GF Blog 23 – Week 13

28th April

Wood burners & recycling of ink cartridges. Lots of future plans at the centre, incl free preview days and many new offerings. Finally, a few more steps forward with ideas for a Local Energy Cluster.

APRIL Like winter here
Flowers closed all week!
But unusually baking hot, in Spain

After the advice last week I was really keen to go collecting dandelions and start to brew up my honey type syrup. But the weather has been so vile every day, that the flowers have remained tight-closed. Not a glimmer of gold to be seen ☹.  It is almost May and instead I cannot believe I am showing a glowing fire instead!

My wood burner is rarely used to be honest, because my house is very warm. And when I do light it, usually we are talking late November of an evening. On Wednesday April 26th, I astounded myself by lighting it at midday. That really speaks volumes, re a miserable month. And yet, Devon has just had a hose-pipe ban implemented, adding to the one we still have here in Cornwall. And Spain has been experiencing temperatures normally not felt until mid-summer. How topsy turvy the world is becoming!

Wood burners

While we are on this, it brings me to a recent campaign from a group called Mums for Lungs! They refer to scientific reports and call upon the government to ban sales of new wood burners from 2027. Their focus is on health and cancer-risks, not emissions:-

Scientific papers and campaigners from the European Environmental Bureau now say that ‘Eco-design’ models of wood burners can emit 750 times more tiny particle pollution than a modern HGV truck. A report published by Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, found that ‘Eco-design’ models in homes produce some 450 times more emissions than gas central heating.

The group has called on the government to take stricter measures, which include:

  • Phasing out the sale of new wood stoves by 2027 and banning the use of wood burners, unless they’re the only source of heat in a household
  • Labelling wood burning stoves as ‘harmful’
  • Providing effective powers to local authorities to stop unlawful burning, with wood burners registered with local authorities to enable enforcement
  • Launching a public health campaign to raise awareness of the dangers associated with wood burning stoves

In effect, this restriction has been implemented already in London, by the mayor.

New planning guidance announced by the mayor sets air pollution limits for home and office developments that cannot be met if burners for wood or other solid fuels are installed.

8 Feb 2023

I don’t know how this will play out for the thousands upon thousands of wood burners in more rural areas, let alone those who burn biomass pellets for water heating, as I do. But if you want to follow this up and come back to share what you discover, the article – as a starting point – is here

Ceremony 4 Climate Hope – feedback

I have not shared this purely for the ‘feel-good’ moment, but for a good practical reason. It is part of the process we have started together, at Red Moor, of planning to help other schools understand the event and organise one of their own. The work will continue; let us know if you, or a school you know, would like to be involved in future online training sessions. 

Meeting new challenges

Whilst feeling upbeat about the ‘fantastic and amazing’ comments, it does rather require me to step up to the mark, when a neighbour, Verna, poses me a new climate challenge. A few weeks back she said ‘why can I no longer re-cycle my old ink cartridges?’  And I said, ‘I really don’t know and it isn’t good. Let me do some homework.’

Cutting a long story short, as a result The Meadow Barns is now a public centre for receiving used ink cartridges. Once the box has 15 in it I will send them off, to raise money for the related charity – Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Recycle4Charity is a free, easy to use programme for empty ink cartridges. A simple way to help the environment whilst raising money for the charity, school or not for profit of your choice.

 Donations of up to £2 for each eligible ink cartridge posted to Recycle4Charity will be paid to Cornwall Wildlife Trust   website tells us

300 million inkjets sold in Europe per year

Only 15% of all inkjets sold are re-manufactured

45 million cartridges end up in landfill in the UK

Cartridges can take up to 1000 years to decompose

The lifespan of ink cartridges can be optimised by reusing & recycling them as many times as possible

Reusing and repurposing don’t create pollution. Rather, items are made useful as they are.

90% of people say they would reuse and recycle more if it were made easier

A reused product can be back on the shelves again within a single month

Reusing and recycling creates 6 times more jobs than landfilling and 36 times more than incinerating

So, there you go. Please spread the word to anyone who is near enough, but also let them know I will expect to promote the new library and displays for the season when they stop by!

Which brings me to our upcoming


On 16th to 18th May, there will be a series of 3 days for Members at the centre, who need only to call or email, plus people who run a business or represent a member organisation close by – Fowey, PL24, Luxulyan, Lanlivery and Lostwithiel are the catchments.

To book, they should simply go to a new page on Eventbrite

The most exciting of all our new items to preview is the ‘cinema’ in the Library of Treffry. Showing the images and maps blown up so large, along with the soundtracks through a big PA, really is a vivid way to put across stories. Here you see my colleague, David Skelhorn, resting from his efforts with setting everything up. His new database of heritage items, on Google maps, is also part of the presentation.

