Category Archives: Projects

Dead bees – don’t panic!

While finding a pile of dead bumblebees under your Buddleia is a disturbing sight, at this time of year it is actually quite natural. So what exactly is going on?


Towards the end of the summer the queen bumblebee in each nest will start to

produce male offspring and new queen bumblebees. The males will leave the nest soon after they have grown and never return. Their primary role is to mate so they will spend their time in search of new queens from other nests.

The new queens will leave the nest during the day to feed and mate but will return each night to the safety of the nest. Once the new queen has mated (an acrobatic process, which most queen bumblebees only do once – see photo) she will spend her time feeding in preparation for hibernation. Newly mated queens are the only members of the colony to hibernate over winter – more on this next month.

Once the new queens have left the nest to hibernate, the rest of the colony will start to die. This includes the old queen, the female workers and the males. It is common to find the dead and dying bees near to flowers – when they are close to the end of their short lives, they become lethargic therefore their natural instinct is to feed on nectar.

There is more information about this on our website, here:

Lifted from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust August 2013 newsletter

Transition Harborough At Shambala Festival

photoShowing off our new gazebo at the Shambala Festival on the bank holiday weekend together with the apple press, lots of information about bees, apple tree grafting and unconventional sources of oil and gas.  Once again we collected pledges from people as handprints or bee paintings, how to carry the utopian spirit of Shambala home with them in a practical Transition way.  We met lots of new people, from Transition Kings Cliffe (between Peterborough and Corby),  Transition Network Trainers and Social Reporters,  Newstead Village (nr Nottingham) and new people from Market Harborough and  Kettering.

Sunday morning Rob Hopkins was due to give a talk at Shambala but had to cancel,  Mark stepped in and gave a short talk on Transition Harborough and took part in a lively discussion.


Harboroughs thermostat must be set too high!


According to figures released by the ONS (Office for national statistics) here, the East Midlands has the highest energy consumption by household in the Country


Now, proud as we are of our lovely town, despite the wounds being inflicted by the demands of a”build and be damned” planning policy we were just a little shocked to see the list of authorities with the highest consumption by household with some names being just a little too local for comfort:


Ouch, that is correct… our little district is sitting second in the list of highest consumers per household in England & Wales. This means that our “Sustainable Harborough” project of which we are a partner has its work cut out.

If your bills are too high and you would like help to reduce them, get in contact as we have a number of initiatives that we would like to set up and we need to know that there is an interest.



Local Food Hub invitation

Interested in local food?

Then this is to invite you to be a part of the steering group for the Market Harborough Food Hub, the first of its kind in Leicestershire! The steering group has been initially set up by a small group of Transition Town Market Harborough volunteers and we are hoping to add a few more members to this start up group.

What is a Food Hub?

A food hub is a place where the community can order produce from local producers rather than going to the supermarket, significantly lessening the food miles. A Food Hub operates via a website where their customers order their weekly shop and this is then delivered by the producers to a hub, where the food is either then collected or delivered to the customers. Most food hubs are not for profit organisations, so any profits made go straight back into the Food Hub to pay for its running costs. There are many different food hubs being run across the country already and one of the most well known is Stroud Co:

What are the benefits?

The benefits of a food hub are that you will be able to buy locally sourced produce, which isn’t easily available on the high street, allowing you to access high quality, local food with a low carbon footprint. It also provides the opportunity to buy local food at a more reasonable cost by cutting out the supermarkets.

How can I take part?

The steering group currently meet regularly on alternate Wednesday evenings in Market Harborough at our project office. If you would like to be a member of the steering group or would like further information, please contact me on the details below and I will let you know when the next meeting will take place.

Alternatively, if you are unable to give time to this project but are interested in becoming one of the first customers of the Food Hub once it is up and running, please register your interest by contacting me using the contact details below.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Kind Regards,


Jo Sharman

Project Officer

Leefe House,
27 Abbey Street,
Market Harborough.

