Monday, 25 June 2012

Farmers and growers meeting at Pelistry

On a lovely sunny day last Friday, the inaugural meeting of the Scilly
Farmers and Growers' Initiative was held. Gordon and Mervyn Bird kindly
invited every commercial farmer and grower on Scilly to their farm at
Pelistry on St Mary's.

The farm covers around 70 acres and includes flowers, grass, fodder
crops and beef cattle (they also used to grow a lot of veg). It also
hosts a summer campsite for school children. It's a truly family farming
business and the enthusiasm and hard work of the whole family, spanning
three generations, was heart warming and encouraging.

Enthusiasm from everyone was very forthcoming and a feeling that this is
an important initiative to help progress farming and growing on Scilly.
Support from the project will enable skills development, co-ordination,
collaboration and help with access to capital investment in businesses.

Transition Scilly will be engaged with the Initiative on future
projects, including the Scilly Food Festival this September.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Orchard work day - Sunday

The Community Orchard at Trenoweth is looking more like an orchard as each month goes by. The trees are growing nicely and there's a fair amount of fruit on the trees at the moment - not bad considering they're only two years old.

We're organising a work party at the Orchard this Sunday (24th June) 3pm to 5pm to do some tidying up, mowing and other bits and pieces - and a chance to sit down and enjoy the peace and quiet of the orchard. Come and go as you please, everyone welcome.

Later in the year we're planing a community apple pressing session, so if you have spare apples you can put them to good use.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

We're on Facebook

We've decided to have a presence on Facebook as it's quicker and easier to update, and easier to reach out to more people.

There are updates very regularly of relevant news and information, so have a look and send us a 'Friend Request' if you're on Facebook.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Where does the energy for our electricity come from?

If you needed convincing that the UK is not exactly energy secure, this map produced by Good Energy should do it. By contrast, UK produced renewable energy has minimal carbon emissions, is an infinite resource and does not depend on other countries.

Where the UK’s electricity comes from
Source: Green Energy, Renewable Energy Company
Where the UK’s electricity comes from
Source: Green Energy, Renewable Energy Company

The Carbon Map

The Carbon Map
Understanding carbon emissions and the impacts of climate change can be extremely difficult to comprehend sometimes. There are many different ways to represent carbon emissions - current, historical, per person, per country, etc.

We read about the impacts of climate change but it's really hard to visualise it on a global basis. Where are the large populations and how much are they likely to be affected by a changing climate?

The Carbon Map is a fantastic interactive tool where you can overlay different aspects such as population growth, CO2 per person and GDP with area, climate impacts and historical carbon emissions. This is highly recommended to increase understanding of climate change and its effects.

Monday, 16 April 2012

New solar PV FiT rates

The Government have issued new rates of Feed in Tariffs (FiTs) as of April 1st for Solar PV installations. The rates are more or less the same as they were in March, 21p/kWh for domestic properties, but they are now linked to energy efficiency standards.

All buildings the panels are fitted on must achieve Energy Performance Certificate grade D or above. This will be achieved on newer properties, but older properties may need more insulation to bring them up to the required level.

Rates of return for Solar PV are still good, if your building can meet the extra requirement. Two installers, Paradise Power and Plug in to the Sun are able to do installations of panels on Scilly.
Solar PV FIT Rates April 2012

Monday, 2 April 2012

Honey bees and pesticides

In many places throughout the world honey bees numbers have been declining rapidly. Not only does this mean less honey available, but more seriously there is a threat that millions of acres of food crops (especially fruit and vegetables) won't be pollinated. Bees are absolutely critical to survival of the human species, and a reduction in bee numbers should worry us all.

There are thought to have been many causes of a decline in bees and undoubtedly not one single factor is to blame. Declining resistance to disease, lower quality forage and endemic diseases are all playing their part, but which have come first - what's the cause?

Some beekeepers and researchers have long been convinced that group of pesticides called neonicotinoids are to blame. Many countries, including France, Italy and Germany have banned these pesticides precisely because they are strongly implicated in massive declines in bees.

Last week a report came out that has linked a 50% decline in bee populations over 25 years, in both the US and UK, to neonicotinoids: Perhaps the UK Government will now take this seriously and ban these dangerous chemicals?

More information:
Vanishing of the bees
Soil Association

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Climate change and water availability

Down the road is a hand dug well that was once a very important source of fresh water for the residents of Middle Town on St Martin's. It goes down about 8 feet and is lined with hefty slabs of granite and steps down in to it. These wells were a common method of reaching groundwater on Scilly before the time of drilling machines and electric pumps. It's a good job we don't rely on it now because it's got less than a foot of (murky) water in it, and hasn't had more than about four feet in all winter.

Yet another dry winter is causing water problems in the short term, particularly for farmers and gardeners who rely heavily on spring rains to get annual crops established. When crops get their roots down they tend to be more resilient to drought than when they're just sown or planted. But perhaps even more worrying are the long term problems building up. There is no doubt that groundwater levels are down here, as with many other parts of the UK, and that this will surely impact on our drinking water supplies at some point in the future.

But is this a three or five year trend that will change to a series of wetter, milder winters, or is the sign of a much longer-term trend? The term 'global warming' was dropped in favour of 'climate change' years ago because it more accurately describes what's going on. Yes, the planet is warming up, but that doesn't mean that everyone will experience a warmer, drier climate necessarily. All sorts of complex feedback mechanisms create different climate effects in different parts of the world. Scientists are getting better at predicting the likely trends, but the full effects are extremely difficult to predict.

Latest advice by the Met Office's chief scientific advisor is pointing to a direct correlation between ice loss in the Arctic and colder, drier winters in the UK. The expectation is that this will become a longer term trend and is worrying reading:

It looks like we'll have to become much more adept at managing with less rainfall in the future and the time to start doing something serious, and planning for the future, is now.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Wind energy survey - your comments wanted!

Please fill in the survey by clicking on this link or fill in below:

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

ISREC website

The Isles of Scilly Renewable Energy Co-operative now have a website with lots of information about the organisation and what it's doing.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Wind energy open day

On Thursday 1st March ISREC are holding an open day from 4pm to 7pm in the Old Weslyan Chapel on small scale wind power. It's a drop in session so call in when you like.

Learn more about the feasibility study, the technicalities of turbines and the costs and payback periods involved.

Further details of the community consultation will be provided soon.

ISREC Open Day 1st March

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Small scale wind power

ISREC are delighted to announce they've been awarded funding to undertake a small scale wind energy feasibility study. We feel this is a really important step forward in the renewable energy debate on Scilly and very much look forward to the findings of the study.

There will be an opportunity to engage in the consultation process later in the month - more details nearer the time.

Small scale wind energy study press release

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Hurry - last big opportunities for solar PV

ISREC are doing an awareness raising campaign to highlight the short window of opportunity available to people to benefit from installing a solar PV system before March 31st. Details are on the poster below.

If you need any further information please don't hesitate to get in contact with us at Paradise Power are qualified installers based on Scilly that can supply systems to meet these deadlines if contacted ASAP. Every system that is ordered by a referral from ISREC gains us a donation to help carry out our work.

Solar PV Opportunities Early 2012

Sunday, 29 January 2012