Carlisle & District

Meeting Summaries 2016 - 2017

In September we looked at an overview of what we have covered in our discussions so far and and commented on some issues and links. All areas are influenced by society, population and politics.Energy and food production create waste and so it goes on...
On 6th October we met Paul Greaves of the Eden River Trust and he explained the work done by the Trust and its partners. It was particularly interesting to hear about the work round Stockdalewath to help slow the flow of the water down the river in times of heavy rain thus alleviating flooding. This was followed up in November by a talk by Dave Wilcock. He covered the science of flooding, what happen when it rains, how we measure rainfall and runoff, what the water-table is, what happens (to the drainage net for example) in times of exceptionally heavy rainfall etc etc. This gave us more depth of understanding of all the issues surrounding flooding.
In the December and January meetings a number of members shared some research they had completed on different aspects of waste from waste treatment in Carlisle and Allerdale as well as ideas on recycing and up-cycling.
In February there was a lot in the news to discuss and then we moved on to exploring some of the ideas put forward by W Paxton in the Carlisle U3A monthly meeting How to reduce CO2. This led to lots of other ideas which we brought up and discussed – some being more realistic than others!
In March we looked at a Youtube clip of a talk about research on how we could achieve a Zero Carbon Britain This was about a rigorous report produced by the Centre for Alternative Technology and drew a number of aspects together. March also saw some of us observing the Earthhour 8.30 to 9.30 on 25th March (WWF – started 2007 Sidney) It is supported by 170 countries and 30 UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Also in March five of us went to a regional conference on Energy and we reported back to the rest of the group in our April meeting. The morning talks were:

  • Achieving the Paris Climate Goals: The Role of the UK by Rebecca Willis, Convenor Green Alliance's Climate change Leadership Programme for MPs, Lancaster University.
  • Glacier Melting and Rising Sea Levels by Prof Mike Hambrey, Emeretus Prof of Glaciation Aberystwyth Uni.
  • The Electric Grid for a Low Carbon Future By Roger Kemp, Engineering Dept Lancaster Uni
  • Exploring the impacts of potential UK Shale Gas Industry by Sarah Clancy, Researcher and Business Development Coordinator, ReFine, Durham Uni

As there was so much to discuss we left the afternoon talks about changing attitudes to energy use until the June meeting. These included:

  • The value added by local action by Hazel Broatch, Reiver Renewables
  • Energy Use and Behavioural Change by Lord Andrew Stunell, former Under- Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

In May we had a trip to the Whinlatter centre to see how the Ospreys were getting on and saw that the 3 eggs had hatched and just fledged.

To round off the year we had a trip to the Blencathra Field Study Centre in July. Tim Foster (Head of Centre) showed us round and it was encouraging to see the many ways in which the centre has become more sustainable.
It has its own water supply and on our way down to look at the waste water treatment system we were also able to enjoy the wild flowers and beautiful views.
The Centre has been able to dramatically reduce its CO2 emissions by generating most of its own energy using hydro power for electricity and a woodchip boiler to provide hot water and space heating to the buildings on the site. Of course these older buildings have had to be retrofitted with new doors and windows and improved insulation.
The woodchip boiler house is discretely built into the slope of the site and is run using locally sourced wood chips. The turbine house for the electricity scheme is a small building faced with Borrowdale volcanic rock and so blends in with its surroundings a couple of kilometres above the Field Centre.
It was obvious that all the projects had been carefully thought out with sustainability in mind and with care to support the local economy and reduce travel costs.
All these practical examples of increased sustainability are used in the many educational activities run at the centre furthering their aim of bringing environmental understanding to all.
They also have a couple of Twizy electric cars you can hire for a zip round Derwent water – why not have a go?