LE16 9AA

Registered Charity No. 1077645. Company No. 3665974


Fax: (0116) 2660153

Our green and pleasant land

While traveling home last night I was admiring the lush green rolling countryside of the North Northamptonshire/South Leicestershire landscape when I was suddenly struck by the complete lack of colour there was. Save for the Himalayan Balsam (an invasive species) and Ragwort (A sort of invasive species) in some parts of the road side there was only green.

Surely this is not an issue I hear you say but it is the colour that signifies the presence of flowers and in turn forage for our bees and other insect pollinators.

We are looking for volunteers to help Transition Harborough and the Sustainable Harborough project to help plant and maintain areas for the benefit of our wildlife and to produce displays such as the one you can see below from Brighton in Sussex.

These wildflower areas are marked as part of the Britain in Bloom competition!

Please get in contact if you want to register as a volunteer.

Barrowden and Wakerley Community shop up for national award

A community shop and coffee shop in Rutland has been shortlisted for a national award by Local Food, this is am inspiration to us as a group as we hope to be able to bid for the chance to provide a community shop in the airfield farm development when the last phase is planned.

Good luck to this local group and hopefully we will be able to visit soon and find out some more information about how they set up this worthy project.

Nef Energy crunch email

new economics foundation

Dear former ODAC subscriber,


Welcome to the first edition of Energy Crunch, the new newsletter from nef devoted to the crucial nexus between energy, the economy and the environment. Once a fortnight we plan to give you a concise summary of the most important developments, highlight a handful of stories you may have missed but really ought to make time for, and offer our take on what’s really going on behind the headlines. We’ll also point you to the ‘chart of the week’ or another piece of research that illuminates the debate – our first is a cracker. Or perhaps that should be fracker.


Best wishes,


Simone Osborn
Co-editor, Energy Crunch


Three things you shouldn’t miss this week

  1. US Gas: the law of diminishing returns

    Source: Drill Baby Drill – David Hughes, Post carbon Institute

  2. British Geological Survey Bowland Shale Gas Assessment – Arthur E Berman
  3. Peak oil isn’t dead, it just smells that way – Chris Nelder




The round-up


Energy Crunch? What energy crunch? To listen to news recently you could be forgiven for thinking all the energy supply worries of the last few years have been miraculously solved. Peak oil is dead, the UK is floating on a bed of shale gas and everything’s rosy. There has certainly been a shift in the debate, but when you dig beneath the surface, it’s not at all clear how much the energy supply picture has actually improved. Let alone the greenhouse gas emissions.


George Osborne fired the starting gun on what he hopes will be a shale gas boom by slashing production tax rates to just 30% – half the normal level.  The announcement came shortly after the release of a British Geological Society (BGS) report which doubled the estimated gas resource of the Bowland Shale formation under Lancashire and Yorkshire, leading to exuberant claims that this alone could cover Britain’s gas needs for 50 years. The government, gas drillers and some of the media would have you believe this locally produced gas will keep the lights on, kickstart the economy and slash gas prices. So what’s not to like?



First, there is a major question over how much gas is ever likely to be produced. Most of the optimism around shale gas is based on the US experience, but conditions here are very different. Art Berman, an American industry consultant, has analysed the BGS assessment and reckons Bowland has recoverable reserves – always much smaller than the total gas that exists in the rocks – of 42 trillion cubic feet, or about 15 years’ supply at current levels of consumption. To produce this would mean drilling around 30,000 wells, and that level of industrialisation seems likely to provoke a major backlash. Perhaps that wind turbine doesn’t look so bad after all?



Second, even if there were substantial shale gas production, it is unlikely to put much of a dent in UK gas prices, whatever ministers suggest. The Telegraph reported that an analysis by consultants for the Department of Energy and Climate Change had found that shale production could cut UK gas prices by a quarter, without mentioning this was only one of a series of scenarios. However, the overwhelming consensus among gas experts is that the impact would be minimal, since UK prices would still need to be high enough to attract imports from Europe, and would be buoyed by European demand for UK supplies. Those who argue this include: Oxford Institute of Energy Studies; VTB Capital; BP; the Energy Contract Company; Poyry and others.



