AGM and Film Night Ditching Village Hall 2017

This year’s AGM will be followed by a screening of the film Tomorrow, a feel good documentary on what might be the best way to solve the ecological, economical and social crises that our countries are going through. Click here for a preview. The AGM will be held at Ditchling Village Hall at 7.30pm to be followed by the film at 7.45pm. Tea, wine and home made cakes will be on sale. All welcome. Free.

Making a rain garden May 2017


Our AGM on Thursday 17 November featured inspirational talks from Rachel Carruthers of the West Sussex Waste Prevention Team, David Treadwell of  the Mid Sussex Wood Recycling Project and Cat Fletcher  of the Brighton Waste House Team (among a number of roles).

2a6967dCat, pictured, has supplied her talk in PDF format – to download click on the link.


Hurst Festival September 2016

Rivers and streams in the changing environment was the name of a talk sponsored by HKD Transition during the festival. Peter King, Project Manager of the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust, pictured left with Bec Hanley of HKD Transition,  presented information on the work being planned and undertaken in the local area and how you can get involved. The talk covered all aspects of local watercourses. Topics included their ecology, water quality and flooding providing ideas and information on their current status and how they are likely to be affected by global issues such as climate change.

Apple Day Ditchling, October 2016

apple-day Everyone involved in Ditchling’s Apple Day on 2 October agrees it was the best yet! A large crowd enjoyed a day of sunshine on the green, tasting cider, eating apple-themed food contributed by many willing hands, wanging wellies, listening to story-telling and trying all sorts of apple activities. The PTA and PreSchool had lots of things to do for children of all ages, and the Brownies organised Apple Monsters. There was local honey-tasting and bees in a glass-fronted hive; the Monday Group had bird houses and feeders; the Museum was printing A is for Apple. HKD Transition helped people make small bug hotels for solitary bees. Some 600 daffodils bulbs were planted around the war memorial and village green. A procession to the orchard was led by musicians and once there we sang some apple songs and tasted different varieties of apples.  Everyone was generous with their donations, which gave us a good start on our fund-raising to build a green-roofed shelter for the orchard.

 HKD Transition BioBlitz, July 2016

Over the weekend of 16 and 17 July, 2016 HKD Transition held its very first BioBlitz in Hassocks. The concept behind a Bioblitz is simple – to identify and record as many species as possible. We are very lucky to have both meadow and woodland habitat tucked in the south of Hassocks – Butchers Wood, Lag Wood and Pheasant Field, and this is where we based our recording quest!

So why is biological recording important?

Recording is a fantastic way to get out and explore your local patch (or further a field!). It also provides the data we need to conserve our wildlife by helping us to recognise which species are common or rare, and which may be declining. By monitoring species such as butterflies or plants, we can also ensure that we are carrying out the right management in the best places to protect our wildlife. It is recording that helped us to notice the decline in birds once common on farmland like yellowhammer and linnet.

Why did HKD Transition run a BioBlitz?

The main aim of HKD Transition is to build stronger communities to cope with climate change. Climate change is also a significant threat to our wildlife. Species will need to move in order to adapt to the effects of climate change. The fragmentation of our natural habitats and changes in land-use have created movement barriers for many species, so it is more important than ever to record which species are found in which areas.

So what did we find?

All together we found just over 200 species. This included 33 birds, eight beetles, eight hoverflies, 16 butterflies, 32 moths, four bats and 76 plants. Our BioBlitz included an opportunity to grab our wellies and nets to explore the watery world of the Lag Stream, as well as a night-time walk to look (and listen!) for bats. We explored Pheasant Field discovering flowers, butterflies and bugs, spotted birds in the trees and bushes, and met moths caught during the night.

A closer look at some of the species

Yellowhammer Emberiza citronella – this stunning yellow bird was spotted during our bird walk. In winter yellowhammers from Scandinavia may migrate to the UK to enjoy our milder weather.

Daubenton’s bat Myotis daubentonii – sometimes known as the water bat as it specialises in hunting over water, where it uses its large (and hairy!) feet to scoop up insects from the surface of the water. Like all bats in the UK, the Daubenton’s bat will hibernate for up to six months of the year!

Ghost moth Hepialus humuli – this was the most abundant moth we found in our BioBlitz. The males and females look quite different from one another with the yellow-orange female being larger than the silver-white male. Ghost moths get their name from the males who do a hovering dance over grassland in the evening, as they try to attract a female.

Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria – a delicate member of the rose family, meadowsweet contains the compound used to make aspirin. It was also used to flavour the traditional alcoholic drink mead.

Brown trout Salmo trutta – young brown trout feed on invertebrates so the sighting of one in the Lag Stream is a sign there are good numbers of invertebrates here. The location of their eyes on the sides of their heads means brown trout can see in almost every direction at once – useful as the largest brown trout are known to eat smaller ones!

