Chloe Clarke Sustainability Officer
Chloe Clarke works as a Sustainability Officer for Adur & Worthing Councils. She works across the Councils and with the wider community to tackle climate change and protect the natural environment. She develops partnerships and projects with external organisations and helps drive delivery of SustainableAW. Chloe says:
“I'm really pleased to be working as the Sustainability Officer in this growing team. I'll be working on all things sustainability, including reducing plastics, increasing active travel and supporting the establishment of an Adur and Worthing Food Partnership. It's great to feel like I'm doing something positive towards the climate and nature emergency that is upon us, including helping with the Adur & Worthing Climate Assembly. With a degree in Ecology and Conservation, my passion is around biodiversity and the natural environment so I'm excited to connect up with the great work already being done on this locally.”
You can read Chloe's current blog posts on this page below:
See also: SustainableAW and SustainableAW magazine
28th October 2022: Kingfisher's 'holiday' in urban Shoreham
“In the autumn, some adult birds look really scruffy because their feathers have become worn by constantly entering and exiting the nest chamber.”
Hi, I'm Chloe, a Sustainability Officer for Adur & Worthing Councils. This week my blog looks at the wonderful Kingfishers that can be found 'holidaying' down by the River Adur.
At this time of year, Kingfishers are back in Shoreham, taking advantage of the River Adur Estuary. The estuary never freezes in winter and seems to contain plenty of fish for the birds to feed on. For such a spectacular looking bird, with its turquoise and blue cloak and orange-red underparts, they can be surprisingly hard to spot.
The best place to look for a Kingfisher is from the footpath in front of the Ropetackle development. At low tide, the birds are on the lookout for fish trapped in the shallow pools of water around the moored boats. The trick is to look for a bird perched on a boat or anchor rope, from where they will plunge dive for tiny fish. Occasionally a bird will hover before completing its dive. When a Kingfisher is flying between the boats, it does so fast and low over the water - with an electric blue flash and high pitched call.
There are about 4,000 to 6,000 pairs in the UK and they nest in the steep banks of rivers and gravel pits, away from predators. The nest is at the end of a burrow, excavated by the birds and might be as much as a metre in length.
In the autumn, some adult birds look really scruffy because their feathers have become worn by constantly entering and exiting the nest chamber. But come spring, the birds will be looking their pristine best again, having moulted into a new set of feathers.
As I write this, there are at least two birds and possibly three using the estuary for their winter holidays. They will stay until about the end of March, before departing in search of somewhere to breed. So there's plenty of time to enjoy these fabulous birds in urban Shoreham, as well as a host of other species such as Oystercatchers, Redshanks and Little Egrets, all easily seen on the estuary at low tide.
If you're interested in learning more about the birds of Shoreham, Worthing, and east to Brighton, then Shoreham District Ornithological Society (SDOS) offer members' guided walks, talks and a host of other benefits. Tony Benton writes on behalf of SDOS and leads a couple of walks a year along the Estuary. For more information, including how to join, see:
22nd October 2022: Finding positivity, beauty and poetry in nature
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to be part of the Shoreham Wordfest Festival! Myself and Alistair from the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust were the hosts for two walking tours around New Salts Farm on the borders of Shoreham and Lancing.
We shared our ideas and plans for a proposal which, funding allowing, will see habitat restored, nature revived and communities brought together. We’ll have a decision on funding towards the end of the year, so we’re crossing everything that the bid is successful.
Photo: Chloe talking at Shoreham Wordfest walk
It was such a joy to see swallows, red kite, buzzard, sparrow hawk, kestrel and herons overhead, and hear cetti's warbler and stonechat too. A slow worm also stopped us all in our tracks! We also had bonus input from the always-inspiring Tony Whitbread - President of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, amongst other things.
Photo: Tony Whitbread talking at Shoreham Wordfest walk
Whilst walking around the 70 acre site, we were joined by Pauline Rutter, a local Historian Poet. I was completely bowled over by what the addition of poetry brought into the walking tour.
