News February 2020

Sixteen STS members got together in January to share a meal and celebrate winning the National Park Volunteer Group award (unfortunately neither of the two National Park officers who hoped to attend were able to do so). Columbia outdoor clothing, the award sponsors, had generously given a dozen rucksacks and beanie hats for our volunteers. Some were claimed, some people felt undeserving and made a donation to our funds if they took a prize, we've retained one bag for a raffle prize and have given another couple to Haltwhistle Scouts and Guides for competition prizes, hoping to encourage outdoor exploration. Four of the beanie hats will be passed to the refugee project in Carlisle.

We reflected on past projects and thought about what is planned, and what we might achieve this year. Here's the list of ongoing and potential projects.

On going
  • Refill Hadrian's Wall - a catch up meeting with Sustainable Brampton and Sustainable Carlisle is in the diary for Feb. Still looking for partner groups to progress the project eastwards.
  • Seed swap and info at Haltwhistle Plant Fest -16th May - Jo Aris has been running this for several years. Unfortunately the date clashes with a family commitment for Jo this year so we are looking for help on the day. Any offers? Please contact Jo:
  • Verge walks - Lesley and Libby will be leading a series of walks on 30th June and 14th and 28th July. Details in a future news letter. Meanwhile the national Plant life campaign goes from strength to strength: Climate change activists in Hexham have successfully persuaded the council to leave an area of the park uncut and this has encouraged flocks of Redwings to feed there this winter. Maybe it's time to try talking to Haltwhistle Town Council about cutting policies around the town again...
  • Greenhead Christmas Craft Fair - Well, yes, but it's a long time away...

On Going - but now managed by someone else!

  • Heat from Minewater at Haltwhistle Swimming and Leisure Centre - the inception meeting for the feasibility study is later this month. I'll be going along to represent STS. The feasibility study is being managed by Andy Dean of Haltwhistle Partnership. Any enquiries can be addressed to him:
  • Zero Waste Shop - Haltwhistle Partnership is progressing with this, working with Another Weigh who have already proved the concept at their shops in Penrith and Kendal. Julie,, is the contact for this project.

Resurrected project

  • Haltwhistle Is Something Special - HISS. A couple of years ago a small team of us prepared text and images for a series of informative posters on dog breeds associated with this area. The idea was that they would be the first of a series of poster exhibitions in the station waiting rooms on a variety of topics where Tynedale stands out from the crowd. Then along came a project to redevelop the waiting rooms - HISS was put on hold. After heroic fundraising activity TVCRP confidently expects the refurbishment works to start in the spring - anyone who fancies a studio/workshop in one of the spaces contact Julie - and 16 weeks later, if all goes to plan, the first HISS exhibition should be opened in one of the gleaming new waiting rooms. Then it'll be time to call for volunteers to research the next topic - wrestling, quoits, bastles, sheep...

Possible new initiatives

  • Plastics recycling - Our plastics discussion last year originally had two prongs, the refill scheme and a local recycling project. We concentrated on the Refill idea, maybe now it's time to have another look at the potential for local recycling...
  • What are the uplands for? Farming and public good - On the back of winning the National Park award I have proposed a joint project with Northumberland National Park looking at what is wanted from the uplands in this area and how this might influence farm sustainability. An initial response was encouraging but further talks, and funds are needed. Update next newsletter!

Becoming England's Greenest Region.

