Annual report for Linlithgow Climate Challenge 2009 – 10
Since the first meeting of William, John and Peter in the Spring of 2008 the organisation known as Linlithgow Climate Challenge has come a long way in just over two years. Since this time last year and our first AGM there have been remarkable strides forward. In this report I have tried to catalogue the main ones, but with so much going on, I hope I will be forgiven if I’ve overlooked key actions.
My feelings are that the subgroups have been instrumental in getting us to the position we are now in. How has this come about? During this year the active and purposeful groups have narrowed down to five main areas. Energy saving, Energy renewables, Waste, Food related topics and Transport initiatives. There have been continuing actions in the areas of raising people’s general awareness and working with the schools in supporting their Green Flag programmes.
The main action by the sub groups in no particular order have been:
The Food Group ran a very successful community Feast at Bonnytoun Farm which is to be repeated on 25th September this year so make an entry in your diaries. Along with this there have been garden visits to see good practice, an orchard has been rescued from the weeds with hopefully a bumper crop this year after learning how to prune in the fallow end of last year. People were also encouraged to start their own orchard with a promotion of bare rooted fruit trees. There was a very successful Food Consultation event earlier this year and the continuing search for an allotment by LADAS has been supported and looks to be reaching a successful conclusion. For all things food and gardening there is the very comprehensive web site www.linithgrow.org.uk well worth a visit.
The Energy Saving Group firstly took on the mantle of house insulation project following the Hotspot campaign which has developed into an ability to do energy audits on domestic properties following training to City and Guild level 6176 and have been offering free audits for Linlithgow residents, with thermal camera imaging to get a behind the scenes of energy loss. This key activity not only tackles what people can do with grants and subsidised materials but also sees significant savings of money due to better insulation but equally through peoples’ behaviour change. People can save money by doing things differently with no extra cost to themselves.
The Energy Renewables Group has worked hard to develop a number of strands of activity. The major one was the very successful Energy Showcase this spring. A second was devising the potential of a bulk purchase of solar heating for domestic properties and this will be developed in the next six months. Also on-going is the link up with Heriott Watt University with 4 MSc student to research different forms of renewable energies which might be appropriate for the Linlithgow area. Their reports will be available as dissertations in the autumn.
The Transport Group has focussed on highlighting cycling with the Linlithgow Cycle Action Group taking the lead and developing a project to see a radical change in travel habits in the Springfield estate, through better use of public transport, walking and cycle routes and getting to and from the Primary school where there will be a launch on the 27th June and following this the chance to transform the travel habits in another part of the town in the coming year.
The Waste Group has been active with a campaign to get people to realise how much food they are throwing out and to change habits with a Kitchen Canny campaign from Changeworks. In addition there has been the promotion and support of the “freecycle campaign” and time spent with local councillors researching more appropriate waste recycling point in the town, especially for glass.
There have also been a number of campaigning and publicity events throughout the year with participation in the Marches, a stall at the Falkland Big tent event in July, three film nights with stalls in the run up to the Wave demonstrations prior Copenhagen and attendance at the Farmers Markets to promoter different issues. There has also been the utilising of empty shop in the High Street so avoiding vacant shop windows with publicity and information for the public on all things climate change and sustainable living. The publishing and circulation of our 2015 Vision document sets out clearly where we see the opportunities for Linlithgow going during the next critical 5 years and quarterly Newsletter ‘Resilience’ to keep people informed.
There has also been significant work in developing network links and assisting other groups active in this field. In the town, there is regular attendance on the Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Town Management group, closely support the work of Aspires, cooperatively work with Fairtrade, Cittislow, Slow Food and Oxfam etc. Farther a field engage with the developments within West Lothian with Council initiatives, and joined by Kirknewton and Fauldhouse as 3 eco groups who are part of the wider WL Environmental Support Group – WLESG along with other partners like Beecraigs.
The major development during this year has been a second submission to CCF for further funding based on our experiences of what has worked well and needed additional capacity to maximise the carbon savings we can envisaged once people have had their awareness raised.
At the forefront of these activities has been the house energy audits which not only have seen improvements to energy conservation but also encouraging behaviour change which are reported as being as equally effective as the physical interventions. The need to press on with the popular Food areas means that we would plan to have more regular events to keep this area of concern in the public eye and also to resource the search for more effective food production whether it is in people’s own gardens, in allotments or working in partnership with local farmers on a CSA scheme or similar initiatives. Given the nature of Linlithgow it was also felt that if we could encourage individual householders to invest in personal energy generation through solar heating and possibly electricity generation then this would be an important addition to our campaign. We now have capacity to investigate and promote a bulk purchase with significant discounts for solar thermal heating. Lastly there was already an active group of cyclists who were looking to make a contribution to carbon saving in the town and this gave rise to a significant plan for the area of Springfield with the chance to duplicate this initiative in another part of the town based on the experience gain in this first action. We have therefore been able to appoint 5 part time staff to work in these areas with additional funding to assist with these campaigns.
I feel it needs to be stressed that Linlithgow Climate Challenge has been fortunate to have a web site designed and developed from an early stage which provides a key focus of all our activities and enabled the younger generation to find out what was happening and to relate to other ideas and initiatives further a field and around the country. Members are fortunate to get regular updates and mailing of related topics which are developing in legislation, feed in tariffs and much else and with links to Linlithgow Business Association and other town wide bodies, the web site remains as a key resource for information and exchange of ideas.
I remain immeasurably encouraged by the commitment and dedication of our band of committed volunteers especially the hard work of the sub groups, who are always keen to get others to joint them in their particular passions, be it food growing and harvesting, cycling or improving energy efficiency in household ideas or shared travel initiative. We look forward to hearing from anybody with ideas and a little time to contribute to the challenge which faces us all and developing our work together in support of the community of Linlithgow over the coming years.