Environment is us! We link and support people and organisations concerned with the environment in Vale Royal (Mid-Cheshire) and thereabouts, and promote and provide environmental education.

Would you like to see some environmental ACTION? To promote cycling - composting - recycling - energy reduction - less flying - care for nature - organic and local food - public transport? Would you like to engage with politicians, schools, churches, the general public? VREN has the connections - let us help you!

Postal address is:
45, Russet Road, Weaverham, Northwich, Cheshire CW8 3HZ;

tel 01606 853099,

email vren[at]hotmail.co.uk
(or vrenvnet[at]googlemail.com)

On this site we've got
    * our newsletters
    * local contacts and information
    * national and international links

For Diary Dates, see www.vrendates.blogspot.com

For more News, see www.vrennews.blogspot.com

For Consultations, see www.vrencons.blogspot.com

We can also email you with regular news updates: click the Enquiry button. 

 Search this website:  



Training: Regular Changes

Events: Regular Changes

Jobs and Volunteering: Regular Changes

> Marshall's Arm 2019 new event, Family Forest School on 24th August.

  • Transitioning in Cheshire

    The Transition movement aims to move us towards a low fossil-fuel-dependency culture, by highlighting the advantages of using less energy and taking advantage of local resources.
    We have three mid-Cheshire groups:
    email northwichtransition[at]yahoo.com - website: http://transitionnorthwich.weebly.com/ - and facebook.
    Little Leigh
    has a green initiative: they held a successful EcoDays in the village hall in 2008 and 2010, and a number of houses now have solar water heating. Website. Contact Sue Griffiths, susangriffithspartnership[at]ukonline.co.uk
    Kingsley Transition Initiative
    started in 2009. Info on our website (documents and information section) and on Kingsley Village's .

    Elsewhere in Cheshire are the following transition/low carbon groups:
    Ashton Hayes Going Carbon Neutral  
    Audlem: ADAPT: Audlem and District Acting Positively for Transition
    Bollington Carbon Revolution
    Transition Chester
    Transition Congleton   and Congleton Food4Free
    Dane Valley
    Food4Macc  in Macclesfield 
    Frodsham Transtition Initiative: - on this website, and on Facebook
    Low Carbon Lymm
    Tarvin Environment Group
    Westminster Park
    Wirral Environment Network
    runs courses, other events, networks farmers' markets and generally has a very useful website.

    Wilmslow and Incredible Edible Wilmslow
    Transition South Cheshire
    (This list has largely been compiled from Climate Change Northwest’s website)
    Locations of nearby transition initiatives: http://www.transitionnetwork.org/nearby
    There's a video of Rob Hopkins talking about what Transition Towns are doing here

  • Permaculture

    Permaculture - see new site at http://cheshirepermies.btck.co.uk/

  • Habitats and Hillforts

    The former Cheshire County Council succeeded in receiving funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a new Landscape Partnership Scheme 'Habitats and Hillforts'.

    The 3 year scheme is based within the Sandstone Ridge Area, and focusing on the six iron age hillforts along the ridge. There are four main programmes, Habitats, Hillforts, Access and Interpretation and Training.

    There's a training programme, aiming at providing training for people within the local area and the vicinity of the hillforts.
    See website - www.habitatsandhillforts.co.uk. Also, some documents are available on this website: see the Habitats and Hillforts tab under 'Downloads and Information'

  • Do you car share?

    VREN would like to hear your experiences. How do you apportion costs? Do you have difficulties with insurers? Who wins when two want to use the car at the same time, in opposite directions? What are the financial/social/other benefits? Please add your thoughts via our contact page
    Liftshare: If you've got a long haul or a regular journey, register at https://www.liftshare.com/uk/. People there offer or request lifts.
    Freewheelers helps co-ordinate lifts to events (from festivals to conferences, including council gatherings) - event holders and event goers note! See http://www.freewheelers.co.uk/

  • Green Guide

    We're currently loading a green guide on - please comment or amend.