Pauline gave everyone a pen and post-it notes and asked them to write down any words, thoughts, feelings or sounds that they could think of as they listened to our words and the surrounding wildlife as we walked across the site.
Towards the end of the session, Pauline gathered the words and minutes later stood and recited the collaborative poem. I’m gutted I didn’t video this, but I was too caught up in the moment to think ‘phone’. There were two walking tours, with two different sets of people, so there are two completely unique poems. I’m sharing them here with full credit and huge thanks to Pauline.
Photo: New Salts Farm in Shoreham
Good news for nature
There’s been some bleak news about nature recently:
- Proposals to scrap laws that protect nature have been widely criticised by organisations including the RSPB, National Trust and Wildlife Trusts (follow them for further info and updates);
- Wildlife & Countryside LINK launched a report on (lack of) progress towards the target to protect 30% of land & sea for nature by 2030;
- Another new report from WWF-UK shows that global wildlife populations have fallen by 70% in 50 years;
- And the BBC’s Frozen Planet 2 series came to a close with a final sobering episode that moved many to tears.
But amongst the rollercoaster few weeks of unsettling news, I’ve been spotting quite a few positives.
Locally, did you hear that the Adur River Restoration Project was one of 22 projects across the country selected under the Landscape Recovery programme? Find out more about the project here.
And there’s been more successful funding bids just further westwards in Sussex too, with a project that will help restore priority habitats in the South Downs National Park and beyond being successful. Find out more on the South Downs National Park website.
All the major nature organisations have come together to strongly #DefendNature. I’m particularly excited about the new #PeoplesPlanForNature. What do you love about nature? The colours of autumn, the calmness of being next to water, finding a shiny new conker, the sound of a blackbird singing at the end of the day? Have your say on the People’s Plan For Nature conservation and help shape the future of nature in the UK.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group has just launched a robust Ten Point Plan for Climate & Nature which is supported by politicians from all parties, as well as environmental leaders, businesses and academics. You can see it on the All Party Parliamentary Environment Group website.
Tony Juniper, Chair of Natural England, gave a powerful speech this week about why a strong natural environment is essential for the economy. It’s worth a read - see the GOV.UK website.
Chris Packham is planning another Walk for Wildlife on Saturday 26th November - find out more on the People's Walk for Wildlife website.
I came across these lovely, informative, Slow the Flow films from the Environment Agency about natural solutions to climate change. Enjoy!
And finally… introducing Kent’s newest ‘ecosystem engineer’ - a bison calf! Find out more on the Kent Wildlife Trust website.
As always, thanks for reading. See you next time
30th September 2022: Confusion over energy price cap
Last week I finally got the bill I had been dreading. Our household energy bill was eye-wateringly huge! Although I knew the average bill could be around £3,500, I'd seen the figure of £2,500 mentioned a lot as the cap, so somehow just assumed this might be the limit I would pay.
But £2,500 is not the maximum any household will pay on their energy bills this year. I caught up with Dan, our Carbon Reduction Manager, to ask for his help. He said:
“Unfortunately, £2,500 is just the figure the government is using for the typical amount someone on the price cap will pay.
“It's a very unhelpful way of framing it because, as you have discovered Chloe, it isn't a cap at all.
“What is capped is the unit cost of energy - ie each unit of electricity and gas you use has a maximum cost that is the same for everyone.
“But if you use more, it costs you more!”
As well as our in-house energy expert, Dan, I also think Martin Lewis has some great tips and info on all things energy/money-related. To find out more see:
Dan gave me a quick lesson in using my smart meter display and since then I've been glued to it! Noticing every time the light jumps from green to orange, I track down the culprit appliance that's eating up our money!
He also suggested switching absolutely everything off (except the fridge/freezer) at the wall every night as the energy used from having appliances on standby, soon tots up across the year. Dan worked out his microwave was costing him £50 a year just to leave on!
