Blog

The bus is here,
but not quite yet!

Recently the Department of Transport has issued its vision for transport Decarbonising Transport report, which it hopes to achieve by 2050. One of the main threads of their vision is to reduce our dependence on petrol and diesel car.

Recently the Department of Transport has issued its vision for transport Decarbonising Transport report, which it hopes to achieve by 2050. One of the main threads of their vision is to reduce our dependence on petrol and diesel car.

The burning of petrol and diesel in cars produces carbon dioxide which goes into the atmosphere and significantly contributes to climate change. The gases emitted by these vehicles also produce pollutants damaging people’s health, causing breathing problems, skin reactions and having a particularly bad effect on people with respiratory problems. 

One way of achieving a reduction in these gases is to encourage the use of electric cars. But these are expensive to buy, need a new charging infrastructure and a lot of energy, which produces more pollution.

One of the government’s aims is to reduce the number of car trips that we all make. They hope to do this by:

  • Provide frequent and reliable public transport (buses) so that we don’t have to use our cars.
  • To get us to lead healthier life styles by walking and cycling rather than driving.

But how do you get people to abandon such a convenient form of transport as the car? This will require a lot of changes in our everyday life and our mentality.  EEAN is convinced that tackling transport pollution and achieving a culture change in societal attitudes to transport is one of the crucial elements in reducing the effects of climate change.

See the summary of the Decarbonising Transport report in our Library.

David Everson

Transport Group

Cleaner air and healthier food beyond the pandemic

The COVID19 pandemic is an unintentional real-time experiment in how our economy and society can cope with and adapt to a profound shock. There are already many lessons to learn from it about how to build a more resilient and sustainable economy in the future, one that also better protects people’s health and wellbeing.

Some of the environmental effects of the pandemic have been significant, such as a cleaner, more breathable air as a result of the collapse in traffic levels and a resurgence in wildlife and nature as a result of the lockdown of the entire communities.

The COVID19 pandemic is an unintentional real-time experiment in how our economy and society can cope with and adapt to a profound shock. There are already many lessons to learn from it about how to build a more resilient and sustainable economy in the future, one that also better protects people’s health and wellbeing.

clean air eastbourne

Some of the environmental effects of the pandemic have been significant, such as a cleaner, more breathable air as a result of the collapse in traffic levels and a resurgence in wildlife and nature as a result of the lockdown of the entire communities. The citizen science air quality monitoring project led by the volunteers of Clean Air Eastbourne has already recorded a 70% drop in particulate air pollution during March 2020 compared with March of 2019, confirming that air pollution can decrease rapidly in Eastbourne if road traffic levels drop far enough and stay reduced for long enough. 

This is leading to calls from across Eastbourne, mirrored across the rest of the country, for more safe cycle lanes and better walking infrastructure now, even if only on a temporary basis, so as to ensure that the much needed modal shift to active travel  –  a shift already accepted as necessary by Eastbourne Borough Council in its draft local plan  – can be accelerated during the pandemic, and sustained after it. The UK government is responding to these calls by introducing new statutory regulations authorising those local councils responsible for local highways to introduce such cycling and walking infrastructure and providing a £2 billion fund to facilitate their construction. 

The pandemic has also highlighted many of the issues around food supply and delivery in a crisis and the difficulties involved in ensuring that everybody has all the food they need, an issue that may get more urgent over the coming year given the acute shortage of foreign labour to help bring in the summer harvests. The Climate Adaptation and Food working Groups of the EEAN, in collaboration with the Eastbourne Food Partnership, organised a joint visit, just before the pandemic, to two ecological community farms at Arlington – Aweside Farm and Fanfield Farm – which are about to start providing fresh organic sustainably produced food for local delivery.

organic vegetables

More such local farms, together with the already existing local organic farms and horticultural nurseries, will surely be needed as the large commercial farms begin to struggle and the international food supply chains start to fracture during the upcoming global recession. According to Sustain, only 1-2% of all the food we consume comes from local food chains. So bringing local food producers and suppliers into a resilient local food network to provide local people with a diverse range of fresh, healthy local food is an essential part of any strategy to create a truly sustainable local food economy in the Eastbourne area, cutting down food miles, reducing food and plastic waste, reducing overdependence on fragile international food chains, and reducing carbon emissions through the sustainable care of soils practised by organic growers.

The pandemic may be a time of great tragedy and suffering, but it is also a time in which the positive changes previously thought too difficult to introduce are now becoming possible, helping to improve health and wellbeing in the long run. The EEAN aims to promote and facilitate those changes through collaboration across all sectors of our local community.

Andrew Durling

Climate Adaptation Group, EEAN Director

A waste of roof space?

Scorching through Google Maps’ 3D satellite function, Top Gun-style, the other day, I found myself bearing down on Hampden Park.

