Consultation on ending the use of peat

The government is consulting the public about ending the use of peat. Here’s the national Friends of the Earth summary of the current situation, with comments and suggestions about specific questions in the consultation.

Please add your voice! Voluntary measures haven’t worked up till now (they were first suggested in 2011, which itself was a good twenty years after concerns were first raised about the harm that digging up peatlands was doing to the environment. The consultation is here, and the closing date is March 18.

More information here and here

New native hedges planted!

In December, we planted two native hedges in Linslade, with a lot of support from local and national organisations, and with the permission of the Town Council and Central Beds Council.

On December 4th, as part of National Tree Week, we had a fantastic day planting a 100-metre hedge of native shrubs along the fence between Linslade Memorial Playing Fields and The Wharf, with support from the Tree Council and funding from Network Rail – so this great new amenity will not have cost the Town Council anything.

The project is part of Network Rail’s £1 million four-year community tree planting programme, run in partnership with The Tree Council to support local councils, community groups and other conservation organisations to plant trees, hedgerows and orchards across the country.

Members of South Beds Friends of the Earth had helped to organise the work. Several members went along to help with the planting, along with local residents, several local councillors, professionals from the Tree Council, and members of The Wharf Management Committee.

After the planting was done, other town councillors from all parties and our MP Andrew Selous came along to give their support.

The Wharf (Leighton Buzzard) Management Committee has signed a legal agreement with Leighton-Linslade Town Council who own the park, committing to looking after and maintaining the hedge because it will help protect the fence to the Wharf, as well as really enhancing the attractiveness of the park for all users. South Bedfordshire Friends of the Earth will also help look after the hedge.

The hedge will also help wildlife by providing nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators, and berries and nesting sites for birds. We already have interpretation boards up describing the plants that are there, and explaining how the hedge will help wildlife.

The shrubs are very small at the moment; this is the best way of getting them well established. A fence has been put up to protect them, and a watering and maintenance plan is in place.

The local paper has upblished an article about it

And then the following week, on 11 December, a second long hedge was planted in Orchard Drive and Grange Close, alongside the fence with the railway, again, the Tree Council provided support, advice and some materials, with further funding from Network Rail and with permission from Central Beds Council.

Great news! Town Council declares a Climate Emergency

28 September 2021

Last night (Monday Sep 27), Leighton Linslade Town Council unanimously declared a climate emergency.

The motion was proposed by Cllr Victoria Harvey, with quite a cross-party rush to second it, which was good to see. There was a good debate, particularly looking at the implications of ‘committing’ to the Council’s activities being net zero by 2030, rather than just ‘endeavouring’. Most people seemed to feel the time had come for such a declaration – over the last few the Town Council has made great progress in reducing its carbon footprint, but the general feeling of the meeting seemed to be that this declaration would show leadership and encourage their constituents. There is an intention to work with Central Bedfordshire Council, which declared a climate emergency some time ago. from

The motion in full was: “Following the declaration of a “Climate Emergency” by NALC at its Annual Conference in October 2019 and their excellent Case Studies Report and their detailed advice on how councils can take action on climate, This Council declares a “Climate Emergency” and commits to the activities of This Council being carbon neutral by 2030. This Council also commits to working with Central Bedfordshire Council in influencing and supporting the wider community of Leighton Linslade to achieve the government’s targets of net zero emissions by 2050.” a really good quality debate and great outcome. Officers are already doing many really good environmental projects but this really pulls it together. We need to really change things much faster if young people are going to have a future.

A stall at the Saturday market

21 September 2021

On Saturday, we ran another market stall ahead of COP26, highlighting the current Central Bedfordshire Council consultation on improving local bus services, asking people to sign a petition to get planning regulations changed so that they’re not skewed against onshore wind turbines, and asking people to make pledges to protect the planet. We were heartened to see how many people stopped to read the displays, and to see how many of them were already concerned about climate change. About eighty people signed the petition, and many others wrote out a pledge and added it to the board. A successful day!

Green Week – Market Stall on 19 September

We’re running another market stall on Saturday 19 September – come along and see us, comment on the displays, give us your opinion!

