News & Views

Our plans for todays Eco Tech Show and a minute with Damian Tow – ETS Director

Alice Doyle06.2015 Business, Community, Education, Events, The C-side Challenge

So today we are off to the Eco Technology Show at the Amex. Have you registered yet?

Some of the things we want to see are the ‘FUTURE OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY’ PANEL, which will be led by Caroline Lucas where experts will look at the direction that energy efficiency is heading in and its importance throughout the duration of the next government.

A top person we want to catch up with, is Robert Llewellyn, aka Kryten (not least to say we cant WAIT to see Red Dwarf series XI), but also to hear his talk on electric vehicles and opportunities for linking EVs, community car clubs & on-site renewable. Sounds good to us.

There is stacks on to see, three dedicated seminar areas, which will be hosting over 70 talks so we are clearing our diaries till the weekend. And who arranged this eco extravaganza? We grabbed a minute with Damian Tow, the ETS Partnership Director to ask him what he does and why?

What first inspired you to work in the environment sector?

Growing up in the countryside, a love of nature & the outdoors and finally reading a book called the ‘Weathermakers’ in 2007 that helped me decide to leave my corporate career and do a masters in sustainable development at Forum for the Future

Why the Eco Tech Show?

Well we are in our 4th year and have grown from an idea by 4 friends to educate and inspire business & communities to adopt sustainable solutions, to an event which attracts 3000 visitors and has over 70 leading speakers & 120 exhibitors on a range of sustainability topics.

If you had to be a green technology what one would you?

It would have to be a solar panel as we have installed over 2200 of community owned solar panels through my other project,

Thanks Damian and see you at the show.

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BPEC go adventuring round Brighton

Alice Doyle06.2015 Community, Education, Events, The C-side Challenge

We have been busy busy working at events across Brighton and Hove.

Last week we were at the Eco Technology Show, a fantastic trade show stuffed with talks and cutting edge eco-technologies. We had a great chat with Neil from Aquapax, who has designed a disposable portable water container suitable for long-term storage. It has half the carbon footprint of a plastic bottle, is fully recyclable and can be reused over and over, as there is no plastic leaching (for anyone reusing plastic bottles, over time the plastic will leach into the water). You can find Aquapax in Infinity Foods, recognisable by the lovely blue artwork, which was inspired by the timeless classic, Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach.

We also met Sea Shepherd, whose mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife around the UK’s coastline, and across the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. They are always on the look out for people to help them with beach clean up campaigns and to run stands. Or even crew on a ship. They also sell some great merchandise, the sale of which supports their campaigns.

Saturday we had a big red tent at the Level Summer festival. The event was rammed and the sunshine made its appearance at just the right time. Thank you to everyone who came by to say hi. Our badge making on the One Planet Living Principles was a roaring success, while our face painter and henna artist brought smiles to many peoples faces. Thank you also to those who came by and made donations – its very generous and helps us to run as a charity. We had lots of interest too on our next batch of Carbon Conversation workshops so watch this space for more information.

On Sunday the weather took a bit of a turn, so we didn’t do our stand at the Naked Bike Ride for fear of our flyers flying off. However there was a huge turn out of cyclists who took to the road to celebrates bikes and bodies, protest against car culture and showed cyclists’ power and vulnerability. And on that note of transport, we have a great event coming up this Thursday on sustainable travel, as part of our Conversation Cafe series – so please do come. Its at the //,-0.141749,17z/data=%214m2%213m1%211s0x4875850b0955f523:0xcc6cfe6fa1be1bc1?hl=en">Marwood, 6.00-7.30 with FREE TEA and CAKE. If you have never had Marwood cake then do come along and give it a try.


When life throws you lemons…

Alice Doyle06.2015 Clean Air, Community, Education, The C-side Challenge

As part of June’s theme on travel – one of our fab volunteers, Ella Tarlton – shares her first impression of the Big Lemon and reminds us of how great it is.

It’s freshers week 2011; a rainy, windy evening on Sussex campus. All around me, fellow new students are huddled under a bus shelter, crammed in like sardines to avoid the lashing rain. Some are teetering in high heels, others sporting a more casual look, but all of us are ready to paint the town red and enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Brighton for the first time. A Brighton and Hove bus swings into the bus stop. Some people jump on, but an large number of the students stay put. They’re waiting for another bus, even though there was plenty of room on the last one. I look around, puzzled, and notice to my surprise that all those left behind are clutching golden lemons in their hands. I ask a boy stood next to me what the hell is going on. “Don’t you know? Everyone is waiting for The Big Lemon bus. All week you can get free travel if you have a lemon! Here you go,” he says, handing me a lemon with a grin, “I’ve got a spare. Pretty cool, right?”

This is how I remember The Big Lemon. It was little quirks like the freshers week lemon deal that made us fall in love with the service. Run on recycled waste cooking oil from local restaurants, (which releases far less CO2 into the atmosphere than fossil fuels,) The Big Lemon bus is a much loved symbol of our green, forward-thinking City. Yes, we moaned about the smell of chip fat being left in our hair, but the service was popular amongst students and Brightonians alike, providing an alternative, cheap, and Eco-friendly way to get from A to B. So what on earth went wrong? Why did Big Lemon buses seem to disappear off the radar, and how did they manage to regain their rightful place on the streets of Brighton?

