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Alistair McConnachie published Sovereignty from July 1999 to its 120th consecutive monthly issue in June 2009, and he continues to maintain this website.
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Agenda for the day
The Heart of Galloway, formed during the Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001 has promoted several inspiring rural initiatives in the area. It's latest "Load of Rubbish" Day, intended to promote recycling and renewable energy in the Galloway area, and to encourage everyone to participate, was held on the 7th June 2003. The following report appeared in The Galloway Gazette on 13th June.

Picture: The agenda for the day at the entrance

Rural Support Group, The Heart of Galloway, held its "Load of Rubbish" Day on Saturday 7th June at the Macmillan Hall, Newton Stewart.

The aim of the Day was to promote the growing number of initiatives which are occurring in the renewable energy and recycling field in the Galloway area.

Through the day, attendees heard from 15 speakers, and had the opportunity to browse and learn from over 20 exhibitors, as well as watch a fashion show at lunchtime, and help construct a "Rubbish Monster" which was being built outside the hall.

Local councillor Alistair Geddes opened the event by emphasising that the ideas being showcased were "not just for today, but for life".

Green MSP Chris Ballance asked the audience to challenge the very notion of waste, saying it was "simply matter in the wrong place, which should be put in the right place." He believed that our litter and waste problem is a product of the "throwaway mentality" which pervades our "consumerist society". We should be looking at "waste minimisation" which requires us to reduce our own consumption, and we can all do something in this regard by avoiding the purchase of goods which are over-packaged, he added.

Rubbish Monster
Attendees building a Rubbish Monster outside the Hall

Cree Ward councillor Jean Mitchell recalled that she had taken part in a similar event 12 years ago and that progress since then had been very poor, although she pointed out that composting bins were now readily available from the council, and there was now an efficient agricultural plastics recycling scheme to which any farmer could sign-up.

Stephen Flood from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency outlined the National Waste Strategy plan for Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway, which is a corporate plan with targets, and Alistair Speedie from Dumfries and Galloway Council spoke of the Council's aim to recycle one third of the area's waste by 2006. At the moment, the figure according to Audit-Scotland is around 3.5%.

Energy solutions, and examples of working models, were high on the agenda for the day and Kerr MacGregor, Solar Energy expert explained that solar power is second only to wind power as the fastest growing alternative energy technique in the UK. He also solar is an effective means of heating water, and the technology is improving all the time.

Joe Fergusson, from the Energy Advice Centre in Ayr, explained the grants which are available to people who want to diversify into alternative energy, and local Heart of Galloway member Gordon Walling related his experience of making and installing his own solar panels which provide all his hot water requirements. Even in the Machars, the amount of heat being processed by his panels was surprisingly high enough to crack them initially.

David Sumner, from the Swallow Theatre, Whithorn, explained that the Swallow is the only theatre in the country to be lit entirely by a combination of solar and wind power.

Andy Hurst
Heart of Galloway's Andy Hurst outside the Macmillan Hall, at the end of the Day

Paul Smith of the Stranraer Furniture Project said his organisation was recycling a growing amount of furniture in the area and was looking to expand its activities. Lyn Petrie from Wylam in Northumberland related how she and her colleagues had turned Wylam into a "recycling village", which started with her demand for a bottle bank. The village now has an organised network which can find a new home for everything from spectacles to handtools.

John Gorman of the Newton Stewart Initiative introduced the Cardboard Recycling Project which has recently begun among the shops in Newton Stewart. A cardboard box can be recycled 10 times before the fibres give up the ghost, and he reckoned at present rates of collection there could be at least 48 tonnes of cardboard collected per annum in the town and recycled.

Calum Duncan of the Marine Conservation Society gave a fascinating talk on the Society's work, which includes organising local groups to "Adopt a Beach" and help take part in regular monitoring exercises, as well as clearing beaches of litter and debris.

Swallow Theatre Solar Panels

In the afternoon, a two-hour public discussion was chaired by Alistair McConnachie, and included a panel of some of those who had spoken in the morning sessions, as well as local MSP Alex Fergusson. The organisers thank everyone who participated and helped to make the day such a success.

David Sumner of The Swallow Theatre (on right) explains the solar panels as Andy Hurst comments. Contact The Swallow Theatre, Moss Park, Whithorn,  DG8 8DR; 01988 850 368

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