For more info on smart meters, visit these websites:
- Smart meters explained: what you need to know - on the Energy Saving Trust website
- How to read your smart electricity meter - on the Citizens Advice website
Save gas, cash and carbon:
Adjusting the hot water temperature on your boiler is easy. If you run a bath/sink of hot water and have to add cold, chances are your hot water temperature is too high. I found this video helpful for tips in saving money by setting your hot water temperature:
I've already told my family that the heating is not going on until at least November. It's already starting to feel cold, so today I got the jumpers out. Following Dan's advice, I am going to turn down the temperature on my condensing boiler - this will make it work more efficiently without making my house any colder. This website has some useful information on how best to do that:
Dan's other top tip is curtains - big thick ones over any glass and close them as soon as it's cold. Bonus points if they're tucked into radiators.
Cost of living support:
It certainly is a daunting time for many right now, financially there seems to be one thing after another - I can't even begin to think about the interest rate rise and the impact on mortgages. If you're concerned about your finances, please take a look at the information on this page:
26th September 2022: Back on my bike
Our family was away for a few days over the summer and the best bit about the holiday park that we stayed in was that it was car free. We cycled everywhere, and the kids went off cycling on their own. It felt safe and fun and carefree. Back to reality now though - with congested roads and air pollution.
Yes I drive a car so I'm adding to the problem, but feeling that freedom on holiday really made me want to keep the cycling going. Plus, a few extra fish and chip dinners on the beach over the summer has meant I also need to up my exercise too. Time to get back on my bike! I'll continue to only walk or bike in and around the town and aim to swap at least one longer journey that I'd typically do by car, and go by bike instead.
I made a list of all the blockers stopping me from riding my bike more often:
- The bike is in the shed, along with three other bikes and a lot of other stuff! Sometimes getting to it is a feat in itself.
- I don't always know where I'll be able to park my bike - if I cycle to the shops at Holmbush Centre, will I be able to secure my bike there?
- I don't feel safe on the roads.
To solve issue number one, I'm looking into how else I could store my bike and have found a bike storage rack that might be more accessible than tackling the shed tsunami of stuff! So I'm looking into whether I can pick up a second hand one locally.
For issue number two, according to my cycling colleagues, once you get into cycling more, you get to know the parking spots. When I'm used to driving somewhere or going by public transport, I'm not aware of where I might be able to park my bike, which I'd rather know before setting off. I like the Brighton & Hove map of cycle parking on their website - useful!
Issue number three is definitely more tricky! Locally we do have a Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan with a vision to create a place where walking and cycling becomes the preferred way of moving around Adur and Worthing. This is supported by all political parties within Adur District and Worthing Borough Councils (AWC). However, it is West Sussex County Council (WSCC) that is responsible for maintaining the roads and installing new infrastructure, including cycle lanes. Local Councillors and Officers from AWC connect up with WSCC and also local cycling action groups do too.
For further info and advice on all things cycling from one of the local cycling groups, follow:
Photo: Cyclists on Marine Parade, Worthing
Cycling to work
I've been working from home mainly, but as we move back into the office one of my goals is to cycle into the office in Worthing. I get to cycle right next to the beach - not bad to have a commute with a great view! Plus, it's going to help me save some money too, which is absolutely essential right now.
Cycling to and from work is a great way of fitting exercise into your daily routine. The Government has introduced a range of cycle-friendly tax incentives for employers and employees. Did you know that employees who use their own cycle for work (ie for cycling on business, not to and from work) are entitled to 20p per mile, tax-free? For further info visit
Our very own Facilities Officer, Ray, has shared his story about returning to cycling:
“I took up cycling really due to the closure of the Civic Car park. I used to cycle a lot in my younger days, and have wanted to take cycling back up again, but with work and a young family, this never really happened.
“So when I heard about the closure of the Civic Car park, I went out and bought a second hand bike, not knowing when this was needed for. I did try out the bike, but the saddle sore got the better of me.
