Category Archives: Community Energy

SHARE Update May 2022


South Hill Jubilee Orchard

On April 24th, volunteers were invited to help plant a sapling hedge alongside the new parish Orchard.  Altogether, 15 people turned up to help for varying amounts of time, and we were able to plant more than 420 trees in just over 4 hours.  Species included Rowan, Elder, Dog Rose, Crab Apple, Blackthorn and Hazel.  Refreshments were provided and, after a damp start, the weather was kind to us.

On April 24th, volunteers were invited to help plant a sapling hedge alongside the new parish Orchard. Altogether, 15 people turned up to help for varying amounts of time, and we were able to plant more than 420 trees in just over 4 hours. Species included Rowan, Elder, Dog Rose, Crab Apple, Blackthorn and Hazel. Refreshments were provided and, after a damp start, the weather was kind to us.

The new hedgerow will form a boundary between the Jubilee Orchard and the new allotments, and a wildlife corridor along the internal boundary of the orchard.

A Grand Opening is planned at the Orchard on June 3rd as part of the South Hill Parish Jubilee Celebrations, with information for the public and entertainments for young and not so young.

Energy Crisis

Recent events have thrown into sharp relief the reasons why SHARE was formed by a group of concerned residents 7 years ago.  Our mission statement, “Powering renewable energy into a secure and sustainable future for all”, set us on a path which saw the installation of 40kW of solar PV panels at Church Park, South Hill.  To date this has generated 22.6MWh, saving 4.81tonnes of CO2 equivalent.  Unfortunately the abolition of the Feed-in Tariff made further similar installations financially unviable.  However, we have high hopes that in the near future it will be possible to have local energy networks, in which power generated locally can benefit local households directly through cheaper tariffs.  Totnes Renewable Energy Society (Tresoc) are on track to deliver this in Totnes, and we are watching with interest.

Meanwhile, what can we as individuals do to reduce our energy usage (to save both money and CO2 emissions)?  A recent post by Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert outlined ‘90 Ways to Survive The Cost of Living Crisis’, which includes many hints and tips for energy saving.  The Consumers Association website, which.co.uk is also a good source of advice e.g. ‘Ease the squeeze: how to save on your energy bills’

The Hydro-power struggle

More recently, regulars will have read about our attempts to measure the generating potential of a small river in the parish.  It seems we’re not the only ones to have our hopes dashed by the regulations and fees imposed by the Environment Agency.  Tresoc have recently had to abandon their hopes for a hydro scheme on the River Dart, a much more promising project than ours, at a location which had historically generated electricity for the Dartington Estate in the 1930s.  You can read about it here…  

To quote Rupert Armstrong Evans of Evans Engineering (Water and Power engineers since 1810), “Decades of environmental legislation designed to protect rivers have inadvertently caught small domestic scale waterpower and watermills in their web and will kill them off in a few years if nothing changes.”  Rupert’s home, Trecarrell Mill, a working mill for around 500 years, was one of the first to feed ‘green electricity’ into the National Grid.  Rupert was upgrading it to produce enough electricity for around 30 homes when the EA imposed new conditions that rendered the project unviable.  Trecarrell is only one of many historic water mills across the UK with the potential to become sources of renewable energy.

Congratulations from SHARE to South Hill Connection 


100 editions of the newsletter – what an achievement! SHARE is proud to be a regular contributor to the Connection since our early days in 2015.  We registered as a Community Benefit Society that year, and together with the Parish Council, installed our first solar PV array on the Parish Hall roof.  This continues to supply power for the Hall and will do so for years to come.

Pooh Sticks!


SHARE Hydro Feasibility Update, March 2022

Regular readers will remember earlier articles describing our initial investigations into the potential of water turbines. For the benefit of newer readers, those investigations involved installing a measurement weir structure, however this unfortunately came to a premature end when the Environment Agency took an active interest. Temporary measurement weirs are permitted, however in this instance the EA considered that expensive licences would be needed, and that special provisions would have to be put in place to enable eels and migrating fish to move upstream unhindered.  To our knowledge, eels and migrating fish haven’t been seen in this tributary of the Lynher in living memory, however the possibility that Samantha Salmon might take a wrong turn and find her path obstructed was enough to keep the good folk at the EA awake at night. Also, the required licences were unaffordable, and so the measurement weir had to go. Continue reading

A Newsletter produced by and for the Parish of South Hill


Latest Newsletter!

Read all about it!

