Eco-Chat, Thoughts and Action

Transition Malvern Hills (TMHills) continues to promote and support sustainable projects and initiatives in Malvern and the surrounding area.  We are organising regular meet ups, (under the title of TMHills Eco-Chat, Thoughts and Action), for individuals and groups to discuss how Malvern is making the positive changes needed to reduce our environmental impact.  There will be monthly meetings at Greenlink for all that wish to participate in these friendly discussions.

Below is the chats we have currently planned. To keep upto date sign up for our mailing list here. 

  • 11:00 on Wednesday, 11 July 2018

    Topic: 2nd phase ‘Make a Difference - Use less Plastic’
    Poster for shops/businesses that are making a difference.

Electric Bike Loan in Ledbury

The electric bike loan scheme is hoping to expand to Ledbury.

Our appeal for funds to have an Electric Bike in Ledbury has been successful in being part of the Ledbury Tesco plastic bag Community Fund. So all tokens deposited in the Ledbury store in May and June will contribute and depending where we are placed amongst the 3 contenders will determine the amount we get. If you are in Ledbury please add your tokens if you shop at Tesco.

Malvern seed and plant swap

The Malvern seed and plant swap will take place in the  Lyttleton rooms, Saturday April 14, 2018 10.00am – 3.00pm

A chance for you to start growing / diversify what you grow / share excess seeds / find new plants / meet like-minded people / contribute to a good cause.

  • Come and find seeds and plants for garden, patio, or pot.
  • Give your divided plants, excess cuttings and seedlings a new home and find something different for yourself.
  • Bring surplus seeds (in date and divided into small quantities) and swap; we have a variety of self saved 2017 seeds, really interesting new varieties from Tamar Organics and flower / veg offerings from Thompson & Morgan and Sarah Raven.
  • Donate unwanted / broken manual tools, sewing machines, good garden sundries.
  • Have some tools sharpened (noon-3pm)
  • Munch a home-made savoury muffin or cake and have a drink while browsing.

Proceeds to Tools for Self Reliance – tools for sale on the day.

Can you help on the day or offer cakes / savouries? if  so contact: Caroll Murphy caroll.a.murphy@gmail.com or  MaggieJo St John mjstj@me.com

Malvern Cube & Community Resilience.

This is copy of an article by Robin Coates, first written for Malvern Hillistic in February 2018.

In the Oct/Nov issue of Hillistic we introduced the connection between Transition Malvern Hills interest in Community Resilience and our commitment to the Malvern Cube. In this edition we would like to say more about the Malvern Cube as we believe it to be a unique resource providing an integrated example of what we as a community need in order to be sustainable and flourish.

In a way it is a big village hall (with 8 meeting rooms ranging from 1 on 1 consultations to a 250 seater theatre) run by volunteers with one paid manager. So it is a place to meet, for support, informal learning, entertainment, enhancing our fitness and wellbeing and having a meal or coffee and cake, all in one very relaxed space.

But it is also so much more because visionary questions spurred it’s founding like:

Why not make the place itself an example of good sustainable practice?

So this led to all the energy saving changes like the wall insulation, new windows, large ones triple glazed, small ones double glazed, efficient heating systems, LED lights and the extensive 120 PV panels generating the electricity. We hope 2018 will see the last windows changed. It has taken 5 years of getting grants from charitable trusts and the setting up of the Energy Coop and underpinned by an unwavering determination to transform the building. There is more to do but there is a real feeling that it is well under way.

Why don’t we use the land in public view to create a Community Vegetable garden?

This led to all those raised beds with their beautiful organic vegetables – with Volunteers coming to learn how easy it is to grow vegetables. Being in public view maybe gets passers-by thinking why vegetables and not flowers.

Why don’t we use the Community Garden Vegetables in our In House café?

We have organically grown vegetables, so no fossil fuel fertilisers or pesticides and no air or road miles or packaging – that is climate change friendly (healthy for the planet) and healthy for the café visitors.

Can we ensure there are a range of activities that enhance residents’ wellbeing?

Wellbeing is a big one as it covers what we put into our bodies, how we use them (physical activity, posture and stretching), mental stimulation, crafts, emotional and spiritual support and growth. Over time we have attracted classes and courses that cover all these areas. It is great that the physical activity is so diverse from kick boxing to table tennis, from yoga to extend exercises for the less mobile. U3A run many of their classes to stimulate the grey cells from languages to the ever popular geology and bridge. There are craft based groups, music practice for a local Brass band, a death café and Celtic Festivals that are held 4 times a year.

We also have the Sunday Dog Training group. This is the longest running group, which started well before we took the building over in 2012. We feel sure Malvern has some of the best behaved dogs as a result.

Can we attract the diverse range of people that live in Malvern?

Perfect Circle the Youth Theatre organisation in Malvern have 2 age groups creating plays, rehearsing every week and performing every term.

We have been working hard to make the building friendlier for visitors with disabilities. Over the Christmas break we installed another Automatic door so now both Theatre entrances (front and rear) have these doors.

The Connect Services has its day room providing a great resource for people with learning disability and we have several classes for them. AA and Drug and Alcohol help, also use the Cube.

Can we create a week end performing arts centre? Our Theatre is big enough for reasonable sized audiences and low cost enough for the less famous but still high quality acts.

You might well have been to our music, dance, comedy, poetry or drama events and maybe noticed that we are increasing the number and range each year. A special mention needs to be made of the Feast Festival (Feast stands for Festival of Equality in Arts and Society through Theatre) and the recent events in November over 3 days beautifully demonstrated that title.

Don’t let us forget a major part of the rationale for saving the Cube was so we could ensure Malvern still has positive activities for young people.

