Achtung! Peak Oil Reports and Community Transport

What have a leaked German military think tank report on Peak Oil, a Guardian article stating that for two years the British government (i.e. the Department of Energy and Climate Change – DECC) has consistently played down and dismissed as ‘alarmist’ warnings from its own civil servants about the threat of civil unrest in the face of ‘peak oil’ energy shortages, and Sustainable Bungay’s midsummer bike ride and Green Drinks on Community Transport got in common?

The German report is clear, sobering and well worth reading. It outlines the systemic risks involved in an “unavoidable peak in oil production, which go beyond gradual shifts in energy systems and economies,” and discusses those risks from the standpoint of globalised, industrialised economies – oil being the base for 95% of all industrial output. The paper also addresses energy security and changing international and geopolitical relations – who has the remaining oil reserves and what that means in terms of potential political power shifts.

The Guardian article looks at the DECC report on the risks and impacts of a potential future decline in oil production within the present global context of historic oil price highs ($115 or £71 a barrel). The report had been unavailable to the public until a student gained access to it through a Freedom of Information demand.

Community Transport was the theme for Sustainable Bungay’s solstice Green Drinks yesterday as a group of cyclists set off from the Buttercross in the centre of town to St. Peter’s Brewery a few miles outside. Margaret Sheppard, SB’s own full-on cycling campaigner, organised the ride both as part of National Bike Week and as one of a series of summer rides to raise awareness, show how enjoyable cycling can be and “get bums on bikes.”

Some of us chose to go with Richard in the Beccles and Bungay Area Community Cars’ wheelchair-assisted van – also to raise awareness of its existence as an alternative to private cars for groups of up to six people for anything from day trips to evenings out. The BBACC also have a network of drivers using their own cars to take people on shopping or hospital trips (this costs 43p per mile). In an area with a large rural hinterland, diminished bus services and many (especially older) people without private transport, this is proving to be an increasingly popular and valuable service.

Whatever the future holds in terms of energy provision, the current trend of rising oil and food prices seems set to last. We need to get more and more into the spirit of sharing our resources – and making it as enjoyable as possible – like cycling (or community bussing) out together at summer solstice for a drink to discuss the practical ways we can go about it.

Pics: Richard, Charlotte and the Community WAV; Bungay bikers at the Buttercross and entering St. Peter’s Brewery, Summer Solstice 2011

Originally posted on Transition Norwich blog 22nd June 2011

Here we go!

Bungay Community Bees has experienced some colony losses this year (for a number of reasons) but I’m happy (no, ecstatic) to report we now have a new Queen laying well and expanding her colony rapidly. She is fabulously large and long with lovely wide tan and narrow dark brown stripes. Here are a few pictures – see if you can spot her and/or the ‘c’ shaped larvae in unsealed cells of varying sizes.

Bungay Allotments

Bungay Allotments and Gardens Association is thriving at the moment, with all plots being worked with enthusiasm and creativity! There is a waiting list of about a year, but it’s worth putting your name down now as a good waiting list also assists with the campaign for greater allotment provision. There certainly won’t be new allotments if there isn’t a demand!

So far this year, the dry weather has helped to keep weeds at bay, but has also meant that we’ve all been doing a lot of watering. I suspect that water is going to be a big factor over the coming years and that we need to look at ways of increasing onsite water collection, rather than relying on the tap (which for some plot-holders is a long walk!).

It always fascinates me to see the variety of plants grown and the innovative ways people choose to grow and protect them. There is a great tradition of reuse on allotments, as children’s play equipment, plastic bottles and other bits of waste, become support structures for climbing plants or cloches for vulnerable seedlings. We had a skip onsite to clear old fly-tipped rubbish and there was a lot of ‘dumpster diving’ going on as one person found some scrap and another thought of a use for it! Kate Jackson

If you are interested in joining the waiting list, contact Kate Jackson (01986 897082)
transitionkate@hotmail.co.uk

 

Happy Mondays at the Community Kitchen

The seed of a plan to establish a catering co-operative in Bungay was sown last Autumn, and has gradually been germinating ever since. Producing wholesome meals from fresh local ingredients – engaging everyone in the community to come together to share both the work and the food – is beneficial in so many ways from social interaction to shared energy use and costs.

