Climate Change and Energy Talks

Nikki Jones is a freelance reasearcher and writer on global and UK energy. She will be giving a series of talks in Redland in March on climate change and energy, organised by the BCR Energy Group.

Talks will take place from 7.30pm – 10.30pm in the Mustard Room at the Kensington Arms, 35-37 Stanley Road BS6 6NP. All are welcome. Entry is free, but donations are welcome to Solar Aid, Nikki’s chosen charity, which donates free solar lamps to people in Africa. You can register for each talk separately using the following Eventbrite links:

Tuesday 5th MarchWhere Are We With Climate Change?

Tuesday 12th MarchUK Energy, Emissions and Targets

Tuesday 19th MarchIs Nuclear the Answer?

Tuesday 26th MarchLand Use and Climate Change

Tuesday 2nd AprilThe Way Forward

Tuesday 9th AprilDiscussion: Does local / individual action matter?

Some may remember Nikki talked about some of these topics a few years ago in Redland, but she has fully revised her very well researched and detailed talks to bring them up to date with the latest evidence.

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C.H.E.E.S.E Energy Surveys

The C.H.E.E.S.E. Project is a Bristol-based not-for-profit community enterprise that aims to reduce domestic energy losses, at low cost. Some people reading this may already have had a thermal imaging survey of their home carried out by them. If not, now is the time to consider one to reduce your energy consumption, keep warmer, save money and contribute to Bristol’s most recent climate change commitments. Surveys can only be carried out in the colder months.

The C.H.E.E.S.E. Project has been presented with a Carbon Saving Award by Community Energy England / Community Energy Wales as “the community group which has undertaken the most inspiring energy conservation and/or management project” of the year (see

Draught between floorboards

Missing cavity wall insulation

Cold vent

Poorly fitting window

The survey’s unique method identifies draughts and cold spots, many of which you won’t be aware of, and suggests how to take remedial action.  Surveys cost £75-£150, depending on the size of your house or flat, but are free for low income households, and take 2-3 hours.  You will be given a memory stick with a recording of the survey (audio and visual images) so you have a record of the findings and the remedial advice given.  You can also borrow an energy box containing energy monitors and an Eco-house manual. More information, testimonials and how to apply can be found at

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Song of the Whale

This report has been sent by Vassili Papastavrou from the mid-Atlantic.

I have been at sea since March helping to bring the research vessel Song of the Whale back from South Georgia after studying southern right whales with British Antarctic survey.

Killer whale [Photo: MCR Ltd]

I joined the boat in Montevideo and we are taking the boat to Portugal. Our longest passage was twenty-one days, between Salvador and the Cape Verdes and now we are in the mid-Atlantic just south of the Azores. This morning we saw two killer whales, which took a very brief interest in the boat before resuming their fishing. We’ve also seen several species of dolphin, sperm whales and sei whales. We are recording all whale and dolphins sightings and for most of the trip conducted an acoustic survey too. See our blog on the Marine Conservation website.

We have had the full range of weather, from 56 knot gales to days becalmed in the doldrums and from cold at the beginning to extremely hot and now cool again as we enter the Azores high. Beautiful sunsets lead to starry skies and we embrace a routine of cooking, observations, eating, sleeping and being on watch. Sometimes days go by with nothing and then spotted dolphis will leap next to the boat and bowride for an hour.

Manta trawl collecting plastic [Photo: MCR Ltd]

When I started as a whale biologist, I never imagined that I would be helping to study plastics but this what we are also now doing. We trawl for fragments in the open ocean and record rubbish sightings. Each day when the weather is calm enough we deploy our manta trawl as part of a project in collaboration with 5 Gyres. Even far south in the middle of the Atlantic we collected plastic fragments. As we head north towards Europe, plastic pollution is increasing. We are hundreds of miles from land but still we see discarded plastic products.

The effects of plastic of all sizes on marine life are known to be increasing. In the last decade fatal ingestions of marine debris have increased by 40%. Several whales have now been autopsied with their guts full of plastic and David Attenborough has drawn the attention of the world to this problem in Blue Planet 2.

Dolphins underwater – taken with camera on a pole [Photo: MCR Ltd]

The only conclusion is that we urgently need to reduce the consumption of plastics at source. As Friends of the Earth said long ago, “Think globally, act locally”.

So, anything that Sustainable Redland can do to reduce our plastics consumption locally is really important.

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Make a swift nesting box for your house

Decline of swift nesting sites

Swift flying

Photo: Pau Artigas CC BY-SA 2.0

Swifts migrate 6000 miles from sub-Saharan Africa to breed in Britain. It was only in 1994, when the Breeding Birds Survey was initiated, that their numbers began to be monitored, and so there are no accurate records of the numbers breeding in Britain before then. However, since 1994, monitoring has indicated an alarming 38% decline in swift numbers, which are now estimated at around 87,000 pairs. As a result, the species has been placed on the Birds of  Conservation Concern’s Amber list, denoting a decline in numbers or a contraction of the species’ range. While several factors are likely to contribute to this sharp decline, lost of nesting sites is certainly one. Swifts, which are sociable, and prefer to nest in colonies, have evolved with humans to take advantage of our houses for their nesting sites. They like to nest high up in the roof space under the eaves of old houses and churches. However, modern building design and the refurbishment of old houses has resulted in the loss of nesting sites as access to roof spaces has been sealed off.

