. Folk Week 2nd August to 9th August.
Route details and operating times are available from:
· Sidmouth Information Centre
  Phone 01395 516441, email: ticinfo@sidmouth.gov.uk
· Sidmouth Town Council
  Phone 01395 512424, email: enquiries@sidmouth.gov.uk

Sidmouth Hopper Bus - Visit Sidmouth

Sidmouth Hopper Bus - Sidmouth

Freecycle in Honiton

Tomorrow (Saturday 1st June) there'll be a Freecycle event: bring and take-away for free!

The Freecycle Network

Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,099 groups with 9,400,517 members around the world. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on 'Browse Groups' above the search box. Have fun!
The Freecycle Network

Honiton_Freecycle : Honiton UK Freecycle(R) Group
The Freecycle Network - about the Honiton Group
Honiton Freecycle

Organization: Honiton Freecycle (TM) Group

Information on Waste & Recycling in Honiton
Councillor Sharon Pavey is our Recycling Champion for Honiton and has put together this page for your information. If you have any comments or ideas, please email sdpavey@gmail.com or call Sharon on 07740973990.

Community Energy events in Exeter

Transition Exeter and RegenSW are both holding workshops over the same weekend:


Especially if you live in Heavitree, but everyone is welcome: 
This fast-moving workshop offers space for individuals and community groups to share what they're already doing about reducing energy costs and improving efficiency, looks at the wider context - trends in energy supply, prices etc – can we avoid austerity? - and brings together ideas for making a difference, individually or together. 
In parallel will be a childrens’  workshop run by Love Local Food, "Smoothie 
Adults at the workshop will be allowed to taste the results as well!

Community Energy Workshop in Heavitree | Transition Exeter

Community Energy Group Network

Friday 7 June, 11:00 – 15:00
At: Foot Anstey LLP, Senate Court, Southernhay Gardens, Exeter, Devon EX1 1NT

This meeting is another great opportunity for communities in the south west to influence government policy and share learning. The Community Energy Group Network is an important element of the Regen SW Community Support Programme, part funded by our European project ACE. This is the second meeting of the network and is open to any communities interested in climate change and community energy solutions.

This event will include:
> An opportunity to feed into the call for evidence for the crucial Community Energy Strategy which will be written by DECC over the summer and is due to be published in late Autumn 2013, and feedback on the Community Energy Coalitions input to this
> Feedback on government calls for evidence and the DECC Community Benefit Stakeholder Advisory Group, which Regen have been involved in on behalf of you and our members
> A chance to share your views with the head of onshore wind from DECC
> A planning session with ‘Action for Renewables’ who can support you with renewable energy campaigning

The event is by invitation only. If you’d like to register your interest, please email jgiles@regensw.co.uk  with CEGN in the subject heading. 


Plans for Port Royal: British design in Singapore

Now for something completely different...

Engineering and interpretation
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore 
Wednesday 19 June, 6.30pm 

Singapore's new waterfront gardens are an extraordinary tour de force of British design and engineering expertise.

Essential to this is the creation of controlled cool environments in the two biomes which are prominent features of the scheme. One recreates Mediterranean springtime, while another recreates the cool mist of tropical mountains.

The consultants developed strategies for controlling conditions within the biomes and Singapore's humid environment while minimising energy. The towering steel clad concrete supertrees combine a number of functions from supply and exhaust plant, housing sun and rainwater-harvesting systems as well as being part of the language of the landscaping. These clusters of ‘supertrees’ have already become the enduring image of the projects’ success. Engineer Mark Whitby recently described the project as “a modern wonder of the world”.

An equally unusual element of the project is the collaboration with Peter Higgins of Land Design Studio who was involved from the outset to develop ways of telling the stories about the project to the visiting public. 

The project is intended to be a national and international exemplar of sustainable practice and has already won a number of awards since opening in 2012.

Patrick Bellew is founder and director of Atelier Ten engineers whose practice has pioneered a number of ground-breaking environmental projects on an international stage.
Neil Thomas is founder and director of Atelier One engineers who created the tree structure.
Peter Higgins is creative director at Land Design Studio who developed the interpretation and many of the animated and static exhibits that describe the design and the processes.

Free to attend. Booking essential.

Book Online 

Sponsored by
The Building Centre   26 Store Street   London   WC1E 7BT

Engineering and interpretation: Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Devonshire hedgerows and verges - and national guidance on cutting

It's controversial:

Grass verge wildlife ‘destroyed by councils’
26 May 2013 
Wildflowers on grass verges are a food source for bees and butterflies

Councils in the UK are destroying wildlife habitats by cutting grass verges too often, a charity has warned. Plantlife said verges supported hundreds of species of flowering plants and should be cut twice a year. It said three-quarters of councils it surveyed cut them multiple times. It received many calls from people "distraught" about the issue, it added. But the Local Government Association (LGA) said keeping verges shorter was safer for both drivers and pedestrians.

