At the close of 2019, West Monkton Parish Council made a ‘Climate and Ecological Emergency’ declaration, pledging to work towards making the parish more carbon neutral by 2030, with a forward look to a zero-carbon future. This commitment includes continuing to work closely with parishioners and partners across the parish, district and county to deliver this new goal.
For 2021, West Monkton Parish Council are delighted to be launching a Climate Communications Project alongside the Centre for Sustainable Energy – aimed at sharing information, tips and advice on ways we can all take steps to become more eco aware, and encourage local actions that are both eco and climate-friendly, and which will help us protect our environment for future generations.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy is an independent national charity on a mission to share their knowledge and practical experience to empower people to change the way they think and act about energy. At any one time the CSE have around 60 different and separately-funded projects underway. All of these are helping people and communities to meet real needs for both environmentally sound and affordable energy services. You can find out more about the CSE here: https://www.cse.org.uk/
This dedicated Climate Change page will feature regular articles on topics where we all have opportunities to make a difference, as well as showcasing the efforts of parishioners to ‘make green normal’.
We will also be sharing content on our West Monkton Parish Council Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/westmonktonparishcouncil and in the Village News Magazine.
As 2021 develops, and in-person activities can recommence, we will also be looking at opportunities for residents and local businesses and organisations to come together to support green initiatives and to make a real and lasting difference.
If you have any ideas to share, or examples of what you are doing to reduce negative impact on the environment and to be more climate-friendly, we would love to hear from you.
Pump up your tyres and adjust your saddles – it’s #bikeweek2021
The findings of a comprehensive brand new 2021 study led by the University of Oxford’s Transport Studies Unit show that shifting to active transport could save as much as a quarter of personal carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from transport and that that, even if not all car trips could be substituted by bicycle trips, the potential for decreasing emissions is huge.
Need some trip inspiration? Our friends at Taunton Area Cycling Campaign have lots of ideas including the family friendly Foxglove Trail https://thetacc.org.uk/trails-in-the-taunton-area/ and if your bike needs some attention the team at On Your Bike charity next to Taunton Station are on hand for advice on sales, repairs and maintenance https://www.on-your-bike.co.uk/
Did you know that they are a registered charity formed in 2010, with the key aim to train, and help those who have suffered social exclusion, ex-servicemen and long term unemployed. Through working in their fully equipped workshops with support and supervision to refurbish unwanted bicycles, volunteers gain skills, confidence, self-worth, and a want to be a proactive part of our community. On Your Bike have recycled and serviced thousands of bikes, and will continue to do so to support, and supply affordable bikes to our amazing local community.
Going Green with your Energy Supplier and Consumption
In collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Energy, our eco focus over the last few weeks has been on Green Energy and energy saving. It was wonderful to hear that Britain’s electricity grid had its ‘greenest ever’ day on Easter Monday, where zero-carbon sources made up 80 per cent of the UK’s energy mix. Just 10 per cent of power was coming from gas plants, with the remainder coming from other sources such as imports and biomass. There was no coal generation on the grid at all on Easter Monday! The effectiveness of green energy sources helped reduce levels of carbon dioxide produced per unit of electricity consumed to just 39 grams on Easter Monday – the lowest ever recorded, according to the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO)
Sharing tips on how we can all do our bit to be greener with our own energy choices and consumption, coupled with the rise in renewable energy manufacture really makes a difference – both to our carbon footprint, and to our wallets! Here are some of the simple, but effective tips we’ve been sharing over on our Facebook page:
- Turn down you hot water thermostat by 2 degrees – you’ll be unlikely to notice a difference & the average family will save £60 on heating bills (as well as helping to reduce carbon emissions.
- Defrost your freezer regularly: looking after our appliances that are always switched on saves the average family £150 a year in electricity.
- Unplug when not in use: phantom energy is the power that electronics pull from the outlet while plugged in, even when the device is off it can waste as much as 10% of your home’s energy.
- Ditch the screen saver: in spite of their name, screen savers no longer “save” anything – all they do is waste electricity, as most use the same amount of electricity as when the screen is in active use.
