We're grassroots Heathrow residents proving that communities less dependent on oil can be more resilient, stronger and happier. We take direct action on climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy by transitioning to a post-oil, community-led future for the Heathrow villages.

Support the Plane Stupid Activists in court!

Posted: August 18th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Action | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

If we want to tackle climate change, then we cannot expand either Heathrow or Gatwick airports! This is why we at Transition Heathrow stand in solidarity with the 13 brave activsts who occupied the runway at Heathrow.

Join us for a rally on Wednesday August 19th starting at 8:30am sharp outside Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court (nearest tube: Uxbridge, on the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines) with a Photo call at 9am. Please bring banners and be prepared to make some noise!!

No Ifs! No Buts! No new Runway!!!

Background Info

Last month activists staged a peaceful direct action at Heathrow Airport – less than a fortnight after the Airports Commission recommended a third runway at Heathrow. The action itself involved occupying the northern runway and erecting a tripod and fencing which the activists locked on to. A polar bear climbed onto the tripod. The action stopped some flights and saved greenhouse gas emissions.

The science tells us that deep cuts are required from existing levels of emissions to tackle climate change, but successive governments have failed to act. Direct action, therefore, is our only hope of securing a decent future for children everywhere. A new runway, and the hundreds of thousands of extra flights it would allow, would make the necessary cuts far more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. In addition, Heathrow hugely contributes to illegal levels of air and noise pollution, which have massive impacts on human health for people living near the airport.

For defending the planet and human health, the activists have been charged with aggravated trespass and being in a restricted area of the airport without permission. If you want to show them your solidarity, please attend their first court hearing on Wednesay morning, at Uxbridge Magistrates Court (nearest tube: Uxbridge, on the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines).

The full address for the court is:

The Court House Harefield Road Uxbridge Middlesex UB8 1PQ


Carnival time – Sat July 11th

Posted: July 4th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Events, music | Tags: , | No Comments »

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Hayes Carnival – 11th July – Save the Date. Transition Heathrow will be taking part in Hayes Carnival for the 6th year running. The theme this year is ‘Ringing in the changes – Hayes through the decades’.

Just like last years carnival, to start the day off there will be a procession with music, fun costumes and crazy bikes, leading us from Hayes Town to the free festival in Barra Hall Park.

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In the Transition Heathrow ‘eco-zone’ at the park we’ll be putting on our usual range of activities promoting sustainable living and community resilience, including:

  • a solar powered sound stage with live music and performances.
  • a comfy well-being tent with space for guided yoga and massage.
  • crafts activities, making puppets, seed bombs and more.
  • pedal powered fruit smoothies and phone charging.
  • the Rocket Stove Cafe – serving hot drinks and home baked cakes.
  • an info stand and growing area with information about us and other local campaigns, and seeds to swap and share.

As in previous years, we’ll be joined by Friends of the Earth Hillingdon, and also for the first time Stop Heathrow Expansion will be bringing a stall to share news of the campaign against the third runway.

If you’re interested in getting involved with the Transition Heathrow space at Hayes Carnival, whether it’s providing music, baking or costume making, please get in touch asap at info@transitionheathrow.com.


Harmondsworth Summer Fair

Posted: June 25th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , | No Comments »

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Summer fair season has reached the Heathrow Villages, starting this saturday 27th June in the shady, historic grounds of St Marys Church in Harmondsworth.

There will be live jazz, home made cakes and cream teas, sumo wresting, crafts, bric-a-brac, games, competitions, coconut shy and much more on offer.

We are hoping to see lots of people, visitors to the villages and local residents alike – out to enjoy the day and support the event. It’s a perfect opportunity to experience the best that the villages can offer, and see what is likely to be lost should a third runway at Heathrow go ahead.

Harmondsworth primary school have their summer event the same day – why not visit both – close by and very different but complimentary events!


