RECS – Renewable Energy Community Schemes with Flood Prevention + Other Benefits
This time last year we had just heard that we had obtained funding from the Vale of Usk RDP but we were in the thick of planting what ended up as over 1,000 trees (courtesy of the Woodland Trust) at Vauxhall, Monmouth Cemetery, Lancaster Way (Osbaston) + Wonastow Road. This involved children from Osbaston Primary School, students from Coleg Gwent, Friends of Vauxhall Fields + many of our members. We have continued to maintain these plantings with help from the Community Champions + our members, + have recently planted a further 20 trees at Kymin View Primary School.
In February we got stuck into developing a brief for a feasibility study with our principle partners – MCC, NRW, AONB, GWT + Monmouth Partnership Forum. In July we appointed Atkins as our consultants, mainly because of the positive attitude + bright ideas of the two project leaders, let alone their undoubted expertise + experience. We continue to work with them + look forward to an excellent + useful report early in 2018.
Food Poverty/Food Waste
This was our second big project of the year. We looked at the problem of Food Waste in the country, + the parallel problem of Food Poverty, particularly in its effect on children + the elderly, + decided to bring together everyone in Monmouth with any kind of involvement in, or effect on, either of the two problems. Our second meeting with many stakeholders is booked for 29 November, when we expect to start making major progress.
After our much loved + admired website produced by Simon Brown many years ago fell apart, we were fortunate that Chris Were offered to develop a new one for us. We have made a start + have many ideas + aspirations, but progress has been very slow. It is perhaps a job for the new officers to take a realistic appraisal of what can be achieved. Meanwhile, the Transition Monmouth Facebook page is updated regularly, + visited/”liked”.
We are building contacts with the new community resource in Overmonnow, the former St Thomas’ Church Hall, which has an extensive + impressive programme for community outreach. We have held a coffee morning there, + are expecting to work with them on the Food Poverty + Waste project.
Swap Shop + Coffee Mornings
The Priory coffee mornings have continued through the year + are a reliable earner for us. In addition, the Swap Shop table carries leaflets + other information, to spread the word about Transition. Our first coffee morning at Ty Price was less well attended, but we hope that this will build into another useful income provider.
We held six Beans Stalls monthly through the summer in the Saturday Blestium Street market, thanks to the generosity + hard work of those who cooked + brought the taster beans dishes, + manned the stall. Most customers were already vegetarian, though we did make a few converts who could be induced to try a free taster. Everyone appreciated the free recipe leaflets; we gave away between 60 + 80 copies each month – they opened with a puff for Transition Monmouth. A small profit was made from donations, which will go towards financing the weekly fruit + veg box for the Food Bank. We are very grateful to Dilly Boase for her colourful flyer. At the last stall one customer said “Ah, so this is the famous beans stall!”, a comment much appreciated. No decision has yet been made about a continuation of the stall next year.
Wyesham Community Woodland Project at Claypatch Wood
The Woodland Project is gathering speed, after the Garners spent two years moving it forward almost single-handed. More members of the community are seeing the benefits, + work continues on clearing small areas of the woodland, surfacing the paths, etc.
The future of the playground continues in doubt, whether to refurbish or move to a new site. There are strong feelings + arguments on each side. The financial provision continues to be up in the air, with decisions being continually postponed.
We are still trying to get up-to-date timetables provided at bus stops throughout Monmouth + the county, in the teeth of inertia + claims of poverty on the part of both the County Council + the bus operators. We have not given up!
Leisure Centre / Swimming Pool
We are still hoping that the County Council will see sense + allow solar electric + hot-water cells on the roof of the new Leisure Centre, to power + heat the swimming pool + the new school building; this would be in accordance with the requirements of the Well-Being of Future Generations Act.
Interserve, the contractors for the rebuilding of Monmouth Comprehensive School, allocated a sum of at least £15,000 for community projects. We have worked closely with them during their consultations around the town. Recipients of their generosity include Ty Price + Monmouth Festival; it is expected that seven further projects will be undertaken by September 2018.
Transition Monmouth has supported the planning application for a community wind turbine in the Forest of Dean which was turned down on a complaint from a small group of local people that community benefit had no place in planning decisions. A judicial review decision is expected very shortly.
Our particular input to MCC’s Sustainability month consisted of the usual Beans Stall, + teas served at the open garden at Coed Cefn.
Progress on EV charging points
The Autumn budget is encouraging in that £400 million is being pledged for a national charging infrastructure in England and Wales, but reading the small print it is £200 million matched funding. A further £100 million is added to the EV purchase grant fund + there is continued support for the 75% grant towards the cost of a 7kW home charger. It is also possible to obtain grants towards work related charging units, see http://gwentenergycic.org/. But it is disappointing to hear that MCC have no plans for an EV charger at their Headquarters in Usk (personal communication).
The situation for Rapid chargers is still dire in Monmouthshire; there are none along the M50 /A40 corridor until you reach the only one at the M4 Services at Magor. Having a Rapid charger or a local Tesla charging station is vital for tourism + to encourage motorists to stop + spend time + money in Monmouthshire. They typically recharge in 30 minutes. The only Rapid chargers south of Birmingham + on the motorway system are at the Gloucester Services, with an EU funded charger on the A48 at Tidenham.
Unlike Scotland, the Welsh Government has left the infrastructure to the private sector; perhaps we can now persuade them with the funds from the Budget to be more proactive.
There is now a fast charger at Bridges in Monmouth + another in Chepstow, but these will not tempt seasoned EV travellers off the motorways, as they are too slow + confuse owners by having different charging rates that vary with the make of car. An attempt to place a Rapid charger in Redbrook has great support from the Parish Council + residents, but no prospect of attracting financial support now that the many LEADER initiatives are being cut, as they were often mainly funded from EU funds.