How can you get involved in biological recording?

You only need four pieces of information to make a biological recording – what you saw, where you saw it, when you saw it, and who you are!

There are lots of recording societies in Sussex where you can meet like-minded communities of people who can support you in learning about your chosen group. A great place to start is by looking on the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre website (this is where all our records from the BioBlitz have been sent).

There are so many fascinating species out there waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. By recording what you find you are turning a great day out into something that will also help conservation organisations to safeguard our habitats and species for the future. To give our wildlife the best chance of resilience to a changing climate we need to work together to restore degraded habitats and look for opportunities to expand existing natural habitats like Pheasant Field, Lag Wood and Butchers Wood, and to provide links through the landscape through which species can move.

We want to thank the owners of Lag Wood, Pheasant Field and Butchers Wood for their support with our BioBlitz, and the fantastic naturalists who came to help us identify our finds. We did explore many corners during our BioBlitz but we think there may still be some stones left unturned so we hope to run another BioBlitz in the future – we hope you might join us!


To the Hassocks Neighbourhood Plan Working Group, Hassocks Parish Council: August 2015

Dear Working Group members,

HKD Transition is a group of Hassocks, Hurstpierpoint, Keymer and Ditchling residents working to build a stronger community to cope with climate change.  We think the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) can be an important document that shapes the development of our village over coming years, and as such deserves all of our best thinking.  New development can bring positive benefits as well as challenges.

In this letter we take no view on the merits or otherwise of individual housing sites.  Rather, we outline our concerns about the cumulative impact of housing development on the village in terms of quality of life, long-term sustainability and resilience of the village community.  We think it is crucial that the NP identifies positive actions to address key issues:

  • Increased traffic requires plans to make it safer and easier to walk and cycle;
  • The loss of green space and wildlife habitats requires designating green spaces to be safeguarded and ensuring streams are safeguarded;
  • The effects of climate change on our area require plans to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and ensure that energy and water resources are used efficiently.
  • Social and economic impacts require deliberate plans to maintain a sense of community and opportunities for recreational and community spaces (including buildings, open spaces, footpaths and cycle paths).

We are sure that the NP Working Group is already considering such issues, and we want to encourage you to ensure that the NP indicates ways in which these issues can be mitigated in any future developments.  In additional to the overall consideration of these concerns in the NP, we hope that the NP will identify particular issues associated with individual sites and to indicate specific measures that would alleviate them (in terms of traffic, services, environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainable development).

  1. Traffic impacts

Traffic has a major impact on the quality of life in our community, from air pollution to noise and safety.  We think that ultimately the only solution to the blight of car and lorry traffic in and through the village is to make it safer and easier to walk and cycle around the village, control delivery and goods traffic, and promote public transport services that meet local needs.  We understand that some of these matters are outside the control of the Parish Council: nevertheless we think it’s vital that the NP addresses them fully and involves other agencies as needed.

    1. Additional housing is very likely to increase the flows of traffic through the village.  We think that new housing developers should be required to identify safe walking and cycling routes to schools, station and bus routes, and to the village centre, to make land available for foot and cycle paths where appropriate as well as contribute to the costs of providing or improving these.
    2. A273 traffic volumes – while any one development site might add a relatively small number of additional vehicles to rush hour traffic flow on the A273, it is important that the NP estimate the cumulative effect of all developments.  In addition, the planned 4,000 new homes in Burgess Hill are very likely to have an even bigger effect on A273 traffic.  We think the NP should provide a comprehensive view of the village as a whole and to liaise with other government agencies and local governments to plan for the additive effect on traffic of all proposed housing sites.
    3. Traffic flows in other parts of the village are already substantial, especially the Lodge Lane/Ockley Lane route that is used by traffic to and from Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath (and to avoid traffic jams in Ditchling) and these create some dangerous bottlenecks and inhibit walking and cycling.  We think that while developments that reduce negative impacts on the London Road are to be welcomed, simply creating another problem elsewhere is not the solution.  The village needs a comprehensive plan for future development that addresses all transport needs and takes account of peak traffic flows in different areas.
    4. Ait quality at Stonepound crossroads is already a serious issue and one that must be addressed.  We think that the cumulative impacts on air quality of development in all areas of the village must be addressed, with detailed projections of their likely additive impacts on air quality.
  1. Environmental impacts

Planned development impacts on the environment in many ways:

    1. Hassocks is crossed by numerous chalk streams, which are a rare and important habitat.  Urban runoff into streams from paved areas and storm drains creates a range of problems, including erosion of the stream banks and washing out channels in the stream bed, pollution by organic and inorganic materials, as well as exacerbating flooding.   We think that these streams and their flood plains need to be fully protected from future development, and that developers should provide explicit plans to limit erosion, manage runoff from paved areas, and provide soak-aways and wetlands as needed.
    2. Green spaces and wildlife habitats will inevitably be reduced by the number of greenfield sites proposed for housing.  We think that the NP should designate green spaces and wildlife habitats that should be protected from development, not only for the benefit of wildlife but also for human benefits, and that these should be located in different parts of the village, with wildlife corridors linking them to the surrounding countryside.
  1. Climate change impacts

Climate change mitigation and adaptation should be an important consideration of the NP.