In Bristol, a recent survey by Bristol Swift Conservation Group has indicated just 5 small colonies of 2-3 pairs in the Redland area. Our house is one of those, with a small colony of 2 pairs. It is one of the highlights of our year to welcome “our” swifts back in early May, to be able to watch at very close quarters as they enter and leave their nests and to hear their calls (so-called ‘screaming parties’) as pairs within and outside the nest communicate with each other. The skies seem empty when the swifts depart at the end of July.

We can increase the number of known colonies in Redland, by retrofitting swift nesting boxes under the eaves of our houses. Swift boxes can be purchased, or alternatively, you can make your own.

Would you like to make a swift nesting box for your house?

Swift nesting box workshop

Mark Glanville of Bristol Swifts and Matt Collis of Avon Wildlife Trust (AWT), both members of the Bristol Swift Conservation Group, recently teamed up and in November held the first of what is hoped to be a series of swift nesting box workshops. Eight participants working in pairs, including my husband and me, made a nest box each, using materials and tools provided by Mark and Matt. The design of the box has been worked on and incrementally improved over many years by Mark, who, with his wife Jane, has what must be Bristol’s largest colony under the eaves of their house in Stoke Bishop. In 2017, they had 14 pairs, which fledged a record number of 20 chicks.

Redland Green Community Group would like to collaborate with Bristol Swift Conservation Group and hold a workshop for residents of Redland and surrounding suburbs. The workshop would be held on a weekend day before spring, probably at the AWT’s Bennett’s Patch and White’s Paddock reserve on the Bristol Portway.

The cost of the workshop is currently £15 per participant, to cover the cost of materials. Mark and Matt donate their time. Between 6 and 10 people, working in pairs, is an ideal number per workshop. The AWT currently has funding to assist in putting the boxes up.

If you would like to take part in a workshop, please send an email to Julie Parker at to express your interest, letting me know how many people might take part. Workshops are suitable for anyone aged 16 or over. We will then arrange a date (or dates) for the next workshop(s).

Julie Parker
Redland Green Community Group

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What’s in a Hedge

By Karen Shergold

If you have been to Metford Road Community Orchard in the past, you may need to do a double-take as you approach it now. I’ve been an active member for many years, and I certainly did when I arrived for the second day of hedge-laying on 19th November. I had been there at the start of the previous day to welcome Malcolm Dowling and his 17-year-old grandson Ollie who is his trainee, but I had taken my bad back home after an hour.

Malcolm (or ‘Grandad’, his trading name) has won many national prizes in six regional styles of hedge-laying, but he chose to use North Somerset style for our sloping site. He started at the top, wielding his chain saw to bend a 20ft high tree across the path above. He then sliced the top off and wedged the remainder behind a stake he made from a straight branch. He then worked his way downhill in the same fashion, teaching as he went.

We asked him to leave a yellow plum as a tree part way down as the small round fruit are so delicious, but we did decide after much deliberation, that he should include the tall Sea Buckthorn in the laying process as it did cast shade on a plum tree and on the neighbouring allotment – we do have some regrets about that but hope it will spring up again. To our knowledge, the Sea Buckthorn has never fruited, which is a shame, as it’s fruits are supposedly high in vitamin C. I pulled off some small side branches and plan to see if they will take as hardwood cuttings.

There were two willows along the run – one large crack willow which we had permission to remove (but didn’t), and one smaller goat willow. He took the crack willow down to a low stump, and the goat willow to a stump around a meter high – they should both come back and we hope to coppice them in future years (basket-making anyone?). Other plants laid include several Dogwoods, Hawthorns, Blackthorns, Hazel and Dog Roses. Malcolm took great delight in passing around a severed branch of Dogwood and instructing us to sniff it – the reference to dog was quickly obvious to all!

Hedges are a valuable resource for wildlife in terms of food and habitat, especially in winter. Getting this run of out-of-control hedging (i.e. trees) laid has also massively improved the light levels and airflow in the orchard and the neighbouring allotment.

We have local law firm Barcan+Kirby and their Corporate Social Responsibility budget to thank for getting this job done professionally after our inadequate attempt to do it ourselves last year (sorry Joe – we just didn’t come up with the manpower to do justice to your workshop!). We will be working hard on fund-raising during the year ahead, so that we can get Malcolm and Ollie back to do the hedge bounding the other side of the orchard.

Our biggest fund-raiser is our annual stall at Whiteladies Road Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning 9th December 2017. Do please come along and buy some cake, jam, jelly, medlar butter, chutney, honey, hand cream or whatever else our members offer for sale to help us on our way. We orchard members will appreciate every penny spent (and I like to think that the hedge-in-waiting would say the same if it could make itself understood by humans!).