Voluntary Organisation Network North East (VONNE) has an ambitious initiative for our region. In the last few months VONNE has consulted all of its 1200 member organisations and an impressive list of other partners including Local Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, schools and Health Boards. All are behind this initiative which boasts a compelling narrative: 200 years ago the NE was in the vanguard of the industrial revolution, advances in technology from this area enabled deep coal mining and the transport of coal on railways. Where better to innovate in responding to the climate crisis and ecological breakdown? The NE, they claim, is the region to spearhead a just transition to a greener way of doing things.
This ambition, along with other issues, will no doubt be put to Jamie Driscoll, the North of Tyne Mayor, at his first Q & A in the Queen's Hall, Hexham, on 12th Feb. Details and tickets:

Other local groups discovered in foreign territory

At first we thought we were the only interlopers who'd crossed a county boundary to attend the Community Energy Workshop in Durham - but we soon met others from our home county!
  • Cees heads up a group from Allendale who are in the very early stages, but with lots of academic knowledge, looking at the potential of utilising heat energy from water in lead mine workings.
  • Newbrough and Fourstone's climate crisis group hold monthly meetings and, amongst other issues, want to cut energy bills at Newbrough Town Hall. Contact:

Transition Tynedale 2020 Projects Kick off

If you can volunteer time and ideas for local projects to tackle climate change please come to a workshop to kick off TT's 2020 projects
2-5 pm on Saturday, 8 February at Trinity Methodist Hall,
Beaumont Street, Hexham.

All welcome.
It's organised by Transition Tynedale - close family with STS, Hexham Climate Action, Sustainable Allen Valleys and others.
On 8th Feb the focus will be on new projects but the discussion will also cover how TT supports projects (insurance etc), ongoing projects and a canter through all previous projects - what worked well and what ended up as wonderful failures.
Contact: Gillian Orrell
Gillian hopes to see you there!

Climate Action in Remote Rural Northumberland - CAIRN

Cairns have been a symbol of man's presence on this patch of the earth since prehistoric times. Community Action Northumberland (CAN) have chosen CAIRN as an appropriate acronym for this new initiative which aims to redraw man's impact on the environment in the remoter parts of the county and, in doing so, will trail-blaze decarbonisation in a rural region. They are working with a number of partners including Northumberland National Park.
Proposals include:
  • Provision of one-to-one advice and support to individuals on energy efficiency and renewable alternatives, building on the success of the 2018 pilot project.
  • Expanding and augmenting the network of 'Community Energy Agents' as focal points across rural Northumberland for all energy, carbon and climate action matters.
  • Enabling village halls and other community buildings across the area to implement the findings of energy audits and act as exemplars of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
  • Consolidating the network of Warm Hubs across Northumberland.
  • Running regular Rural Energy Roadshows at local community venues and associated marketing promotion - for example through the CosyCAN newsletter.
  • Providing direct support to off-grid homes in remote Northumberland to develop sustainable alternative energy solutions.
  • Carrying out Community Energy Audits with individual communities and implementing audit results, including community energy solutions.
  • Developing a network of Electric Vehicle charging points at rural venues, encouraging residents and visitors to switch from petrol and diesel fuel.
  • Supporting the work of the National Park Authority in helping to reduce food miles, roll out carbon capture initiatives and promote the use of local produce.
  • Supporting the growth of sustainable local small businesses, especially home-based, as a mechanism to reduce commuting and use of private transport.
  • Promoting a slow cooking revolution, building on our success to date, as an energy efficient and healthy choice for local residents.

CAN wants to work with as many organisations as possible in further refining, developing and implementing CAIRN. Recognising that the climate crisis is undoubtedly the key challenge facing us all CAN is determined to play its part in helping rural communities meet this challenge head on and to take advantage of the opportunities it presents. To get involved contact:

There has been a mill at Little Corby, Warwick Bridge, since the 12th century but the current mill, built in the 19th century, ceased operating some 30 years ago. However, the architectural heritage of the building was such that the Cultura Trust was able to raise the funds to renovate the building. Last year a Community Benefit Society formed and drew up an ambitious plan to lease the building, run the mill and set up a community bakery. Most of the necessary funds have been raised but a little more is needed. Would you like to be a part of this exciting project?

Recycling of old IT equipment

Did you know that you can send old IT equipment to the Turing Trust who will refurbish and use it to support education in sub-Saharan Africa? Enquiries to

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