Sunstroke: anti – solar park campaign gathers momentum

Alarm bells have been ringing recently concerning the proposed Cleve Hill Solar Park development, a planned industrial solar energy farm on the outskirts of Faversham that would destroy the local landscape.

Media interest in a local campaign against the proposal, which is being vigorously run by the Graveney Rural Environment Action Team, has started to gather its own energy, with recent articles in Faversham Times and the Daily Mail picking up on the urgency of the situation.

The current proposal, for a 1000-acre farm on the marshland and arable farmland to the north-west of Graveney, threatens to destroy an important area for wildlife, part of the flood defenses for that stretch of north Kent coast, and an area of historic importance. What would be the largest solar farm in the country is possibly also the veil for speculation on the energy market, whereby companies purchase electricty, store it in an enormous battery, and then sell it back to the National Grid at peak times – or, as Michael, one of the team, put it at the community event last Saturday, “when everyone goes and puts the kettle on at half-time during the World Cup.” And the project isn’t even a Government initiative; rather, it belongs to tycoon Elon Musk, who currently operates a similar installation in Australia.

Attending the community event last Saturday, held at All Saints Church in Graveney, was an eye-opening experience, not least because it put into perspective the staggering size of the proposed solar farm; each panel would be over 4.5 metres in height, allowing clearance beneath for flood-tides, across an area larger than neighbouring Faversham. A filmed fly-over of Graveney marshes (pictured above), running throughout the day, showed a bird’s-eye view of the marshland under threat – and ‘bird’s-eye’ is a phrase loaded here with extra poignancy, given that the plans threaten Schedule 1 birds and other wildlife, for whom the area provides crucial nesting and feeding habitats as well as a corridor on migratory patterns.

Behind the church, basking in the peaceful height of a gloriously sunny day, visitors were able to stand and look out over the landscape which could soon disappear beneath a wealth of double-decker-bus-height solar panels and industrial energy installations.

A view of the area under threat from behind All Saint Church, Graveney

Local voices have also stepped forward to express their concerns, including Faversham and Mid-Kent’s MP, Helen Whately, who attended Saturday’s information event, Janet Street-Porter and even Swale Green Party’s Tim Valentine. “It comes to something,” said Michael in his quietly authoritative way, “when even the Green Party objects to plans for renewable energy…”

So what now ? The action team has set up an online petition, which people are urged to sign (see online here); there is also the opportunity to provide comments and feedback to the developers before the deadline on July 13 (see online here); and the GREAT website has additional suggestions for ways in which to become involved here.

The community event at the weekend really brought home the personal issues threatened by the proposal, the impact on both the rural and the social communities for whom the plans would have devastating consequences. Take a look at the campaign’s website here, join the dialogue on Twitter here, and find out more about the proposal and how (if you wish) you can get involved in the fight to preserve a unique, historic and incredibly valuable (currently) unspoiled part of our coast.

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Plastic-free adventures: SodaStream


Our endeavours to cut down on single-use plastics coming over the doorstop as part of Say No To Plastic In Faversham Week continues with our moving away from buying carbonated drinks, and making our own using a SodaStream carbonator and syrups. These allow customers to create their own carbonated water and flavoured drinks (there’s a rumour that one can even create Prosecco-style drinks using white wine, although we’ve not tested this theory. Yet…).

Instead of buying individual bottles of fizzy drink, which invariably come in plastic bottles, we are using filtered tap-water which is then carbonated by the SodaStream device as required. This reduces both the number of plastic bottles coming into the home, but also saves money – we’re not paying petrol costs on transporting a boot-load of two-litre bottles of lemonade, Coca-Cola, tonic water and sparking water each shopping trip; and we are pouring away less liquids that have gone flat.

Get busy with the fizzy…

Additionally, the carbon cylinders can be re-charged at most stores which sell SodaStream products, reducing the cost of manufacturing additional cylinders. The customer also benefits by getting an average of £10 back when returning a cylinder at the point of purchasing a new one (the Range currently offers this facility on recharged cylinders retailing at £18.99). It’s not possible to get away entirely from plastic containers, as the syrups come in such bottles, but the syrup-bottles are smaller (concentrated products) and we are purchasing fewer of them compared to buying 2-litre bottles of fizzy drink. Each carbonating cylinder costing £9 (with the £10 cylinder return by the customer) boasts that it can carbonate 60 litres of water, which means we are bringing home at least 29 fewer plastic bottles (assuming each bottle is a two-litre bottle); each litre therefore costs a mere 15p, compared to on average £1.50 for a branded two-litre bottle of drink. Factoring in the cost of a syrup bottle (£4) which flavours approx 8 litres, that works out at 50p/litre – overall, then, the combined costs-per-litre is 65p, but there are reduced transport costs and little packaging consumption impacting on the environment.

