Barry Mc Carron, a member of Transition Monaghan, was one of seven participants selected to travel on a green study trip to Emmen in north eastern Holland earlier this month. As part of the ‘Grundtvig Learning Partnership’, the Tipperary Energy Agency had invited interested parties to compete for a chance of taking part in the trip. Here Barry describes the highlights of his visit.
The Grundtvig programme seeks to improve the quality and European dimension of adult education and make lifelong learning opportunities more widely available to everyone in Europe. As well as the Tipperary Energy Agency there were five other groups which are active in various energy initiatives from across Europe taking part in the trip. They were from Holland, Turkey, Italy, Belgium and Romania. The trip provided an excellent platform for networking and knowledge transfer and this was cultivated through a series of workshops over the three days.
One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Emmen Zoo, a huge tourist attraction in Holland which draws 1.3 million visitors annually. The zoo is part of a plan for revitalising the city centre of Emmen. Following that, it was on to De Cluft, which is a social initiative/community centre in Emmen. De Cluft has been active since 1977 and plays an important role for both young and old with courses such as flower arranging, painting, pottery, computer training, dancing gymnastics and crafts.
Participants on the trip also visited Landgoed Scholtenszathe to the east of Emmen which is a 1000 hectare agricultural enterprise with circa 350 hectares dedicated to forestry while the other 750 hectares are dedicated to the production of potatoes, sugar beet, onions, and rapeseed. The group got to learn about agricultural technology and renewable energy employed on the site which included a 1.4MW solar photovoltaic system to eliminate there total electricity costs. They are also growing and cultivating rapeseed in order to make bio diesel to offset their fuel bill.
The last leg of the visit was to Drenthe College where the participants took part in a workshop and learned about local energy initiatives called “EMMERGY”. This consisted of an overview of the four programmes Sustainable Cycling, Energy Offices, Energy Centre and Zero Energy Houses.
Overall I found the trip really good and enjoyable and one that will inform my work in CREST (Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology) and in my voluntary role with Transition Monaghan. It was a great platform for meeting like-minded people and obtaining expertise and information. The only downside was that the trip was quite short.
This was the fourth of five trips. The first was to a transition town movement in Leuven in Belgium. The second trip saw the participants travel to Tipperary, where they visited Templederry Community Farm, Cloughjordan Ecovillage, Drombane-Upperchurch Energy Team and Gurteen Agricultural College. The third trip saw the participants visit strong examples of low resource use in Italy. A future trip to Turkey is also planned for later in the year. To keep up to date with any future trips see http://www.tea.ie