Newsletter number 100, May 2022

In this 100th edition of the South Hill Connection:

  • 100 editions, 15 years – a trip down the Connection memory lane
  • In-depth articles from advertisers and users of the Parish Hall
  • Photos from the Connection Easter Egg Trail
  • Parish celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
  • Parish Hall news and AGM details
  • Horticultural Show – early details
  • Volunteers needed for Community Speedwatch
  • Latest from the St Sampson’s, SHARE, Recycling for Charity & Parish Council

And much more…

Next Edition will be a Jubilee Special.  If you’d like to make a contribution, please email editor@south-hill.co.uk or call THE NEWS DESK. Ali 07305 044049 or Areina 07788 300025.

Please email editor@south-hill.co.uk or call THE NEWS DESK. Ali 07305 044049 or Areina 07788 300025

Newsletter full version – click here…  and Condensed version here (with no adverts and fewer pictures, for slow internet connections!)

Please tell us what you think of it by contacting editor@south-hill.co.uk

Archived newsletters (all of them!)
can be found in our public Google Drive folder – here…

Some news articles are also posted here as a blog on our News page. The latest will always be at the top. If you want to search for news articles you can do so using the Search box on the right, or by selecting a News Category from the drop-down list.

Business advertisers can be found on our Local Business pageSave

SHARE – Spotlight on Recycling


Thank you

First of all, we’d like to thank our Cornwall Councillor Sharon Daw for a recent grant from her “Community Chest” fund.  We’re having hi-visibility vests made, with our logo on the back, for volunteers.  This will help reduce any risk to our regular volunteers collecting recycling (see below) in various locations; also planting trees, and helping with the firewood project.

SHARE Recycling for Charity project

The project continues to grow, thanks to our enthusiastic volunteers that help monitor collection bins, pick up, sort into boxes and send the vast amount of items to Terracycle every month. By saving these otherwise hard to recycle items from being incinerated, we are generating funds for charities.

Continue reading

SHARE Hydro – update


By now, we had expected to have a live website, updated continuously, showing the potential of the Lansugle stream to provide a small scale generation scheme .

Back in 2020, SHARE volunteers had already completed the metalwork for the measurement weir and reinforced the banks along the short stretch of the stream that suffered flooding in November 2019’s torrent. We completed putting in place a 65mm (2 ½ inch) high weir ready to use the electronics to measure the fall over it. We’d checked in the Environment Agency’s guidance that a measurement weir didn’t need any additional permission. But for reasons unknown to us the Environment Agency took an interest in our work, and sent a fisheries expert to take a close look, and we were then advised that changing the flow from turbulent to smooth along the weir structure (just three feet long) would contravene the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act. It turns out that we would need at least three extra items: a salmon ladder, an eel pass and a supplementary licence, the application fee for which is an additional £1500!

The impact of the Environment Agency intervention was that the metal weir structure had to be removed. This was done quickly and the site completely restored to the state that it has been in for the past 50 years. The purpose of the metal weir was to straighten and smooth the water, resulting in “laminar flow” over a clean edge. This, in conjunction with a water depth measurement system, would have enabled flow over the weir to be very easily calculated, with little manual intervention. It would in fact have been possible to monitor the flow closely over a 12 months period, in a fully automated way. Occasional site visits would have been necessary to ensure that the metal channel and weir remained clear of obstructions such as branches and other debris.

But we’re determined to complete what we originally set out to do; it’s just that we had to find a method that meets these additional regulations. We still want to characterise the catchment area and stream flow, throughout the year – even on a weekly basis. We also want to be able to assess the power generation potential of small streams such as this one, and so put ourselves in a better position to be able to subjectively judge alternative potential power generation sites. Consequently, we have purchased a small water turbine flow meter and started to measure flow with this equipment on a regular basis. The site has concrete piers that were used in the distant past to provide the greater head of water needed to drive a water pump. These piers provide an area that constrains the flow and makes it relatively easy to carry out a matrix of flow speed measurements. Although it is still early days, we are gathering some interesting results.

We have already seen that flow can vary widely in a short space of time. In the dry weeks of November, the flow would only have been sufficient to generate around 1kW of electricity. In early December, following heavy rain, 6kW electricity generation would have been possible. 6kW round the clock, entirely independent of wind or sunshine would be a very valuable local generation capacity – equivalent to the average energy used to power around 15 homes.

