November 2020

Priory site’s future propels Reigate Society online

History is in the making. The Reigate Society, which cares about historic and modern buildings in Reigate and Redhill, will hold its first online meeting. The subject? A key historic landmark in the borough.

The point of doing so is to discuss the future of the Priory building in Reigate Park – the very same building that sparked the formation of the society in 1952.

Back then, there were plans to build a bypass through the park, that would have involved the removal of the building. For the past few years, this building has been the home of the Reigate Priory School.

The foundations of the Augustine building can be traced back to 1235. Those parts are really only visible from the inside, but the building today is still an imposing site.

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onshore wind

Winds of progress on horizon for onshore power

Clarity and progress. That’s a starting point for many people. Those two things have been in short supply for months, but finally a Government announcement gives both.

No, I’m not writing about the lifting of lockdown restrictions for a period including Christmas. We haven’t got clarity on that quite yet anyway. Nor am I referring to the three announcements that Covid-19 vaccines work and will be rolled out imminently. But it’s great news.

What caught my attention is the Guardian’s report that the Government will subsidise onshore wind (and solar). This, in the form of allowing renewable energy to bid for subsidy contracts in an auction. It’s the first time since 2015 they will be allowed to bid.

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted offshore wind to be capable of powering all homes by 2030, it gave rise to an obvious question:

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Box of fruit and beg

Cutting carbon food footprint hits a purple patch

Food waste has been a theme in society in some senses for many years. Supermarkets sometimes have charities they support when they know they could waste food.

Did you know UK households waste 4.5million tonnes of food per year? That’s according to the Government’s waste advisory board. And that figure is even after the average household has reduced such waste by 7%.

Most residents of Reigate and Banstead have food caddies, in which we can put our left overs (which is one type of food waste). For example excess fat and bones, perhaps fish skins, or fruit and vegetable waste if we don’t have gardens or composting facilities.

Examine your caddies, though, and it is probable we will find a lot more that could be saved, had we been more careful. Gone off bread, perhaps, or excesses of vegetables when we made too much dinner. It’s not simply that we throw food away that was edible.

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An example of an oil drilling rig

Horse Hill appeal is start of climate emergency road

Just how hard is it to translate declaring a climate emergency into meaningful policy? This is one crux of a planning appeal, led by local campaigner Sarah Finch, heard this week. It is against Surrey County Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a company to drill for oil for 20 years at Horse Hill.

Some local authorities still find it hard to declare a climate emergency, as the Government did in one of Theresa May’s final acts as Prime Minister. For example, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council stopped short of joining the 1,400 authorities in 28 countries to have done so. However, they have come up with a climate action plan.

Waverley Borough Council, by contrast, declared the emergency, but only afterwards set about deciding their action plan. Their public consultation only finished in the past few weeks.

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Banana skins in a bucket

Going bananas in the garden for extra nutrients

Have you ever seen a quirky idea, thought it was a bit mad but worth trying? Or even worth adapting?

A friend told me recently that she had been soaking banana skins through the summer and using the mixture as a plant grower.

Sounds utterly bonkers! But, when you think it through, it is probably what our ancestors did – even if it was perhaps limited to those from countries in which bananas grow, anyway.

Essentially, this seems simply an acceleration of the composting process. To those au fait with the composting process, it is easy enough to throw banana skins into a composter, or pile, along with many vegetable and fruit peelings, pips, stems or cores: The bits, essentially, you don’t cook.

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Masks are now needed in shops

Relish anomalies to survive second lockdown

We’re more set up to cope this time aren’t we? For Covid-19 lockdown two I mean. We’ve done this once. Society can tough it out. We’re thinking positive…except…

This time there are several changes – and many people are still out of work.

The first lockdown was all new and scary. People thought it might be short, sharp shock of no more than a few months. At least, that’s what they hoped.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) was hard to find. For that, the NHS was the priority customer. But if you wanted to wear a mask in the shops – the supermarkets and food outlets – they were initially hard to find. Certainly at a reasonable price.

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