Rewilding Derbyshire’s Uplands

Carrifran 2015

Yesterday a group of Transition New Mills members went to a well-attended Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s talk by Tim Birch on rewilding Derbyshire’s uplands.

Tim began by outlining his vision for 40 years hence, where parts of the National park had been allowed to rewild, allowing some iconic species such as goshawks, peregrine falcons, red squirrels and even golden eagles to prosper in a fully functioning ecosystem at a landscape scale. This was based on success stories from elsewhere, including Dovestones RSPB reserve near Greenfield, Knepp in West Sussex, and Oostvaarderplassen only 30 minutes from Amsterdam.

The potential benefits of rewilding are many. Apart from helping a great number of species in decline, bringing natural wonder to people, the practice can address flooding problems (where vegetation can help the soil retain water, and beaver dam construction can slow river flow) and help revitalise rural economies through eco-tourism.

There are some barriers to overcome before this can be realised. Tim focussed in particular on incompatible grouse moor management practices which focus on burning heather to keep it low, removing any trees on which predators could perch, and often trapping and persecuting wildlife such as mountain hares, foxes and birds of prey. Local wildlife reserves often have limited effect because the surrounding land is often hostile to wildlife which has no regard for boundaries. Tim questioned why such practices were so widespread in the National Park which is supposed to be an area whose purpose is to connect people with wildlife and nature, and made a call to arms that the aims of the Mass Trespass needed a further push to be finally achieved.

There are some promising signs and opportunities. Michael Gove, the current Environment Secretary is said to be interested; Brexit offers opportunities through changes to a farming subsidy mechanism which pays farmers to keep land bare; the Moors for the Future programme is making progress (although the next stage was questioned – what wildlife will be allowed back when the moorland is regenerated?); projects in Derbyshire had been identified (most in the south and east, although Ladybower and the Upper Goyt Valley was highlighted as having great potential)  and hill farming is in crisis and eco-tourism offers a good way of diversifying rural economies. There is growing public awareness and support, although it was stressed that there needs to be much more public debate of the issue. There will inevitably be compromises necessary, and one solution may be to follow the New Zealand model of  ‘Spare and Share’ where some areas are identified for rewilding and some where retaining cultural assets are given priority.

Overall, the mood was very positive, and it was noted that some improvements are capable of being seen in 10 years or so, which made the prospect all the more tantalising.

If you are interested in finding out more about rewilding, check out Rewilding Britain, or read George Monbiot’s book ‘Feral’.


More Questions than Answers

The sixth in the series of blogs by Liz Longden.

I’ve been feeling more and more hopeful about the plastics campaign in the past few weeks. I see my friends talking on social media, even starting campaigns of their own. Bollington, a very similar town to New Mills and about six miles away, is starting to do the same and asked Transition New Mills to go and talk at their inaugural meeting.
Although it still feels like wading through treacle sometimes, increasingly it feels like plastic pollution is being taken seriously. So far, so marvellous. However, the more I know, the more I realise I know almost nothing.
When I first started to think and talk about these issues, I had what I suppose was a fairly simplistic view. Just replace single use plastic with something else and all will be well. Now I know that it is all a lot more complicated than that.
For instance, our councils have to decide how to organise their waste collection to maximise effectiveness within the constraints of their budgets, and although it’s easy to see them as simply obstructive, I am sure they are coping with issues we know nothing about, and they have to stay within a legal framework I am just now beginning to get a handle on.
Then you have to start thinking about consumption of resources. If you stop using one polluting consumable, but just replace it with another, what have you actually achieved?
Suppose we all start using huge amounts of PLA, plant based plastic, (compostable if you have the right composting system,) what will be the consequences in terms of the land needed to produce the plants to make the plastic? I don’t know. How do I find out? I don’t know.
We are asking people to stop using plastic shopping bags and start using bags made from other things, for instance, cotton. The cotton has to be grown, (water, land, fertilisers) and processed, (water, energy, probably pollution) and it has been estimated that a cotton bag would need to be used 143 times before it is environmentally ‘cheaper’ than a plastic bag. Are we doing that? As above.
Suppose enough of us realise we can’t sustain the mindless consumption of ‘stuff’. Well, people are making that ‘stuff’, and it’s how they make their living. Who decides whose job or business survives? What is available for the less well off in our society if the cheap clothes and toys disappear from the marketplace? As above, I don’t know.

