Zero Carbon Luton
Yes, I know it’s May. Bank holidays and all. Nevertheless this is the April edition of the Zero Carbon Luton newsletter, in which you can read about the following:
Re-opening the river Lea
Little Green Libraries
Re-furbishing bikes at Stockwood Park
Green Controlled Growth at Luton Airport?
Work begins on the Open Lea Project
The Lea is a river of historic significance, an important waterway that once formed a border between viking territory and King Alfred’s Wessex. Not that you would know much about that in Luton, where the river rises. Here it is a smaller stream, and it is largely culverted and buried as it passes through the town centre, disappearing under the library and the mall.
However, the river is being re-discovered, and it is being opened and improved in several places. In the latest development, ground has now been broken on a new small park on the corner of Bute Street and Silver Street.
Further building projects in Cheapside will also open up the river, a larger development on Bute Street, and as we reported in our February newsletter, the new plans for the site of Griffin House will also include the river.
From a climate point of view, restoring the river Lea won’t do much for Luton’s carbon footprint directly - but it may do so indirectly. As well as improving biodiversity and adding green space, more attractive walking routes through the town centre encourage more people to walk. It brings nature back into the town. And perhaps most powerful of all, it’s symbolic of a new approach to nature - a greater awareness of our connection to the earth, and that development needs to work with nature rather than against it.
Find out more about the Luton town centre masterplan.
If you’re in town, drop in and visit the new mural Our River, an art project that reclaims the river as a source of hope.
Look out for a Little Green Library
Have you seen one of our Little Green Libraries yet? We’re pulling together collections of inspiring and informative books on environmental themes, and placing them in public places. It’s part of our work on climate literacy, and making sure that anyone in Luton can find the information they need to make a difference.
They run on trust, so there’s no membership, check-out or late fees. Unlike normal libraries, you’re welcome to share books of your own too - just leave them in the box for others to benefit from them.
We’re currently piloting the idea, so there are just two to discover at the moment: one in the Lagoa bistro in High Town, and one in the lounge of Stopsley Baptist Church. A third is on its way, and then we’ll be keeping an eye on how they’re used. If they are popular, we’ll do some more. With choices tailored to location, we’d love to put them in cafes, churches, schools, and perhaps in actual libraries.
If you’d like one, get in touch. We’ll need to secure some funding or sponsorship to put more out there, but we’d like to.
And if you can help with sponsorship, let us know. (The initial pilot has been sponsored by Earthbound Books)
Bike re-cycling with Penrose Roots
Penrose Roots are setting up a bike recycling project at Stockwood Park. The scheme will take old donated bikes and train people to repair them. "It's the most low carbon form of transport available," says project leader William Wiltshire. "All you need is pedal power and a human being!"
"At the moment we're just running two sessions on a Friday. Each one will get through hopefully one bike, though if it needs more work that can go on for a second or even a third week."
The project will work on any sort of bike, from small children's bikes up to top-of-the-range bikes for adults, depending on what has been donated. Bikes that are unrepairable are broken down to provide spare parts, so nothing goes to waste.
Penrose Roots work on social inclusion and mental health, and currently run the Roots to Recovery garden next to the Bide-a-While on New Bedford Road (opposite Fountains Road).
If you want to get involved, you can visit the workshop at Stockwood Park on Fridays. Contact Penrose for more details.
Green controlled airport growth?
Luton Rising are proposing a new approach to sustainability concerns around expanding the airport. Called Green Controlled Growth, the aim is to set fixed limits for a variety of environmental harms. Any expansion of the airport has to fit within those boundaries, or it can’t happen.
Will it make a difference to climate emissions? A short introduction to the idea on the Zero Carbon Luton website.
In other news…
Did you catch About Us, part of the national Unboxed festival? If you did, you’ll have seen a whale swim across the Town Hall, seen it swarmed by bees and erupt like a volcano. There was also a blink-and-you’ll miss it reference to climate change, as this light show celebrated life on earth and all that connects us.
Look up your postcode on the new air pollution data portal from Address Pollution. You’ll see how many WHO guidelines on healthy air are being broken where you live - and yes, I’m afraid it is a question of how many.
Leave your lawnmower alone and take part in No Mow May - it’s a way to support Luton’s bees and other pollinators.
Could you take part in the Big Plastic Count as a household, or as a school? Members of the public will be logging their plastic use as part of a national investigation into plastic waste and how to curb it. It runs from May 16th to 22nd, so you’ve got a couple of weeks to find out how to take part.
Please forward this email
We want to grow the community of people working on climate change in Luton. Forward this on to someone you know and encourage them to sign up.
Send in your stories
Coming up in next month’s newsletter… well, you tell me. What’s happening where you are to help shift Luton towards a low carbon future?
Send your stories and questions to Jeremy Williams: email@example.com
The next newsletter will be out at the end of May. In the meantime, you can check for updates at zerocarbonluton.org