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.
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
The message we have come away with is that we need to do more
work on our traffic management plan and our individual business
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
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
We can get LID policy into TAN 6 by writing to:
1) Jan Dominguez, the planning officer dealing with TAN 6 Jan.Doninguez@wales.gsi.gov.uk
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
Sustainability development which brings working people into
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
Rather than clutter up your homes with more useless junk,
why not buy shares for your loved ones and help low-impact development
Shares can be put into any adult’s name, or held on behalf of
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
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.
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
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
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
Contact Helen Iles on 01792 455900 or e-mail