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The Renewables Revolution – A Good News Conference

Until very recently, integrating renewable energy technologies into buildings has been a ‘nice to have’ addition, the main barriers being capital costs, competiveness with fossil fuel energy and scepticism. However, recent evidence shows that these barriers either no longer exist or will soon become invalid.

For example:

  • The cost of photovoltaics has plummeted to 70% below 2010 prices (pre-Feed In Tariff)
  • In the first quarter of 2016, UK renewables’ share of electricity generation (hydro, wind and other renewables) was 25.1% and rising
  • 21st April 2017 was the first day since the Industrial Revolution that the UK has not used any coal for energy generation
  • Even hard nosed investors now consider that renewables are competitive with conventional fossil fuel energy, becoming cheaper in the near future (see

The Green Register is holding a conference in Bristol on 7th December 2017 which will bring together a host of experts in the field to discuss:

  • Local and national renewable energy policy
  • The current and future state of the UK energy mix – what a 100% renewable UK would look like
  • Cost comparisons and financial benefits
  • Technological innovation in solar, wind and biomass
  • Breakthroughs in battery storage for buildings
  • Case studies with integrated renewables

There will also be an open-to-the public renewable energy exhibition and an electric vehicle will be on display.

For further details see The Renewables Revolution – A Good News Conference.

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Home Energy Surveys – Vacancies

C.H.E.E.S.E. is a non-profit scheme led by local community volunteers that shows you where your house leaks heat and money by means of thermal imaging and suggests what remedial action to take.

Surveys are reasonably priced and free to low income households and will be available through the winter from November 2017 onwards.  Find out more and sign up at

The best recommendations come from people who have already had a survey, so if you have found a survey useful in making your home warmer and/or in saving energy please pass the word around.


Opportunities to work on the CHEESE project

The project is currently looking for enthusiastic people to help with the upcoming survey season, in paid and voluntary positions.

Intern: This appointment will be from late October until the end of March, a paid position, up to 3 days per week. It is a flexible role, helping with different aspects of the project, such as development of the website and literature, data analysis, assistance with our surveys and conducting follow ups with previous CHEESE customers.

Energy Tracer training: We are offering free training course for CHEESE ‘Energy Tracer’ surveyors, beginning with a training weekend on the 21st and 22nd October. Trained surveyors are paid £40 per survey. We expect a commitment to help with/carry out at least one survey a week (on average) during a 19 week season from November till end March 2018, with a break from 10th-31st December. Surveys are typically scheduled at weekends and sometime evenings and take approximately two hours, so it can be fitted in around a full-time job. There is more information about Energy Tracers and our survey on the website at

Volunteers to assist with surveys:  In this role, you will provide support to an Energy Tracer surveyor with the handling and setting up of equipment, and engagement with householders. This is a great opportunity to gain experience of our work and surveying approach.

If any of these roles interest you, or you would like more information, then please email to introduce yourself to

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The Street Party kit needs a new home

Several years ago, Sustainable Redland supporters set up a borrowing service for people holding street parties.

The street party kit includes road signs, bollards, bunting and other useful items that can be used to close off, decorate and hold an event in a residential street. The kit was bought using one of the first grants awarded by our local Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership.

The service has been very well used, with around 20 street events each year in our area making use of the kit. You can find out more at the Bristol Open Streets website.

For the past two years, the kit has been hosted by Bristol Children’s Scrapstore. However, they are not able to offer to do so after this season. So we are looking for a new home for the kit.

If you, or someone you know, has a small storage space (about 1m x 2m) and would like to support local events, please get in touch. Looking after the kit would also involve liaising with those holding events to collect and return what they needed for their event, at mutually convenient times. Most events are held in June or September, so it needn’t interfere with summer holidays. It is also a role that in the past has been shared amongst two or more people.

To talk through what might be involved, with no obligation, please contact us.

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Metford Road Community Orchard Open Day

Metford Road Community Orchard is a small organic orchard based on permaculture principles. It will be open on Saturday 17th June, 12noon – 5pm, as part of North Bristol Get Growing Summer Open Days.

With a stream at the bottom and numerous ponds, the orchard is teeming with wildlife in the summer. It has a compost loo and custom built gazebo-style oak shelter. There will be guided tours, tea and biscuits/cakes, produce and plant sales. Access is through the gate by no 37 Metford Road, Redland BS6 7LA. Turn left at allotments to reach the orchard. As the site is on a steep slope sturdy shoes are required.

Posted in Events

Community Tent at the May Fair

Sustainable Redland will be hosting a stall at the Redland May Fair on Redland Green again this year, on Monday 1st May. We will also be helping clear up at the end of the Fair. It would be great to see some of our supporters there, and better still if you would like to volunteer and lend a hand with either.

Because of our help clearing up after last year’s Fair, we have been offered a free stall this year. Several local community groups organise their own stall, but it is not so easy for smaller groups to run one on their own. So this year we have offered to share our space with other groups. So far, we have had five other groups who have expressed interest in using the space to promote their work. It is a chance for a community group to show what they do and potentially sign up new members. By sharing the space, and the time needed to look after the stall, even the smallest group can participate in one of the most popular Redland events of the year.

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