Friday, September 13, 2013

A middle class low carbon community in the UK

Hockerton Housing Project

Not far from the Minster town of Southwell, Nottinghamshire, on the edge of Sherwood Forest, a groundbreaking experiment has been going on for the last 20 years.

Five households have been forging a new way of living that is more sustainable than most in the sleepy village of Hockerton.

When I went to see Hockerton Housing Project as part of the research for a book I'm writing on One Planet Living it was a lovely late summer’s day. All of the trees and bushes were laden with fruit.

I was taken on a tour by a chap called Bill who had been living there for about seven years with his family.

We saw the orchards and fields where they grow 40% of their food and keep sheep and hands, and the pond which collects water, that is filtered for use in their washing machines, sinks and toilets.

Drinking water is collected from the glass roof of the conservatory the front of the row of houses and treated separately.

All of the effluent is purified using a beautiful reed bed at the side, and the water flows into a long lake in front of the terrace, which is stocked with carp and a haven for wildlife.

The houses are partly earth covered and made of dense concrete to hold the sun's heat captured by the south-west facing conservatories. Electricity is provided by solar panels on the roof and two wind turbines. They have more than they need and sell some for profit.

Part of their mission is to spread the about what is possible to live more lightly on the earth, and so they have regular tours and give talks and workshops.

And if you want to go live there one of the four bedroomed homes is for sale: a snip at £500,000.

"My kids love it here," says Bill. "And, after the initial suspicion, the local council and village people like us to. In fact, they are very proud of us."

More info: call (+44)(0) 1636 816902.

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