So on May 9th in celebration of 2 years since Sustainable Bungay’s unleashing, a group of us spent the afternoon together in the kitchen at the Community Centre preparing dinner for 30 people. Dish of the day was home-baked pie and mash, served with Suffolk’s star spring veg, asparagus, and some of the fruit, vegetables and herbs came directly from SB’s members’ gardens and allotments. Despite first run hitches, the (delicious) food was served on time and made for a successful evening. We aim to run an extended pilot scheme later in the year once issues of venue, staffing and costings have been worked out. Please keep an eye out for public notices if you wish to be involved in making a success of “Happy Mondays” – Bungay’s own Community Kitchen. Nick Watts

For further information contact Nick Watts
transitionnick@phonecoop.coop

 

Save Bungay Library! Report on the SCC Scrutiny Committee Meeting

The Suffolk County Council Scrutiny Committee met at Endeavour House on Tuesday 14th June.  Josiah and Sylvia attended. Sylvia prepared these reflections for the Bungay Library Cross-Community Working Party:

Prior to the meeting our understanding, and that of all other Library representatives, was that the committee would be looking at the consultation process. This was confirmed by an email from Stephen Taylor, of the Libraries Management team on 8th June and the first objective on the briefing paper for the committee was “to have information on the consultation to date”.

However, on opening the meeting the chairman stated that the committee would not be examining the consultation! As you can imagine this put many of those attending on the back foot and negated a great deal of preparation work done by a large number of people, including myself.

Invited witness presentations followed and the chair opened the floor to the those of us in the public gallery. Three themes dominated:

a) The consultation document was more of “a gun to the head”, engendering a fear that if libraries did not submit an EOI they would be closed.

b)The data published with the consultation was inaccurate, incorrect, incomprehensible and virtually unreadable.
That the experience of all libraries, with the exception of Aldeburgh (there seems to be a special synergy between them and Judy Terry) was that any clarification of published data or provision of additional data, either for clarity or to enable the preparation of an EOI was not forthcoming.

c) The treatment of library staff had been appalling. They had not been briefed about publication of the consultation, they were, certainly initially, actively discouraged from getting involved and throughout the consultation period they were not kept informed.

None of the Evidence Sets published, with the agenda, prior to the meeting and which focused on the consultation itself, were referenced at all throughout the meeting. The only document used for reference was an “Update on Libraries Consultation” produced by the Libraries Management team and distributed at the start of the meeting. This contained some pictures of libraries and of the vast quantity of petitions, letters and documentation sent to SCC demonstrating passion for the libraries and library service throughout the county, together with quotes from library users, and some rather nebulous statements by the authors of the document. NB  we do have this, together with all documentation for the meeting available for anyone who wishes to see it.

Anna McCreadie (SCC ACS Director), Guenever Pachent and Stephen Taylor were the officers present and reported that the overwhelming response had been that library users in Suffolk want to retain their service and all that it currently offers. They gave no detail of the model used to analyse responses but were keen to stress the passion and committment demonstrated by library users evidenced by the large submission of EOI’s. They totally failed to acknowledge that the emotion so evident in the responses had previously existed and that it was the obvious threat embodied in the consultation that had generated its public declaration and the preparation of EOI’s.

Portfolio holder Cllr Judy Terry gave a very brief presentation which tacitly ignored all of the criticism but stressed the view that the large number of EOI submissions demonstrated an overwhelming desire for libraries to run themselves. She stated that their current recommendation, which they will be putting to Cabinet is; an arms length social enterprise (CIC seems to be being used as shorthand for this!). She suggested that they are taking legal advice on the best model and are currently working on detail. This suggestion seems at odds with very recent conversations and meetings that have taken place with officers. It is also exactly what she announced on the radio on May 2nd two days after the consultation closed and before they had even begun an analysis of all responses!

There was a deal of discussion surrounding the county/community designation and finally Judy Terry acknowledged that this had been abandoned and that all libraries face the same threat.

Though we were frustrated at the embargo put on discussing the consultation there was a tacit agreement that it had been seriously flawed, evidenced by the chair Cllr Colin Hart saying “we’re in a hole and need your help to get out of it”.

The direction of travel seems unchanged – it is divestment with some sort of QUANGO set up to oversee the service.

