Category Archives: green

Breathing in Blackheath

Air monitoring unit in Google Streetview
There’s a great project, started last year by Andy Broomfield, called Breathing London. It takes the data from air quality monitoring stations across London, and tweets their changes in human readable language, like this:

It frequently pops up on my radar, as there is a monitoring station on the border of Blackheath & Greenwich.

You can see graphs of the air quality across London as a whole on the London Air Quality Network site, but it is also possible to drill-down to specific monitoring stations, and look at the air pollution for the last week, or last month.

Here’s the data for the station in Blackheath. The actual location of the station is here (see the photo above from Google Streetview).

You can follow BreathingLondon on Twitter, and there’s a detailed explanation of how the air pollution monitoring works here.

The summary for Blackheath says that last year the area was within government targets for air quality, except for Nitrogen Dioxide, which was at 60 microgrammes (µg) per cubic metre. According to the London Air Quality Network site:

At very high levels, nitrogen dioxide gas irritates and inflames the airways of the lungs. This irritation causes a worsening of symptoms of those with lung or respiratory diseases.

From the City of London Air Quality Strategy 2011-2015 pdf:

At present there are two health based objectives that have been set for nitrogen dioxide. The first is to make sure hourly concentrations do not go above 200µg/m3, for more than 18 hours in any year. The second objective is to ensure that the annual average is no greater than 40µg/ m3.

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Half a million pounds to go green


As several people have pointed out, Greenwich Council are offering half a million pounds to five projects, including the Transition Westcombe Project. Now they have to decide how to bid for the money. I’m still not exactly sure how the Westcombe Park area is defined, but a good chunk of it seems to be Blackheath, so if you live nearby, why not suggest a few ideas.

My suggestion would be wind. Blackheath has a spectacular wind resource up on the heath. The problem would be how to use it without upsetting everyone. The climate camp really opened my eyes to how much wind was up there, and as frequent readers will know, I spent quite a bit of time up there, finding out what was going on.

The group who set up the wind turbines during the climate camp were called V3 Power, and whilst chatting to them, I learnt that they often hold workshops, to teach others how to build wind turbines. I wrote a transcription of the talk they gave during the climate camp. So I emailed them, and weeks later I received a message saying that they would be holding a Wind Turbine Workshop over a weekend in Shropshire, asking if I’d be interested.

Now, I figured that my craft skills pretty much ended aged 14 in a CDT class breaking a jigsaw on some MDF – not exactly impressive stuff. We never seemed to do anything more exciting than trying to build a clock at school. So this was well beyond anything I had any natural adaptation for. Windows Icon Mouse Pointer, yes. Angle Grinder, Set Square, Welder, Draw Knife, no.

But, I figured it would be interesting, and it’s always good to try new things. Plus it had the backing of Mrs Bugle. So off I went. The course was great – I’d recommend it to anyone who’s interested in these things – it couldn’t have been more hands on, met some lovely people, and the constant patience and enthusiasm of all involved was totally uplifting.

There are loads of videos here, in no particular order.

Anyway, I think it’s a great idea – it’s a great skill to have. So if Transition Westcombe find themselves richer to the tune of half a million, I’d suggest some windmills on the heath. They were there in the past – they could come back again.

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Climate Camp message to activists

Blackheath Climate Camp pdf
Received today:

This is an invitation for you to join us at a Climate Camp Blackheath residents de-briefing session happening this Saturday the 19th September at the West Greenwich community and arts centre from 3.15 to 4.15pm.

We hope that you had a chance to attend the Climate Camp at some point over the bank holiday weekend and that you found it an interesting and enjoyable experience. Obviously we are aware that our presence may not have been appreciated by everybody and we would like to take this opportunity to discuss with you your experiences and views of our Camp, and in turn to hear our reasons for pitching our tents in Blackheath.

Please see this link (http://www.radicalactivist.net/resources/blackheathposter.pdf) for a poster containing more information about the meeting.

Perhaps Blackheath’s spare £9k could be spent on a little wooden windfarm?

I’d love to be there, but I’m afraid I’ll be running away from the UK to go and marry Mrs. Bugle – thus making her name slightly more appropriate. Did I mention that this blog was her idea? Anyway, happy camping Blackheath, see you in a few weeks.

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Photos of the Heath Before and After Climate Camp

As suspected, the climate camp clean up was pretty much perfect.

As published on Indymedia, here’s a photo during the camp:

During the Blackheath Climate Camp, photo by Indymedia

And here’s the same location afterwards:

After the Blackheath Climate Camp, photo by Indymedia

Photos by Indymedia, who I think operate a copyleft image policy.

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Climate Camp -The Aftermath

Sundown on Blackheath Climate Camp by Flickr user Eddie C

… or not. All in all, Blackheath seemed to do pretty well out of the Climate Camp. The people in Provender looked as though all their Christmases had come at once (well, they said they’d been busy). The Hare and Billet looked busier than I’d seen it for a long while, despite the worsening choice of beer (all seems to taste like vinegar these days), and the miserable sign on the loos “toilets are for customers only”.

What I’d really like to know is- has anyone taken any before & after shots of the Heath? I reckon the protesers will have cleaned up pretty well after themselves, save for the odd strands of hay and a couple of fire-pits. It would be nice to compare the two photos.

Personally, I went to some great workshops, saw more people on my patch of the interweb than ever before, and now have a strong desire to go and build a wind turbine. Maybe they should hold it in Blackheath every year, like a kind of Blackheath Burning Man.

Photo by Flickr user Eddie C

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Building Bridges on the Heath?

Owen has some very interesting suggestions somewhere between the camp and the funfair. And apparently the Climate Camp is a Temporary Autonomous Zone. Last time he came to Blackheath it was considerably snowier.

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Prosperity without growth, in a tent on Blackheath

Talk at the Blackheath Climate Camp
I attended David Fleming’s talk at the Climate Camp Is economics without growth possible?. The place was packed. It was really interesting to hear someone playing with big ideas, and asking difficult questions.

I’m the first to admit that I was out of my depth at this talk. The Wind Turbines talk was much more understandable to me. Nonetheless, here are my notes:
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