So often, human society seems to create a problem when they were trying to solve a problem. So that when plastic bottles were first routinely available, they were hailed as a real benefit in cutting down transport costs for bottled drinks. Twenty years on, we now have a huge proliferation in the sales of bottled water, soft drinks, energy drinks, cheap alcohol, and I would dearly love to know how much we spend transporting them. Now we have the problems of obesity, dental decay, and what to do with those seven billion plastic drinks bottles used every year in this country alone.
These are huge problems. I can talk about them, research the issues, try to influence people but in the end the only persons behaviour I control is my own. But I have come to the realisation that there is no such thing as an action (large or small) that has no consequences. Some of the consequences will perhaps be the ones that you intended, but there may be others that are less desirable, even if your intentions were of the very best. I am learning to develop the mindset of ‘what will happen if….’ and to take that thinking a lot further into the future than I have previously. Scary stuff.
So lots more thinking and research needed. But some things at least are perfectly clear to me. Plastic industries are huge and powerful, and have every intention of continuing to grow. We cannot continue in our dependence on single use plastic in the way we are. I will keep on asking questions, talking, blogging, asking, talking, blogging. And in the meantime, we have some simple and straightforward guiding principles: Refuse. Reduce. Re-use. Recycle. Every day. I don’t think we can go far wrong with these. Cheers.

On the Nature of New Year Resolutions

Latest blog from Liz Longden:

Time honoured traditions, the chance for new beginnings, remaking yourself, it’s seductive stuff.
Having said that, I don’t think I have ever actually made a serious New Year resolution. Not sat down and thought it through; not done some proper reflection about what I want to do and be in the coming year, and the year after that and so on. Perhaps it’s time though to change that. As I get older I am becoming more active politically. I am thinking more actively about how I impact the world about me. At the same time I remain stymied by my limitations. You know: not very fit, tired too much of the time. Too much of my mental and physical energies spent worrying about things that almost certainly won’t happen, about making a mess of something, just being anxious. Sometimes this makes it nearly impossible to do the things I want to, namely, help drive forward an effective campaign against single use plastic in the High Peak – this beautiful place where we live and that I love a great deal. I get scared of negative reaction. I get discouraged by apathetic reaction. I get too anxious to move something forward in case I get it ‘wrong’. And the American oil industries have just announced a $180 billion investment in the plastics industries, so we need to keep trying, keep shouting, and I want my voice to be in there, and heard, so I need to have energy, and real commitment. Something must change.
I am not ashamed of having problems with my mental health. People are talking about their mental health with more freedom and openness than ever before, and this can only be a good thing. But I am ashamed that I have let it blight my life for so long. Don’t think I will find it easy, and it might take me some time, but NO MORE. I have to get on.
Fellow campaigners, you can help me if you will. I can be helped by ‘having’ to do things. If I have said I will do something, give me deadlines. Harass me. Bring me to the sticking point. Ask me directly to do something. I will nearly always say yes, then as above.
I guess the rest is up to me.


My Present Dilemma

It’s barely more than three weeks to Christmas. Now I have in my time, like a lot of folk, gone out and bought tat, cheap rubbishy nonsense, for the sake of having bought something, for the sake of having the shopping done when you are exhausted, and you just want to go home. But I think most things I have ever bought have been an expression of love, of friendship, of appreciation.  I have bought what I could afford, and had immense pleasure in the giving.  Conversely, I have received gifts, made or bought, and have felt loved and appreciated in the receiving.

This year I feel I need a different approach to the whole shooting match. In terms of the buying, I will be doing my utmost to avoid plastic packaging and containers. So: no nice smellies, unless it’s a bar of soap. No delicious biscuits, unless they’re in a cardboard box or a tin.  No foolish Christmas singing animals or cheap plastic toys that give but a few minutes of mild amusement. But just how rigorous, how absolutist to be, is taxing my brain. For instance, I saw a lovely sweater the other day. It would look great on my youngest daughter. But it was made of acrylic fibre, one of the worst offenders for shedding fibres into the water when washed. I didn’t buy it, but I regret not seeing her the sweater in it, if you see what I mean. 

