Hello 2022! We're excited to be at the start of another promising year and looking forward to implementing environmental projects to help us live a more eco-friendly, sustainable life. Read on for tips and tweaks that can help ourselves and the planet.
Hello from Cllr Sarah Dyke our Portfolio Holder for Environment

Belated Happy New Year! Have you made some sustainable New Year resolutions? I've pledged to grow more of my own veg, improve the wildlife-friendly space in my garden to attract and support more wildlife, plant a tree, buy fewer clothes and when I do, I'll choose 2nd hand, fair trade, organic or recycled.

I attended our SSDC Community grants webinar on 12th January where it was great to see such a high attendance of people interested to know how the council grant scheme can support environmental projects. If you don't already know about these grants check out the feature further on.

Please do share Get SuSSed with others and help spread the environment message. It's easy.. just see the Psst...Pass it on section below. We've moved it to pole position this month so you can think about who might like to read it while you are. Thanks!

Best Eco Wishes Sarah x
If you enjoy Get SuSSed and would like to share it, you'll find the link on our website here. Just copy and paste the link into your social media or within some text on your website. Or just forward the email to friends.

You can also find all back issues of Get SuSSed here.
SSDC Green News
Green Homes Grants available (LAD Phase 2)

To help people save on their heating bills and reduce carbon emissions, the Government is funding retrofit improvements to homes with low-income householders. In the South Somerset District Council area, procured by the SW Energy Hub, Happy Energy is delivering this work in partnership with E.ON Energy.
Endorsed by SSDC, under the Green Homes Grants Scheme, owner-occupiers will benefit from energy efficiency installations up to the value of £10,000 with nothing for them to pay towards the costs of works. Tenants of rented properties can also access grants of up to £5,000 for energy efficiency upgrades, but the landlord will be expected to contribute at least one third towards the cost of works. Read more here.
Ham Hill Community Tree Planting
To coincide with National Tree Planting Week, postponed by a week due to storm Arwen, a Community Tree Planting Day was held at Pit Wood, Ham Hill on Saturday 4 December. Armed with spades and boundless enthusiasm, 22 volunteers met our SSDC rangers at 9.30am, including members of The Friends of Ham Hill, Florence’s Street Cleaning Mission and members of the public, who all worked together to plant 750 trees! Read more here and watch the video here.
Uncovering Ham Hill’s past for its future. Have your say!
A project which will seek to protect and safeguard the Hillfort at Ham Hill Country Park is set to commence in Autumn 2022 and will help to create a better visitor experience with new and exciting features planned for the site. As we prepare to submit our final grant application to the National Lottery’s Heritage Fund, we would like to hear your thoughts on our project proposals. The project at Ham Hill broadly aims to: 

  • Protect and conserve the scheduled monument
  • Improve biodiversity & site management
  • Improve facilities for visitors
  • Provide opportunities for a wider range of people to get involved
  • Achieve future financial sustainability
We will be holding a public consultation about the Heritage Fund project at Ham Hill from Saturday 19th February, until Friday 25th February with daily activities for all the family to get involved with, as well as further information about the project and a chance to have your say.
From mid-February you can also take part in the survey via a link on the Visit South Somerset website here. 
We look forward your views on our proposals.
Half Term Activities
Are you planning to get out and about in the wonderful South Somerset countryside this Half Term? Our Visit South Somerset website is brimming with all that South Somerset has to offer to get close to nature as well as numerous other activities to enjoy.
Parish Environment Champions
SSDC's Area East Thermal Camera Trial

We're currently trialling a thermal imaging camera loan scheme in Area East, South Somerset this winter. This is in partnership with the Bruton & Cary Retrofit Project and Town and Parish councils in Area East.

The thermal imaging camera identifies heat loss areas which may indicate where the installation of insulation and draught-proofing could help in reducing fuel bills and lowering energy usage (along with the associated CO2 emissions). Interest has been high and we have had 12 Town & Parish Councils sign up to use the cameras under the trial. For more info and to find out which communities are in Area East, please go to the South Somerset Environment website here. We will be reviewing the project trial in Area East at the end of this winter with a view to re-running the scheme again from October 2022, as well as potentially expanding it to the rest of the district if feasible. 
See them on TV!

Earlier this month the BBC came out to Charlton Musgrove to see how the thermal imaging camera scheme works. Ruth Bradley interviewed Cllr Henry Hobhouse who is leading the scheme, Justine Mallison of Bruton Retrofit who is an expert domestic retrofit assessor, along with residents Clare and Al Atkinson whose home was being assessed with the cameras.

Watch the full televised piece on Politics West BBC1 at 10am on Sunday 6th February. You can also listen to interviews on BBC Radio Somerset that aired last week here. Listen in at about 1 hour and 9 minutes.
SSDC Community Grants

Members of our Environment Team were joined by Adrian Moore from our Locality service, our Portfolio Holder for Environment Cllr Sarah Dyke and members of our Parish Environment Champions to talk about how SSDC Community Grants can benefit local environmental projects.
Press play above to watch a recording of the webinar and you'll find information on how the grant scheme works here
The SSDC Great Wildflower Seed Parish Giveaway is live!