Another legal challenge

Posted: September 22nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: legal | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Backlands

In the four and a half years since Grow Heathrow project started it has significantly grown in size and scope. The original abandoned plant nursery site where the project began is right next to another piece of derelict Green Belt land, that contains the ruins of several more glasshouse frames.

In the spirit of the original occupation, these have been gradually occupied and incorporated into Grow Heathrow, providing additional venues for activities, including the straw bale house that was built with the help of many willing volunteers and has been a prominent feature of the project since it was finished.

The occupiers of the Grow Heathrow site have been fighting a legal battle to retain the use of the land that the project is situated on, but that has so far been limited to the boundaries of the original site. The land bordering this, known in our community as the “Backlands”, is owned seperately by Lewdown Holdings Limited, a faceless company registered in Guernsey. After years of peaceful occupation, they have now decided to begin legal proceedings to remove anyone associated with Grow Heathrow from their land.

The land that includes the Backlands is a large area at the northern entrance to Sipson village that was formerly used for commercial agriculture. The derelict ruins of a large complex of pre-war glasshouses are evidence of what used to be a thriving fruit-growing business. It’s boundary includes the Sipson Garden Centre, that closed down in 2011 after a 75 per cent decline in trade over ten years, due to local residents’ unwillingness to invest in home improvements as the future of their properties remained uncertain. After three years of abandonment, the Sipson Garden Centre building is now in a very shabby state. Unopposed fly tipping at the rear of the site is further evidence of neglect.

Photo by Jonathan Goldberg

Photo by Jonathan Goldberg

The landowners have shown absolutely no interest in maintaining the land for agricultural use, and have had a planning application to develop the site (with housing, an industrial centre and a hotel) turned down. Undoubtedly, they have aspirations to overturn the Green Belt status of the land in order to achieve their development ambitions.

Four and a half years after Grow Heathrow was started, Lewdown Holdings Limited have decided to remove us from their land, despite it having no conceivable commercial use in the forseeable future. Should they submit a planning application for the land that is approved, we may be willing to leave peacefully if required, but while the land remains abandoned we feel there is justification for it being put to productive use.

Our court hearing is arranged for 11am on Tuesday 23rd September, at Uxbridge County Court. Please come along to court to show your support outside the courthouse. This is a brand new case, that is completely seperate to our ongoing defense of the main Grow Heathrow site.

Alternatively, come along to the Grow Heathrow site at any time during the day to catch up with what we’ve been up to lately, or to get involved in cooking some delicious food.

As always, we will try to pursue every available avenue to prolong our stay on site. Keep up to date with any upcoming news by checking our website, subscribing to our mailing list, following us on twitter, or joining our facebook group.


Jamming at Grow Heathrow

Posted: May 22nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Art, Events, music | Tags: | No Comments »

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It’s Artsweek next week, so we’ll be hosting a jam on Thursday the 29th of May in our newly complete straw-bale house. Bring your friends!

We’ve got a piano (little outta tune) and a drum kit.

ALL ACOUSTIC INSTRUMENTS WELCOME!

……and all levels of musician too!

We’ll probably do some 10 minute improvisations, have some time for some sing along type songs, and maybe one or two continuous long jammmmmmmmmms

We’ll start around 7.30/8pm but come down for dinner beforehand if you want.

Be great to have you along. Please let us know if you are coming. And there’ll be a bonfire too.


How we built our wind turbine – Part 2

Posted: January 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Cool Projects, Energy | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Raising the turbine

For the first part of this article, see How we built our wind turbine – Part 1.

So we had ourselves a wind turbine, but no place for it to go. What’s more, for the turbine to cope with the wind and rain it would be subject to, it would need a good coat of protective paint. Over the next few weeks, the finishing touches were put to every part of our turbine – de-assembling, painting, sanding, painting again, checking and then re-assembling.

