Thursday, August 2nd and the sixth load of granite arrives by barge on spring midday tide at Hastings to bolster the towns harbour arm. This tug and barge combination is about to unload 3.5K tonnes of Cornish granite which was loaded at Falmouth. Splash!
Tuesday, November 7. In the morning, one of the largest container ships in the world passed down Channel off the Sussex coast. She was enroute to Southampton on her outbound voyage from Europe after sailing from China via Sri Lanka while on her first round voyage. The Milan Maersk is one of the largest vessels of her type in the world with a capacity for 20,568 containers – that’s nearly 400 containers more than the previous largest. In 2016 the largest container vessel calling in Southampton had a capacity for 16,000 containers.
The megaship belongs to the second generation of Maersk Line’s Triple-E class (Economy of scale, Energy efficient and Environmentally improved) and is part of a series of eleven container ships, which will be delivered by the end of 2018. Milan Maersk’s propulsion and software system creates energy savings which aims to reduce carbon emissions per container vessel by 35 percent. This new generation of more efficient and environmentally friendly container ship joins LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) and solar powered RoRo vessels already visiting the port of Southampton. For more technical information see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maersk_Triple_E-class_container_ship ).
Thursday, November 9. With thick grey cloud overhead at daybreak, there was a clear, fabulously-coloured sky out at sea towards the south-east, creating brilliant blue skies with a golden sun surrounded by bright vermilion skies, casting bronze hues on the autumn-tinted trees near my house.
Saturday, Oct 7th. During a grey, damp morning, I saw two groups of brent geese numbering perhaps 150 birds passing Hastings, battling head-on into the the strong westerly wind and presumably on passage from perhaps Siberia to spend the winter at somewhere like Langstone Harbour further along the coast.
Sunday, Oct 15th. We went walking up on to Seaford Head and in the vicinity of ‘Puck’ Church’ were rewarded for in excess of 10 minutes by a peregrine jousting with a raven above the cliffs. A sheer speed that the peregrine came in at for some of its attacks!
Monday, Oct 16th. Very mild today! Late afternoon today, daylight became quite weak and semi-darkness descended to be followed at dusk by a strange light – a kind of dirty orange light in the SW sky. All due to the passing of tropical Storm Ophelia (producing near hurricane force winds) over Ireland, it also carrying north much dust from the Sahara and smoke particles from wild fires in northern Portugal.
Saturday, Oct 21st. A gale (Storm Briane) and a spring tide produced some huge waves along the beach at Seaford, with the strandline out in the road in places. Newhaven breakwater also took a pounding as can be seen in the following Facebook pic by Fergus Kennedy.
Tuesday, Oct 31. Two large (each some 1,200 gross tons) Dutch-based(?) but British flagged trawlers, have been working some 10 miles off the coast from Hastings all day. Not what the Hastings beach-based fleet wants to see?
Great news! I see the Rampion Field offshore from Brighton is progressing – from Brighton Clock Tower looking down West Street, a rig and towers visible on horizon and full extent surprised me recently as it came into view whilst driving along A259 from Eastbourne.
Offshore wind power cheaper than new nuclear. [ABRIDGED]
By Roger Harrabin,BBC environment analyst. September 11 2017.
Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm, Liverpool. copyright GETTY IMAGES
Energy from offshore wind in the UK will be cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power for the first time. The development, revealed in figures from the government, has been seen as a milestone in the advance of renewable energy.
The plummeting cost of offshore wind energy has caught even its most optimistic supporters by surprise. Nuclear firms said the UK still needed a mix of low-carbon energy, especially for when wind power was not possible. The figures, from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for offshore wind were revealed as the result of an auction for subsidies, in which the lowest bidder wins.
Two firms said they were willing to build offshore wind farms for a subsidy of £57.50 per megawatt hour. That compares with new nuclear plants at a subsidy of £92.50 per megawatt hour for 2022-23.