Long may this continue, it is a financial struggle as there is no Statutory requirement for Councils to fund Youth Work.

Going back to the village hall idea we also need to be the place residents can have their party, celebration, wedding or the local charity can hold its annual event. All these are possible at the cube.

If you would like to find out more so you can use/benefit from the Malvern Cube or offer help as donations or volunteering contact www.malverncube.com or Jon White 01684 575363 manager@malverncube.com

Single use Plastic

Plastic jellyfish out of waste (TK)

Our echo chat on 11th April is planning to continue discusing our campaign on  plastic waste and what we can do about it. We are planning to creating a installation to highlight how you can use less plastic.

This has become a very topical problem now that China has stopped taking our dirty recycling.

The following is a list of links on the problem:

What is single-use plastic

9 reasons refuse single use plastic

9 really good alternatives to plastic

Greenpeace

Surfers Against Sewage

Best in glass – can the return of the milkround help squash our plastic problem?

Saving the albatross: ‘The war is against plastic and they are casualties on the frontline’

Pump Storage Hydro Power for Malvern

This is copy of an article by Robin Coates, first written for Malvern Hillistic in December 2017.

This is an article about what at the moment is a speculative idea that explores how a problem may possibly be turned to a valuable local scheme for energy generation.

You may know the reservoir that is on the East side of the British Camp (Herefordshire Beacon). Many years ago this was built to store water and provide a header tank for Malvern’s water supply. It had its own treatment plant at the base of the dam. Some time ago it ceased being used for this purpose. We guess that this may have been as a safety precaution, we note that the water level has been kept low for some time or because treatment was centralised on a few large plants. Dams have quite rightly very rigorous inspection schemes for public safety reasons. The dam is owned by Severn Trent and if it is not being used for water supply it will be a financial burden with high maintenance costs. This will encourage Severn Trent to consider removing its water holding ability as a dam.

We pondered whether an alternative might be to create a pumped storage hydro-electric scheme. This would enable the dam to be a financial asset rather than a liability. It would work by releasing water from the dam into pipes that are linked to turbines at the bottom of the hill and then to a large pond. The turbines generate electricity at peak times. Then at off peak times, either cheap electricity at night or surplus daytime renewable energy is used to pump the water back up to the dam. To do this there needs to be another large pond at the bottom of the hill to store the water ready to be pumped back up.

For the electricity generating companies to provide us with peak power there are many power stations that operate for a very short time and therefore at very high cost. The payments made for this power are many multiples of the normal wholesale rate paid to generating companies.

As we change the mix of methods of generation from fossil fuels to renewables we need more storage solutions. Pumped storage hydro-electric is one of these. It needs rather special geography to be able to have two reservoirs with a big height difference and tends to be very capital intensive. In Malvern’s case at least we have the high level dam, easy access to the dam, pond, turbine and pump house site (this could also be below ground) and grid connections reasonable close.

It is possible that for safety reasons the existing dam can only be used half full but that is still plenty of water for peak power.

So it is a great idea but there are so many obstacles to overcome if this is to be realised. Initially it would need the full support of the AONB and the Malvern Hills Trust, Severn Trent Water, any other landowners, The Malvern Hills District Council Planners and local people. If there was at least tentative support from these areas then a major Feasibility Study would be needed to check the environmental, engineering and financial details. Raising funds for this wouldn’t be easy as there is always the risk that the scheme will not go ahead and an organisation would need to be created to commission the report and later on see the project through and become the operator.

Assuming all the agreements could be arranged and the environmental, engineering and financial feasibility is sound then it would be a case of raising the money to carry out the scheme. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this could be funded by local residents. As we did with the much smaller and simpler Malvern Community Energy Coop for the Cube PV panels.

In a few years’ time there will be more local grids connected to the national grid and the local generation by renewables will be feeding our buildings at lower cost, might Malvern be one of these local grids. At Malvern Community Energy Coop we will be tentatively exploring the issues raised, no promises but what an exciting possibility.

If you would like to find out more, get involved or be kept up to date contact us on robin@robincoates.com

 

Shopping without Plastic Bags?

This is written by Andrew Jameson, initially for the Quaker newsletter.

David Attenborough’s television series The Blue Planet has had great success recently in drawing attention to the menace of waste plastic in our rivers and seas. The problem is that our brilliant scientists have invented an extremely useful INERT material which nature is unable to recycle by the usual natural processes. The actual offending items range from the extremes of microbeads which are added to e.g. toothpaste and skin products to give a “scrub” action, to the millions of “free” supermarket bags we used to see blowing across fields and hanging off trees.

What can we do to lessen our use of, and dependence on, plastics? Here are a few modest proposals.

  1. Natural Choice in Barnards Green, Malvern (used to be Hunts Greengrocers) is a traditional family business, vegetables and fruit are all in “loose” displays, with different sized paper bags available. Also stocked: Seville oranges, Yorkshire pink rhubarb, local ice creams, dairy products, Teme Valley sausages and more. Home delivery free in Malvern. 01684 567467.
  2. The Cheese Board (opposite Natural Choice) has local English wines and ciders as well as cheese and cooked meats. I recommend the Hereford Hop cheese. Cheese is cut to order and wrapped in paper. 01684 891900.
  3. Green Link, 11 Graham Road, Malvern has large containers of Ecover washing up and laundry liquid etc, bring along your Ecover bottle and refill it. Melanie and I have used these for years with no ill effects! Ecover detergents are less harsh than other products. 01684 576266.
  4. Cotteswold Dairy, based in Tewkesbury and the Welsh Marches, is an independent family owned firm. Cotteswold offer a traditional doorstep delivery in Malvern using glass bottles which are collected and re-used daily. http://www.cotteswold-dairy.co.uk/. 01684 298959.