The turbine head was painted with Hammerite for maximum durability. The rotor disks were taken apart and re-assembled several times, making slight adjustments each time to make sure the disks were parallel and spinning with as small a gap as possible between them. When we were finally satisfied with the assembly, the blades were attached and the bolts were secured in place with a generous application of threadlock. The turbine blades were then painted, each one given several thin coats of gloss paint, to make sure the final coat was as smooth and even as possible.

To connect the turbine to our existing power system, we had to run armoured cable from the base of the scaffolding tower that we would be mounting the turbine on through the greenhouses to where our batteries were stored in the living space. The turbine would be generating 3-phase electricity, so the supply would have to be passed through a bridge rectifier to convert it to 24V DC power. A charge controller connected to a 1000 Watt heater acting as a dump load ensured that the batteries wouldn’t be overcharged on windy days. To make the power system as accessible as possible, a new display board was created to show how everything was wired up, which included an ammeter connected to the wind turbine supply to show how much power it was generating at any given moment.

The Grow Heathrow power cabinet

With all these tasks to complete as well as the other commitments we had going on, it wasn’t until after the Christmas and New Year break that we were able to sort out a weekend for the final installation of the turbine. The last few details were seen to – designing and building a custom hinge to allow us to raise the turbine into position on the pole that ran through the middle of our scaffolding tower, cutting steel cable to the right length for our guy lines, balancing the turbine blades, and lifting everything up onto the tower platform. And so it was that a few hardy souls braved the cold, crisp January weather to stand on a platform high above the Grow Heathrow greenhouses to raise our turbine into its final position.

Success! The turbine was up! And just in the nick of time, too. As the evening shadows lengthened that Sunday, the first visitors arrived to begin a week long arts residency at Grow Heathrow. As excited as we all were to have our turbine finally up, we had to wait a couple more days for the wind to pick up enough for it to start spinning, at which point we could be sure that it was all working according to plan. And then the following weekend a howling storm blew in from the North Sea, and our turbine was given a thorough workout that proved it could handle strong winds without a hitch.

Success!

In the year since the Grow Heathrow turbine was erected, it’s harnessed the energy from the wind to provide us with much-needed power, especially during the winter and on grey, overcast days when there’s not much sun around. The turbine has become one of the most prominent features of the site, being easily visible from the road outside, and it’s something we always look forward to showing off to visitors whenever we give tours of the site.

We’re now thinking about how we can add another turbine, to give us even more energy. Now that we’ve done one, building another should be much more straightforward. And we’re keen to share what we’ve learned – if you know a community-based project that would like to build a turbine of their own, please contact us and we’ll do what we can to help.


How we built our wind turbine – Part 1

Posted: January 8th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Cool Projects, Energy | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Checking out the alternator

It’s been almost a year since the Grow Heathrow wind turbine was installed, so to mark the occasion I thought it was a good time to share the process of how and why it came about. For many of us, this was our first experience building a wind turbine, but hopefully it won’t be our last.

Since Grow Heathrow is an off-grid site (meaning that it isn’t connected to the National Grid), all the energy that’s needed on-site has to be generated on-site. Shortly after the greenhouses were refurbished, we installed four 190 Watt solar panels on the roof of the southernmost greenhouse, which provided us with an abundance of clean electricity whenever the sun was out. As summer moved into autumn, our thoughts turned to winter, when there would be much less solar energy available for our solar panels to harness. We knew we had to diversify our energy sources, so we started making plans to build a wind turbine.

Having seen DIY wind turbine demonstrations at successive Climate Camps by V3 Power, and taken part in a turbine blade carving workshop run by Cambridge Greentech at the Sunrise Off Grid festival during the summer of 2011, we knew that we had the means to build a turbine of our own. All we needed to do was figure out what size we wanted it, then make sure we had enough funding to get the necessary materials. The turbine design we would be using was the one developed by High Piggott, which is based around the principle of using fairly basic materials and tools, so that anyone with a reasonable level of competence can have a go at building one. With a well equipped workshop and enough people, you can build a wind turbine without too much difficulty in a few days. Unfortunately, we were facing the prospect of building ours in a converted greenhouse, without a reliable electricity supply, in the middle of winter, and with a bunch of enthusiastic but inexperienced volunteers.

