Monthly Archives: August 2011

August Newsletter

Welcome to Transition Tavistock’s latest newsletter

August 2011

1.   Green Drinks – come and have a natter each month!

September’s Green Drinks is on Tuesday 13th September between 19.30 and 21.30 at the Market Inn, Tavistock (PL19 9BB). Come along if you’d like to chat and share views with other like minded folk concerned for our environment and sustainability.

Green Drinks is a global phenomena and takes place in Tavistock on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

2.   Transition Tavistock needs a Secretary … and a young and passionate Media team

Do you feel passionate about your local community and improving its resilience for the future? Would you like to help promote local food, more sustainable energy services or just learn and share with others? Do you have a couple of hours a week to keep our administration up to scratch? Or help us understand how to use social media and get our web presence buzzing with activity?

We need a Secretary and passionate Media support as soon as possible. Or perhaps join the Committee, Energy, Food or Edutainment group If you’re able to help please get in touch with Chris on 01822-XXXXXX or Kate on 01822-835819 or email

3.   Welcome to the world of Free Range Kids – an initiative from Sustrans

Sustrans are delighted to announce that their Free Range Kids website is now live as part of their new campaign to bring freedom back to the heart of childhood.

At the Free Range Kids website, you can:

    • Speak out for free range kids by adding your voice to their pledge
    • take their free range quiz for parents
    • find resources and downloads to help children to be more free range
    • join in the debate on blogs and comment pieces

4.   Tavistock Community Day – Come and visit or lend a hand!

We’ll be having an information stall at the Tavistock Community Day, Bedford Square, on September 3rd(10:00 till 16:00).If you’d like to lend a hand please email or call Max on 01822-XXXXXX or just drop by for a chat.

5.   Gazebo Party a great success!

To celebrate the Summer and practice putting up the newly acquired Transition Tavistock Gazebo, Jackie and Kevin Eadie hosted a Gazebo Party in July. On a Sunday afternoon, with the sun shining, it was a wonderful opportunity to relax for a couple of hours, enjoying the garden and chatting!

6.   ‘In Transition’ –  our last 2011 Spring into Summer session

Many thanks to Chris Simpson for organising the successful ‘Spring into Summer’ sessions. An inspiring programme!

The film ‘In Transition’ – a year in the life of the transition movement across the world – was shown on July 27th. It was well attended and very enjoyable. A thought provoking film it delivered key transition ideas and calls for action without lecturing!

The film was followed by lively discussion. We agreed that an Autumn and Winter series should follow (see next point). A Spring Open Space event to secure wider community involvement was also suggested. We’ll organise this if there’s support. Any thoughts … let us know.

The Transition Network has announced a crowd funding call to support filming for ‘In Transition 2’ (

7.   Autumn and Winter Edutainment sessions – WHAT’S YOUR PASSION?

We need a programme for the Autumn and Winter Edutainment sessions. Our mini questionnaire after ‘In Transition’ suggested the United Reformed Church was a good and popular venue; and a mix of inspiring speakers and films is preferred.

So over to you … WHAT’S YOUR PASSION?

If there’s something your passionate about that you’d like to share we’ll help you put an event together around the topic. Please let us know.

Suggestions so far include practical information on growing your own, lessons to be learnt from other Transition groups in the South West and how to live well using less energy!

8.   Tamar Grow Local is blossoming

Check out Tamar Grow Local. Blossoming with community schemes. The Harrowbarrow and Metherel orchard scheme launched last week. Inspired? Like to see if yo can get something started with the help of others? Get in touch!

9.   Food and Energy Group overseeing the valley!

Peter and Angie Smith hosted the August Food and Energy meeting at Youlditch, Peter Tavy on August 13th. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the restoration of the Devon Longhouse, which whilst retaining all its character is now also dry, warm, cosy and fuel efficient.  We discussed the trials and tribulations of the restoration process which was supported by Sue Spackman (Tavistock area architect) and Nick Fell (Tavistock area builder); and had an opportunity to have a look at their developing fruit and vegetable growing area and exchange experiences.

A very enjoyable and informative afternoon and early evening with memorable views!