“The day came and we closed the Civic Car park, that was it for me, on my bike on that Monday morning and cycled to work, luckily I do not live far away. Now I thought I was a fit guy, but that first day my legs were killing me! ... and the good old saddle sore returned. I have a motto of 'no pain, no gain', so I fought on.
“It took a good three to four weeks for my body to get used to my bike and my legs to get stronger, but now my wife calls me 'Superman'.
“My whole health has improved along with my mental wellbeing, I can just get lost in my thoughts cycling to work and home, I recommend it.”
Photo: Superman Ray and his bike
Where to get hold of a bike?
There are lots of brilliant second hand bikes available - I always shop second hand for myself and the kids. Take a look at the range of bikes on offer or get help with repairing your old one at:
Hire a bike: Donkey Bikes are currently available to hire in Worthing:
- Bike hire (Donkey Bikes) - on the Time for Worthing website (see photo below)
- Inclusive cycling project with adapted equipment for children and adults - on the Cycall website
Lock your bike
If you're worried about the safety of your bike, read this useful information on how best to secure your bike.
1st September 2022: All hands to the pump in reducing carbon emissions
This week Chloe has handed her blog over to Dan Goodchild, Adur & Worthing Councils' Carbon Reduction Manager.
In this week's blog Dan focuses on some of the innovative and pioneering ways we are trying to reduce our carbon footprint.
You can read his 'All hands to the pump in reducing carbon emissions' blog on the new Housing Matters blog page.
11th August 2022: Be a Water Hero!
Use water wisely; and the importance of wetlands
“It's so important to conserve water, not just now in periods of drought, but always.”
I'm looking out at my garden, full of crispy plants in pots, and thinking about how we'll need to tend gardens with less and less water in the future, so choosing plants to suit our changing climate will be paramount.
A hosepipe ban has come into force in many places across England, including some areas of Sussex covered by South East Water, although strangely not for us here yet in Adur and Worthing as we're supplied by Southern Water. You can keep an eye on the latest drought restrictions on the Southern Water website.
I'd seen some top tips for water saving from the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust (OART) social media posts, so thought I'd share these here too - see also OART website.
Image below: credit, courtesy & © copyright the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust (OART)
Use water wisely
It's so important to conserve water, not just now in periods of drought, but always. Energy is needed to filter, heat and pump water to your home, so reducing your water use also reduces your carbon footprint. Using less water keeps more in our ecosystems too.
Wildlife is really under stress right now due to water shortages everywhere. I noticed huge numbers of fish in the River Adur recently looking like they were gasping for air. I checked with our friends at OART and they said they'd been inundated with calls about dying fish in rivers and streams across the area.
The water is too warm, there are also high levels of nutrients in the water creating conditions which leave the fish without enough oxygen. Many rivers and streams are totally drying up too - find out more in this article:
For more information on saving water generally, take a look at these websites:
Find out more actions you can take in your garden, along with other climate focused information on our website
The importance of wetlands
This week we finally submitted our bid to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for a development phase grant to restore a wetland habitat at New Salts Farm (between Shoreham and Lancing).
I've been working closely with Pete and Alistair from OART on this. OART is the lead partner, along with Adur District Council, so we'll be delivering the project along with a number of other key partners, if we're successful with the funding. More news on the project coming soon! It feels really exciting - so fingers and toes crossed that we get the funding! If you'd like to know more about the project, you can sign up to receive updates via the newsletter:
Photo: Wetland habitat at New Salts Farm (credit, courtesy & © copyright the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust (OART)
Wetlands are so important, not only for the amazing wildlife that they can support but also by storing rain like a sponge, and by buffering us from the sea they can protect us from floods and storms. Wetlands can also protect us from droughts and reduce air temperatures by up to 10 degrees Celsius. A recent report by the WWT showed that living near wetlands can also improve our wellbeing. Find out more about the report:
- Urban wetlands could improve wellbeing in deprived UK areas - on the Guardian website
- Britain's wetlands are the key to saving us from drought, wildfires and even floods - on the Guardian website
Page last updated: 20 December 2022