Scorching through Google Maps’ 3D satellite function, Top Gun-style, the other day, I found myself bearing down on Hampden Park. And saw familiar out-of-town places: Sainsbury’s, Halfords, B&Q, Dunelm Mill, King’s Church and Bannatynes – those temples to last-minute DIY missions or spiritual enlightenment – in a new light.

Viewed from above, their logos and functions fade and they take on the appearance of a great herd of pale grey hangars, jostling for position in the flatlands beside Cross Levels Way. The ambition of their construction – the sheer scale of the retail parks and factories, warehouses and health clubs is impressive. But is something missing – in Britain’s sunniest town at a time when scientists tell us we’re entering a full-blown climate breakdown? Could those great expanses of metal roofing and south-facing walls be smothered in solar panels?

A 2016 report for the BRE National Solar Centre seems to think so: “There is an estimated 250,000 hectares of south-facing commercial roof space in the UK. If utilised this could provide approximately 50% of the UK’s electricity demand”.

Robert McGowan

Journalist, ECO Research Group

Start by Planting a Tree

Our planet needs trees. We all know that. Without them we wouldn’t be alive today. People and animals breathe in oxygen, and breathe out carbon dioxide. Trees and plants do the opposite. We’ve evolved together with them over millennia. There’s a natural balance to our ecosystem that’s held in place since the start of life on earth.

Our planet needs trees. We all know that. Without them we wouldn’t be alive today. People and animals breathe in oxygen, and breathe out carbon dioxide. Trees and plants do the opposite. We’ve evolved together with them over millennia. There’s a natural balance to our ecosystem that’s held in place since the start of life on earth. But now we’re tipping that balance and threatening our very existence. Our carbon emissions, from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation, have risen to the level where they are far outstripping the carbon that is consumed by trees and plants, and the resulting climate emergency has been widely acknowledged.

In Eastbourne, the Borough Council formally declared a state of climate emergency in July this year, and pledged to “continue working in close partnership with local groups and stakeholders to deliver a carbon neutral town by 2030”.

With the Council’s support and full engagement, local environmental groups have pooled together to create an Eco Action Network, comprising a number of working groups, each focussed on specific ways to achieve this goal. The Carbon Capture group is focussed on removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by any means possible – planting trees, shrubs and hedges, building living walls, nurturing kelp and marine plant forests off the coast, rewilding wasteland, and so on.

But if our challenge was tough to start off with, it just got a whole lot harder. You may not yet have heard of ‘ash dieback’, but as an Eastbourne resident, that situation is likely to change very soon. Ash dieback is a devastating tree disease that is threatening to wipe out up to 95% of the UK population of ash trees. It is a fungal infection carried in the air, that unfortunately cannot be prevented or cured. And it spreads like wildfire. The past 12 months have witnessed the devastation of the ash forests which run along the downland slopes that cradle the western side of the town. From Butts Brow in Willingdon, approximately four miles down to the edge of the Meads.

All we can do is to cut down the trees to prevent them from falling as they die and rot. And it’s not finished yet. On Monday, 2 December 2019, the council and the Forestry Commission began a tree felling programme that is expected to last till 2024. Over the next 5 years, a staggering one hundred thousand plus ash trees will be lost to Eastbourne for ever.

This will have a huge impact. The landscape of the edge of the Downs will change completely. The affected woodland and streets around it will be cordoned off and inaccessible as the work takes place. Eastbourne’s current level of 5% tree cover – and the CO2 they consume – will be reduced dramatically, leaving us with an even steeper mountain to climb.

Ash dieback threatens the character of our town and the health of our planet. In one way or another, it affects all of us who live in Eastbourne. If you ever walk on the downs or ramble through the woods, you will see and feel the changes for yourself. This is not someone else’s problem. It is all of ours. However, working together, we can achieve so much more. If everyone in Eastbourne were to plant just one tree in their garden, a third of the entire lost Ash population would be replaced in one fell swoop! Community collaboration is the key to success. It will take a coordinated and concerted effort by all of us over the next ten years, not only overturn the loss of that many trees but to go way beyond that.

Call for Action

The ECO Action Network groups have begun the work with the council to find ways that we can reach our 2030 goal. On a personal level, you may ask what you can do. There are many changes you can make, but for now, if you have a garden, start by planting a tree.

You can get very small saplings free from the Woodland Trust. Or visit local nurseries for bare-root trees, hedges or shrubs – whatever suits your space. Stick to the UK grown native species ideally. But anything that thrives in our climate will do.

Adam Rose

ECO Action Network, Carbon Capture Group

Turning Eastbourne into an Ecobourne

The eagle has landed. The Eagle in this case being the Eastbourne ECO Action Network (EEAN), which held its first convening session for its 8 initial Working Groups at Eastbourne Town Hall on 19th November 2019.