If you’d like to get involved in the group contact Kate Royston (

10.   Affordable organic potatoes! We got together and they’re growing!

The potatoes in our first community scheme, organised by Laura Richards, were very slow to get going due to the dry spell. However we’re told that they look lovely now.  The weeds were fine, but have begun to take over so Laura will be in touch to with participants to arrange a weeding party.

11.   Grow Tavi

The last Grow Tavi was hosted by Jenny Tunley-Price at the WalledGardens at Maristow on 9th August ( It included a talk from the Soil Association about the Plymouth Food Initiative ( This is working to bring together food consumers with food suppliers from the TamarValley and around the Plymouth area. This was followed by a tour of the walled garden with Jenny and an opportunity to chat and exchange information.

12.   The Renewables and Energy Saving Trail

Coming soon … The Renewables and Energy Saving Trail … stories of ordinary folk who’ve implemented new and old technologies to improve their homes … who would be happy to share experiences and give others a hand!   If you have stories of your own to share please get in touch.

13.   One Year On … a years PV experience

Following the reports on the completion of the installation of photovoltaic panels on our home last year, I agreed to report on my experiences after a full year of operation.

The total kilowatt hours generated were 3338 kilowatt hours (kwh). Of these, 2712 kwh were exported to the grid.  This means that we used 20% of the energy generated. It revealed to us that we used a significant proportion of our electricity in the evenings so we are still paying electricity bills but our monthly payments  to the utility company has reduced. The indication is that if we were able to store all the electricity generated for later use we would still have more than enough for our needs. There have been lifestyle changes following our examination of how we use the electricity: a) except in exceptional circumstances we only use the washing machine when there is adequate kwh being generated; b) we now tend to cook our main meal at midday rather than in the evening when the sun has moved off the panels; c) we heat the immersion water heater by electricity rather than gas if generating approximately 3kwh for a period of even 10 minutes.

The average daily amount generated is as below:

























This makes the point that it is the amount of light with lack of cloud rather than the amount of heat in the sunshine that provides the best results as April produced a higher daily average than the traditional summer months.

I had hoped to indicate the top ten of the individual high generating days but as I was away for parts of May and June , there were a number of weeks that I was only able to calculate an average generation amount. However, of those days that I was able to measure individually, the top days and amounts were:

June 3rd


April 21st


April 28th


Aug 10th


May 2nd


April 15th


April 19th


April 7th


April 17th


April 25th


Although the reasons for opting for a PV system were not purely financial, a question frequently asked relates to the pay-back period.  I can report that I have received 4 payments from my utility provider amounting to £1586 . This covers the kwh generated and the additional payment for the kwh exported to the grid. On this basis alone, if subsequent years replicate the first year, the pay back period would be 10year and 7 months. However, taking into account reduced usage imported from the grid, (electricity usage was reduced by 30% on the previous year), I estimate that the payback period will be 9 years and 3 months.

There has also been a reduction in gas usage compared to the previous year and part of that reduction will reflect heating water by electric rather than gas on occasions.

The system has performed much as the installer had led me to believe and after one year I have no reservations about the installation benefits. I am always happy to show interested  parties the system and associated figures.

Here’s to clear skies (and hopefully sunshine) in the next 12 months. Mike Dennis

14.   Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network up and generating!

An inspiring tale! Could this be a model for Tavistock and area? Let us know what you think!

15.   Myths Part 1 – about temperature rise

 ‘The world isn’t really warming up’

Figure 1: Global warming since 1850, an average computed from ten different sources. The ‘0’ line is the 1990 – 2000 average temperature Source: Adapted from a graph from under a CC licence

Figure 1: shows the global air temperature over the last 150 years; the second adds in the ocean temperature since 1950.

So the temperature changes we are feeling on land are small fry (if you’ll pardon the expression) compared to the heating of the oceans. Meanwhile, cyclical weather patterns like El Niño and La Niña move heat back and forth between the oceans and the air in an irregular fashion – a major reason why atmospheric temperatures aren’t rising in a nice neat line. For example, a strong El Niño shifted a lot of heat from the seas into the air in 1998, causing a spike in air temperatures. When temperatures in the following years reverted back, climate deniers started going on about how global warming had ‘stopped’. Of course it hadn’t – it was just that the heat was being stored in the ocean rather than the atmosphere, as Figure 3 clearly shows. The top ten hottest years in recorded human history all happened in the last twelve years, with 2005 and 2010 tied for the hottest ever.