The Energy Saving Trust has lots more simple ideas too – why not give some a try: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/energy-at-home/
As well as reducing the amount of energy we use at home, another way we can have an effect on the environment is by changing our energy company to a green supplier – a simple but powerful way of supporting those companies who are investing in the latest green and sustainable technologies, helping the UK move away from reliance on damaging carbon fuels. But who to choose? Helpfully, the Centre for Sustainable Energy have drawn our attention to a great up to date article on the T3 website which details not only some of the leading green energy suppliers, but also has an environmental rating for each of them – find out more here: https://www.t3.com/features/best-green-energy-supplier
Parish Planting Initiative: FREE planting pack and sunflower competitions
Those of you who have been following this dedicated website page and our WMPC Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/westmonktonparishcouncil will have seen us sharing information, tips and advice on ways we can all take steps to become more eco aware, and encourage local actions that are both eco and climate-friendly, and which will help us protect our environment for future generations. As 2021 develops, and in-person activities can recommence, we are looking at opportunities for residents and local businesses and organisations to come together to support each other’s ‘eco efforts’.
With the help of Monkton Elm Garden Centre, WMPC are now delighted to launch a FREE parish-wide planting scheme to enhance the natural beauty of our community, alongside the wildlife and wellbeing benefits that growing brings.
All households in the Parish are eligible for a planting voucher, which will be emailed to you after registration at: https://mailchi.mp/e25edf257d4c/wmpc-planting Then, all you need to do is to show the voucher at the Monkton Elm Garden Centre Reception Desk from 7th April to receive your FREE planting pack.
The pack includes:
• 50 x Giant Sunflower Seeds
• 33cm coloured planter (long lasting & fully recyclable)
As the growing period develops the Parish Council will be announcing the details of a Planting Photo Competition with some great prizes courtesy of Monkton Elm Garden Centre, including:
• West Monkton Primary School Sunflower Grower of the Year
• Parish’s Tallest Sunflower
• Sunflower with the widest diameter
• Most Creative Sunflower Face
Once the competitions are live, we will share the details of how to enter. Winners will receive their award and prize at a special prizegiving event at Monkton Elm Garden Centre in September and a photo gallery of competition entries will be on display.
Any questions? You can email us at plantingcompWMPC@gmail.com
Local Travel – Appreciate the Beauty on your Doorstep and help the local environment and economy at the same time
When the British public were asked in 2019 about the benefits they would hope to see as a result of positive climate change, the biggest common themes were around protecting future generations, creating a healthier society and preserving the countryside. By keeping our travel as local and as car-less as possible we can have a real, positive effect on all three of these important themes.
Appreciating the beauty on our doorstep, walking, cycling and taking closer to home ‘staycations’ have all become more popular due to the pandemic, and as restrictions begin to lift we can further help our local area by continuing with these activities. As an area of the UK where leisure and tourism makes up a large part of the economy, our local attractions, places of interest and hospitality industry need our support, and unfortunately our local young people have been worst affected. Making up a large proportion of the leisure and hospitality industry’s work force, those aged 16 to 24 years saw the largest fall in employment of any age group.
We have put together the following information to give you lots of ideas about enjoying our local area in ways that benefit you and your family, our local environment and local economy:
Have you tried the Foxglove Cycle Trail?
Taunton is a town of attractive green spaces and watercourses, some off the beaten track. The Taunton Area Cycling Campaign has designed an 11 mile mainly flat cycle trail which enables you to discover parts of Taunton you didn’t know. It’s called the Foxglove Cycle Trail. The Trail follows some of the town’s traffic free paths and mainly quiet roads. It is suitable for all ages, particularly families. You can join it at any point along the Foxglove Cycle Trail, to come back to the same point.
There are attractive green areas to pause in and sections along some of Taunton’s many streams and the Taunton-Bridgwater Canal and River Tone. There are wildlife havens along the Foxglove Cycle Trail. There is a great leaflet with map with the route and information on places of interest and refreshment stops that can be downloaded here: https://thetacc.org.uk/foxglove-cycle-trail/
Have you looked at the Visit Taunton website recently?
The Visit Taunton website is a great resource when you need ideas for staying local but want to have lots of fun! The site is packed with information about circular walks, heritage trails and dog friendly walks and places, and to keep the kids entertained there are ideas for rainy days out, downloadable quizzes, spotter sheets and activity leaflets. The site also has handy guides for exploring beyond Taunton, featuring opportunities to enjoy Somerset’s beautiful countryside, coastline, unspoilt villages and characterful market towns. https://www.visitsomerset.co.uk/taunton
Did you know that there are 60 different wildlife reserves across Somerset?