Showing a section from the Fowey walk and stories
And here we show Heritage locations in different categories

Energy Local – expanding on the pros and cons

When Energy Local wrote that their scheme is closed until next year, I gritted my teeth. We cannot sit around waiting and we should not be restricting ourselves to only one model anyway. I began to study their approach and question what could or should be copied.

When a group gets together to generate and share energy across a limited geographic location there are numerous questions and barriers to success. Must it all be done with 3 phase electrics for one! And another is, apparently it is illegal to link up houses in a little cluster of shared power like this whether single or 3 phase. The true facts have become clear to me by the usual kind of journey of research, website to website.

I began with a search for local energy studies that are already underway and arrived at South Gloucestershire:-

This is a very well written page, which manages to be quite easy on the eye and brain, whilst still covering a lot of info. At the heart is something called RERAS – the Renewable Energy Resource Assessment Study (RERAS) that the council commissioned, which assesses current generation of renewables and the demands for meeting their own targets in future. Info-graphics are used to help with grasping big numbers

They say most of their generation will be wind or solar and go on to analyse all potential sites across the county, to plan the most suitable locations.

I was struck by how their amoeba-like plan for wind sites matches very closely the one I have begun to prepare for my home area (see later). And I heartily wish that Cornwall council had an equally clear, helpful site with a message of encouragement and useful links like this:-

Community energy proposals

As explained above, the assumptions made in our evidence relate to the levels of energy output likely to be required to bring forward commercially driven proposals. It may however be that community groups or some developers may wish to pursue proposals with a lower energy output.

Community initiatives are likely to play an increasingly important role and should be encouraged as a way of providing positive local benefit from renewable energy development. Further information for communities interested in developing their own initiatives is available from the following organisations:

And government guidance on Community Energy published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is available.

Through preparing our Local Plan, we would like to develop a policy framework which gives positive weight to renewable and low carbon energy initiatives which have clear evidence of local community involvement and leadership.

We are also keen to support communities in bringing forward their own energy proposals and see this as an important part of developing our approach to renewable energy. As part of this, we are keen to enable communities to realise the positive benefits that such schemes can bring locally, as well as the contribution they can make to our wider objectives around climate change.

Of the 3 recommended websites, I pursued Community Energy England first and found this map of local projects, which led me to investigate Harberton Community Microgrid, a development of a housing estate to Passivhaus principles, shown by a brown flag near Torquay. Somehow, I went from there to the SW Energy Hub and eventually to the most valuable source of all, Richard at

It was Richard who alerted me to the fact that connecting up small clusters, without passing a process of stringent assessment, is illegal. And – to date – there is no clear path and structure for a local group to apply. He told me, without saying where, of one project where the landowners have gone forward regardless and OfGem (until now) have not pursued them. He then explained that schemes are subject to a ruling labelled BSC and this (contrary to how it sounds) is not a kind of science degree qualification. It stands for

The Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC)

(feel free to skip this next bit, as it is rather technical!).

Community Energy – projects in England
Share Energy – homepage with example projects

The BALANCING and SETTLEMENT CODE is – a multi-party contract that sets out the ground rules for the electricity system in which suppliers can purchase electricity from the generator of their choice, and consumers can choose which supplier provides them with power.  It is signed by the companies that operate in Great Britain’s wholesale electricity market.

The code takes into account the fact that contracts can be agreed between generators and suppliers in advance, but no one really knows precisely how much power will be generated or used until the moment it all plays out in real life. The BSC makes sure that payments for imbalances in wholesale electricity supply and demand are settled accurately.

In the UK this code is supervised by an organisation called Elexon, who are mid-way into a process of revision of the various categories used. They are proposing to introduce Complex Site classes. These classes would categorise the types of Complex Site, each having clearly defined criteria within the BSC. A new “type” of Complex Site (referred to as a Class 6 Complex Site) to allow approval of ”non-standard” complex sites would also be introduced. This change would facilitate consistency across the market and as so called “Local Energy Schemes” become more popular, rules for when netting are permitted would be clearly defined going forward.

Conclusions re Shared energy and local clusters

The Elexon process will be finalised by the end of 2023. Richard wrote to me

The implementation date for the Elexon proposal is 2 November 2023, so a little further off, but even so that’s unlikely to hold things up for you, there’s a lot of work to do if you want to develop a community energy project, before you get to the point of being able to register a Complex Site.

It looks from the map that you already know the substation locations? So perhaps you’ve already seen the publicly available resources that would help inform this – the NGED network capacity map and OpenInfraMap. It looks like all the areas you’ve indicated are hooked into the same substation.

It’s very hard to judge how feasible the ideas are without knowing a lot more about the situation! I won’t lie: it’s tough to make community energy projects work at the moment, you’ll need a good team, probably a chunk of funding to work out what the best approach is, and definitely a lot of determination and tenacity!

His advice is spot-on. Will it be sufficient to put me off?   We shall see! 

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