Green Tips for Black Friday (and beyond)


The recent COP26 event in Glasgow has got everybody thinking about how to be “more green”.  While it’s clear that governments around the world need to take action, they aren’t the only ones.  So what can we as individuals do in the meantime? There are heaps of advice and information “out there”, but as my mother used to say, “Enough is as good as a feast”, so here in a nutshell are a few ideas:

Black Friday – not all it’s cracked up to be

(excerpts from an article on the Consumers Association Which? website, Make Black Friday green: Five ways to shop small and buy better

Many winter bargains aren’t as attractive as they first seem.  So is it worth forgoing the shopping frenzy and seeking out smaller, independent shops and more sustainable shopping instead?

Since it caught on in the UK around a decade ago, our enthusiasm for Black Friday has grown exponentially. According to Statista, shoppers spent £7.95 billion over the 2020 Black Friday weekend.

Offers now appear weeks in advance, and many continue well into December.

But not only can the deals sometimes be duds, the November shopping rush can also add to your environmental impact.

If the rush for bargains is leaving you cold, here are our tips to ensure you don’t end up regretting a purchase, plus some alternative ways to shop.

  • Do your research before buying
  • Only buy what you need
  • Spend your money where it makes a difference
  • Buy nothing on Buy Nothing Day, 26 November 2021

The UK Buy Nothing Day campaign began in 2000, with a simple message: Shop less, live more.

You can participate in Buy Nothing Day by literally doing nothing at all. It’s a 24-hour detox from consumerism, and it’s free.

So if you’re determined to avoid over-consumerism and save money this Black Friday, Buy Nothing Day could be the answer.

Read the full article here…

Also, explore the Which? Website for ways to save money while reducing your carbon footprint, and look out for this logo in their many product reviews.

Do you really need a new computer?

With the introduction of Windows 11 coming up shortly, many people will feel they are forced into buying a new laptop or desktop computer. But your old computer may be capable of upgrading – you can find out how to check here…

Machines that can’t upgrade will still be perfectly capable of doing everyday tasks such as browsing the internet, word processing, and playing videos. Before you go out to buy a new machine, have a look at what your requirements are.  Sometimes it may just be a matter of upgrading a component (e.g. a new stick of RAM) instead of buying a whole new machine. If you do need a new machine, then consider donating your old one to someone in need https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5SqHJMTKZx5sYhlltXJvB1Q/give-a-laptop

Cold Snap – Energy Efficiency

The temperature has dropped by about 10°C in the past few days!  If your house is anything like mine (1980s bungalow!), you’re really feeling the difference, but what can we do about it? Make a note to do some research before taking radical action, but there could be some easy solutions.   Have a look at our SHARE booklet “A Guide to Saving Energy In The Home” for inspiration.

Guide to Saving Energy

South Hill Carbon Footprint

SHARE is revising their carbon footprint analysis from October 2019, and will share the detail in the new year.  Households in South Hill are relatively well-off, with an average carbon footprint roughly twice that of the UK average. So far it is clear that as a parish our main carbon emissions come from heating (mainly oil), groceries and travel.

Heating Is your precious warmth leaking out through windows and doors? Close curtains and doors to keep the heat inside. Turn your thermostat down by 1°C. Can you feel the difference? If so, are you wearing a sweater? If not, go get one! Seriously though, most people wouldn’t notice the one degree difference, and it can result in huge savings, of cash and carbon.

Is your house properly insulated?  It can be difficult and expensive (though not impossible) to retrofit an older property with external or internal insulation, but there are some simpler solutions (e.g. thick curtains, draught excluders, insulation of roof spaces). When the time comes to replace that old fashioned oil boiler, be prepared to consider the greener alternatives.  If your house is well insulated, a ground source or air source heat pump could be the answer, ideally powered by renewable energy (e.g. solar panels). There are currently incentives available from the government, such as Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the government’s recently announced heat pump grant scheme.

Groceries Buy your food locally to reduce the amount of food miles, and buy seasonal.  Think rich soups and warming casseroles!  There are many local suppliers that you can buy directly from, for example our advertiser Callington Fresh Produce, or Dupath Farm Shop,  Applejack Barn and Tamar Valley Food Hub.  Meat farmed locally has a much lower carbon footprint than imported meat, so check out for example our advertiser Phil Cole (Coombe Bridge, South Hill), or Chris Rounsevell or Tamar Valley Meats.

Travel Can you reduce your mileage by car sharing, or using public transport?  If it is local, walk or cycle instead of using your car. Consider working from home if you can. Even just working from home for one day a week can make a big change to your annual mileage.  Consider taking a staycation instead of a faraway holiday.