Plantlife is calling on councils to better manage the almost 600,000 acres (240,000 hectares) of roadside verges across the country. The verges support up to 1,000 plant species - including the rare bastard balm and long-leaved helleborine which are among 33 wayside flowers faced with extinction. One road verge in Warwickshire has the country's largest population of pyramidal orchids. It also has the UK's largest population of rockrose which attracts the scarce brown argus butterfly to the verge.

Plantlife said the A30 and A38 roads in Cornwall and Devon supported more than 1,000 acres of flower-rich grassland and one junction alone was home to six orchid species, including bee orchids and 1,100 greater butterfly orchids.
Wildflowers are also a vital food source for bees and butterflies, which have seen a significant decline in numbers in recent years. Wildflowers that are left to seed also feed birds and small mammals.

Plantlife said verges should be cut - and the cuttings removed - once early in the year and again in the late summer. Its survey found they were often cut multiple times over the summer. None of the councils surveyed collected the cuttings, which rotted down and added nutrients to the soil - making it too rich for most wildflowers

Plantlife's Trevor Dines said the way road verges were managed encouraged "coarse and thuggish plants" such as nettles, docks and coarse grasses. "Most verges, smothered in cuttings, might as well be just strips of concrete," he said. "Plantlife receives more calls on this subject than any other from members of the public distraught and angry that their favourite verges, full of cowslips and orchids, are being mown down in the name of neatness and good management." He urged people to help lobby for change by sending the charity "before" and "after" pictures of mown verges. He said the charity was working with several councils, including Worcestershire and Hampshire, to protect plants including Deptford pinks and tower mustard.

LGA environment and housing board chairman Mike Jones said Britain's wild flowers were important and councils encouraged native species "where they can". "However, councils must strike the right balance between road safety and wildlife," he said. "Keeping road verges well maintained ensures that motorists have a good line of sight and allows pedestrians to walk more safely alongside busy roads. It also prevents weeds and foreign species from spreading into private gardens."

DCC leader confirms hedgerow cutting is monitored

comments (3)

Devon County Council leader, John Hart, has confirmed that the council monitors the cutting of hedgerows, to ensure it is being carried out in accordance with national guidance, designed to protect wildlife.

DCC leader confirms hedgerow cutting is monitored
Photograph:  A beautiful East Devon hedgerow last weekend, with stitchwort, red campion and bluebells - important for many insects, including bees and butterflies.

Cllr Hart confirmed that DCC monitored hedge cutting, following my written question, submitted in advance of DCC’s annual council meeting last Thursday (23 May).

National guidance recommends that landowners cut hedges back in January and February only, to ensure the following:
- reducing the chance of disturbance to breeding birds, nesting birds and other species, such as bats and dormice, which are given legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
- most plants will have finished flowering and seeding
- it allows the availability of berries and nuts for feeding birds and other wildlife for as long as possible during the winter
- it is likely that there will be less traffic on the roads, reducing congestion and delays

Hedgerow removal is an offence without notifying the local planning authority (East Devon District Council), as per the Hedgerow Regulations Act, which controls the removal of hedgerows through a system of notification.
My written question was simply asking what the hedgerow cutting policy was.  The written answer distributed at the annual council meeting on Thursday, set out the guidance, after which I was allowed one supplementary question, which related to what monitoring took place, which I asked after outlining the serious problems affecting our wildlife.
Cllr Hart gave quite a long answer and although he confirmed that monitoring takes place, I intend to follow up to check how this works.
Following last week’s news on the dramatic decline in wildlife and habitat, I see this as a really important issue for councils.

Interestingly and coincidentally, there was a national news story over the weekend about how often councils cut their grass verges. BBC News - Grass verge wildlife 'destroyed by councils' 
Countryfile, aired last night, broadcast an interview with a Devon County Council highways officer, who confirmed that the council operated good practice by leaving a section of grass verge to grow unhindered, to allow wildflowers to flourish. BBC One - Countryfile, The Humber

The webcast is below and is expected to be ready for viewing in the next day or two.  You can click on the time next to the names on the “timeline” section on the right hand side of the screen to see the precise part of the meeting that you are interested in.