On the Somerset Wildlife Trust website you can find details of all sixty of the county’s wildlife reserves, and deciding what is a good option for you is easy as you can search by location, type of reserve (bird, woodland, wetland, waterside) as well as look at the facilities each site has on offer. https://www.somersetwildlife.org/nature-reserves
The website also has downloadable Taunton walking guides including:
• A Criss-Cross of Bridges
• The Blackbrook Meander
• River Tone Story Trail with Ollie the Otter
What’s in the pipeline for Somerset Active Travel Group?
Somerset’s Active Travel group includes representatives from Somerset County Council, Mendip Council, Sedgemoor Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council, South Somerset Council, Somerset and Avon Police and Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP). Working as a multi-agency group they are committed to creating better spaces for people walking and cycling around Somerset. The project was created in response to the Government’s summer 2020 announcement of a £250m Emergency Covid Active Travel Fund. Somerset was initially allocated £120,000 in emergency funding for temporary measures to encourage safe walking and cycling.
The second round of funding will be released later this summer to enable further, more permanent measures to help establish good cycling and walking habits. An indicative figure of £482,000 for Somerset has been published from the second round https://somersetnewsroom.com/
In summary, holidaying closer to home often works out better for our wallets – reducing the cost of travel, and staying local for leisure pursuits and family activities also ensures that we are helping to protect the environment and to bolster our local tourist economy, which has suffered badly as a result of Covid-19. Exploring your local area is good for your health, good for our local environment and will support our local communities to “Build back better”.
Reducing food waste – did you know that 70% of food waste in the UK comes from individual homes?
Food can bring us comfort, help us come together and cooking can benefit our mental health and wellbeing, so why do we waste so much of it? We may not think directly about how the food we waste in our homes impacts the planet, but with 70% of food waste in the UK coming from individual homes we can all make a difference.
If everyone in the UK stopped wasting food at home for just one day, it would have the same impact on greenhouse gasses as planting half a million trees. There are plenty of simple ways which can help you to reduce your carbon footprint by shrinking your food waste.
Tips for reducing food waste:
- Batch cooking is a great way to use up anything you have taking up space at the back of the fridge. You can use this extra time at home to try out some new recipes! Charity love food hate waste have some fantastic resources, including a leftover recipe guide full of inspiration for tasty dishes you could make with food you might otherwise throw away. lovefoodhatewaste.com
- Growing your own food can be a fantastic way to cut down on food waste as you can share your extra produce with a neighbour or friend. If you would like to give back to your community and have surplus food on your allotment, Foodshare encourages growers to donate fresh produce to local charities who feed people, for example hospices, care homes and homeless shelters. You can register with them to see the charities that are looking for donations in your local area. foodshare.org.uk/grow-your-own
- When doing your weekly food shop there are simple ways you can shop smarter saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint! Choosing the food with the longest use by date, choosing wonky fruit and veg in supermarkets where it is available and creating a shopping list to ensure that you only buy the food you will use. Shopping in this way could save you on average £700 a year!
- If you do end up with extra non-perishable food items you could donate them to your local food bank. Our local supermarkets accept donations for both the Taunton Food Bank https://taunton.foodbank.org.uk/ and Taunton Open Door tauntonopendoor.org.uk/
Whether it’s the choices you make in the supermarket, deciding to grow your own food or cooking extra food to put in the freezer. Small steps can make a big difference!
In this article we are sharing ideas and links around how we can prevent energy loss in our homes – reducing both bills and our carbon footprint at the same time. In our parish we have homes of all sizes and ages, but it’s not just older homes that can benefit from these ideas! There are also financial grants available to help us take action to reduce the amount of energy we use at home. So why is focusing on energy loss important?
Energy use in our homes accounts for about 20% of UK greenhouse gas emissions, and heating alone makes a staggering 10% of the UK’s total carbon footprint. Home heating is by far the biggest single source of individual energy consumption in the UK. Of all the energy consumed by the average UK resident over the course of a year, more than 50% will be used just to heat their home* By reducing the amount of warm air that escapes from buildings (and therefore the energy needed to heat our homes), insulation is therefore one of the quickest and most effective ways to cut down energy usage. A well-insulated house will typically require only 60% of the energy needed to heat a property of similar size with poor insulation.