    Other Green Guides:

    Shrewsbury (on line pages)

    Chester had one, it's now defunct but replaced by a nominal entry (needs filling up) here

    Transition Free Press, quarterly online (or hardcopy) newsletter - http://transitionfreepress.org/

  • Climate Change and What We Can Do

    Speaker Available
    Ever felt like a small fish battling an incredible torrent? VREN has a COIN-trained speaker available. Together we can turn the tide! Contact us for details.  

    (COIN = Climate Outreach and Information Network)

  • Household Waste Recycling Centre Opening Times

    March/April & Sept/Oct - 8am - 6pm
    May - August - 8am - 8pm
    Nov - Feb - 8am - 4pm
    From 1st April 2017, CWAC sites only:
    Winsford, Chester and Ellesmere Port:
    April - September: 8am - 8pm weekdays, 8am - 6pm weekends
    October - March: 8am - 4pm daily
    Northwich, Frodsham, Tattenhall, Neston:
    April - September: 8am - 4pm Mon + Tues; 10am - 6pm Wed, Thurs, Fri; 9am - 5pm weekends
    October - March: 8am - 4pm daily
    Northwich HWRC closed Wednesday and Thursday
    Frodsham HWRC closed Tuesday and Thursday
    Tattenhall HWRC and Neston HWRC closed Tuesday and Wednesday
    Winsford, Chester and Ellesmere Port HWRCs open 7 days a week.
    All CWAC HWRCs closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. For up-to-date opening information, see CWAC website.

    7 days a week, only closed Christmas Day.

    But before you take it to the tip, does anyone want it? Is it still usable, or good for parts? Check via Freecycle - see last paragraph under 'Incinerator', above
    These times refer to both Cheshire West and Cheshire East sites.
    Details of the Cheshire West's recycling service are to be found on CWAC’s website
    Details of the Cheshire East's recycling service are to be found on their website

    Help recycling by buying recycled: CLiC (formerly Furniture Finders of Winsford) has furniture, bric-a-brac, household fittings, paint (paint also at the Community Hub, Greenbank, Mon and Tues). Alongside refurbished items they also sell some new. They’re a great team to volunteer for, also offering training. As well as collecting items from householders (they operate the bulky waste collection on behalf of the council, for which there's a £25 charge), you can also take things there, or they'll collect for free if they know they can refurbish and sell on. Some items are available through their ebay shop. Volunteers to help refurbish and repair are welcome. See http://www.clic-changinglives.org.uk/

  • Incinerator?

    Resource Recovery Solutions is a United Utilites and Interserve partnership, planning a waste-to-energy plant using gasification technology in Wincham. Website: www.resourcerecoverysolutions.co.uk or freephone 0800 1303 505.

    Both groups have put planning applications in: it appears the council is having difficulty squeezing their bulk onto their website. Meanwhile the Viridor application is available to view now at Wyvern House, Winsford, and the RRS one will soon be.

    CHAIN is co-ordinating action against these and other proposed incinerators, eg Brunner Mond's. Meet them at www.anti-incinerator.org.uk

    Cutting back on waste is an obvious answer - buy less, mend more, maintain, compost, borrow/hire, and use FreeCycle to find new loving homes for the things you no longer love. You can also advertise for stuff you need, within reason. All saves trips to the tip! See http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/valeroyalfreecycle/

    For other UK/northwest Freecycle groups, see http://www.uk.freecycle.org/ and http://www.freegle.org.uk/groups/north-west

    What happens to litter when you let it go? Watch this short film shot on a remote island - http://www.midwayfilm.com/

  • Plastic Recycling

    There's a nice map of recycling sites here,

    If you're stuck for what kind of plastic it is, there's a set of tests to try at www.recoup.org > Identifying Plastics.

    www.junkk.com have ideas for reusing plastic things (usually with a deft cut and a canny stick), and a search on 'plastic' came up with Smile Plastics (http://www.smile-plastics.co.uk) of Shrewsbury, who take a range of plastics and turn them into rigid sheet.

  • Energy from the Mersey

    A faesibilbity study has narrowed down the choices for renewable energy from the Mersey:
    # Tidal Barrage, with conventional low-head turbines
    # Tidal Power Gate, a grid of specially designed low-head turbines
    # Tidal Fence, capturing energy from the natural or constrained tide, using horizontal or vertical axis turbines designed for use in open streams
    # Tidal Fence variant, using turbines set in venturi tubes to concentrate the flow.
    (This list may be revised as further information comes in)
    The next stage in the study will identify suitable sites.
    More information on the faesibility study by Scott Wilson, Drivers Jonas and EDF for Peel Energy and NWDA.