We've received a great response from Parishes across South Somerset who want FREE wildflower seeds this winter as part of SSDC’s new Great Parish Wildflower Seed Giveaway. We will be in contact over the coming weeks to advise on applications, explain how we wish to progress and provide dates for wildflower meadow creation days where we will have our experts showing best practices first hand.
If your parish hasn't applied yet, there is still time. Don't miss out! We are keeping the applications open till February 21st.
  • Open to all South Somerset parishes and landowners
  • Identify sites that would best suit an area for wildflowers
  • Areas where the public can experience and access the flowers
  • Highlight areas that already have existing beneficial species, to be sure of what is present before applying
  • Make sure there is plenty of sun and it's somewhere open
Where could your community go wild? Find out more here
Have you got skills? We're building an Environment Champions Skills Directory

We have received a call to action on our Environment Forum from one of our Environment Champions to help with compiling a list of skills and experience held across the group. We are asking our Champions if they are willing to share their skills, contacts, equipment, or project experience, which may help others, and allow us to create a skills directory. As you’ll know, projects often depend on the help and support of others, and so sharing knowledge is vital for their success.

Skills could include wildlife gardening, surveying, energy efficiency and advice, bicycle repair, EV driving, food growing or others. Please do share on the forum so we can all help each other here.

Our aim is to then combine these into a skills directory document which we can share with the group at a later date.

Thanks, Jem Langworthy of Barwick & Stoford for getting the ball rolling!
Future Environment Champion Events

2nd February – The Problem with Phosphates
Environment Champions have been invited to join our virtual webinar next week to hear about phosphates and why they are causing an environmental issue in South Somerset. You'll hear presentations from SSDC’s planning team and local Environment Champion Andrew Clegg about citizen science and local monitoring opportunities. All Parish Environment Champions have been sent a zoom invitation so please check your inbox.
19th February (Saturday) – Hedge-laying course @ Ham Hill (in-person, 9am-2pm)
We have a great opportunity for you to learn the wonderful practice of hedge laying, and why it is so important for biodiversity. Hosted by our Countryside Ranger, Paul, the workshop is free and there are limited spaces available. Please contact us here.
11th March – Wyke Farms tour (In-person, 1:30-4pm)
Environment Champions are invited to join us for a tour around Wyke Farms sustainable energy visitor centre and Anaerobic Digester plant, including a “carbon neutral” tasting session afterward. Spaces are limited so please get in touch here to book a space.
Somerset COP26 review
Somerset COP26, lead by the Levels Climate Forum, brought together 26 Town and Parish council representatives and their Environment Champions to learn and share about solutions to the climate and ecological emergency during COP26 held in Glasgow.

The presentations and talks from exemplar projects have now been uploaded to the Levels Climate Forum YouTube channel. Feedback from attendees was very positive with most responding that the Parish Green Charter workshop, instigated by our Environment Specialist Cara Naden, was really useful. The Levels Climate Forum has a discussion forum on the South Somerset Environment forums page here.
Grants and Funding
Environment Grants

Find the latest information on grants and funding on the South Somerset Environment website here

Here are some key ones:

  • Somerset Waste Partnership – offering £500 eco-school grants to up to 50 schools to encourage waste reduction, reuse and recycling. The simple application process is open from now until the end of May 2022 – click here

  • The Screwfix building maintenance grant – offering up to £5,000 with no matched funding requirement for charities and not-for-profit organisations to repair, maintain and improve properties and community facilities for people in need in the UK. Works should be environmentally friendly and can include supporting projects that relate to the repair, maintenance and improvement of homes and community buildings such as retrofit & insulation and energy efficiency) – click here

  • The Weinstock fund – a Somerset-based grant-making trust which awards grants up to £5,000, to smaller charities, for a range of causes including the environment. To apply, visit here

  • Woodland Trust – Offering free trees to Parish Councils, schools and community groups as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. For details and to apply, visit here
Green Business
Small Business Sustainability: Reaching Net Zero FREE Virtual Workshop

8th February 9:30am-12:30pm
Understand and adopt environmentally friendly practices for your small business by joining this 3-hour webinar offered by the Somerset & Devon BIP – register here.

In this FREE workshop, you can find out what becoming Net Zero means for your business and how to take steps to start reducing your carbon footprint. Acting now on cutting carbon can have many advantages for your business, such as cutting energy and transport costs, qualifying for tax benefits, meeting environmental regulations, and attracting new customers, employees and investors.

This 3-hour workshop forms part of 12 hours of free business support offered by the BIP as part of their European Development Fund project. Registration requires a couple of online forms to be completed as part of the Thrive Programme. Please register and find out more here.
Local Eco-Friendly Business? Join the SSDC Great Green Directory

Get listed! If you are a South Somerset business or organisation with great eco credentials, based in or supply to South Somerset, you can list for FREE in our Great Green Directory. 