It all began in spring 2011 when, after 4 years of service, the company was almost squeezed out of Brighton through the use of predatory pricing policies. Brighton and Hove buses reduced the price of a day saver by 32% on the routes that competed with The Big Lemon, whilst all other fares throughout the city remained unchanged. Though Brighton and Hove buses maintained that this was “coincidental”, sales dropped significantly for their competitor. As a result, Brighton’s traffic commissioner decided to cancel route 42 in February, which was a huge blow to The Big Lemon. Suddenly, the future of the company looked extremely uncertain. I for one remember noticing, with a tinge of sadness, far less yellow buses pass me by. However, thanks to a relentless “Save The Big Lemon” campaign, there was new hope for the company. A petition to the council for fair treatment from other bus companies received over 2000 signatures and there was bountiful press coverage from local newspapers, BBC radio and The Guardian. Local fundraising events, such as LemonAID helped to recuperate funds, and there was much support from the Sussex Student Union.

Thankfully, the hard work paid off. The campaign drew so much support that the service was saved, despite losing many routes. The Big Lemon now operates a shuttle linking Brighton and Sussex campuses with town, as well as Route 52, which runs between Woodingdean and the Old Steine via Ovingdean, Brighton Marina and the Royal Sussex County Hospital. Three journeys a day also serve Brighton Station. Most revenue, however, comes from festival coaches and private hire. Despite the challenges the Big Lemon has faced since those rainy days in 2011, the company has proven to be resilient, giving new life to the old phrase “if life throws you lemons..” This year, alongside many others, I will be travelling to Glastonbury on a Big Lemon bus. If you haven’t sorted out your travel to the festival, you happen to need private coach hire, or you need to get between Woodingdean and the Old Steine, I suggest you consider this wonderful company. After all, the future’s bright, the futures yellow…

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Five mins with Merlin of Recycle

Alice Doyle06.2015 Clean Air, Community, The C-side Challenge

As part of our theme on sustainable transport. And don’t forget our transport cafe event at the Marwood on Thursday.
Why Bikes?
Bikes rock!  Super fast, direct, save money, get fit, carry loads (I’ve had 3 adults on the back of my ‘stretch bike’)

My name is Merlin and I set up and run Re~Cycle, the bicycle charity.

Millions of bicycles are thrown away or left to rust in the UK while millions of people in Africa are forced by lack of transport to walk up to 4-hours per day, to school, work or fetching water.

Re~Cycle ships donated bikes (65,086 thus far), tools and spare parts to Africa, where partner organisations refurbish and distribute them.

Cyclists and folks who’ve been to Africa are 2 groups which really ‘get’ what we do.

This is because cyclists know how great and fast bikes are, and how much they can carry.  Most cyclists will have thrown away bikes or parts, and will have seen abandoned bikes chained up and having parts vultured off them.

People who’ve been to Africa have seen people walking (often with Huge Loads) in ‘the middle of no where’, so patently very long distances, in the heat.

What changes do you think the city should make to be better for bikes?

Separated bike lanes so those who are less confident will cycle more and cars won’t park in them

More bike parking

More reporting of abandoned bikes – send exact location and colour to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you were a bike what model of bike would you be and why?

Touring bike; strong yet lightweight and fast, to go the distance
Or perhaps a utility bike, as can carry a lot…

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Is the heatwave our new normal?


Alice Doyle07.2015 Clean Air, Community, Health, The C-side Challenge

​As people flock to beaches and parks to enjoy the sunshine, is today’s “hottest day of the year” soon to become the new normal for our British summers?

Its been reported that heat waves in England are now up to 22 times more likely thanks to climate change. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) panel, led by Lord Deben and Lord Krebs, have been urging the government to take more action to prepare for the effects of climate change and introduce more planning to decarbonise our infrastructure. Lord Krebs has said By the 2050s the sort of heatwaves we might experience in the next few days will be the norm, a typical summer.  Bar getting a suntan not seen this side of the Med, what does mean for us as a nation?

The government’s own analysis of the impacts of climate change suggests that climate change could increase the costs of flooding to £10bn a year by 2080, as well as cause more deaths from heatwaves, and large-scale water shortages. Over 700 impacts from rising temperatures have been identified, including the possibility of “climate refugees” arriving from wars over dwindling water and food, threats to forests from new exotic diseases, to affecting our food production as agricultural land and crops struggle to adapt to higher temperatures. With these temperature rises you would also expect a greater incidence of heat stress issues, especially the young, the elderly and the sick, and during heat waves a likely increased pressure on hospitals and potentially increasing death tolls.

Its not so tan-topping abroad either. India is currently recovering from the second deadliest heatwave in the country’s history, which had killed 2,500 people by the start of June. While the small islands of the Pacific, island nations have contributed almost nothing to the problem of rising greenhouse gas emissions, will be among the hardest hit. For the tiny island of Kiribati it may already be too late with President Anote Tong, the president told leaders ahead of the climate change talks taking place in Paris this November, that tides were already forcing villages to relocate. While some low lying Pacific nations such as the Cartaret Islands have been climate refugees for the last decade.

But on the the plus side temperatures soaring as high as 35c this week, will have a significant impact on solar PV. There is set to be a surge in solar energy generation, particularly in the south of the country with generation in London and the south east especially high compared to last year. Also between 2013 and 2014 the renewable energy surge caused an important ‘tipping point’ in fossil fuel emissions: even though both the global economy and energy use grew, there was no matching rise in emissions of carbon dioxide. At a regional level local authorities such as South Cambridge District Council plan to install solar panels on 1,000 additional council houses, adding to the council’s already extensive PV roll-out, whilst the 24% rise in renewable energy coops across the country leads a democratisation of clean and endless energy at fair prices.

If you want to know more about these issues then why not come on our free workshops running later on this year?​ And here are some tips to enjoy the sun while we have it.​


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