And what do you say to the folks who usually buy presents for me? Do I ask that nobody buys me plastic wrapped items? Or would that be unreasonably forcing my views on my friends and family? After all, you wouldn’t buy one of those lovely wrapped Spanish hams for a vegetarian. Is it okay for me to ask that nobody gets one for me, because I don’t want to be responsible for its packaging? I don’t want to be rude, and I don’t want to spoil the pleasure of giving. Second hand books are a marvellous thing, and I can always find room for them. Ditto second hand clothes, but I think my best idea so far is that my cash strapped daughters gift me some of their time and energy, by painting the hall and landing. It badly needs doing and every time I see it I will be reminded of them. Genius eh?  

What do readers think?  Anybody else struggling with these issues? Would really like to hear your views.

 Liz Longden.

October Newsletter

Here’s an update after a very busy summer, and a look forward to exciting new projects kicking off now to keep us busy over winter!
Transition is all about local action, and there are lots of opportunities below. Please contact us on if you’d like to get involved!

Rethink Plastic!
Those of you who have been following Liz Longden’s plastics blog series will know we have a new campaign: Rethink Plastic New Mills. This is in response to the growing problem of plastic use (and especially single use plastics), which is building up in oceans and on land, and which is largely unnecessary as alternatives to single use plastics exist in most cases. There are plans to share what we have found out about how to reduce use with people and schools, and also encourage businesses to offer alternatives. The first element of the campaign is Refill (see below and our new Facebook site).
Transition New Mills will be out on the Prom on Market Street on Saturday morning (14th October), so come along and find out more about it!

Refill New Mills
This offers an alternative to single use bottled water by publicising locations where people can refill their bottles free of charge. Using the Refill app, users can locate participating outlets, which could be cafes, restaurants, or even farms. Look out for the poster in participating businesses. At the moment, the following businesses are part of the scheme, so why not pop in and tell them what a good idea it is!
Pulse cafe
Revive cafe
Goia Mia cafe
Clockhouse cafe
Sett Valley Cycles


Incredible Edible 
As the growing season comes to a close for this year, Incredible Edible can be very proud of its achievements:
Torr Top car park walls have been planted up with edible plants and flowers, available for anyone to harvest. More is planned for next year.
‘Planter for Peace’ has been replanted at The Printers at Thornsett
New Mills Primary have had a successful year’s growing, learning (and eating!), and are awaiting the outcome of a funding bid for a polytunnel and raised beds
A good working relationship has been established with High Peak Borough Council, and New Mills Town Council
A popular stall at NMCO Apple Day giving away herbs and seedlings, and promoting the project
New Mills Community Orchard have created a trial Forest Garden with perennial fruit and vegetables
These are great practical projects; if you want to get involved, email us at

Last Balsam Bash!
Anyone who has bashed some balsam this year is invited to join us at this year’s celebration alternative balsam bash lunch at Pulse, on 21st October at 12:30 – it’s great we have so many helping hands for this and it would be nice to celebrate our achievements after a summer of grafting! Let us know on facebook if you’re thinking of coming.

This year we concentrated again on 3 main areas : the Torrs, the Picker and Mousley Bottom. The areas we have worked on in past years are much clearer and hopefully next year we shall be able to extend to neighbouring areas.
There have been about 20 organised bashes with around a dozen people involved in total, starting in mid-May and finishing in mid-August when the balsam began to set seed.
However we have seen evidence of individual freelance bashing and have been encouraged by the interest of passers-by and an increase of awareness of the problem in the general public. We have now got leaflet dispensers in the Torrs, Mousley Bottom and Hague Bar, in addition to leaflets in the Heritage Centre and the Library which have to be replenished regularly.
Next year we will be greatly helped by New Mills Town Council who have purchased a mowing arm which will be particularly good for the rampant areas of balsam in Hague Bar meadows.