    Where's the Hydropower?
    The Environment Agency has a report on the potential for small hydropower in England and Wales. They've identified over 25,000 sites where existing structures have potential for conversion. Together they could generate 1% of the UK's electricity, but only around 4,000 sites are suitable for use with environmental measures to protect wildlife, eg fish passes for migratory fish, as well as having access to the electricity network.
    See the report, which includes information on what you need to know when developing a scheme.

  • Bike Recycling

    Headwater, a Northwich-based company specialising in active holidays, has teamed up with Re~Cycle to supply unwanted bikes and bike parts to Africa. Many of the bikes assist medical workers, helping them cover long distances. If you've a bike you'd like to donate, check Headwater's website

    Cycles Recycled is a community interest company in Stockport, that rejuvenates bikes, saving them from scrap. http://team33.co.uk/
    Wesley Bikes are part of a furniture recycling scheme based in Hulme, Manchester. They also rejuvenate bikes. http://www.thewesley.org.uk/bikeshop.html
    Both enterprises are keen to have your unused bike, or sell you a refurb.

  • Restart Parties

    Restart Parties are get-togethers to repair things - typically electronics, but can go to bikes, furniture, clothing...
    See http://therestartproject.org/what-we-do/how-to-run-a-restart-party/

  • CCDT

    CCDT Services

    Cheshire Community Development Trust (formerly Voluntary Action Vale Royal) support the voluntary sector/
    CRB checks (doing the preparatory paperwork for sending off): £5 plus CRB charges (free for volunteers, £26 standard, £36 enhanced).

    Payroll service

    download flier ,contact Caroline Jamieson 01606 723180 or email cjamieson[at]vavaleroyal.org.uk

    CRB Checks

    Standard and Enhanced Disclosures for Criminal Records Checks are available free for volunteers, but when should they be used, and can they be carried from one organisation to another? Guidance on these matters and more can be found at http://www.crb.gov.uk/pdf/OTS_CRB%20Volunteer%20Guidance.pdf 

    And the press release at http://www.crb.gov.uk/Default.aspx?page=5061 

  • Free Office Accommodation in Altrincham

    We’ve been contacted by Vacant Space Management, with the offer of free office accommodation in Altrincham for charity and non-profit organisations. Contact Ms Sam Jenkins, 01908 660552.
    Clients of Vacant Space Management are also offering free storage in Warrington. Contact Gordon Moser, 07956 895657, quoting W19.

  • HS2

    Cheshire Wildlife Trust criticise HS2
    Proposed plans for High Speed Rail could put Cheshire’s most valued and fragile habitats at risk.
    The conservation charity has initially identified several designated Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) that it says will be ‘directly impacted’ by the proposed HS2 ‘Y’ route, along with additional fears over its own Holcroft Moss nature reserve near Risley Moss in Warrington.
    The affected Local Wildlife Sites contain habitats including ancient woodland – generally only recognised when more than 400 years old – species-rich grasslands and ponds.
    Of most concern for the charity however, has been the route shown running to the edge of its Holcroft Moss reserve, the last remaining peat bog in the county that has not been ‘cut over’ or affected by peat extraction works.
    Other wildlife areas where the ‘Y’ route will pass in close proximity include National Nature Reserve and internationally recognised ‘Ramsar’ site Rostherne Mere north of Knutsford, where HS2 have already said that measures will need to be taken to minimise ‘indirect effects’ on birds.
    From CWT website.
    From a link station south of Crewe, the route, initially following the West Coast Mainline in a tunnel under Crewe, would fork east from it and run between Middlewich and Winsford, crossing King Street, over the A556 where it meets the A559 Manchester Road, then crossing the M6 just north of its Knutsford junction, then running parallel to the A556 until Bucklow Hill, where it diverges - one branch running to Manchester, the other to unite with the West Coast Main Line. Map, 15.9MB pdf. For more detailed maps, see map index on DoT website; our section is HSM10.
    The mainline route runs east of Lymm to rejoin the WCM between Ashton-in-Makerfield and Wigan.
    The Manchester route follows a similar route to the M56, before heading in a tunnel to the city, to the east of Prince’s Parkway.
    Local map of planned route.
    More on HS2 on our Rail page

