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An inspirational story from a sustainable Cornish town

In the wilds of North Cornwall, a small town called Wadebridge has picked up on the Government’s lax attitude to sustainability and taken matters into its own hands. Anna Duggal reports.

WREN, the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network, is a group of over 550 voting members, whose aim is to produce 30% of the town’s energy from renewable sources by 2015. One year in, and the project is well on target, according to co-founder Stephen Frankel.

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In the wilds of North Cornwall, a small town called Wadebridge has picked up on the Government’s lax attitude to sustainability and taken matters into its own hands. Anna Duggal reports.

WREN, the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network, is a group of over 550 voting members, whose aim is to produce 30% of the town’s energy from renewable sources by 2015. One year in, and the project is well on target, according to co-founder Stephen Frankel.

Frankel says that the idea for WREN arose from “continuing bewilderment that so little was being done to implement climate or renewable targets”.

The website highlights this further, especially in terms of the importance of tackling climate change as a group:

By approaching reduced carbon emissions and renewable energy use as a whole town, rather than individually, substantial reductions can be made in the cost of implementation with the added bonus that it can produce further benefits for the community at large.”

The group was launched in January 2011 when initial ideas focused on the installation of solar panels not only on houses but also on industrial roofs, wind turbines and greenfield sites, which could produce income for the town instead of outside industries.

Asked about how this had developed, Frankel claimed, “Solar PV is the simplest technology to implement, [and] over one megawatt (MW) has been installed in the area. We are developing big wind, anaerobic digestion and tidal energy programmes, but these are more complex so take more time.”

Other projects, Frankel says, include, “a system of real-time energy monitoring (WRENGAGE) whereby people are part of a community experience of energy monitoring. This is necessary as ‘behaviour change’ tends not to occur when people are dealing with such issues in isolation.

The rest of the programme is working on bringing high-value employment prospects in the low carbon sector – the WREN EcoPark. And this has the support of the Chamber of Commerce and Business community.”

WREN has already picked up some pretty high profile outside support, too. At the opening of its high street ‘Energy Shop’, Tim Smit, the founder of the Eden Project, was in attendance, a positive sign that the collective is moving in the right direction.

WREN has also been shortlisted to host an electric car club this summer with the E-Car Club, and will install free smart meters in homes, which can reduce energy usage by up to 15%. The increasing number of sustainable projects that WREN is involved in has led to it being awarded winner of the South West Green Energy Award 2011.

Looking at the wider picture of the UK’s renewable energy targets, Frankel concludes that we must “take them seriously and allow decentralisation of the energy economy. Only an actively engaged population can create the changes that are required.”

WREN certainly isn’t the only project supporting sustainable neighbourhoods in the UK.

In fact, a government-funded eco-town programme was proposed back in 2007 to offer an opportunity for high standards of sustainable living and affordable housing in 10 towns throughout the UK. But when the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition came into government in 2010, the plans were put on hold.

In April 2011, it was announced that only one of the proposed sites, Northwest Bicester in Oxfordshire, would actually be constructed to the originally proposed standards. That is to say, zero-carbon developments that are exemplary in at least one area of sustainability, such as energy production or waste disposal.

Blue & Green Tomorrow recognises that the continued adoption of renewable energy is essential in creating a sustainable future. This widely appreciated view is outlined in a recently published in-depth report, The Rise of Renewable Energy.

If you’ve been inspired by the WREN project, you can always switch to renewable energy for your own home or business. Get in touch with Good Energy, who will help you through the process.

Related articles:

The Rise of Renewable Energy 2012

Harnessing the power of the community

The Green Doctors: making the world more sustainable

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What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?

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shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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