Meetings and working group updates
Hello again everyone
At this difficult time as we battle Covid all over the world, people are rising to the challenge, changing their lives and adapting to new circumstances. Everyone is enormously thankful to those working on the front-line and we look forward to the time when the disease is defeated.
Despite the on-going problems, we felt it was important to keep you up to date with a few activities happening at Sustainable Harwell.
About 20 people attended this first on-line meeting and used the technology very successfully. Our thanks to Chris Church from Oxford Friends of the Earth who provided an informative talk on what a net zero carbon Oxfordshire might look like in 2040 if climate change has been tackled effectively. The report he talked about covers homes and settlements, transport, work, energy, food and nature. If you haven’t read it yet you can view it here.
There was also an interesting discussion afterwards about the impact of the pandemic and the risk that as we emerge from the difficulties, attention could be deflected away from pressing environmental issues. Particularly the need to tackle the climate breakdown in a short time frame to avoid further highly damaging disruption.
Next Meeting – Weds June 3rd
The next meeting will also be held on-line starting at 7:30 on June 3rd
The meeting will feature a talk by Ian Pritchard, Manging Director of Greencore Construction, who will be talking about building low carbon homes locally in Oxfordshire. As you know, new homes is a focus for one of our sub-groups and we hope this talk will be relevant to residents of Harwell, with so many new houses to be built nearby in coming years. More details and joining instructions will be published nearer the time but for now reserve the date in your diary! 7:30 Weds June 3rd.
Cycling and Footpaths
The group has been busy conducting a survey on cycling in the village. Following an excellent response from residents here are the results and initial conclusions:
- Fear of vehicle-drivers and potholes is preventing many would-be cyclists in Harwell village from taking to their bikes, the survey has found.
- Villagers said they would love to be cycling to Didcot and within the village. But the lack of joined-up cycle routes, plus “lethal” road surfaces is putting them off.
We conducted our online survey just before lockdown, to gauge the appetite for measures to make cycling easier. There were over a hundred respondents (unfortunately lockdown scuppered a parallel, paper-based version).
The survey attracted a wide spectrum of people – from a fifth who never cycle to almost a fifth who cycle daily or weekly. The overwhelming majority of those who never or rarely cycled said they would like to be out on their bikes more. The main reason they said they didn’t cycle was that it was too dangerous, with a quarter of people saying the hassle factor put them off cycling more.
Fear of the roads was reflected in the fact that over 80% of respondents wanted better cycle routes, and over half said the perceived dangers were preventing them from cycling more.
Of those who already cycle, the majority said they cycled for enjoyment (two thirds) and health (57%). The most common destination was work (39%), followed by Didcot town (36%), a destination in the village (28%) and the station (26%). Didcot and Harwell also topped the destination wish list for those who want to cycle more. And although a substantial number said they would like to just get out and about in the countryside, it seems that what people want above all is the pleasure and health benefits of doing local errands by bicycle.
Respondents highlighted many particular danger spots they would like to see improved as well as giving imaginative solutions which we’ll be looking at closely.
Unplanned by us was the natural cycling experiment that has been going on during lockdown, which has seen new cyclists venturing out onto the roads. This reinforces the survey’s main conclusion: that people would be pottering about on their bicycles if only they felt it was safe.
The results will guide our decisions and campaigning. Even within Harwell – where over a third of respondents said they don’t cycle but would like to – there are worries about the safety of High Street, Burr Street and Reading and Wantage Roads as well as rough surfaces. There may also be some quick wins, such as more places to chain bikes to in the village, and better access to information about cycling routes.
The survey targeted just the village, though it is hoped to do further research in the wider parish in due course. For more details, please email us.
Penny Kinloch has stood down from steering this group due to work-pressures but will still be involved in group activities. Sue Greatbanks and Janice Markey have kindly volunteered to step-in and co-ordinate the activities of the group going forward.
As most people will know the group is working on a number of tree-planting opportunities around the village and is currently in discussion with various land owners about what can be done. Several ideas are being looked at and we are hopeful that we will be able to discuss these in more detail soon. Members of the group have also recently attended a new on-line group of like-minded Community Action Groups to exchange ideas and information about tree-planting at a community level across the county.
Lobbying for new-build houses to be more sustainable
The group, headed by Alan Spence, has recently been participating in work activities run by the Oxford Friends of the Earth who are working to promote zero-carbon house building in Oxfordshire. Group members have attended on-line meetings and are involved with the production of material to support the case for zero-carbon homes.
The group has also recently decided to conduct a survey to understand the desires for the new houses being built in the Harwell/Didcot area. More details will follow about this survey shortly.
Other members of the group have also been researching how it may be possible to encourage developers to build lower-carbon houses in the area.
A few months ago, the group responded to the government consultation on future building standards for new homes and we are waiting to see what transpires from this.
Due to the current lockdown, The Hive has not been attending the Village Hall as usual. However Sally asked us to send you the following:
Hello Sustainable Harwell
We are missing our pop up refill sessions with you, but pleased to announce, we have a Saturday Service that can deliver to Harwell, thanks to the Harwell Helpers, if you’re home isolating. Or we have a contactless pick up service too!
The form for orders is here ????
Deadline is Wednesdays at 1400
We also have reopened the Hive Hut in East Hendred for 1:1 refills and shopping, with distancing measures, full hygiene and clean down between customers. To book a slot you do it through Facebook at @thehivehut – all the details are on the page.
Thank you all for your support so far, it’s hugely appreciated, we are supporting other local businesses by being a pick up point or outlet to help as many artisan / makers and sustainable businesses that fit with our ethos as we can.
Stay Safe and Stay Home