So, on balance, a saving of 20p on a two-litre bottle and significantly fewer plastic bottles coming into the kitchen. (And we run out of tonic far less often than before, always a risk in our household…). A small but significant way of making a difference…

No Plastic ? Fantastic! Making a difference this week


It’s ‘Say No To Plastic Week’ in the Market Town of Kings all this week, as Faversham makes a difference to levels of plastic pollution.

Between 18 – 24 February, we’re being encouraged to re-use, recycle or simply take measures to reduce the levels of plastic our households consume; with heart-rending videos of high levels of plastic filling the world’s oceans going viral on social media, now’s the time to assess how we can make a difference. With news this week that China is no longer taking plastic from the UK for recycling, it’s only going to become increasingly important that we do what we can; and it all begins at grass-roots level, with movements like Say No To Plastic raising awareness, sharing alternatives and skills, and lobbying local businesses and companies to take part. Here’s a few of the ways we’re going to be contributing to the week.

Recycling aluminium trays: all those trays that come bearing fresh meats can easily be washed and re-used, it saves on consumption of aluminium foil.

Soap-nuts from India are an organic, natural detergent that are a great alternative to laundry detergent (and also means avoiding purchasing plastic bottles / containers in which it is packaged). The Salveo ones are allergy-free and kind to skin, and are cultivated through sustainable agriculture. The sacks come with cotton drawstring bags for placing in with your washing, so there’s no need to wander around the kitchen looking for those errant plastic mini-tubs under the chairs and table any more either…Beeswax wraps; these are made from cotton material (off-cuts or any suitably-sized piece), onto which one irons small beeswax beads, to make a durable alternative to cling-film. The wax-coated cotton wraps can be readily laundered, and are great for keeping food fresh in the fridge or taking your sandwiches to work instead of using plastic tupperware.

And just to show how easy making these wraps is, here’s Madam Forum with a short vlog following her first attempt to make one herself (the cotton used here comes from the excellent The Fabric Man, a stall at Faversham market on Saturdays)…

Loose-leaf tea; it came as something of a shock to realise that tea-bags are made using plastic and as such aren’t always readily recyclable. Instead, use loose-leaf tea – and actually create a much more flavoursome cuppa into the bargain…

Homemade soaps: instead of buying plastic- or paper-wrapped bars of soap, it’s possible to make your own using a pre-made base made from shea butter and oatmeal, which you melt and pour into a suitable mould combined with your favourite essential oils. Ours came from The Soap Kitchen.

Yesterday, the team behind the Faversham initiative were busy at a stall in the market-place, sharing ideas and encouraging people to make a pledge, written onto a paper leaf and attached to an ever-growing pledge-tree; the tree was festooned with leaves, a sign that many are really getting behind the initiative.

On Wednesday this week (21 Feb), there is a drop-in event in the Fleur de Lys centre off Gatefield Lane in Faversham, where between 3-8.30pm people can can find out about a variety of ideas for combatting plastic consumption, share their ideas and skills and find out more about how to get involved.

Click to enlarge

We’ve made our pledge, and are looking forward to taking part in the skills-sharing event on Wednesday. It’s projects like this, started by volunteers with a passion and commitment towards protecting the environment and preserving it for future generations, that can really make a difference, and make big business and politicians sit up and take notice of customer power (Faversham’s own MP, Helen Whately, is also getting involved this week) and the concerted will of consumers to make a change.

Of course, it’s taken as read that we are all assiduous in our household recycling habits; the real cultural shift, and the next stage in our domestic environmental thinking, concerns making efforts to ensure that even those products that can be recycled aren’t making their way over our doorsteps in the first place. Make sure you’re involved this week, and make a difference to your environment. Find out more about the project on Facebook here or follow updates on its Twitter page here.

 

Spike’s Hedgehog Sanctuary

Spike’s Hedgehog Sanctuary is a small home-based hedgehog hospital run by volunteers Mary Lane in Yorkletts and Angela Warne from Hernhill.

We take care, of sick injured and orphaned baby hedgehogs and once fit and well we return them to the wild.