We believe that the Bungay Library Cross-Community Working Party should take a firm stance at this stage;

Either we send a strongly worded statement to SCC stating that we reserve the right to withdraw our EOI, given that the terms of reference under which it was prepared no longer apply and that it was produced under duress. Our designation as a community library, though we believe that to be inaccurate, meant that, under the stated terms of the consultation, we faced closure if we were not prepared to take over the management. That we shall consider our position once the Cabinet decision is known and when ALL of the details pertaining to the social enterprise vehicle are known.

Or we withrdraw the EOI stating all of the above reasons.

The full Scrutiny Committee recommendations are:

  • the classification of County Libraries and Community Libraries referred to in the Consultation document is not a reasonable basis for a policy;
  • the potential community interest company agrees individual budgets for each library;
  • the business case considered by Cabinet should clearly demonstrate how the community interest company service would operate across the whole of Suffolk;
  • that the Council retain the ability to ensure that the terms offered by the community interest company were sufficient to maintain a sustainable service;
  • any claims on secondary taxation from Parish, Town, District or Borough Councils be carried out on an equitable basis across Suffolk;
  • due consideration be given to innovative ideas that have already come forward and any others that are received  from communities on how their services might be run;
  • the policy on mobile libraries be clearly stated in the report to Cabinet;
  • the Council provide absolute clarity to communities interested in running their libraries on issues they were likely to raise such as finance, staffing and legal issues;
  • the Council must satisfy itself on the financial viability of the plans put forward and that they are sustainable.
  • further expressions of interest are welcome and will be considered.

Summer Gatherings

The Festival season has started and we’re busy digging out our tents and our SB stall. First on the list is the Transition East Summer Gathering as initiatives from all over East Anglia head up to Hill Farm in Framsden for a midsummer weekend. It’s a great chance for local Transitioners to meet and discuss what’s going on in their communities and the challenges we all face as the triple crunch of peak oil, climate change and economic recession start to bite.

Last year Glenn and Jeannie hosted the first gathering of Transitioners from Suffolk, South Norfolk and North Essex and this year they’re making their farm available for a two day gathering to share experiences, swap ideas, enjoy each other’s company and celebrate. There’s even a village Barn Dance in a C15th barn – that’s something you definitely can’t get at Glastonbury!  Some of us will also be going to the Transition Conference in Liverpool in July (full report in the autumn newsletter!)

Other local seasonal highlights include All Under One Roof at the Emmanuel Church on Saturday 16th July where SB will join other sustainable enterprises to show what’s going on in the region and the new look Greenpeace Fair in September at  Henham Park. Charlotte Du Cann

Transition East summer gathering 25th/26th June – Hill Farm, Framsden, Suffolk IP14 6HA Contact Glenn & Jeannie for more info and if you want tickets for the dance please let them know ASAP: hillfarm@helmingham.com or 01473 890737.

 

Bungay Beehive

Bungay Community Bees (BCB) is now in its second busy year and this July will be hosting a first-of-its kind event, the Bungay Beehive – a day of bee-related exhibits, crafts, workshops and talks. After establishing three community-shared apiaries last year we are now focusing on outreach and education projects.

Originally we set up our hives and community group to help local honeybee populations. Honeybees are in decline worldwide and so BCB  has been spreading the word about the crucial relationship between plants, bees and people to different local groups from the Probus Club to the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) regional gathering near Ipswich as well as taking part in the first London Bee Summit.

During Nature Week at Bungay Primary School we engaged in all kinds of exciting “bee-aware” activities: giving a slide show of our own hives and bees, looking at examples of foods pollinated by bees, exploring an empty hive, trying on beekeeping suits, learning how to waggle dance and plant sunflower seeds (this rated everyone’s no 1 subject!). It was really impressive how much interest the children showed and how well they grasped the role of bees in pollination.

Our biggest outreach event to date, Bungay Beehive is happening on Sunday 24 July, 10.30am-4pm at Castle Meadow. Although we are celebrating ‘all things bee’, our theme will centre on the importance of insect pollination and how we can use plants and gardening techniques to support bees and other pollinating insects in our environment. There will be a guest speaker from the River of Flowers project talking about the importance of pollination, biodiversity and ways in which we can be proactive.

“The ‘river’ in River of Flowers is an evocative way of describing the planting of urban meadows in ‘pollination streams’ or ‘green corridors’ in order to help our pollinators, bees, butterflies and hoverflies, find forage in the city. It describes the flight path of the pollinators as much as it does the flow of wildflowers…” http://www.riverofflowers.org.