‘The world cooled down between 1940 and 1970’

This isn’t true, but is based on something genuinely interesting. Global warming did plateau for a bit between the 1940s and the 1970s, due to the phenomenon of ‘global dimming’ – a type of industrial pollutant called sulphate aerosols were partially blocking the sun’s rays. This lasted for a while until the ongoing build-up of greenhouse gases – combined, ironically enough, with a reduction in sulphate pollution from power stations – eventually swamped the dimming effect and the temperature began to rise once more. You can see this flattened period on the graph in Figure 1.

‘The temperature data are fixed/flawed/manipulated’

Figure 2 – Total Earth heat content from 1950 Sources: Murphy et al 2009, Domingues et al 2008, graph by under a CC licence

To somehow tamper with or subvert the data from around 7,000 different measurement stations and satellites, which are processed via three different major organizations with hundreds of staff, would require an utterly fantastic level of conspiracy. Nonetheless, in 2010 a procession of (mostly online) commentators claimed that a series of hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit at the UK’s University of East Anglia contained evidence of just such a conspiracy (which they imaginatively dubbed ‘Climategate’). Three separate independent enquiries trawled through the emails and found evidence of nothing more than a few scientists occasionally being a bit rude about some of their colleagues, using some unhelpful jargon and having the odd moan about incessant public requests for information. However, there was one useful outcome: much more of the raw temperature data has since been made public, to avoid similar accusations in the future.

‘But it’s cold today…’

Although the average global temperature is rising, that doesn’t mean that everywhere is getting hotter at the same rate. The global climate system is complicated; some places are heating faster than others, and some may even cool down depending on ocean currents and wind patterns.

The difference between climate and weather is important here. Climate change is a gradual, long-term process; weather is about short-term, day-to-day changes due to local patterns of wind, evaporation and ocean currents, and is more unpredictable. A few weeks of cold weather in one location tells us little about long-term global temperature change – that’s why we need all those thousands of temperature measurement stations taking decades’ worth of readings. Those measurements are telling us that every time there’s a bit of unusually cold weather somewhere in the world, it’s being outweighed by many more examples of unusually hot weather elsewhere, and so the overall trend is of a warming planet.

Extracts with permission from The New Internationalist. Mike Dennis

16.   Voluntary poverty!

Here’s a link to an article about voluntary poverty (from the Hepworth’s) that makes an interesting read, as do all the replies after it.

The responses came from a variety of age groups from 30 to 70 and from around the world. Adrian suggests that it’s probably best read in stages as there’ a lot to it.

Sue got the original link from someone she was following on Twitter and Adrian followed it on to the Energy Bulletin, spotting this was part of the Post Carbon Institute here Founded in 2003 it almost predates the Transition movement in the UK but as Rob Hopkins is a fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, they must have evolved simultaneously on each side of the Atlantic.

The article came from the Transition Voice run by its author Erik Curren. On this website it attracts different comments.

17.   AGM Minutes update

Just to let you know that there were one or two minor changes made to the AGM minutes circulated with the July newsletter. If you’d like to see an updated copy visit

18.   Edible car park traffic pacifiers

We are discussing with West Devon Borough Council about an idea that might help to solve problems in car parks (Riverside and Bedford) with joy riders whilst helping us prmote the concept of edible planting.

The general idea would be to develop trough type planters to run through the middle of parking bays enabling them to still be used and accessed, but preventing racing! In Bedford carpark they must be removable.

Any ideas? What do you think? How tall should they be ? Who could maintain them?

Who could make them? What should be grown in them?

Would you like to lead this project? Would you like to be part of the team?

Let me know! Kate Royston .

Tel: 01822-618715

c/o Tavistock Taskforce

Pixon Lane Trading Estate
Tavistock, PL19 8DH