Discussion Group Next Meeting
Next meeting on Monday 16th October in New Mills will look at Naomi Klein’s ‘No Is Not Enough’. Just email us for location if you want to go on

Demain (Tomorrow)
As part of New Mills Festival, we screened and discussed Demain (Tomorrow): an inspiring film exploring agriculture, economics, energy, education, democracy and bringing together some real life solutions to our current environmental problems. It was great to see so many people there, including many new faces.
There were lots of positive suggestions and ideas from the audience; what we need now are people to help make them happen!

Local Giving
We have signed up again to the Localgiving site which allows us to receive donations online, as well as offering match funding opportunities. However, the way these work is not as straightforward as last year, so if you intend to make a donation we recommend waiting until we can give further advice on how to maximise the match funding element.


3rd in the series of blogs from Liz Longden:

We have been making some progress in the past week. Just over a week ago we held a meeting for interested people who might have a stake in this campaign. As the time approached I have to confess to an attack of the jitters. What if nobody came? What if only a couple of people came, what if we couldn’t attract interest of input from the people there? What if I was completely incoherent, fluffed all my lines? However, none of these things happened, we had a good turn out from other New Mills groups, and input from a HPBC councillor, resulting in a successful meeting.

Among other decisions we now have a name for our campaign: RETHINK PLASTIC NEW MILLS. Maybe not that original, but it seems to fit the bill. It describes what we are trying to do, and it doesn’t ask us to aim for the impossible. We are all aware that we cannot get rid of all plastic, nor is it necessary to do so.

All this has had me musing on the nature of campaigning. People tell me that campaigners are more likely to be successful if we show rather than tell, suggest rather than instruct, encourage rather than harangue. Knowing this doesn’t stop me wanting to accost folk in the supermarket buying multipacks of flavoured water, bottled in plastic and wrapped in plastic. I don’t do this obviously, but I so badly want to get through to them. What can we do that we are not already doing? There is so much information out there now. David Attenborough is talking about it. How can people not be listening? What stops people listening? How can we help people to change their habits?

Transition New Mills are going to be on Market St Promenade next Saturday morning, the 14th October, (unless the weather makes it too difficult) with lots of information and ideas about why you might want to reduce your plastic footprint and ways you can do so without too much disruption. I hope we are going to show, suggest and encourage, rather than the other. Above all I hope we are ready to listen. We would really love you to come and see us. Any ideas you might have would be more than welcome. If we just get some people to go away thinking, it will be worth the effort.

So I hope to see you there!

Liz Longden.

Plastic Fantastic #2

This the second of the Transition New Mills plastic campaign blog posts:
I was at the screening last Tuesday of the film ‘Demain’ (‘Tomorrow’) and came away full of energy and commitment, sure we could anything we could put our minds to, with enough thought and effort.
The next morning I was plunged back into despondency, picking up plastic bottles discarded in the street, along the canal, and on the playing fields round the corner from my home. The littering on the playing field has been worse recently. I have picked up twenty or so bottles from there over the past couple of weeks, plus the drinks cans, sweet wrappers and crisp packets. It also looks as if the litter bin has been deliberately emptied and scattered to the winds. Perhaps it is a fox or badger that has discovered human food, and I am blaming innocents, in which case, apologies. But the plastic remains!
So after all this litter picking and rumination I have to conclude that it is our young people that we need to get on board. Young people can be brilliant, committed, energetic, innovative and brave. And young people are currently coming to political and environmental issues in large numbers, as we saw in the recent election. So when I get up this week to talk about what might be priorities at our campaign Partners’ Launch, I think discussing ways to get our young people involved will be up at the top of the list.
Are any young people reading this? Or do you know any young people who may be interested in becoming involved in this campaign? Can we find out what they know about plastic pollution and what ideas they have about dealing with it? I am afraid I no longer have any contact with teenagers – my daughters are in their twenties. But I know people who have children and grandchildren. We would love to hear from you, and even more would love to hear that you’d like to be involved​ -​​ ​in any way at all. We are listening!
I am thinking a lot about this week’s launch [this was on Thursday 28th Sept – website problems prevented posting of the blog here – ed] which is for any people or groups who feel they have something to contribute to this campaign. I have a feeling that the overall success or failure of our efforts will be hugely influenced by the input we can get from ​the community. Please come along, or if you are unable to do this, perhaps you could send us your ideas about what our priorities and strategies might be. Thank you, and thank you for reading.