Other speakers will discuss natural beekeeping concepts, bumblebees and the healing power of honey. Activities include making a bug hotel or a candle, discovering wildflowers and bees in and around Bungay and diverse children’s crafts. Some more practical aspects of beekeeping, including our recent venture into top bar hives, will be on display alongside an observation hive (live bees!) and stalls selling bee-friendly plants and honey. So, come along and get involved with supporting bees in our environment! Elinor McDowall

To get involved with Bungay Community Bees or to join the mailing list email: info@sustainablebungay.com

Green Drinks: Community Transport – 21 June

National Bike Week falls between the 18th and 26th of June so it seemed fitting that the Green Drinks theme for June should be Transport, and even more fitting – given that Green Drinks will be on the 21st – that we should all get on our bikes!

We’ll gather at the Buttercross from 6:15 and leave for St. Peter’s Brewery by 6:30. The ride is just over 3.5 miles and so we should easily be able to order drinks and food and start Green Drinks at our usual time of 7:30. Margaret Sheppard will talk a little about Bungay and Beccles Cycle Strategy (Margaret is a trustee) and other local transport issues. Richard Vinton will tell us about Beccles and Bungay Area Transport (where he is a volunteer driver).

What better way to celebrate Midsummer’s Day? 
There will also be a bike ride on Sunday June 26th.Bike ride for lunch at Rumburgh Buck.10.30am Buttercross to meet up with riders from Beccles and Halesworth. Rides organised by Margaret Sheppard of Sustainable Bungay, Beccles and Bungay Cycle Stradegy and Godric Cycling Club.Info;at sheppard22@talktalk.net or 01986 892907 If you can’t cycle to meet us do contact Richard and come in the community bus (thelorax@fsmail.net).
Pic from Sustrans http://www.sustrans.org.uk/

Top Bar Triumph (well so far anyway..)

Paul and Adele have been feeding and spying (very handy having a glass panel) on the swarm housed in the top bar hive in their garden. However, the time to open the hive eventually came. So, after nearly four weeks, myself and Mike (the crafter of the hive) met with Paul and Adele to see how things were going.

After reading various forum comments and viewing several youtube excerpts I half expected comb to be built everywhere – in particular across the top bars (cross combing) and down the sides of the hive body, I even took my bread knife along just in case. Slightly unfortunate that I forgot I had done so for a couple of days, but who needs toast anyway?

In actuality the bees had built seven small combs incredibly neatly and hadn’t stuck it down anywhere inappropriate at all. I have definitely warmed to these bees – not only were they beautiful builders with a very handsome Queen (dark with red/brown stripes) but they were so docile we didn’t need any smoke, or even a veil, as the photographers found out!

Thankfully there were recently hatched bees, lots of sealed brood, larvae and eggs to be seen. Cell size was noticeably smaller than on foundation, next time I’ll take some drawn out comb on foundation along for comparison. Interestingly, we found cells filled with pollen, although no reserves of nectar or honey. Hopefully this is as a result of the new swarm building their comb and expanding their colony and is a temporary situation.

Can you find the eggs in the above picture?

Finally, we checked the monitoring board and amongst piles of white wax flakes and yellow and orange pollen there were two varroa mites. Not bad for one colony over nearly four weeks (even a small colony). Bees are amazing anyway, but seeing them living in our wonderfully crafted top bar hive and making their own comb was absolutely fabulous.

Documentary film night – Gasland

There will be a showing of the film Gasland (directed by Josh Fox) at our third joint film night with Waveney Greenpeace on Friday 17th June 7.30pm at Bacons farm, St Michael South Elmham, NR35 1NF.

The film follows the stories of real people affected by shale gas exploration in the USA. Shale gas is an unconventional energy source where gas is released from the shales by a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of the shale itself. This industry has rapidly expanded within the last ten years in the USA although seemingly with major consequences for both the environment and health of local people. These effects arise as both the gas released, and the chemicals used in the fracturing process may contaminate local aquifers, rivers and surrounding land. With the UK Government currently considering its approach to allowing this industry into the UK and the first fracking experiments occurring earlier this month in Blackpool, this is a highly topical environmental/earth science related film.

Further reading: Review by Rob Hopkins on Transition Culture; On Gasland and Feeling by Mark Watson on This Low Carbon Life.

For further deails contact Eloise eloise.wilkinson@gmail.com)
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