Categories
naturegroup

Scything the Sheep Field

(and raking)

There’s another opportunity to try your hand at scything, on Tuesday 6 October, 10.00 am until noon.  This workshop will be run by Jonathan from St Nicks, and spaces are limited to six because of current social distancing regulations.  If you’ve scythed before and want to refresh your skills, you’re most welcome to come along as well.  If you’re not sure about scything, then come along and help do some raking.  There’s plenty of room for us all to work safely.  All you need is a pair of gardening-type gloves and sturdy footwear.  If you want to give it a whirl and help look after our “sheep field”, please email Wendy at naturereserve@derwenthorpe.co.uk as soon as possible, so that we can make sure there’s enough equipment for everyone.  

Sheep Field: the light green area alongside St Aelred’s Mews here.

Categories
Houses naturegroup

Derwenthorpe Solar Panels Project Update

Since we put a small item in the most recent LotsOn (late May) we have had 20+ households say they are interested in a group scheme to purchase solar panels, hopefully at a discount. That’s not the end of the story! We hope that many more Derwenthorpe residents will choose to take part – the main benefits being that you catch your own electricity direct from the sun; and by so doing you can help reduce emission of greenhouse gases and therefore our impact on the climate. And we expect that buying in bulk, from a properly accredited installer, will give each of us savings and other benefits as customers.

We approached twelve firms which came up when we followed the link to “Trusted Traders” in this field; plus two which JRHT have worked with on recent solar panel projects locally. The replies vary in level of detail, but there’s plenty of interest in doing the work for us.

We also asked Richard Partington, architect for Derwenthorpe, about any special considerations which might apply here because of our special design features. His reply was very positive:

  • at projects in Portsmouth and Nottingham they put panels on east- and west-facing roofs, not just south-facing, and “the efficiencies have greatly exceeded expectation”.
  • if you have a sloping ceiling on the top floor the line of insulation follows the ceiling so make sure any penetrations for cables etc. are minimal and executed neatly.
  • ask for advice about the best position for the associated kit (inverter, battery, meter, controller etc.) as it makes sense to group these together.

We’ve kept JRHT informed. We have to obtain their consent for solar panels on roofs, and it will be up to each of us to obtain this formally, but they are in favour of this project. We’re hopeful also that they will find space for a compound for the installation firm to use  –  which should save the firm, and us, time and money.

We have written to five firms with a Request for Information, inviting them to tell us what they can do and asking about:

  • price per property for panels
  • ditto for batteries
  • discounts for larger numbers of houses
  • timescale
  • warranties
  • health and safety
  • whether they would they want an on-site compound
  • sub-contracting
  • contract arrangements with householders.

Other things (apart from cost) for us as residents to think about are:

  • where in the house to site the associated bits (inverter etc.)
  • whether you want a battery (to store electricity gained in the day, for use at night) – and if so where (heavy, so best on ground floor)
  • whether you want to be able to charge a car from solar power, now or in future.

Once we have the firms’ replies we residents will have a discussion about the merits of each, leading to a decision as to which firm to work with. This will probably be a Zoom meeting involving the people who’ve been in touch so far. But we will also be open to comments, expressions of opinion and preferences from people who don’t want to or feel unable to take part in the Zoom thing. If you haven’t already been in touch about solar panels, you’re welcome to do so now (without obligation to commit to having the panels installed): email climateaction@derwenthorpe.co.uk

The next stage after that will be to send round a house-to-house questionnaire, giving a bit of relevant information and asking everyone to say whether they want to be part of the scheme (again without obligation).

Then we’ll go back to the chosen installer and work out arrangements for start on site; how they will deal with each householder; and how they want to organise progress of the work from house to house. Scaffolding will be involved!

Nick Hall, 38 Derwent Mews, YO10 3DN, 16th June 2020

Work in progress last year at one of the houses in Derwenthorpe

Categories
naturegroup

Nature During Lockdown

We are a group of residents who have been working with JRHT since September 2018.  Our joint aim is to make Derwenthorpe a better home for nature, as well as for people, working within JRHT’s conservation plan.  We’ve doing this in lots of practical ways, such as planting bulbs, collecting meadow cuttings, building bug hotels, and maintaining mulch rings, particularly on newly planted trees. 

We meet regularly with JRHT to discuss ideas and creative ways to maintain and improve our lovely outdoor space in a nature friendly way.  For example, there is now less grass cutting in the more informal areas, such as on the village side of the swales on Stephenson, at the bottom of established and new hedging, and alongside the beck.  This longer grass helps to improve habitats, providing shelter and food for small mammals, insects and birds, and also encourages other plants to grow.  The amount of chemicals used for weed control has been reduced.  There have been changes to hedge maintenance, both established and newly planted ones, to manage them in a more traditional and sensitive way.  

We have just been successful in our bid for funding for an ecology survey on Field 9, which will help us to understand the existing habitat and to identify ways of enhancing it in the future.  (Field 9 is the field that is usually very wet in winter, to the south east of Rowntree and more or less under the power lines.) 

Of course in the current situation, many activities are pretty much on hold, including meetings and organising the ecology survey.  But we are still maintaining mulching rings, as this can be done very safely and appropriately in line with current social distancing rules. 

So if you want to help with this, please do contact us – it’s a great excuse to be outdoors and get some exercise!  Or if you want any more information about us, or better still have any ideas to share, again just drop us an email at naturereserve@derwenthorpe.co.uk