Liz Longden

Plastic Fantastic!

plastic-waste[1]For a few months now, I have been blethering on in my own way about PLASTIC. I can’t honestly remember what it was that got me so motivated: I’ve been a moderately fanatic about recycling for years, and I’ve never been a big buyer of bottled water, but I always thought that if you made the effort to recycle properly that was enough. Was it a Greenpeace article, or the News or the Guardian that caught my attention? I can’t remember. There is a lot of information out there. Eight million tons of plastic waste entering our oceans every year, and staying there, never going away, just getting added to. Killing wildlife, sometimes in the cruellest way. Poisoning the seas, and now it’s poisoning us.
I was horrified. Since then I have been posting, getting hot under the collar, driving friends and family mad, talking, posting, talking, posting, trying to get folk to think about what they were buying and throwing away.
Then I get a message from a chap called Phil. He’s from Transition New Mills, and he asks me if I would like some help. Well no sensible person is going to turn down help, are they? So I said ‘yes please’, and now I am working with the lovely bunch of people who run Transition in our town, thinking and planning about how we can reduce plastic consumption here.
We are hoping that we can make our town cleaner and tidier, (less litter), save some of us some money, make our town even more attractive to visitors, walkers, families and holiday makers, be beneficial for our businesses, and be good for our planet as well.
This is a huge project. We have lots of ideas, but it’s going to take some time and effort. Would really love it if you would WATCH THIS SPACE!

Liz Longden

June Newsletter

Summer’s finally here, and with it comes a host of opportunities to get involved in some practical action, most of which is outside in the sunshine! Please contact us on if you have anything to share or want further details.

Annual General Meeting and ‘Stitched Up’ talk
The 2017 Annual General Meeting will be held at 7:30pm on Tuesday 20th June, at the Volunteer Centre on Union Road.
Papers will be available on the website shortly. Anybody wishing to stand for the Administration Group should let us know; we currently have a co-opted Treasurer so an elected member for this post would be most welcome!

The AGM will be followed by a talk and discussion by Emily from the Chorlton based Stitched Up, a not-for-profit cooperative who run garment making and upcycling workshops, as well as hosting a regular Repair Cafe. Get inspired; whether it’s to sew on that loose button or start a repair café here in New Mills!

Incredible Edible update
Thanks to all those who have made progress with the following projects:
Planting of edible flowers and herbs on the walls at Torr Top car park
New Mills Primary School are now into their second growing season with current Yr 4, thanks to the enthusiasm of Transition New Mills volunteers and school staff,
Renovation of more of the Paths for Peace planters
further planting of perennial vegetables in the NM Community Orchard Forest Garden trial.
To get involved just turn up at Torr Top car park on a Monday evening in June from 6:30pm, or email us at if you’re interested in other projects.

Balsam Bashing
Balsam bashing sessions are coming thick and fast now, as fast as the weed itself is growing! We have noticed a definite impact in areas we have previously treated, so it is on the back foot!
Further sessions are planned in June for:
Sunday 4th June, 11am meet at Mousley Bottom car park
Monday 5th June, 6:30pm, meet at Torrs Hydro
Wednesday 7th June, 6:30, meet at Torrs Hydro
Sunday 18th June, 11am meet at Mousley Bottom car park
Monday 19th June, 6:30pm meet at Dye House Lane/High St junction (by old Pineapple pub)
Wednesday 28th June, 6:30pm, meet at Dye House Lane/High St junction (by old Pineapple pub)
Just turn up for these, and do as much as you are comfortable; no previous experience or specialist knowledge needed. Stout footwear, long sleeves and gardening gloves are recommended, although we do have spare gloves if you haven’t got any.
We are also looking for people to lead more events – email us if you are interested.

Discussion Group Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Transition reading group is at 8pm on Monday June 19th in New Mills.
The book for discussion is ’23 things they don’t tell you about capitalism’ by Ha-Joon Chang and it’s been suggested that those of us who read it chose one ‘thing’ (ie one chapter of the book) they want to talk about in the group.
Please contact us on for further details if you want to go.