Cambridge Greentech very kindly agreed to help us with our turbine. They had organised wind turbine building workshops before, and they were able to source all the necessary materials and specialist tools for us. We decided to go for a 2.4m diameter turbine that was rated at 700 Watts, which would complement our existing 24V solar panels. A crowdfunding campaign helped us reach our funding target, and a date was pencilled into our diaries – the first week of November.

Dai carving the blades

The first day of the workshop arrived – a damp and chilly November morning. Everything was as ready as it was ever going to be – we’d cleared space in the workshops, installed a brand new diesel generator, found some willing volunteers who wanted to learn how to build a wind turbine, and started building a scaffolding tower for the turbine to be installed on. The CGT van arrived, so fully loaded with equipment that the suspension was struggling to cope. After getting it all unloaded, we sat down with a mug of tea to review how the next few days were going to unfold.

Materials list: A solid block of smooth-grained pine for the turbine blades, two solid steel discs for the rotors, various lengths of steel angle and flat bar, 3 different sizes of steel pipe, 24 high strength neodymium magnets, 3 kilos of insulated copper wire, 1 kilo of resin, a hub for a caravan wheel, 16m of steel cable for guy lines, 20m of flexible 3-core cable, rectifiers with heat sinks and an enclosure, threaded bar, bolts and washers, all kinds of miscellaneous bits and pieces, and plenty of gaffer tape.

Tools list: draw blades, spoke shaves, chisels, files + rasps, cabinet scrapers, dividers, measuring tools, jigsaw, block planes, hand drills, MIG welder, grinders, stick welder, metal files, a good soldering iron, and wire cutters.

The work involved would be divided between three groups – the woodworking crew, the metalworking crew, and the electrics crew. The wood crew would spend most of their time carving the 1.8m long blades for the turbine. The metal crew would be concentrating on the turbine head, tail, and mounting poles. The electrics crew would assemble the alternator and bridge rectifier. Each crew was supervised by someone from CGT – Nikki looked after the metalwork, Pete cast an expert eye over the woodwork, and Scotty handled the electricals. So that everyone got a chance to get involved in every part of the process, the crews would change over at the end of each day.

Rose on the grinder

As the days went on, the shape of the turbine started to emerge from the raw materials we’d started with. The days were short, cold and damp, but there were enough hands around to keep us all supplied with hot beverages and warming food. A lighting rig allowed us to keep working after sunset, although it was a relief for all when we downed tools at the end of each day and the noise from the generator and the grinding and welding could fall silent, at least until the next morning.

Although we’d wanted to have a finished turbine by the end of the workshop, that proved to be beyond out capability. For one reason or another, each stage of the build took longer than expected. But we had at least assembled all the components needed for our turbine, and when we turned it, which generated a voltage when turned – success! The ending of the workshop coincided with bonfire night, so we had ourselves a celebratory bonfire to wind down after a few days of intensive productivity.

The finished article

Coming up in Part 2 – the final installation.


Transition Culture Tour

Posted: July 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Events | No Comments »

What do each of us really want to be doing, working, and playing?

What do we want our culture to look like in the years ahead?

What new cultural forms can support the transition to sustainable ways of life?

This summer, Toronto-based musician, song writer, and activist Michael Holt is embarking on a “Transition Culture Tour” of house concerts and other grassroots, participatory gatherings in support of the inspiring Transition approach to sustainability.

Holt puts on an improvised, theatrical, one-man variety show using multiple instruments, musical styles, moods, and characters. After visiting Transition Initiatives across continental europe throughout June, his first UK stop will be at Transition Heathrow this Tuesday 3rd July.

