Footsteps Visit to Tyseley Energy Park

Footsteps 2019 summer interfaith walk brought together 45 people from local communities and  different faiths to learn about developing renewable power, building community and restoring the natural environment in the derelict Cole River Valley.

The event started with speeches from Footsteps Chair Ruth Tetlow, who described the interfaith interest in this initiative and in exploring forward thinking energy solutions for everyone. City councillor Zafar Iqbal MBE described the city council’s enthusiasm for the project. As a local man he is passionate about seeing a better future for the church and its buildings and for residents in the local area.

Sandy Robertson was our guide for the walk. He is part of the Horsfall family and uncle of David Horsfall who is directing the new energy project. A biomass power station has been built, fuelled by wood pellets, the wood for which is supplied by Birmingham Parks and Gardens Department. This supplies all the energy which the factory needs, meaning it is carbon neutral and off grid.  There is an electrical vehicle charging station for cars lorries and buses and an electric taxi charging park. Taxi drivers can hire a charged taxi, drive it for their shift and return it for recharging.

biomass generator at Tyseley Energy Park
Tyseley Energy Park biomass power station where electricity is generated from locally sourced scrap wood: an example of the circular economy, with fossil fuel free electricity being used locally to refuel electric taxis and in the Webster & Horsfall factory.

Walking along the River Cole (on a paved footpath which is part of the National Cycle Network) we both connected with nature, and observed some of the challenges of conserving the area. The Hay Mills area is a haven for wildlife and a Hay Mills Foundation Trust has been established to restore it and maintain it as a public and ecological amenity, complementing the transformation of the industrial site beside it.

The walk ended with lively conversations, tea and shared cake and a short reflection on shared faith values. The event was a reminder both of our deep and timeless connection to creation, and of our ever-developing understanding of how we can be better stewards. A seminar on 23rd October will take a closer look at the technology used at the energy park – watch this space for more details.

Some of this summary was based on a personal reflection from Quaker Claire Bowman – you can read her thoughts in more depth on the Central England Quakers website.

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