New Mills Carnival
We have a stand at the Carnival again this year on the afternoon of Saturday 10th June, at Newtown Recreation Ground. Do come along to find out more about the latest projects and how to get involved!
If you can help us out by volunteering to help set up or an the stall on the day, please email us; any offers welcome!

May Newsletter

Spring is now well underway, and the plants are growing vigorously. This is a good thing for our Incredible Edible project, but not great where himalayan balsam is concerned! Both offer good reasons to get out and active though. Follow us on Facebook or our blog to be kept up to date of opportunities.

Incredible Edible update
Here’s what’s been happening recently:

  • The walls of Torr Top car park are being planted with edible plants and flowers, which look and taste great, and seem to have gone down well with people in the town.
  • Work has started refurbishing some of the Paths for Peace planters, at Hurst Lea Rd and Thornsett
  • New Mills Primary School are back up and running in their edible garden now the growing season has started again
  • New Mills Community Orchard have created a Forest Garden trial in the lower section of the orchard; further plants to follow

These are great practical projects; if you want to get involved, turn up to an event, or email us at Events are mostly on Monday evenings; check the Facebook page for details

Bash Some Balsam
The new season gets underway with a series of bashes in May:

  • Monday 15th May 6.30pm, meet at Archie (Torrs Hydro) in the Torrs
  • Sunday 21st May  2.00pm, meet at bottom of High Street ( to do The Picker)
  • Monday 22nd May 6.30pm, meet at Archie (Torrs Hydro) in the Torrs

More dates are being added all the time – keep checking Facebook and the blog. If you can’t make these, remember you can pledge to clear a patch that you want to be responsible for near you, or pull as you walk. For advice on balsam bashing see our website.

We are always after new leaders for bashes – contact us if you want to help run an event. We will provide training and equipment.

Discussion Group Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Transition Discussion Group is at 8pm on Monday May 15th in Whaley Bridge (lifts will be available)

We’re going to watch a short (about an hour) film ‘Carnage’ by Simon Anstell about veganism, and discuss a short article proposing VAT on meat which was recently in  the Guardian

Please contact us on for details if you want to go.

Top Tips (and free gadgets): Reducing Water Use
We’re in a very dry period at the moment (cue the start of a miserably wet summer!), so it’s worth making changes to save water (and money if you have a meter). Have a look at the latest in our series of top tips on the Useful Links web page, with something for everyone including free water saving gadgets!

Make Sure You Vote!
This election will be crucial for your quality of life and the environment we depend on, so it is really important to vote. Transition New Mills isn’t going to tell you how to vote, but we strongly urge you to take account of the parties’ positions on the following key issues when deciding who you’ll vote for:

  • climate change: their commitment to meeting the Paris climate deal and pushing for further reductions
  • Brexit: ensuring the environment and workers rights are protected or enhanced in legislation

New Mills Carnival
Transition New Mills will be getting the message across at this year’s carnival on the afternoon of 10th June, although the Disney theme may prove a little difficult for us!  If you can help out on the stand on the day, if only for a short while, that would be greatly appreciated – email us if you can, otherwise see you there!

AGM Date
Keep the evenings of 20th, 27th or 29th June free in your diaries for the AGM, subject to venue and speaker availability. We’ve a few ideas for speakers but if you have any suggestions please let us know.

Forthcoming events

Discussion Group
8pm, Monday May 15th in Whaley Bridge (lifts will be available).
Topic will be food and diet.
Email for details

Balsam Bashing,
Monday 15th May 6.30pm, meet at Archie (Torrs Hydro) in the Torrs
Sunday 21st May  2.00pm, meet at bottom of High Street ( to do The Picker)
Monday 22nd May 6.30pm, meet at Archie (Torrs Hydro) in the Torrs
See website and Facebook page for more dates as they arise.

Transition Drinks Thursday 18th May CANCELLED
The regular date for Transition Drinks clashes with the election hustings, so there will be no Transition drinks in May

Incredible Edible
See website and Facebook page for more dates as they arise.

New Mills Carnival
Help out or visit our stand, Saturday 10th June afternoon

Annual General Meeting
Our AGM will be held on 20th, 27th or 29th June – look out for further details!