Insulation is only cost-effective if you can get a grant
Not true! Whilst there are schemes that can help to fund certain home insulation measures, it is also cost-effective to fund most yourself. This is because the initial cost of installation is recovered through savings on your energy bill. Check here to find out more about the average initial cost and annual savings for different home insulation options.
Tip: But it’s not all about the costs, insulation can add value to your home, as well as make it comfortable for you to live in, and whoever lives in it in the future (might be family’s children!). The reason to spend money on improving the energy efficiency of your home goes beyond the “return on investment” argument – it’s something that will improve the feel and look of your home, as well as add value to the property, and can help alleviate any health impacts of living in a cold and uninsulated home. People do not like waste – it also helps people not to waste energy!
The stuff in my loft is acting as insulation – I don’t need any more
Boxes, packing cases and unused furniture in your loft are not helping to insulate your home. And if they’re squashing your insulation down they’re probably doing the opposite as standard loft insulation works best if it is able to trap lots of air. If you want to store things in the loft, set aside an area next to the hatch, add insulation only to the level of the joists and then put insulated loft board across the joists to place your items on. The rest of your loft should be insulated to a depth of 270mm (10.5 inches).
My house is old and there is no cavity in the walls so I can’t get them insulated
There are actually several ways of insulating walls that don’t have a cavity. You can insulate the outside or the inside of the house. If you own the house, you might even be able to get a grant to help fund this through a scheme called the Energy Company Obligation if you are on a low-income, or through the Green Homes Grant.
Getting double-glazing is the best thing I can do to keep the heat in
People often think that windows are a major problem because they can be draughty and cold draughts are very noticeable. It’s true that double glazing is much better at keeping heat in than single glazing. But, out of the heat you lose from your home, you actually lose about 35% through the walls, about 25% through the roof, and only about 10% through the windows. So getting your loft and walls insulated will make a much bigger difference, and it’s also likely to be far cheaper than getting double glazing. We’re not saying that double glazing is a waste of money, but it’s better to make sure you’ve insulated the loft and walls first.
My home was built recently, so I know it’s already fully-insulated
Whilst it’s certainly true that homes built within the last 30 years are usually finished to a higher standard of energy efficiency than older properties, this is no guarantee that there isn’t further work to be done. The vast majority of homes, no matter how modern, can have their insulation improved in at least one or two ways. To double-check, its worth taking a look at the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your home. An up-to-date EPC should have been provided to you whenever you moved into the property, but if you don’t have one to hand, you can try searching for it on the EPC register. There might be one or two small insulation improvements you can make; there might be some unsuspected bigger ones.
You need to get planning permission before getting any solid wall insulation
In most cases, no planning permission is required to insulate the outside or inside of a solid wall property. Internal solid wall insulation will only impact the inside of your property, so you will never require planning permission to undergo this work. As for external solid wall insulation, it is now considered an ‘improvement’ to a property rather than an ‘extension’, so you are likely to only need planning permission if the property is listed, or situated in a protected area.
Cavity wall insulation will make my house damp. The cavity is there to let the wall breathe.
For most people, this isn’t true. Cavity wall insulation is much more likely to solve problems of damp caused by condensation because it makes your walls less cold so less prone to damp. For a few houses that are right on the coast or face persistent driving rain, the empty cavity can provide some protection from damp getting in from outside. This might also be the case if there are cracks or damage in your outer wall. But for the vast majority of people it is well worth getting cavity wall insulation as it will have a big impact on keeping your home warm and reducing your heating bills.
I’ve heard horror stories about cowboy insulation installers! I can’t be sure they won’t rip me off or do a shoddy job.
Check any prospective installer is included on the Registry of Installers managed by the National Insulation Association (NIA). This is a guarantee of quality.
Draught-proofing is not worth the hassle
Not true! Draughtproofing – sealing small gaps in the envelope of a building, typically around doors, windows, walls and floorboards – is one of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of heat escaping from your home. Did you know that a door with a gap of 3mm will let in as much cold air as a hole in the wall the size of a brick? What’s more, most draughtproofing measures can be completed yourself using a bit of DIY.
And finally – the benefits of home heating efficiency are not just the impact on the environment and the pocket:
• Reduces health costs to the NHS and winter deaths associated with cold homes
• Adds value to your home for when you sell it
• If your family will inherit your home – they will inherit a more comfortable home which is better for their heath and cheaper to heat.
• Better quality working spaces can support greater productivity – especially important as we work from home more.
*Committee on Climate Change