News January 2020

A bumper good news edition - the antidote to that other news!

We won!
STS won the Volunteer Group category in the National Park Awards sponsored by Columbia. Several STS members went to collect the impressively heavy slab of inscribed slate at a ceremony during Kendal's Mountain Festival on Nov 16th. We also came away with a £500 cheque for group funds and a promise of goodies to follow for all involved in STS! Thanks to Ruth Dickinson, Community & Rural Enterprise Officer at Northumberland National Park, for the nomination and everyone who has contributed to any of our many projects which I listed on the application form and have at the end of this newsletter.
Now to celebrate!
6pm, Tues 21st Jan 2020 in the Community Room, ground floor of Haltwhistle hospital
We can congratulate ourselves on what we have achieved and plan activities for 2020. There will be gifts from Columbia (outdoor clothing) and Clif Energy Bars to share out and I'll invite representatives from Northumberland National Park. I'll prepare a main course/savoury dish, please bring along something sweet or a drink to share.
All welcome - please RSVP to help with catering 07935 259 416

Rural Community Energy Fund awards grant for Feasibility Study into heat from minewater project at HSLC
STS initiated this project which is being taken forward by Haltwhistle Swimming and Leisure Centre in partnership with Haltwhistle Partnership. It is a bold initiative which will look into the feasibility of extracting heat from water in old mine workings to heat the swimming pool and, possibly, other buildings in the vicinity of the Centre.

Cafes and other businesses sign up to Refill scheme.
Our volunteers and those from Sustainable Brampton and Sustainable Carlisle have been busy handing out stickers to cafes, pubs and other businesses which are happy to provide tap water to refill visitors' bottles.

Greenhead Christmas Craft Fair
The raffle at our annual fair, held in conjunction with Greehead Farmers' Market, raised £63 for the Carlisle Refugee Action Group. A big thank you to all the stall holders who donated prizes. The stall which STS volunteers ran for the One World Shop in Carlisle took over £100. Thanks also to Carla, landlady at the Greenhead Hotel, for free use of the Hotel's function room.

Sustainable Farming in the News

The Guardian recently carried an article about Clair and Sam Beaumont, the farmers in the Lake District, who led us up Gowbarrow Fell as part of the launch event of the climate change charity 'Another Way'.

On the other side of the world Charles Massey, farmer and author of Call of the Reed Warbler, is a compelling exponent of regenerative agriculture.

Will Harris in Georgia is another long-time advocate of regerative pasture management - 'It's not the cow it's the how'

South Tyne Wildlife Group
Rachel Locke from The Woodland Trust
7.30pm Tues, January 14th 2020, Comrades Club, Haltwhistle.
£3 on door. All welcome.

Brampton Cafe Scientifique
Deborah Land: Peat Bogs and Climate Change

Thur 30th Jan 7.30pm Brampton Community Centre
£4.00 advance ( or 016977 48833), £5 on door.

Let's Get Together
January program

STS - the winning application for National Parks' Volunteer Group Award.
1) Please describe the volunteering activities the group has been involved with in the National Park.

South Tyne Sustainability is a Haltwhistle based volunteer run group which, over the first decade of its existence, has run a variety of projects aimed at raising awareness of environmental issues and promoting conservation and sustainable lifestyle choices. Projects have included:
  • Wool-on-the-Wall Celebrating the wool harvest in Hadrian's Wall country.
  • A program of evening talks covering such topics as electric cars, renewable energy, solid wall insulation etc. STS no longer runs its own program but collaborates with and advertises the program run by the local Wildlife Group.
  • A program of visits to commercial and domestic horticultural projects.
  • An e-newsletter sent to 200 people several times a year.
  • STS established a perpetual trophy for the fruit and vegetable growing classes at Gilsland Show.
  • A film festival day with screenings of environmentally themed films of international renown and lesser know, locally made or relevant films.
  • An annual 'Green Christmas Fair' featuring recycled, up-cycled and unique crafts made from natural materials.
  • Seed swap and info stall at the annual Spring Plant Festival in Haltwhistle.
  • Verge walks.

New in 2019

  • Initiated 'Refill Hadrian's Wall'.
  • Heat from mine water, community renewable energy.

2) Please explain how the group has demonstrated a positive contribution to the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty and/or cultural heritage of the National Park?

For the last six years two volunteers with a good knowledge of wildflower species have led a series of walks on the verges of minor roads. These leaders have taught others to identify flowers. The group set up a 'verge management' public meeting which was chaired by John Richards, Emeritus professor of Botany at Newcastle University, with a panel including Northumberland National Park's ecologist, and representatives from Northumberland Wildlife Trust, North Pennines AONB, and Northumberland County Council Highways. A69 Roadlink were invited but did not attend. However as a direct result of the group's lobbying A69 Roadlink suspended routine herbicide spaying along the length of the road. Northumberland CC have subsequently nominated two biodiverse road verges, one within the Park, the other just outside as 'Protected Verges' with a species appropriate management regime.
Wool on the Wall celebrated the wool harvest and was held in conjunction with the July Farmers' market in Greenhead in 2012, 2014 and 2016. In 2016 local sheep breeds were on display in front of boards painted by a volunteer depicting the typical landscapes, hill, in-bye, and meadow where each breed flourishes. In 2012 hand-clipping was demonstrated.

3) Please describe how the group has positively promoted understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the National Park?
By leading verge walks the group has fostered an interest in and enjoyment of the biodiversity of the Park.
The annual Seed Swap at the Plant Festival has an emphasis on seeds of food plants - for pollinators and for people.
One film festival day featured a short film made by Haltwhistle Film Project about hen harriers which may be seen in the Park.
Evening meetings have included talks from Park officers and others on specific conservation issues such as pollinators, the geology of the Whin Sill, a re-wilding project in the North Tyne.
The e-newsletter has raised awareness of many issues relating to the Park. The newsletter archive is online: The public meeting on road verges and Wool-on-the-Wall are both reported in Aug 2016. The June 2019 edition details this year's projects and promotes the activities of allied local initiatives.
STS has joined with Sustainable Brampton and Sustainable Carlisle to launch 'Refill Hadrian's Wall. Volunteers are asking pubs, shops, and cafes along Hadrian's Wall to commit to refilling visitors water bottles so reducing the demand for single-use plastic water bottles and associated litter. Further partners are sought to extend the project further east.

4) Please describe how the group has improved the quality of the social or economic life or the health and wellbeing of the community?
Many of the groups projects encourage people to get out and about in the Park and in their own gardens growing vegetables.
The annual Green Christmas Craft Fair is valued for its economic return by local craftspeople, at least one of whom trades internationally, and by local people as an opportunity to meet up. It is now a routine calendar fixture in the run up to Christmas in Greenhead, a tiny village on the edge of the Park where there are limited occasions for casual social interactions.
The e-newsletter has alerted people to opportunities to get involved with many community projects and/or conservation type initiatives run by other third sector and statutory bodies.
A new initiative this year is looking at the potential for a heat from mine water project in Haltwhistle which would reduce the community's carbon footprint and facilitate community services/development.

Get in touch
Any questions, comments or contributions to this monthly e-newsletter?
Please contact 016977 47359

South Tyne Sustainability aims to reduce the impact of the community of Haltwhistle and surrounding villages on our environment. This will help individuals, families and our community save money and resources and ensure a more sustainable future for us all.

To join STS contact Sue Seymour, 016977 47359