    1. Climate change mitigation requires us all to reduce very significantly our dependence on fossil fuels – whether for transport, heating, electricity or in manufacturing.  We think the Hassocks NP has an opportunity to:
      1. Specify energy efficiency standards for new housing that minimise carbon emissions
      2. Expect large new developments to include decentralised energy supply such as district heating schemes
      3. Develop a positive strategy to promote energy from renewable and low carbon sources
      4. Identify suitable areas for renewable and low carbon energy sources and support community-led initiatives for renewable and low carbon energy.
    2. Adaptation is also required.  We know that we can expect more frequent heat waves, more frequent heavy precipitation events, wet areas becoming wetter and dry areas drier.  Both flooding and droughts can be expected.  We think that the NP has an opportunity to reduce the climate-related risks to the Hassocks community through plans for:
      1. Water efficiency measures for new developments
      2. Design measures for Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) that manage surface water runoff from roads and other paved areas including parking and driveways
      3. Green infrastructure plans including for footpaths, wildlife corridors, green spaces and street trees
      4. Blue infrastructure plans including for streams and floodplains, ponds and wetlands
  1. Social and economic impacts

Social aspects of sustainable development need to be addressed in order for Hassocks to remain a resilient and dynamic community.  We think that the nature of housing development proposed, not just the numbers of homes, can have positive or negative social impacts.  Key factors might include the size of the overall development (smaller developments being easier to integrate into the community), the density of housing, how much affordable housing is included for local people, the mix of different kinds of housing, whether the site provides social and recreational space, and thought has been given to facilitating a sense of community and connecting the site to the rest of the village.

While additional households might seem to offer a boost to the local Hassocks economy, they will have little impact on local businesses if they are sited so far from the village centre that the new residents do not patronise them.  We think that the NP should make it clear that non-car routes connecting new housing developments to the village centre must be a priority.  The NP should also consider the business premises needs of the village, not only the housing needs, and identify suitable sites where necessary.

We are grateful for the hard work being done by the NP Working Group, and hope that our contributions are helpful.  Our group would be happy to provide further information or clarification if needed.



Fossil fuel divestment

“It makes no sense to invest in companies that undermine our future. We need an apartheid-style boycott to save the planet” Desmond Tutu, 2014

Fossil Free is a growing international divestment movement calling for organisations, institutions and individuals to demonstrate climate leadership and end their financial support for the fossil fuel industry.

Already, a growing number of universities, cities, religious institutions and organisations around the world are committing to divest, and world leaders are starting to speak out.

From Tobacco to Apartheid South Africa, history shows us that divestment can make real change. And the fossil fuel divestment movement is now ‘the fastest growing divestment movement the world has ever seen’. 

What is fossil fuel divestment?

Divestment is the opposite of investment. While investment means buying stocks, bonds or other investments in order to generate financial returns, divestment means getting rid of particular stocks, bonds or investment funds that are unethical or morally dubious.

Fossil fuel divestment means to avoid direct ownership of, or commingled funds that include, public equities and corporate bonds of fossil fuel companies. There are 200 publicly-traded companies that hold the vast majority of listed coal, oil and gas reserves.

The Fossil Free campaign is therefore asking organisations to: 

  • immediately freeze any new investment in the top 200 publicly-traded fossil fuel companies
  • divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years

More info at:


Energy for Hassocks

Hassocks could save a staggering £1.7m or more a year by making all homes fully energy efficient, and by generating electricity from solar panels on our roofs, says a new HKD energy report on the village. HKD Transition has carried out an energy audit of the village using existing government data, and come up with some exciting findings:

*If a range of energy saving measures, such as cavity wall and loft insulation, are adopted widely in Hassocks homes, gas demand in the village could be cut by around a third.

*Hassocks is well-placed for solar power, being in the sunniest part of the UK, with many homes facing south. Around half of its homes are likely to be suitable for solar panels.  These have the potential to generate between 25 and 33 per cent of current electricity use in the village.

HKD says Hassocks could generate the equivalent of all its annual current electricity needs locally from a combination of panels on homes, public buildings and solar farms.HKD has come up with a seven point strategy for the Neighbourhood Plan which it wants the Parish Council to consider. HKD also plans to work with local residents to help them be part of the energy plan by adopting energy saving measures.

See the full report at HKD Energy Group, Energy in Hassocks, Jan 2014

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