1. At 06:01 pm on 27th May John Artmony wrote:
What have you got against farmers Claire - you really don’t get it do you?
Why don’t you spend some time with the NFU visiting local farms to find out how they manage food production and the environment - rather than asking silly questions just for effect!!!  I give up!!!!  JA
2. At 08:53 pm on 27th May Mike Stott wrote:
Thank you for getting this issue into the public domain.  Along a stretch of road which I am sure is well known to you i.e. the east side of the Daisy Mount to Halfway Inn road there has been extensive cutting of the natural verges to create “Lawns”. This amounts to the sterilisation of the natural habitat in part of West Hill.. This practice of making intakes from what is in practice common land has a history and at times has achieved a change of ownership. I am interested what action the County Council is/has taken to protect/retrieve these West Hill intakes.
3. At 11:08 am on 28th May Sandra Semple wrote:
Why don’t the commentators who whinge about people with blogs who have specific points of view that are different to theirs start up their own blogs representing their views?  Or is it that their interest is in attempting to undermine others whose views are different from theirs rather than robustly promoting their own views in their own domains?
I for one would love to see a personal (I stress personal) blog putting the point of view of the farmers (or rather a farmer) in our area, written by a farmer for the lay person explaining the various incentives and pressures that they come under in the modern world.
We see an awful lot of general stuff about farming but it would be really interesting to get a local perspective telling us what is going on, who is helping farmers, who isn’t, etc.g
Equally, I would like to see blogs written from different political perspectives.  NOT party bumph but people honestly representing the ups and downs of their daily political lives - such as this blog does.
And it would give them an opportunity to see life from the other side of a blog - the nasty comments, the sniping, the trolling.  When it happens to them they might find that it is not very pleasant.
Claire Wright - Your Independent East Devon District Councillor for Ottery Rural

Wild Flowers

In the last seventy years more than 95% of British wildflower meadows have disappeared. That’s not only taken much of the colour out of our landscape, it is also disturbing a food chain that supports a huge array of plants and animals. This week Tom asks how we can reverse this ‘quiet catastrophe’. He joins one of the founders of the charity Plantlife to discover the huge potential for roadside verges as habitats for wild flowers. It’s a potential they are already starting to realise in Devon. Then Tom heads to Wandsworth to discover how urban areas can be transformed too. Here he finds experts from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew who want communities to become involved in their campaign to create more habitats for wild flowers, ‘Grow Wild’.


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Otter Brewery: further praise

This was received as a comment for the post Futures Forum: Otter Brewery:

If you love great beer and have any interest in the world we are shaping for future generations then why would you not buy Otter beer?
The company are running a business with all of the responsibilities, benefits and risks that generates. It is clear to me from experience of the product and the people who work there that they embody the principles of a sustainable business. They have a fabulous product, continually improve their process for business and environmental benefit and they look after their staff.
Well done Otter
Dave Bramley

Beer and Cider tasting!
Keith Bennett
An evening with Otter Brewery and Devon Cider.
7:00 PM 17th October 2012
Keith Bennett, Head Brewer from Otter Brewery and a cider making colleague reveal the secrets of these traditional drinks.  With tastings.

Photograph taken at the Sidmouth Science Festival 2012

Photograph taken at the Sidmouth Science Festival 2012
Keith Bennett (Head Brewer at Otter Brewery) & Martin Kerridge (Master Baker at Vinnicombe’s Bakery)

Photograph taken at the Sidmouth Science Festival 2012
Keith Bennett from Otter Breweries and Dave Bramley chair of Sidmouth Science Festival


How to help bees in East Devon:

Spotlight on Bees
Since appearing on BBC Spotlight on Wednesday 8 May, the Countryside team has received numerous requests from members of the public for bee box kits and advice on attracting solitary bees to their gardens. Species such as the Red Mason Bee and the Leafcutter Bee will lay their eggs in the boxes, which are easy to make using the instructions provided by the Countryside Rangers. Most people are now aware of the decline in our bee population, and its adverse effect on the pollination of flowers and fruit trees, and the response from the East Devon public, who are keen to do their bit for the bees, has been very encouraging. If you would like to order a bee box kit, (cost £7.50 with instructions) please contact the Countryside team on 01395 517557 or email countryside@eastdevon.gov.uk

Thanks to:
Claire Wright - Your Independent East Devon District Councillor for Ottery Rural

At last week's Chelsea Flower Show, bee hotels were the rage:

Amy Curtis, a finalist in the “fresh talent garden design competition”, has created an “urban bee hotel”. Set among flowering plants, she has drilled small holes into pieces of wood, which are the perfect size for solitary bees to lay their eggs. “Solitary bees don’t live in hives, but they’re responsible for 90 per cent of pollination of plants and flowers in the UK,” she said. “I wanted to show how you can do something in an urban environment to help bees, and make it look beautiful as well.”
Solitary bees, which don’t sting and are harmless, lay their larva in the holes, then cover them up with mud. The new bees hatch and make their way out. In the couple of days the “hotel” has been installed at the show, quite a few bees have already been born.

