Lammas Newsletter, October 2007

Comment: "I think we might be running out of stuff to burn"

By Simon Dale

Several hundred generations ago, some inspired nomads came up with what might seem like a counter-intuitive or even foolhardy new idea. They started taking some of their patiently gathered nuts and seeds, and rather than eating them as one would expect, they started burying them in the ground. Rather than moving on to new areas to gather all the available food there they started settling where they were. "Fools" people cried "you can't stay here, there won't be enough to eat, we have to keep moving forward to find more food. That's the way the world is".

So it was that the fools stayed behind and sure enough next year their crops grew, and they harvested more food than ever. They built simple shelters, which kept them dry and warm in the cold winter months and no longer did they feel that rising fear, the need to move forwards, to find and consume food from new areas. Instead they watched the nature that surrounded them, and the more they learned of natures ways, the more they were able to work with her patterns and methods to create rich and productive pockets that they came to call home.

Looking back now, it seems like a long time ago, but its only ten or fifteen generations since another inspired person had a new idea about how convert heat into mechanical power using pistons. This kicked off a whole wave of smart plans, and people started burning stuff left right and centre to make and do all sorts of amazing things. They even made things that could make food, pretty much just by burning stuff. Some people even worked out that if they promised to make two amazing things tomorrow they could get a mate to give them a hand with the one they were on today. At first this seemed a bit tricky when tomorrow came and they had to make two things, but it turned out that by promising to make four the next day and burning more stuff they got away with it. The next day they promised eight and burned even more stuff. It seemed like a failsafe method had been worked out.

"I think we might be running out of stuff to burn"
"Don't be silly"

"I think we might be running out of stuff to burn"
"Sshhh, I'm busy promising to make lots of things tomorrow"

This for me is where permaculture, low impact development and the Lammas project come in. If, just if, we did run out of stuff to burn and it turned out that we couldn't make that amazing nuclear fusion reactor for infinite power, or that climate stabiliser, or that fresh-vegetables-from-thin-air machine, just if, I know one thing. It may seem like a counter-intuitive or foolhardy new idea, but there is nothing I would sooner leave to my children and grandchildren than this: A land that was fertile and the knowledge to care for that land and live off it, without burning things they don't have.

Lammas News

In a complete U-turn, Lammas was informed 5-days before the planning meeting that our application would be recommended for refusal. This was based largely upon two reports (one from Highways, one from ADAS) that both contained errors, omissions and mistakes which led us to conclude that neither party had actually read the application in full.

Thus our planning application went to the planning committee on October 9th and was turned down. We had lobbied for a deferral, but were turned down.

The good news is that David Lawrence (Head of planning) considered that Lammas would make a positive environmental, economic and social contribution to the locality. He also considered that the project would blend into the landscape, and have no adverse visual impact.

The message we have come away with is that we need to do more work on our traffic management plan and our individual business plans.

We are planning to resubmit our application within 6 weeks. By this time David Lawrence will have retired and we will have a new planning officer. The advantage to this approach is that if we need to appeal we can do so on an improved application.

The Lammas roadshow has been postponed while we rewrite the application.

Thankyou for writing letters of support. It is not common for a planning application to receive more letters of support than opposition. Despite an unusual counting system which we have yet to understand (we counted 149 individual letters plus 135 “pre-written” letters rather than the 117 actually reported!) it felt great to have that support behind us. Thankyou.

Help Get National LID Policy!

We have a chance to get Wales wide LID policy, like Policy 52 in Pembs or better! Technical Advice Note 6 (TAN 6) deals with development in the open countryside and it is being re-drafted right now by WAG civil servants and is due to go to Ministers to see which bits they like before public consultation in. If we wait it looks like there will be no LID in the new TAN6, but if we act now we can get LID policy in!

The trouble with TAN 6 currently is that it begins with the premise that development in the open countryside is a bad thing and that it should only be allowed on grounds of necessity. Worse still, it defines necessity by reference to tests which can only be fulfilled if you farm or are engaged in forestry as a business. As such, the tests cannot be satisfied by smallholders, particularly by LID smallholders who are trying to reduce their footprint by meeting their own needs from the land. This seems anomalous given the strong emphasis within the planning system on sustainability.

We can get LID policy into TAN 6 by writing to:

1) Jan Dominguez, the planning officer dealing with TAN 6 with arguments in favour of LID and why we need a policy change

2) WAG Ministers are elected and so more swayed by large numbers of letters, please write to them all they can all be found here

Arguments include:
Sustainability development which brings working people into the countryside
Affordable housing for local need
Reduced travel needs on LID
The Need for the policy is shown by the numbers of people building LID anyway, without permission
Carbon Neutral housing now not in 2016 (UK Gov target), including embodied energy, which other policies currently ignore!

Buy your friends and family a share for Christmas

Rather than clutter up your homes with more useless junk, why not buy shares for your loved ones and help low-impact development flourish.
Shares can be put into any adult’s name, or held on behalf of a child.
Funds raised through share money will be used to further the wider aims of the project.

Plot Available on Lammas Eco-village

In light of our plans to re-apply for planning, a plot is now available in the Lammas Eco-village planned for Pembs. The plot is plot 4, one of those in the terrace.

We are inviting all lammas shareholders to take part in a new allocation round. Applicants will have to prepare a full plot plan by the 9th of November. From our experience this will probably take a solid week or more of work. There will be an arranged site visit and induction day for all those wishing to take up the challenge. All applications will be judged by an independent party and the best application will get the plot. Formulating a plot plan is an excellent way of developing your ideas on sustainable living and all those interested are encouraged to apply.

For more details please contact Larch on 01792366905 /

Hub Model Finished

Here it is:

The hub was designed by Robin Campbell of Air Architecture and the model was made by CIRIC.

The hub will be the centrepiece to the Lammas ecovillage project, providing an administrative centre for the ongoing campaign, a kitchen for residents to value–add to their produce, a shop, and a hall from which to run courses.

It will be made largely from Larch sourced from the site.

Low-Impact News
from around The UK

Cae Mabon gets planning permission

After many years, Eric Maddern from Cae Mabon retreat centre in Snowdonia has at last got planning permission for his low-impact structures.

Scientists predict that when the ice from Greenland melts it will cause a rise in sea-level of 7 meters. Ever wondered what that would look like? There is now an interactive map available which charts sea level rise across the world. You can vary the sea-level rise from 0 to 14 meters and explore the implications across the world. Definitely worth a visit:

Natural Houses interactive map

Another web interactive map service. This time charting eco-homes. Complete with descriptions and photos. Excellent fun. Here is the link: naturalhomesmap.htm

Sponsorship Opportunity

Undercurrents are seeking sponsors to fund the continuing episodes of “Ecovillage Pioneers”. Undercurrents are themselves busy pioneering internet television in the UK.

Production costs are estimated to be £500 per 3-minute episode. Would you like to sponsor an episode? Or three? In return for advertising?

Their recent “bushcraft” series has clocked up over 70,000 hits to date.
Sponsors wishing to advertise would need to have sustainability credentials.

Contact Helen Iles on 01792 455900 or e-mail

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