This time we’re focusing mainly on climate change, ahead of the COP26 meeting of heads of state in November, in Glasgow. We’re also asking people to support the amendment to the planning permission for a second wind turbine north of the town (to increase the size of the blades, so that they produce double the amount of electricity).

Wind turbine – please support this planning application

15 July 2021

We need you to support a planning application to double the amount of electricity produced by the second wind turbine at Heath and Reach!

In 2017 planning permission was given for the Checkley Wood Wind turbine at Heath and Reach on condition that it looked exactly the same as the existing wind turbine (called Double Arches). However, technology has improved significantly since 2017 and an has been submitted to change the appearance of the wind turbine by increasing the size of its blades, which will double the amount of electricity produced.

The variation is to increase the rotor diameter of the wind turbine from 87 metres to 115 metres. This will also marginally increase the maximum turbine tip height from 143.5 metres to 147.0 metres (an increase of just 3.5 metres).

This will double the output from nearly 5MWh to 10 MWh per annum, equivalent to powering 2270 homes in Central Bedfordshire, instead of 1117 homes; or in terms of charging electric vehicles, the change would provide enough electricity to power 33.5 million miles* rather than 16.5 million miles from the original turbine (*using the new VW iD4 electric car, which requires 57.4kWh to achieve a 10-80% rapid charge, which is equivalent to 191 miles.)

The wind turbine, together with a planned new solar farm beside it and a battery, will feed directly into a new electric charging station on the A5 for electric buses for Leighton Buzzard and for rapid charging for electric cars. This will be the first of its kind in the UK.

In order to meet the government’s target of cutting CO2 emissions by 63% by 2035, we need to double the amount of renewable energy. Demand is likely to increase by 50%, due in particular to increasing numbers of electric vehicles, and to new ways of heating homes without using gas.

Please write to the planning officer at Central Bedfordshire Council in support of this application, by 22 July 2021

Coronavirus is affecting planning – reduced numbers of the planning technical support team are in the office to register post, scan documents and print – but most applications can be registered remotely, and CBC asks people to make electronic submissions.

To do this:

Go to http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/planning-register

Enter application number CB/21/02605/VOC into the search field.

Click on the text in the box across the screen – ‘CB/21/020605/VOC (click for more details)’ and scroll down to Public Representations – Submit a Public Comment Online.

You will need to click on ‘If you do not have a reference number click here‘, and you will be presented with a form to complete (name, address etc.)

Alternatively, you can email the planning officer at Central Bedfordshire Council at stuart.kemp@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk, quoting CB/21/02605/VOC

New crisp packet recycling box outside Nature’s Harvest

27 May 2021

In the next few days we should be putting a box outside Nature’s Harvest in North Street, for recycling all brands of crisp packets. It’ll have this poster on top of it:

So please start collecting now and bring them along!

Once they’ve been collected, the packets are sorted into different types of plastic, cleaned, and made into plastic pellets which end up having a new life as things like benches, watering cans and fence posts.

More info on recycling points for all sorts of materials, here. And if you know of somewhere that will recycle things that aren’t listed yet, please let us know! You can contact us via our Facebook page or by email to info@southbedsfoe.co.uk

Peat-free compost – list of local suppliers

We’ve started a list of local suppliers of peat-free compost (here), with prices and brands correct as at 30 March 2021; do let us know if you find any others in town. We’ll keep the list updated.

It’s important to avoid using multipurpose compost that contains peat, because of the large amount of carbon dioxide that’s released into the atmosphere when peat bogs are drained in order to extract the peat.

Peat bogs are also important for biodiversity, as they’re unique habitats that support a range of rare plants and other wildlife.

Until recently, peat-free composts tended to be more expensive, and sometimes less reliable; but this is changing as manufacturers adjust their formulations and improve their supply chains. The one real difference for ordinary gardeners is that many peat-free composts hold more water, for longer, than the old peat-containing multipurpose composts, so we have to be careful not to over-water seeds and seedlings (the top may look dry, while the compost underneath is still wet enough). This can be very useful in drought! – but it’s something to be aware of when starting seeds off.

There’s likely to be far less difference in price between peat-free and the older peat-based multipurpose composts, as an increasing number of countries ration licences for peat extraction, or ban it completely. Ireland was our main supplier (the UK has already exhausted most of its peat bogs), but they’ve banned peat extraction now.