"I loved the Fresh Gardens mini-garden stands – this is a detail from The Urban Bee Hotel by Amy Curtis featuring some lovely sedum."
Chelsea Flower Show 2013 | Ursula's Cambridge Garden

More ideas from the RHS and the Chelsea Flower Show:
Plants for pollinators / RHS Gardening

Make a bee hotel
Honeybee numbers are falling, so by giving them a home you'll be encouraging nature into your garden and helping bee populations.
What you'll need
A terracotta plant pot (9 – 15cm in size)
Modelling clay
Plastic straws or bamboo canes
What to do
1. Cut the straws or bamboo canes to a length that fits the depth of your pot. If you are using bamboo canes you will need a grown – up to carry out this part as it’s tricky.
2. Tie the bundle of straws or canes together with a piece of string.
3. Place some modelling clay in the bottom of the pot and stick the bundle of straws or canes in to the clay.
4. Place the pot horizontally in your garden in a quiet place for the bees to move in.

 And to finish in East Devon:

The Beekeeper and The Bee by Kate Lynch

Exhibition: Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton:
11 May to 29 June 2013
‘The Beekeeper and the Bee’ – an exhibition by popular Somerset based artist Kate Lynch – is the culmination of nearly three years spent shadowing local beekeepers and their swarms. Expressive charcoal drawings and atmospheric oil paintings chronicle the seasonal work of beekeepers, from the first opening of the hive in spring, through busy summer, with the capture of the swarm and the spinning of honey, into busy sheds in winter, and the weaving of a bee skep.
Portraits of beekeepers are interspersed with paintings of bees foraging on hedgerows, flowers, crops and blossom. Most of the drawings and paintings on show will be for sale. 

[Opening The Hive by Kate Lynch, above] 
The artworks are accompanied by conversations with beekeepers recorded in text and sound which play in the gallery. Signed copies of the accompanying book ‘The Beekeeper and The Bee’ will be on sale in the gallery shop at £15 each.

[Bee on Snowdrop by Kate Lynch, right] 
Thelma Hulbert: New Acquisitions A fresh display of works by Thelma Hulbert recently acquired from RAMM, Exeter, will also be shown upstairs at the gallery for the duration of this exhibition. This will include some of Thelma’s Seascape paintings. Free Family Drop-in ‘Bees and Flowers’ Workshop with Kate Lynch at THG Thursday 30 May,11am-4pm.  All welcome. Children to be accompanied by an adult. Free admission but donations welcomed. All donations help to support the THG learning and exhibition programme. Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Elmfield House, Dowell Street, Honiton EX14 ILX www.thelmahulbert.com 
* info@thelmahulbert.com  (01404 45006) 
10am–5pm, Tuesday – Saturday, Free Admission


Saturday, 25 May 2013

Fords Renewables

Sidmouth's largest provider of renewable technologies:

Renewables Enquiry Form


Fords offer the complete photovoltaic and solar thermal solution for your home.

Photovoltaic Roof Systems

Solar Thermal Panels
How does a photovoltaic system work?
PV modules are mounted on an unshaded south facing (or near south facing) roof and use light from the sun to generate electricity. The output from the modules is matched with your household's electricity supply by an inverter.
Solar Thermal Roof Systems
Do I need to have a particular type of roof for solar installation?
PV modules are mounted on an unshaded south facing (or near south facing) roof and use light from the sun to generate electricity. The output from the modules is matched with your household's electricity supply by an inverter.

Features and Benefits:
> Sustainable energy. As solar energy harnesses the energy from the sun, it produces none of the CO2 emissions of using fossil fuels.
> Environmentally-friendly. Solar panels can be fully recycled.
> Proven technology. Based on technology that has been working for more than 20 years.
> Suitable for many locations. Can be installed on or in a sloping roof, on flat roofs, or even on a wall or floor.
> You’re in control. The system includes a control, which enables you to set the hot water temperature you require with ease.
> Easy to look after. Requires minimal maintenance and is extremely robust.

How do I benefit from it?
There are several benefits of installing a PV system on your property. Firstly, while you consume the electricity that you generate you avoid the cost of purchasing that electricity from the grid. As electricity prices are expected to rise sharply*1 over the next few years, the annual value of these savings is likely to increase.
Secondly, under the Feed-in Tariff, for a period of 25 years you are entitled to a payment from your supplier for each unit of electricity that you generate, whether you use it or not.
The amount you earn depends on the type of system you have, and if you generate more electricity than you need, the Feed-in Tariff provides for an additional sum for any electricity exported.
Below is a table showing the typical benefits of a 12 module (2.2kWp) system mounted at optimum orientation and angle:
To put this into context, consider that a typical 3 bedroom house with gas heating consumes 3300kWh*2 of electricity per year at a cost of around £400. The total gas and electricity consumption of the house results in COemissions of around 5 tonnes.
*1 Source: Options for delivering secure and sustainable energy supplies. Ofgem, 3rd Feb 2010.
*2 Source: Energy Saving Trust.