The Eagle has landed. The Eagle in this case being the Eastbourne ECO Action Network (EEAN), which held its first convening session for its 8 initial Working Groups at Eastbourne Town Hall on 19th November 2019. This was the culmination of months of planning & networking by the core team of the newly-formed Eastbourne Eco Action Network CIC, a Community Interest Company that aims to facilitate deep cross-community collaboration within the EEAN on the climate actions necessary to help deliver a carbon neutral Eastbourne by 2030, as mandated by the Climate Emergency Declaration passed by the full council of Eastbourne Borough Council on 10th July 2019. These Working Groups are self-organising, bringing together local community groups, businesses, environmental activists, and councillors to set priorities for local actions and to work up practical projects. Early in the New Year they will convene again to co-ordinate on progress and collaborate on proposed projects.

The EEAN CIC has already secured some grant funding and has put in an initial submission to the recently opened National Lottery Climate Action Fund. It is assisting Eastbourne Borough Council in planning for the official launch of the Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030 campaign at the Welcome Building on January 18th 2020. It is also exploring innovative ways of obtaining resources for the Working Groups: the CIC is now bidding for help on the recently launched East Sussex Social Value Marketplace, and has joined the freshly launched Open Credit Network, which allows its member businesses to trade with each other using a mutual credit system. Combining entrepreneurial initiative with grassroots community organising and partnership-working with the local council is very much the model emerging from this growth of the EEAN, and it is a model that might serve as an example for other local areas in the UK to emulate.

The motivation for the EEAN to act with urgency is high, as Eastbourne is mostly a low-lying coastal community that is very much in the front line of climate change, quite literally facing the rising seas and stronger storm surges of a rapidly warming world. It is also a town facing issues such as urban air pollution, traffic congestion, acute shortage of land for housing and commercial development, as well as the issues of biodiversity and ecosystem collapse that plagues most of the rest of the UK too. The challenges are huge, but the resources, skills, and community spirit of Eastbourne’s people are huge too – harnessing them in order to start meeting those challenges is the task for 2020 and beyond.

Andrew Durling

ECO Action Network, Finance Director

Emotion leads to action

Be passionate and act. We can all feel overwhelmed by climate change. Here there’s lots of things to start doing.

“The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions” Donald B. Calne, Canadian Neurologist.

We can all feel both the passion to act, and a sense of being overwhelmed in the same moment. By acting we ground ourselves, and see we’re making a practical difference. This site offers 52 climate actions to do.

Have a look and get started: 52 things we can do.

Together we can do this

This really isn’t business as usual – climate change action needs to be a scale and pace to meet the risk, and lower the chances of achieving a rise in temperature from 50%. It is time for seismic shifts, not fiddling around the edges. This is humanities greatest challenge, and we need action at global, national and regional levels. We need bold, positive actions in Eastbourne. Watch We Can Do This.

Guest Blog: Swishing Away

For a number of reasons I very rarely buy new clothes – as my mortified teens would testify – preferring to rummage around charity shops but also because I’m quite satisfied with my wardrobe collection…

Knowledge is Power

When I was invited to guest blog, I took a long look at the initiatives the Eastbourne community has already started to get off the ground as part of the town’s ambitious bid to become carbon neutral by 2030. The phrase which jumped out at me straight away was, “knowledge is power”.

Photo by Gervyn Louis on Unsplash

It’s for this exact reason that I decided I had a duty to inform as many people as possible about the impact fast fashion is having on our planet.  This is, of course, a massive challenge in today’s world, where social media plays a huge part with its influencer generation, moulding and shaping our impressionable youth.

What About the Teens?

However, there is also an alternative influencer, who at the tender age of just 17, has already drummed up an army of supporters, encouraging them to make a stand by skipping school to protest that not enough is being done by world governments to deal with the severity of climate change.  Never has the world needed Greta Thunberg more than right now.

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

As the mother of three teenagers, I can find myself torn between their need to make choices independently and my desire to educate them about their online purchases, which often come across from Asia before being delivered directly to our door via courier.  Often when they get together with friends, the conversation centres around the photo session they are going to have and which different outfits and hairstyles they will be adopting, with what accessories. 

This is not dissimilar to my teenage years with a Polaroid camera after a trip to Tammy Girl in Bradford with friends, however, the easily affordable cost of fashion for our teenagers today, along with the speed in which new outfits can arrive, to then be tossed aside after the photo session and forgotten about, is costing our planet dearly.

So What to Do?

The answer is clear; everything we possibly can collectively and as individuals to put pressure on decision-makers to reverse these damaging trends and ensure that our children are being told about the effects these fast fashion purchases are having on the environment.