Wizard's Garden: an Instant Allotment!
The Wizard's Garden, schemed by VREN with Vale Royal Organic and Wildlife Gardeners, was held in Northwich covered market for a week in summer 2008. We talked to many people, most of whom were already doing some food growing, encouraging them to diversify. We also answered many of their queries and problems, and had fun tutoring them on making compost via the cut-away composter and ex-fruit machine. For pictures, see our Gallery (button on left).
Interested in having an allotment? Contact your parish council. There's a map of Cheshire allotments here. For details of how to contact your parish clerk - see the Cheshire West and Chester website. Cheshire East has a page listing their allotments.
If living in Halton, see contact details on their website. We suggest Warrington people contact their parish council, details on Warrington's website.
Typical prices are around £20pa.
The alternative? Landshare is a website where people with spare land meet people who want to cultivate it. Register on www.landshare.net as a landowner, grower or helper.
Garden centres in the Garden Centre Group (includes Bridgemere, Wyevale on the A49 at Tarporley, and Altrincham Garden Centre) are offering 90m2 allotments. Having only seen details on the web, we'd love to know more! See their website.

A rare breed cow belonging to a Chester farmer has died after eating a flying Chinese lantern. Huw Rowlands, of Grange Farm, Mickle Trafford, found his Red Poll cow unwell; she died a painful death 2 days later, the wire of the lantern having penetrated her oesophagus and punctured her windpipe.

Flying Chinese lanterns are inexpensive and used at celebrations: when their candles are lit, they can float off into the sky for maybe 20 miles. Being made externally of bamboo, cattle mistake them for food, and with their chewing of the cud, the wire has plenty of opportunity for causing damage. Huw said another farmer, on the Wirral, had similarly lost a cow. The lanterns also pose a fire risk to crops in summer.

Full story at http://www.chesterfirst.co.uk/news/82856/chester-farmer-s-dismay-as-chinese-lantern-kills-prize-cow.aspx

Another report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8490524.stm 

P.S., October 2010: many Chinese Lanterns are now made using a bamboo hoop, but please check... And they're still a flying inferno

Cheshire Landscape Trust

Can still be contacted at cltoffice[at]tiscali.co.uk
 They produced the 'Acorn' newsletter, available on a separate page.

There are grants for planting trees - see http://www.defra.gov.uk/bigtreeplant/

Ash Dieback
Information on ash dieback is on the Forestry Commission website (pdf) and Defra website.
Recent scouting for outbreaks of the disease found 115 instances, one in Cheshire, in imported seedlings in Knutsford.
Videos - 
how to identify Ash Dieback
biology of Ash Dieback
history of Ash Dieback

Check out 10:10! Lots of help your emissions and fuel costs!

Climate Change

Latest imagery of the Arctic: http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

Two German ships cross the Arctic: http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE58B01K20090912

Two metre sea level rise unstoppable, say experts

Scientists, having examined data for comparable warmer periods in the Earth's past, conclude that man-made greenhouse gas emissions will cause at least 2C temperature rise, and that the oceans will rise, in time, over at least 2m - 1m this century. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LT378746.htm

2015/2016: Record breaking winter for England and Wales – warmest and wettest. http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/2016/winter-statistics

Worldwide: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2016/03/01/february_2016_s_shocking_global_warming_temperature_record.html


CTC's Stop SMIDSY ('Sorry Mate I Didn't See You') campaign calls on all cyclists to report crashes, near misses and their aftermath.  Help stop bad driving by contributing your story to Stop SMIDSY, CTC's collection of evidence of how the police, prosecutors and courts respond to bad driving.

Cycle Route Planning
Plan your cycle journey in the Chester area, or almost anywhere else in the UK - http://chester.cyclestreets.net/.
It gives you a three speed options and three route options (fast, quiet and balanced), and reports the route, duration, distance, quietness, altitude profile and more.

Community Web Kit provided free by BT