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ECOBUILD 2012 A personal comment

Ecobuild is an annual massive exhibition with conferences and seminars covering a wide view of sustainable and energy efficient building, renovation, and renewable generation. In addition biodiversity, energy and wider sociological topics are covered. They describe themselves as

“The World’s biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment and the UK’s largest construction event of any Kind”

The exhibition is held on three days in March and the dates for 2013 are March 5th to 7th at the ExCel London. If you think you could be interested they have an extensive website and you will there be able to register for news and for free tickets.


I went on the third day this year. The space at ExCel is enormous and the exhibition most interesting, particularly for anyone thinking of an energy efficient new build house or extension or if .installing domestic PV systems or wind generation.

Seminars and Conferences.
As well as the exhibition there are programmes of Seminars and Conferences.
I went to the seminar on Towns in Transition.
Speakers were from Bury St Edmunds,Totnes and Londonderry. Totnes being the only “Transition Town” in the way we understand.
Bury St Edmunds Policy Planning Manager talked about the challenges of modernising the town in a sensitive way while adding significant housing and industrial capacity and dealing with the A14 going through the middle of the town. However they have a lot more usable space than Henley, not being restricted by a river and hills.
The most interesting item I noted was that they have introduced a special car park for low emission vehicles which only charges £1.70 a day.

Totnes was represented by Councillor Anthony Whitty and his wife Carole who is a Trustee of transition Town Totnes.
At this stage of their development he said that a topic they were giving a lot of thought to now was “Is the leadership right for the future”
He said that when they started they suddenly realised that they had no control of any of the things they wanted to influence- all power was with the district council and above. The town council did not even have control of the centuries old market.
About 50% of the population were born and bred in the town. They were keen to prevent Totnes becoming a dormitory town.
They were looking into producing a neighbourhood plan as they were starting to have battles over development with the District Council. Also they were having difficulty in getting privately owned derelict sites released for development for jobs. (There are large sites next to the railway station which were formerly a large manufacturing dairy and a cattle market.)
They had managed to retain a large number of independent shops in the main street and had few of the normal multiples. This and the Totnes pound had helped retain the economic stability of the town centre. They were looking into further development of the Totnes pound into the electronic era.
An annual Elizabethan Market, with most shopkeepers and stallholders dressed appropriately, had been a great magnet for tourists and additional income.
They had difficulty with deliveries to the main street shops from the street as they had no rear entrances. Most were at the front of mediaeval burgage plots with houses at the end of the plot.
We probably already know about many of their Transition activities such as Energy use discussion groups in streets which had also led to an increased neighbourliness.
Totnes had been a centre for the unconventional for many years although in the past had variously been labelled “Hippie Town”, “Twinned with Narnia” and “A difficult community”
However Totnes seems to remain a font of ideas!

The talk about Londonderry was mainly describing how they had transformed themselves from two sectarian groups with all powers (even local aspects) devolved to the Northern Ireland Office in London into a fully functioning city authority and the devolved power sharing government in Belfast. The communities are now working together for the good of the city.

I have a copy of the event programme and list of exhibitors and also a yearbook and directory of the “Renewable Energy Installer” if anyone needs information on any equipment or service area.


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