Hernhill is very lucky to still have a good population of hedgehogs as they have been lost in many areas of the U.K. and as this is an endangered species we feel our work is even more important.

This year, as well as our usual hospital work, we aim to try and help increase the numbers of this rapidly decreasing species. Recently we have released 34 hedgehogs who over-wintered with us back to their original homes.

We make and sell hedgehog -themed items which are available to buy from us, to boost our funds, as we are totally self-funding and 100% of all profits go to the hedgehog hospital.

If you want to help hedgehogs in your garden there are lots of tips on our website.

If you find a hedgehog out during the day or a sick or injured hedgehog please don’t wait a few days we are here to help.

 

We can be contacted on 01227 280535

Email: spikessanctury@aol.co.uk

https://spikeshedgehogsanctuary.org/ 

 

Continued controversy over 12 Market Place, Faversham

12 MarketA new application has been submitted for 12 Market Place, Faversham. This is the third application for change of use since the shoe shop Stead & Simpson closed down. The owners have applied for the existing retail premises to become a restaurant. Costa withdrew a similar application in February, but have not responded to enquiries regarding their involvement in the new application.

While some welcome the introduction of a Costa coffee shop in the town centre, the application received many objections from members of the local community, who did want to lose retail premises in order to create another coffee shop. They also expressed concern that a Costa would create unfair competition to the independent coffee shops in the market square and the introduction of a multinational company would spoil the unique town centre.

Members of the community are invited to comment on the latest application, with their support or objection to the proposals, but must do so before 7th May. Find out more and have your say on the application on the Swale Planning website here.

Alterations to Hernhill Village Hall have Planning Approval

Planning approval has been granted for the extension and alterations to the Village Hall & Dawes Community Association Centre. You can view the application drawings and documents on the Swale Planning Register.

The DCA and the Village Hall will be joined together with a shared entrance, to create one connected community centre with a new ‘Foyer’ community room at the front of the building. The idea is that the ‘Foyer’ space can be open to the public as often as possible; during activities on the playing fields, for parents to use while they are waiting to pick up their children from childcare, or as a place to shelter from the wind when the kids are playing in the park.

What is needed now, is the funds to build it, so if any members of the local community would like to help fundraise, please contact the Chair of the DCA committee, Peter Rawlins, pgrawlins@aol.com, and we’re sure he would be very grateful for any help or contributions.

dca

Fundraising in memory of Josh Oliver

Josh Oliver’s dad, Paul is fundraising for Child Bereavement UK. The Olivers are a local family and their son, Josh died recently, at age just 15. Paul’s JustGiving site says:

“The purpose of the Josh Oliver Charity Foundation is to raise funds and to give something back to the Organisation that has supported and helped me and my family through this very tough time – Child Bereavement UK, which is mainly run by volunteers and parents who have lost their children.  With the help from The Personal Trainer Company, who are donating free Fitness sessions, diet & nutritional advice and on-going support, delivered by some of Kent’s finest fitness professionals, I will be aiming at losing 1.5 stone in weight over the next 8 weeks (starting w/e 27th March 2015)”.

You can find Paul’s JustGiving page here and more information about Child Bereavement UK here.

Josh

https://www.justgiving.com/josholivercharityfoundation/

Window trail: calling all Faversham businesses!

If you run a shop in Faversham, how do you fancy being part of a window-trail around the town, something to engage children and adults, local residents and visitors alike, and help encourage them into your shop ?

Shop window
The Cat’s whiskers…

Window-trails are simple to do, and highly effective in raising awareness of your premises. All you need to do is place an object somewhere in your window display – a teddy-bear, a model car or boat, for example – at an arranged date, and then encourage children and visitors to the town to hunt through the town to spot them. Talking with one shop-owner in Faversham at the weekend, they were remarking how easy it can be for your store-front to become invisible through familiarity – everyone knows you are there, but they are so accustomed to it that they stop seeing it as they pass by.

So, let’s re-invigorate the retail life of the town for a week, by all putting an object in our windows, and then we’ll advertise a ‘Faversham Window Trail’ through our various social media platforms,  which will enthuse shoppers, visitors and residents to wander around the town in a bid to identify all the objects – and, hopefully, over your thresholds.

If you’re interested in taking part, get in touch via Twitter or drop us an e-mail; how about an Easter-themed trail at the end of the month ? It could be eggs-actly what local retail needs…