The directory can be found here on the South Somerset Environment website. To apply for your business or community group to be listed apply here via our updated form on Citizen Space.
eco events
Check out our events section on the
South Somerset Environment Website

Click here for details. Key events below:

“Down by the River”

Martock Parish Hall on 19th February 7-9pm 
Yeovil, Westlands Entertainment Venue 16th March 7-9pm

Somerset Rivers Authority and Somerset Film present their new documentary film exploring flood risk in Somerset and celebrating local community resilience. The evening will also include entertaining archive film of Martock, Yeovil and the surrounding areas.
The films reveal how communities have responded, not just to flood risk, but the many challenges they have faced over the years. The event is free to attend and light refreshments will be available. Reserve your seat here or phone 01278 433187. Other showings will be available in Shepton and Glastonbury.
Levelling up the conversation

Join an exciting, topical panel question- time event with Minister for Nature Recovery and the Domestic Environment Rebecca Pow MP, who will talk about the recent Environment Act (2021) what it will mean where you live, and its implementation in the South West. Pre-submit your questions to ask the panel live in Taunton on 4th March. Attend via Zoom or in person. Limited spaces. Book here
Green Titbits
Not your colour anymore?

Now the Christmas decorations are down you might be looking at the walls thinking they need a refresh!
Painting is an easy way to transform the look of a room, but what should you do with leftover paint? Surplus paint can be hazardous so make sure you dispose of it correctly. Don't leave it to sit on the shelf in the shed for decades, decant a little in a jam jar for future touch-ups and take the rest to your recycling centre where it can be sent to be reused.
Somerset Waste Partnership accept paint at all South Somerset recycling centres and send it Paint360 in the West Midlands to be recycled into new paint products. Watch the video to see their enterprise and commitment to both the planet and those who face barriers to employment.
Grow, Eat, Compost...Repeat

The return of garden waste collections signals the start of the growing year, from planting early food crops on an allotment to enjoying snowdrops and other new arrivals in your flower beds.

As you plan your low-waste garden year, take full advantage of the opportunities for reuse (one important step up the waste hierarchy from recycle) - how about repurposing plastic bottles as mini cloches or plant pots? And looking ahead, think about what you want to grow, and when, so you can plan your family's future meals.

If you have a garden or allotment, make good use of food waste by composting all suitable materials, from veg peelings to tea leaves. Useful help and a bargain compost bin offer can be found here

Or - especially if "Veganuary" means you've been preparing more veg - go one better by storing any "waste" in a freezer until you have enough to make vegetable stock.
Watch the birdies!
RSPB Big Garden and Big School Birdwatch

The birds are counting on us to find out how they're doing, so be wowed by your local wildlife and take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. Simply count the birds you see in your garden, from your balcony, or in your local park for one hour between 28 and 30 January 2022. Download a survey sheet and take part here.

Big and little school's can join in the Big School's birdwatch here. Submissions close on 21 February. What will you see?!
Fairtrade Fortnight 21 Feb-Mar 6

Fairtrade is about social, economic and environmental justice. A root cause of the inability to adapt to and mitigate climate change is poverty. More money in the hands of farmers is needed if they are to adapt and survive the climate crisis. Choosing Fairtrade fights for improvements in producers’ livelihoods with collective strength through co-ops and their bargaining power, the protection of a Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premiums. Follow the Fairtrade Foundation Facebook page here to see how you can get involved and do your bit.
New Year ECO Resolutions
Top 10 easy things we can do to live more kindly

  1. Walk, cycle, use public transport and car share whenever you can.
  2. Switch to a renewable energy tariff.
  3. Use our own shopping bags & refuse single-use plastic.
  4. Cook from scratch and meal plan. Use organic, local ingredients to cut food miles.
  5. Eat less but better quality locally produced meat
  6. Avoid fast fashion - buy preloved, organic, recycled fabrics and find your own style so you need less.
  7. Use chemical-free cosmetics and toiletries.
  8. Use refillable water bottles and hot drinks cups.
  9. Detox your home - no more nasty chemicals going into the water system. Use environmentally friendly alternatives.
  10. Help wildlife. Create a wild area in your garden.
Recommended Reading & Ones to Watch
Somerset County Council showcases community projects to cut carbon

In partnership with the four district councils Somerset County Council (SCC) is asking us all to pledge to cut carbon.

Throughout January, SCC showed a series of short films showcasing communities already doing amazing things to cut the carbon in Somerset. Case studies range from the green-minded village of Wedmore to modern thinking from the 850-year-old Wells Cathedral, community energy in Avalon to retrofitting homes in Bruton, as well as the success of the Recycle More programme. If you missed them you can catch up now! They are very inspiring!
Recommended Read:
Grow Your Food For Free

Our Environment Specialist Cara Naden recommends Dave Hamilton's Grow Your Food For Free (well almost!) He shows you how, by recycling and reusing materials creatively and making the most of what you have, you can gather all you need to grow your food on a budget. Whether it's building your own shed from scrap, constructing a path out of recycled materials or storing your harvest without a freezer.
Visit our South Somerset Environment Website

Stay in the know about all things environment in South Somerset.

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You can get in touch about Get SuSSed at [email protected]