Photo by Adrienne Leonard on Unsplash

For a number of reasons I very rarely buy new clothes – as my mortified teens would testify – preferring to rummage around charity shops but also because I’m quite satisfied with my wardrobe collection, which really does need updating but I’m the sort of person who is happy with what she likes, so asking me to fast from fashion is not a huge undertaking.  I am fully aware though, that this message may not resonate well with those who love to buy new clothes.

This is where “knowledge is power” and education comes into the conversation. Can we do more to convince shopaholics that there are other ways to release endorphins; that trying on outfits and deciding what we look good in can be done in a manner which is sympathetic to our environmental challenges, that helps to get the message across that we should carefully consider every single purchase we make; do we really need the item we are buying and if so, how long will it last us, how has it been made and what are the conditions of those who have contributed to its manufacture. 

Swish Away the Winter Blues

Here comes Swish – not a new phenomenon but the idea behind it, in my opinion, should never go out of fashion.  Swish is the name for an event or party which is held for people to exchange each other’s clothes, rather than going out and buying new.  The basic rules are that you take along, let’s say, 5 items, which means you can also take the same number of garments away with you.  The clothes should be in good order, clean and have plenty of wear left.  

Photo by BBH Singapore on Unsplash

I decided to put the feelers out about holding this event, largely as an initiative for Spring Clearing Week which is organised by a national body called, APDO (The Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers), of which I am a member, due to my role as a professional organiser in Eastbourne.  Having posted this on various local Facebook pages I realised Swishing had been done before in Eastbourne and people were offering me hints and tips on the best way to hold it.  This gave me a huge feeling of hope, particularly when I was approached by a member of the Eastbourne ECO Action Network to potentially consider joining the movement.  I grabbed it with both hands, attending the Eastbourne Carbon Neutral 2030 event and chatting with stallholders about the amazing stuff they’re doing for our wonderful town.  I felt empowered. 

Now in Eastbourne

The aim moving forward is to hold four Swish events in Eastbourne each year, which will mirror the change in seasons, the first being towards the end of March.  This will be useful to those who wish to consider decluttering their wardrobes as the weather changes, bringing items to Swish events for others to consider reusing.  Like all things which need to catch on, changing habits is the key reason for holding this event four times per year.  The more we get the message out there; the more informative our message is about the difference we can make, the more people will take notice and realise that the power of knowledge really can change lives and ultimately secure our planet for a much longer future.

Eastbourne Swish Event

9.30-13.30
Saturday
21 March

If you would like to be involved in this event or would like more information you can email to sortingoutspacesos@gmail.com.

Jules Anderson

Professional Declutterer

The ECN2030 campaign lifts off!

This took months of discussion and planning, creating and navigating the partnership with the Eastbourne Borough Council, local community groups, councillors, businesses and activists – hundreds of emails and phone calls, but we finally did it!

This took months of discussion and planning, creating and navigating the partnership with the Eastbourne Borough Council, local community groups, councillors, businesses and activists – hundreds of emails and phone calls, but we did it! Eastbourne’s response to the Climate Emergency took off at the official launch of ECN2030 at the Welcome Building conference centre on Saturday 18th January.

Over 1,000 people walked through the doors. The entry was free so some visitors planned their visit especially and some just dropped in on the way to their daily business, the East Sussex College students were invited to help with photography and filming.

Photo: Hilsea Portsmouth

From stall to stall, from presentation to presentation local activists were revealing how our carbon footprint is created, how it affects us and what we must do now to avoid environmental disaster. What united all those people was one concern – what will become of our town in the face of the Climate Emergency and what we can do about it.  

As a result of the event, the Eastbourne ECO Action Network has quadrupled the number of its members. All eight of its Working Groups are now formulating practical projects for our town designed to help reduce local carbon emissions – the message is definitely coming across.

Photo: Hilsea Portsmouth

Our initiatives include:

  • Pledging by local businesses to join a four-tier programme to reduce carbon emissions 
  • Much more work on the planting of trees, hedges, green roofs, moss walls etc.
  • Promoting healthier, greener streets
  • Building a network across the education community – students, parents and staff
  • Promoting greater energy efficiency in poorly insulated buildings
  • Encouraging many more renewable energy installations 
  • Creating a community food store using local produce 
  • Campaigning for a better local network of safe walking and cycling paths, as well as better bus services, in order to help shift more people away from using cars
  • Getting Eastbourne Park designated as a Local Nature Reserve
  • Creating a Climate Adaptation Strategy to enable the town to cope with the impacts of climate change

And much, much more…

The Eastbourne ECO Action Network is always looking for more funding for its efforts, more volunteers to help it with its work, and more local businesses and community groups to partner with it. Join us or donate at our website:  www.ecoactioneb.co.uk

Andrew Durling

ECO Action Network, Financial Director