News: December 2020

News: December 2020: climate change, dark skies, food & gardening, planning and tree planting.

Here are a few quick updates on what we’re up to…if you’re on Facebook, please join our group and get involved in the conversations.

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Climate change

Richmondshire District Council have appointed Valerie Adams as its Climate Change Officer as part of plans to be carbon neutral by 2030. 

Sustainable Swaledale members took part in a call on 16th December with Valerie, Council members and representatives from other local sustainability groups, to discuss RDC’s plans to tackle climate change.

Valerie is keen to reach out to people and organisations who might have skills, knowledge or capacity to help devise and implement the plan. So, if you have any ideas of good local contacts who you think would be interested in helping, please contact us via our website.

Late November saw the Government issue its  ‘ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution’. News coverage of this was dominated by the announcement that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be banned by 2030, some 10 years earlier than previously planned, but this attention-grabbing headline overshadowed a range of other interesting proposals. See our blog post ‘The next industrial revolution?‘ for some background.

The Government issued its Energy white paper: Powering our net zero future on 14th December.  The paper sets out  how the Government envisages a transition to clean energy by 2050 and what this will mean for businesses and consumers. Included within the commitments are plans  to improve the energy efficiency of existing building stock and encouraging homes and for workplaces to move away from fossil fuels to clean energy sources for heating.   

Dark Sky Reserve bid success

Both the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors National Parks have been successful in their bids to become an International Dark Sky Reserve. 

Together these will cover over 3500 km2 of northern England, which is not only  the largest area in the UK but also represents one of the largest areas in Europe to be simultaneously designated. 

Swaledale, upriver from Isles Bridge, falls within the core area.  See the Yorkshire Dales National Park Press Release issued 7th December and the original  application document for full details.  YDNPA are looking to create a list of dark skies friendly campsites and run a Dark Skies Festival 12-28 February 2021.

Food and gardening

The shortest day is now on us, but there are still tasks to be done in the garden. Check out this month’s blog:  December in the vegetable garden. Sloes that have been seeping in sloe gin can be used to make sloe gin truffles.  The beds in the Incredible Edible plot down at the Doctor’s Surgery in Reeth have been tidied up for winter.

Walkers Crisps have announced that they are introducing new technology to reduce emissions from their processing plant.  They will mix CO2, captured from beer fermentation in a brewery, with potato waste and make fertiliser which can be spread on the potato fields. A win-win-win situation as it reduces brewery CO2 emissions, produces fertiliser without the usual high CO2 emissions and we all like crisps and beer!  Source: BBC article: Beer and crisps used to help tackle climate change.


The government has taken account of the many objections it received to its Planning White Paper and has announced that it is abandoning the algorithm that would set housing targets for local areas.  It is alleged that the formula was heavily biased to the South-East.  Simon Jenkins in the Guardian sees this as a win for localism

We submitted our objections to the paper – Richmondshire MP the Rt. Hon. Rishi Sunak MP forwarded our letter on the planning reforms to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for a formal response but nothing has been received as yet.

Sustainable farming

The Government has published its plans for a move away from the Basic Payment Scheme to paying farmers to manage their land in an environmentally sustainable way. 

The Local Nature Recovery scheme will encourage collaboration, helping farmers work together to improve their local environment. The Landscape Recovery scheme will support landscape and ecosystem recovery through long-term, land use change projects such as planting trees ( see below). More information can be found on the government website: Government unveils path to sustainable farming from 2021

Together for trees

The Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust has been successful in securing a grant award from DEFRA for tree planting. Sustainable Swaledale is one of the groups that their Woodland Officer, Carol Douglas, is keen to work with and she hopes to arrange a meeting in the New Year.

The Trust has received  the grant of £249,900 from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund.  Together for Trees aims to create 26 hectares of new native woodland, restore 1km of hedgerow and plant individual landscape trees to help mitigate the impact of ash dieback.

The project will see YDMT work with the communities in Sedbergh, Settle, Swaledale and Malham to identify areas to create new woodland – bringing landowners and volunteers together to help plant and maintain the new woodland.  The story is covered on the BBC website: Yorkshire Dales: Thousands of trees to be planted in national park.

Tree guards are a subject of concern for the Trust which estimates that 1.5 billion plastic tree guards tubes will end up littering the environment and damaging ecosystems by 2050. The YDMT believes that it is time for a different approach to establishing new woodland. Check out  Carol’s post:  Tree planting with plastic guards – is there another way? explaining how the Trust is tackling this issue and how its  plastic free woodlands project, awarded funding through EOCA, will support their work.

While on the YDMT website, why not vote for your favourite Yorkshire Dales photograph from this year’s photography competition?  Visit the Tenants Virtual Gallery for the entries which include several stunning views of Swaledale.

Core Group Meeting

Our meetings (first Thursday of the month) are online for the time being – please get in touch if you’d like to join us on Zoom.

Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year!  

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