Cumbria Action for Sustainability
Welcome to our first newsletter of 2018!

Whoops... I've missed January by one day, but hopefully it's not too late to say I hope the new year is off to a good start for you. It's certainly been an interesting month for the environment. As you'll read below, the UK's new 25-year environment strategy was launched, and a new EU strategy on single-use plastic. Meanwhile, there's a new Facebook group on plastic in Cumbria. We kick off the newsletter on the subject of energy, however, with an event that might spark ideas for you! Jaki
Get some people power at intro to community energy
The solar PV array installed by Community Energy Cumbria (CEC) on the roof of the Lake District National Park Authority headquarters building
Monday 26 February, 7-9pm, Kendal

Have you ever pondered setting up a solar, hydro, wind or some other renewable-energy scheme in your community?

Whether you're an individual, community group, business or public-sector organisation, come to our Power for the People event to find out more about community energy and how it could benefit you.

You’ll hear first hand from the people behind some very different community-energy schemes in Cumbria and further afield. Topping the bill is Gordon Cowtan from the Fintry Development Trust, who helped set up one the UK’s best-known schemes, in the Scottish village of Fintry. Gordon will tell you the amazing story of their journey towards a zero-carbon, zero-waste community, which all began with a wind turbine. Gordon is also the author of the new book ‘ Community Energy: A Guide to Community-Based Renewable-Energy Projects’.

Closer to home, you’ll hear how local people came together to form Community Energy Cumbria, successfully setting up a hydro scheme at Killington Reservoir and working in partnership with the Lake District National Park Authority to install a large-scale solar PV scheme on the roof of its headquarters.

Of course, installing your renewable energy equipment is just part of the story. Connecting into the grid in Cumbria is where Electricity North West comes in. Helen Seagrave, its newly appointed community energy manager, will tell you how that side of it works and how ENW plans to support community schemes.

This event is free to attend, thanks to support and funding from South Lakeland District Council, and we'll prioritise places for those from the area.

See the list of speakers and book your place:
New Year's resolution to help the environment?
Emma with donation pots
Would you be able to give some time to help raise money for CAfS? We want to set up a team of ‘Friends of CAfS’ to get fundraising going in the community. 

Don't worry... it's not about standing in the streets with a donations can (like Emma, left!). We're planning some fun fundraising events and need people to help with those.

We also hope that our Friends might take on organising things like bag packs in the local supermarket or helping with fundraising stalls at local events. So if you have a few hours to spare for a great cause once in a while, please get in touch with
Lime course is stride towards warmer buildings
Skills in using lime are growing slowly but surely in Cumbria, with another 11 local contractors graduating from a conservation masonry course in Alston. It's great news from CAfS' point of view, because lime plays a central role in keeping older buildings free of damp and insulated, reducing energy bills and making them more resilient to extreme weather.

The builders learnt about lime technology, mortars, pointing, renders and lime washing as well as wider masonry skills like repairs to stone. The intensive five-day course was delivered by the Scottish Lime Centre Trust, as part of the Alston Townscape Heritage Scheme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The contractors gained a Level 3 SQA National Unit in Conservation Masonry Skills, showing that they have the knowledge and skills to carry out complex repairs and conservation work, using lime mortars in line with accepted conservation practice and guidelines.
In brief...
Energy-saving grants for community buildings
If you know of a community building near the wind farms at Haverigg II or Mean Moor, let them know about the Thrive Renewables grant fund to hep them reduce their energy bills. Grants can cover improvements such as insulation, draught-proofing, LED lighting or improved heating controls.
Grants for new or improved community facilities
A fantastic new fund has just launched, offering grants up to £150,000 to provide new or improve existing community facilities. The Weston Anniversary Fund is open to UK registered charities, CIOs, places of worship and state schools with a total income under £3 million. It could be the ideal opportunity to do energy-saving improvements at a local village hall or community centre.
Climate news...
New UK environment strategy launched
The Government published its 25-year plan on the environment in January. It sets out the Government’s goals and strategy for tackling challenges like pollution, waste and climate change. Overall, we welcome the principles and direction, but share the widespread view that the plan lacks the necessary urgency. Many of the measures in it have yet to be underpinned by legislation or changes in taxation.

Interestingly, there's a big focus on single-use plastic, and it includes a section on refitting properties for flood resilience, which CAfS is currently working on here in Cumbria. There’s little new about climate change in the plan, but it does mention a goal to “set up a stronger domestic carbon offset mechanism and carbon guarantee scheme” to “develop markets for domestic carbon sequestration”. We'll wait for more detail on what that means in practice.

So, what can we do to increase the urgency of the measures in the report? Whether you think ‘democracy’ or ‘the market’ is the greater force for change, we believe we should harness both.

  • All of us can make our views known to companies through our consumer choice.
  • You can write to companies or post on their social media channels if you feel strongly about a product, about packaging or perhaps lights left on throughout the night, for example. Tell them why their products are great or how they could be improved. Be supportive, encouraging, tell them who’s doing a great job, making a better product or doing more to make our planet safer.
  • And write to your MP explaining why you think change needs to be made more urgently.

Perhaps this is an area we really can be ‘all in it together’!
New EU plan to tackle single-use plastic
There was more great news in January for the fight against single-use plastic, with a new EU plan published. All packaging must be reusable or recyclable by 2030. According to the report in the Guardian, there's a particular focus on drinking straws, coloured bottles, coffee cups, lids and stirrers, cutlery and takeaway packaging. It looks at measures like taxation to change behaviour, as well as investing in research to modernise the production and collection of plastics.
How Low Can You Go?
Have you seen the new Plastic Free Cumbria group on Facebook? It was born about a week ago and already has more than 4,000 members! There's obviously huge public interest in reducing single-use plastic in our county.

Join the group and add your voice. You'll also pick up lots of tips and information to help you reduce plastic in your own life.

Jaki from CAfS was interviewed on BBC Radio Cumbria yesterday morning, along with one of the people who set up the Facebook group and Clare from Eden Runners (whose Haweswater Half Marathon is going plastic free). Jaki's interview starts at about 39 mins 20 secs into the programme.
Farmers' markets | Lots across Cumbria! Google for your nearest one.

Help keep plastic out of our oceans by taking part in a beach or river clean-up:

Kirkby Stephen Repair Cafe | Wed 7 Feb | 2-4pm Local Links

Cumbria Life Home & Garden Show | 16-18 Mar | Rheged, Penrith
CAfS will be giving advice on low-energy homes, with Lake District Lime
Know of a sustainability event?  Tell us  & we'll include it next time.
Cumbria Action for Sustainability
01768 210276 | |
Company Number: 6492907 Registered Charity Number: 1123155