Third is the issue of potential water contamination – always hotly contested by the frackers – which was raised again last week by Water UK, the industry trade body. Fourth is that burning all this non-conventional gas is in almost certainly incompatible with our legally binding emissions reduction targets.  But perhaps it’s no surprise this awkward fact has been conveniently ignored: it has been clear for some time that George Osborne has largely relieved Ed Davey of responsibility for UK energy policy.



Of course, fracking can be used to produce oil as well as gas, and this has led to surge in US oil output in recent years –  after decades of decline – prompting a rash of stories that ‘peak oil is dead’.  John Kemp of Reuters was one of a slew of commentators to claim that new technology has trumped the doom mongers once again.



These writers seem not to have noticed that the oil price is more than 10 times the level of the late 1990s, and last year recorded its highest ever annual average at just under $112. Nor that that the decline rates of the new shale oil wells are much steeper than conventional wells – losing as much as 40% of their production capacity every year – which means the industry really must ‘drill baby drill’ simply to stand still (check out our chart of the week). Nor that rising consumption among major producers is cannibalising exports – Saudi Arabia will become a net oil importer in the 2030s on current trends. Nor that – with much of the world economy in the doldrums – current prices appear to be an effective cap on economic growth. Perhaps the anti peak oilers are right to suggest we can produce some more oil at higher prices, but they seem to miss the broader point: we can’t afford it.  Far from peak oil being disproved, it’s right here; economic peak oil.



For a truly disruptive plan this week take a look at the Centre for Alternative Technology’s 3rdZero Carbon Britain report. Even the International Energy Agency is forecasting that globally renewable electricity will exceed output from natural gas and double generation from nuclear by 2016. The prospect of 30,000 gas wells might give the anti wind brigade pause for thought. Perhaps there is still a chance of a real energy policy rather than the Jekyll and Hyde struggle currently being played out in Whitehall.







UK Policy

Related Reports

Oil Substitution and the Decline of Conventional Oil – Stanford University Environmental Assessment & Optimization Group
Zero Carbon Britain – Centre for Alternative Technology
Drill Baby Drill – David Hughes, Post Carbon Institute

The Energy Crunch team: Simone Osborn, David Strahan, Aniol Esteban, Tim Jenkins

You received the newsletter because you previously subscribed to the ODAC newsletter which was taken over by nef in March 2012 . To see the archive of ODAC newsletters follow this link.

Closing the loop


Have you ever sat back and imagined what a perfect (Well, a very much improved one at least) local economy would look like. I was fortunate enough to have that invitation to reflect when I was involved in the dreaming up of the ideas and projects for our successful lottery bid.

Two of the strands that we entered into the bid were for a community owned energy services company and for the Harborough pound, as local complimentary currency that helps lock wealth into the local economy. The Energy services company would provide investment opportunities and the ability to benefit from the proceeds of renewable energy projects as an Energy Generator.

Now the disconnect to my mind is how could we link the currency to the generation…. we need to also sell that energy into our local populace who could then pay using our local currency thus creating a virtuous loop as an Energy Supplier.

I briefly looked into this over a year ago now and managed to ascertain that the departments I contacted at DECC and OFGEM did not know what the process was nor what was involved in becoming an energy supplier. A little worrying that.

But I did find that most of the big six, Cooperative Energy, Good Energy and Ecotricity all use the same software platform (Utility Group) which makes me feel that the platform might be the biggest barrier to accessing this market

This time I shall start will them again as one or the other should be involved, if I fail again I shall try Greg Barker and Ed Davies and push on from there.

Wish me luck and if you have any thoughts then please do not hesitate to get in contact.

Next Food hub meeting

Tomorrow will see our group of volunteers meeting for the second time (We meet every two weeks for mow) to discuss anymore user storys that have been thought of and to try and document a few user journeys.

Feel free to join us, 7.30pm at the Sustainable Harborough offices on Abby Street (on the corner above the sigh makers) if you have any interest in promoting local food.

Event page here


Buzzing windy ridge

Transition Harborough volunteers will be accompanying Gavin Fletcher, our Sustainable Harborough project manager, to the Redrow Housing site to look at the potential for fruit tree planting. We are meeting on Wednesdsay at 12noon. The site is on Glebe Road.