Report of Meeting at Spectrum Centre

Monday 3rd October 2011 saw the Transition Loughborough meeting take place at the Rosebery St Peter’s Spectrum Community Centre in Storer Road.  As well as many familiar faces we welcomed David from Loughborough Friends of the Earth and several members of the University/Students Union Landscaping Our Society group.

Steve had volunteered to chair the meeting and kicked off with a quick financial report.  As usual we’re existing on donations and purchases at the give-n-take stall in the meeting to cover room costs, but we’re still in the black.  He then moved on to looking at the minutes of the last meeting and seeing what progress had been made:

* On the Landshare Project contact had been made by Jon with the Landscaping Our Society group on the University campus who had an existing community garden for staff, students and local residents set up.  They were happy for non-University folk who wanted to get growing to come and help in the garden.  They meet at 4pm every Friday at the shed in their garden area – this is at the back of car park/the walled garden in the centre of campus (just round the corner from the Spinney Hill Drive entrance to the campus.

ACTION: Jon will post on the Transition Loughborough Google Group about the LOS community garden in case other Transition folk want to get involved.

Steve had put an article into the Echo recently about the Landshare project, again asking if anybody wanted to either volunteer their garden or come on board as a gardener.   He and Paul are planning to attend a Hastings Ward residents group meeting at Moira Community Centre to talk about growing spaces as well.  Paul also said that he was going to attend a Shelthorpe community meeting (as he lives there) where they will be discussing the community garden that they have under way – they are apparently looking for volunteer gardeners as well.

Karl suggested that we might want to asked potential allotmenteers if they would like to get involved with one or more of the community garden schemes in the town, as there are long waiting lists for allotments.  Caroline agreed, as she herself is on the waiting list.

ACTION: Paul will collect information on the community garden schemes underway and email the Charnwood Borough Council allotments officer with a suggested message that could be sent round all those on the waiting list.

* On the Apple Day, Steve reminded everyone that we can’t bring in food that contains animal products such as eggs or meat, or any alcohol products.  The Apple Day is on Friday 4th November at the Shree Ram Krishna centre.  Steve had been collecting apples recently and brought several large trays with him, along with some from Paul’s garden.

* Community Orchard: still no news if Neville has been officially contacted about this.  Diane couldn’t raise the planting of fruit/nut trees at the most recent council meeting but thought she might be able to phone someone in the council to talk about it.  Martha from LOS said that the University was already planting fruit trees to make an edible campus.  Steve said that he’d met some resistance from people not wanting foraged fruits as they thought they might be poisoned!

* Outreach: Steve promoted the Shree Ram Krishna centre’s cancer awareness day this coming Friday morning from 10am.  There may be a low key Transition stall there, but it will have to focus on the healthy living aspects of growing your own.  All welcome to attend the event though.

Noticeboard

  • The next Green Drinks will be at 7.30pm in the Swan in the Rushes on 27th October
  • There is still time to book for the PlanLoCal energy generation planning event in Leicester on 29th October, 9.00am-5.30pm
Solar PV Scheme
Steve then gave the floor over to Caroline who introduced bulk purchase solar PV schemes.  These are intended to make use of the Government backed FITS payments, that provide free solar electricty during the day as well as up to 42.3p per kWh of payment in domestic systems up to 4KW in size.  You can either pay for the equipment up front and treat it as an investment with a better rate of return than most ISAs, or you can get a loan and the FITS payments are set up so that they will pay off the repayments whilst still giving you some free solar daytime electricity.   You can get up to £140 in “free” electricity returned to you and upto £900 in payments for the generated power (at the same time!).
It was mentioned that there are also “rent your roof” schemes whereby a company installs the PV setup and takes the generated power payments, whilst leaving you with the “free” solar electricity.  These aren’t such a good deal for most householders, though they might be useful if you don’t want/can’t get a loan and don’t have sufficient capital to pay for the installation without one.
Caroline passed round some information about a couple of existing schemes that she’s come across set up by groups similar to ours.  In one scheme the first 19 people paid the standard installation charge but when the 20th person paid, everyone else go a rebate.  In the other scheme, the group arranged a bulk discount for every 10 systems installed, resulting in a very good price at the time.  However solar PV prices are falling at the moment, so there are some very similar deals now available.
There are several solar PV companies based in Loughborough.  Our meeting was attended by Councillor Jitu Choudhury who also runs a solar PV company in the area.  He said that we’d need to get around 40 orders in to get a bulk discount and that the orders would need to be placed by the end of December in order to be installed by March.  In March 2012 the current FITS scheme is closed to new members, so there is likely to be a rush to get systems installed.
It was decided to get a subgroup together to see if we can rapidly put a bulk purchase scheme together and see what sort of interest there is.  People who are interested in this should contact Caroline via the Google Group.
There is no date set yet for the next meeting as Paul is trying to arrange a venue: he’ll advise us of the time and place on the Google Group.  In the meantime Transition participants are welcome to come along to the Moria Community Centre on 10th November at 7.30pm to discuss Landshare with the residents’ association.
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