Open Meetings

From January 2015 they won’t be any further monthly meetings. The current team are standing down after two years so we are looking for enthusiastic volunteers who would like to take over organising the monthly meetings. Please contact us if you would like more information.

We hold an open meeting every 2nd Thursday of the month (except August). Each month we have a topic with a speaker or a film, and afterwards there is time for discussion which is often very lively! . If you have any topic that you would like us to cover, or know a speaker please contact us. 7.30pm, in the Marshall Room at Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall, Woodfield Lane, Ashtead KT21 2BE.  The meetings are free entry, but donations are welcome to help cover the cost of hiring the room and publicity.

Nov+Dec 2014 meeting

Thursday 13th November

River Mole Catchment Partnership and the importance of Riversearch & Riverfly surveys.

Glen Skelton from the Surrey Wildlife Trust will be giving a presentation about what’s happening on the Rye Brook and river Mole at Leatherhead and Ashtead. Volunteers play a crucial role in helping to monitor and survey, he will explain how and how you might be able to help.

Thursday 11th December

Teazle Wood

A presentation by Lucy Quinnell, who will give a talk about how the ‘Friends of Teazle Wood’ bought 57 acres of woodland in North Leatherhead, and how the project is progressing. As it’s the Christmas meeting we will have a collection for Teazle Wood, any donations will go to the ‘Friends of Teazle Wood’ who are actively fund raising to secure the future of this ancient wood. For more Information: and on Facebook ‘Friends of Teazle Wood’


Thursday 9th October

What is the problem with Biofuels?

Our speaker is Pete Dean from Biofuel Watch. He will give a talk about why they are bad for the environment, people and not a solution or even a green energy source. For more information:

Thursday 11th September

Soil is a Place and not ‘stuff’

We are all familiar with soil, but what exactly is it? There are various definitions but none is truly satisfactory. It is certainly not just “stuff”; it is highly complex and, when relatively undisturbed, supports myriads of microhabitats in which very many organisms live and function. Many are microscopic while others, such as earthworms are obvious as soon as the spade lifts a clod. However, soils are highly variable and each one will support distinctive biological communities, and may suitable for only certain plant species.

What is soil made of? How does it form? Can we change our soil? What makes a fertile soil and, in any case, what do we mean by that? Why will some plants only grow in this one and others in that? How does soil affect our landscape? The more we know about soil, the more we can predict where we will find certain types and the communities of plants growing on them, and animals living in them. This has proved to be very useful in forensic investigation.

In my forthcoming presentation, I will attempt to answer some of these basic questions and, perhaps, give some surprising information, even to those who have worked the soil for many years. Pat Wiltshire

July 10th 2014 meeting posterThursday 10th July 2014

A practical session on appliances and energy. Led by Barrie Mould the evening will focus on how much energy different electrical appliances use and for the non trained he will explain, for the unscientific of us, among other things what exactly a watt means!



June 12th 2014 meeting posterThursday 12th June 2014

‘A chemist’s view of the atmosphere’. We had a really lively evening, our guest speaker  Professor David Phillips (CBE,FRSC, Professor Emeritus, Imperial College, Past President, Royal Society of Chemistry.) gave a fascinating presentation explaining all the gases in the atmosphere and how and why an increase in CO2 is a problem causing global warming. The evening was punctuated with various experiments, David had brought along glass beakers, a fish tank,  a Bunsen burner and various chemicals to explain how certain chemical reactions occur – the bangs and whizzes were great fun if loud!




Thursday 8th May 2014

Surrey Credit Union. Our guest speaker was Valerie Walwyn, the chief executive. Credit unions are community banks – not for profit social enterprises providing affordable loans and an ethical investment opportunity. They help people by offering fair lending decisions and affordable loans, and help communities by saving people money that could then be spent locally. For more information see their website

Thursday 3rd April 2014

The sustainable management of Ashtead Common A resource for local people in the past, now and in the future. Sean Waddell, the head ranger for Ashtead Common, gave a really interesting  presentation about how they manage the common for all the users and wildlife and the conflicts that they have to consider. Dog walkers versus ground nesting birds, bike riders and walkers, how much will opening up access with new tracks disturb the wildlife? Ashtead Common volunteers, led by Sean and his team, do a wonderful job in helping to manage the common for people and wildlife.

Thursday 13th March 2014

 poster 13th March 2014The Psychology of Behavior Change As we all know from trying to keep new year’s resolutions changing behavior can be very difficult, especially sticking to it and making it last. We are by nature conservative and don’t generally like change. Myrtle Cooper, a sustainability practitioner and student of the Schumacher College, explored why this is so, she demonstrated how we are all conditioned and find change very difficult. It is particularly relevant in today’s world when we will need to change our behavior to reduce our carbon footprint.  

Thursday 13th February 2014

Food Waste Every family throws out on average a quarter of what they buy, £680 of food every year, the cost of this waste is throughout the chain  – production, transport, supermarkets and disposal. Richard Inns, specialist in packaging and sustainability gave a startling presentation about this issue which affects us all. For a list of the links he gave us at the end of the presentation please click here. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign run free training and workshops to local community groups and organisations to help spread the message about reducing food waste. We would like to hold a workshop in Ashtead, please ring Caroline 01372 801683 or email to register your interest. For more information please click here

Thursday 9th January 2014

‘Green Ethics – do we have a moral responsibility to live a green life?’ Pretty much yes was the  answer from both panel and audience. Christine Bailey started the debate by giving the Christian perspective which was followed by Margaret Foster who talked about the ethics of Fair Trade.

Thursday 12th December 2013

‘Wheels For the World’ Gillian Russell and Eileen Orr from  Wheels For the World explained how the charity works. The World Health Organisation reports 20 – 30 million disabled people need wheelchairs – most of these people will have a lack of hope or of the ability to purchase one. Wheels for the World is the overseas programme of Through the Roof, restoring and distributing refurbished wheelchairs, done by prisoners in Pankhurst, mostly to people in Africa giving them increased independence. After the talk we shared mulled wine and mince pies. We raised over £90 for the charity whick will pay for two wheelchairs. Click here for more information about Wheels For The World

Thursday 14th November 2013

 ”Can we keep the lights on?”

We watched a film made by Cambridge University setting out our current and future engery generation needs and where this might come from. Barrie Mould then gave a presentation particulalry about the need for a really major investment in infrastructure for electricity as this will be needed for renewable energy and nuclear, if we are to get away from reliance on fossil fuels.  We followed this with a lively  discussion of the issues and possibly solutions and what is happening in different countries, many agreed that it is only when prices are high is their a behaviour change in terms of energy use. We also agreed that polititians are often too short sighted and focus on votes not necessarily in making difficult and unpopular decisions for the longer term benefit.

Thursday 1oth October 2013

FRACKING – we were given a very balanced veiw  by Nick Wright, energy consultant and member of Transition Dorking. His talk emphasised that we have a serious energy shortage looming and that shale gas has much lower carbon emmissions than coal, so this would help reduce CO2 while we invest in renewables and the technology improves. There was a lot of debate.

 Thursday 12th September 2013

THE GREEN DEAL – energy saving for your home and business Transition Ashtead’s new season of Open Meetings kicks off  with a talk given by Jessica Putt of Action Surrey, a specialist energy efficiency organisation. The Green Deal is a new way of paying for home energy improvements with no upfront cost. Find out how this can help you make your home and business more energy efficient, saving CO2 emmissions and save you money in the long term.