We will be welcoming Michael to our home at Grow Heathrow, where he will be performing in our newly refurbished cabin. After a shared meal together, we’ll be treated to a diverse and theatrical concert in our living space, followed by a participatory conversation about how Transition Heathrow is involving itself in the Heathrow Villages. The event will be based on the tradition of house concert-salons, popular 100 years ago in the days before electronic communication and globalization, and will be a small-scale, powered-down, dialogue-stimulating, and community-building cultural format.

Bring food to share and an open mind.


Energize Grow Heathrow

Posted: April 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Energy, Events | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

April the 28th and 29th will see a weekend packed with activity at Grow Heathrow, all about grassroots renewable energy solutions. We’ll be working with wind turbines, solar panels, bike generators, rocket stoves, earth ovens, wood burners, solar ovens, sound systems, and more.

Joining us for the weekend will be renewable energy experts from V3 Power, Cambridge Greentech, the Tin Village, and Cultivate Brighton.

Saturday will be a day of designing, building discussing and tweaking. We’ll be continuing work on the Transition Heathrow bike generator, building some DIY solar panels, plumbing in hot water to our shower, building a rocket stove, and taking the Grow Heathrow wind turbine down for scheduled maintenance. In the evening there will be pizza from our earth oven and a special off-grid screening of ‘Pulling the Plug’, a documentary about the future of the UK’s electricity supply.

Sunday will be a renewable energy open day for locals to come along and check out all the projects that Transition Heathrow and our visiting guests have been working on, including some nifty practical demos. It will be a fantastic opportunity for people in the community to get hands-on experience of different types of renewable energies, and to learn more about what renewable energy is, and why it’s becoming increasingly important in our communities.

Join us from 2 to 6pm on Saturday, or 12 to 4pm on Sunday. All ages and levels of experience welcomed.


A Fun Day in Harmondsworth

Posted: November 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Last Saturday saw Harmondsworth host a celebratory day of village life. A crowd of around 350 people turned out in the bright autumnal sunshine to enjoy the activities put on by local community groups, including Transition Heathrow.

Our contribution to the day saw us hosting a conker championship on the village green in front of the Five Bells pub, which saw a persistent stream of young contestants engage in a bout of conker-swinging action. Usually, the key to victory is to pick the right conker, and many of ours proved to be particularly resilient since they had been in storage for over a month, which was plenty of time to season the center to the point where it could take some serious punishment. The result of most fights ended up being determined by the string breaking before the conker.

Another activity that proved to be extremely popular was the planting of bulbs on the green, as overseen by Joe throughout the afternoon. The bulbs (from Ansells Garden Centre) were varieties that were especially selected to complement the area, and for their ability to thrive naturally. Come spring, the planted bulbs should bloom to produce a colourful floral arrangement at the heart of Harmondsworth.

Elsewhere the Com.Cafe crew were keeping the kids entertained in their usual inimitable way, Kingsley from Hayes FM was knocking out tunes and compering, the Five Bells barbeque was delivering tasty burgers, Groundwork Thames Valley’s Spots and Stripes team was on hand with a range of giant games, a raffle was held by local Sipson resident Danny with prizes donated by local business and Mallow the miniature pony was on hand to offer rides.

Jane Taylor from HASRA who was running the Heathrow Village Life stall said of the day “This is fantastic – it’s great to see people coming out of their houses and meeting new friends and neighbours. This is just what we needed.” It was also good to see the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress ofHillingdon and John McDonnell MP present to support the event. The incredible turnout of families and obvious enjoyment was topped off with a spectacular twenty minute fireworks display on the recreation ground after sunset.

None of this would have happened without the contribution of a wide range of people from the Heathrow Villages, but especially the hard work and dedication of Kate Birch, our local Community Development Officer. There’s no doubt in our minds that the event was an unqualified success, and we look forward to helping out with whatever Kate comes up with next.

For some more photos of the day, see our Flickr set.