Don’t forget:

TOY SWAP SHOP   19th December, 10.30-14.00 at the Parish Hall, Golberdon.  Find a new home for your pre loved items and swap for something different.   Contact Ali 07305 044049 or email SHARE@south-hill.co.uk   

Full details here…

And finally…
Watch the Eden Project’s call to action for all Earthlings – from world leaders to individual citizens – to come together to create a better future for the planet.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all at SHARE!

SHARE News Bulletin October 2021


SHARE AGM

Our AGM on September 22nd was well attended, firstly at an informal “board report” session outside the Parish Hall, to show what we do and progress made during the past year.  The second, more formal part of the meeting was conducted inside the Hall, and was rounded off with drinks and snacks so that people could continue to chat.

It was especially good to meet and put names to some new faces.  Membership continues to grow and now stands at 109 full members and 77 associate members.

Draft minutes of the meeting are being circulated to members who were present, and will in due course be published on our web page (https://south-hill.co.uk/share/share-member-area/)

Insulation, insulation, insulation!

A well insulated house

There’s a great deal of talk about “retrofit” just now.  Houses built without a high standard of insulation (and this includes many being built at this very moment) can never hope to be truly energy efficient without addressing this problem.  

At the recent Cornwall Home Improvement & Self Build Show at Wadebridge, Sue went with the intention of finding out more about retrofit, but was a bit disappointed to be honest.  There were plenty of stands selling solar PV, air and ground source heat pumps, even MVHR (mechanical ventilation and heat recovery) systems, but besides being expensive to install, without high standards of insulation in homes, these can also be expensive to run.

Sadly, we missed a recent talk given by Kate Royston of TEC (Tamar Energy Community), “Retrofitting your home – What’s this all about?” .  Kate has kindly made available the presentation used for her talk – see attached.  She says costs are coming down all the time, and the ones in the presentation are on the high side.

Kate would be happy to come and talk to our members about this.  Please contact SHARE@south-hill.co.uk if you’d be interested.

Out And About

We’ve been thinking about possible visits to places of interest. 

One example is the tree nursery and a new rainwater harvesting system at Meeth Quarry near Hatherleigh in Devon (https://www.devonwildlifetrust.org/nature-reserves/meeth-quarry)

This Devon Wildlife Trust site has been developed from an old clay quarry whose industrial past has produced a fascinating landscape for wildlife today.  With 150 hectares of nature reserve we should be able to have a good walk and observe abundant wildlife too.

Trebartha, nr Launceston

We’d also like to visit Trebartha, near Launceston, where as well as extensive gardens they have a hydro-power turbine installed in 2015.  Trebartha Estate opens its gardens to visitors through the NGS – National Garden Scheme.  The next open day is in May 2022.

At a recent open day we learned that “water comes from an intake area, through a 1.2km stretch of pipe dropping 90m down to the turbine house.  The turbine is a 4 jet vertical shafted Pelton wheel with a 350kW generator.  It is estimated to generate an average of 1000MWH of energy per year – enough for about 200 homes – which is fed into the national grid.”  Naturally we’re interested in this as it links to our own hydro feasibility study.

There may also be an opportunity for us to learn more about methods of farming which are more in tune with the environment – fans of the Archers may have heard talk of “herbal leys” and such like!  Example: https://www.facebook.com/LeanneBarriballbiz/videos/1033684474135257

If you have any ideas for SHARE visits, please let us know.

Website: www.south-hill.co.uk/SHARE       email: SHARE@south-hill.co.uk 

Unlocking, AGM and Big Green Week


In advance of our SHARE AGM event, to be held at South Hill Parish Hall from 7.30pm on Wednesday September 22nd, we are contacting all members informally.  This message includes important information for members regarding the election of Directors.

As music fans will know all too well, during lockdown all gigs were either cancelled or postponed. At last that situation is changing as we head into ever more freedom. There has been a knock on effect; a lack of available venues, as everyone wants a stage at once.  The SHARE AGM has been affected by the same issues, as we’ve had to postpone last year’s AGM until now. The similarity with your favourite band is that venues have become in huge demand. Our own Parish Hall is seeing a great upsurge in bookings, taking advantage of its refurbishment.

We have hatched a Cunning Plan:  the format of the AGM will change slightly.

This September sees the national Great Big Green Week, (18th to 26th September) and we’ve chosen to hook into that for our Annual General Meeting.

Continue reading