Emma Pinchbeck from the wind energy trade body Renewable UK told the BBC: “These figures are truly astonishing. “We still think nuclear can be part of the mix – but our industry has shown how to drive costs down, and now they need to do the same.”
Onshore wind power and solar energy are already both cost-competitive with gas in some places in the UK. And the price of energy from offshore wind has now halved in less than five years.
Energy analysts said UK government policy helped to lower the costs by nurturing the fledgling industry, then incentivising it to expand – and then demanding firms should bid in auction for their subsidies.
Michael Grubb, professor of energy policy at University College London, called the cost reduction “a huge step forward in the energy revolution”. “It shows that Britain’s biggest renewable resource – and least politically problematic – is available at reasonable cost. It’ll be like the North Sea oil and gas industry: it started off expensive, then as the industry expanded, costs fell. We can expect offshore wind costs to fall more, too,” he said.
The subsidies, paid from a levy on consumer bills, will run for 15 years – unlike nuclear subsidies which run for 35 years. This adds to the cost advantage offshore wind has now established over new nuclear. Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “This massive price drop for offshore wind is a huge boost for the renewables industry and should be the nail in the coffin for new nuclear. “The government’s undying commitment to new nuclear risks locking us into sky high prices for years to come. Put simply, this news should be the death knell for Hinkley C nuclear station.”
Nuclear ‘still needed.’
However, the nuclear industry said that because wind power is intermittent, nuclear energy would still be needed. Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “It doesn’t matter how low the price of offshore wind is. On last year’s figures it only produced electricity for 36% of the time.”
EDF, which is building the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, said the UK still needed a “diverse, well-balanced” mix of low-carbon energy. “New nuclear remains competitive for consumers who face extra costs in providing back-up power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine,” the French firm said. “There are also costs of dealing with excess electricity when there is too much wind or sun.”
Construction of the Hinkley Point plant is under way after gaining government approval last year. EDF added that energy from new nuclear plants would become cheaper as the market matures, as has happened with offshore wind. Eyes will be raised at this suggestion, as nuclear power has already received subsidies since the 1950s but storage of surplus energy from offshore wind is still a challenge.
Prof Grubb estimated the new offshore wind farms would supply about 2% of UK electricity demand, with a net cost to consumers of under £5 per year.
Experts warn that in order to meet the UK’s long term climate goals, additional sources of low-carbon energy will still be needed.
Saturday, Sept 9. I took a railway excursion, ending up back on the coast at Folkestone. Rail travel I believe, is a fine way of seeing cross-sections of our landscape. On the outward journey north, I saw what were presumably, two hot-spots of ash die-back disease – one just north of Battle and a very noticeable area at and around Wadhurst station. Added to this from time to time were instances of alder alongside watercourses, dead from Phytophthora. Upon reaching Tonbridge station, I was greeted on Platform 3 by a large black and white cat sprawled across the platform grooming itself and not caring a jot about the comings and goings of people and trains. By its persona, I can only assume it owns the station and answers to the name Sapphie!
Folkestone harbour, has changed a lot from when I visited it once about 20 years ago. A lot of money is being spent on transforming the redundant harbour into a public space with restaurants and bars and a pleasant walk along the long breakwater. 100 years on from WW1, I couldn’t help but think from time to time about the many troops that must have passed by the same scenes that I was seeing today. The little shops and cafes down The Old High Street were enjoyable too. A nice spot for a few hours ramble. Continuing the theme of trees, I saw the two healthiest horse chestnuts for years, perhaps rather out on a limb and with the prevailing wind having a long fetch over the sea, they are protected from attack.
Sunday, Sept 18. Walked to Bishopstone Tidemills where there is much evidence of the archaeological digging being carried out unearthing the remains of the now ‘lost’ village. I found the evidence of William Catt’s huge greenhouse intriguing with what I assume are heating pipes?
Monday, Sept 19. Beautiful sunny day again. Sat on the near deserted beach and watched lagoons formed by a low shingle ridge, flood on the high tide, these being patrolled by turnstones looking for food – especially washed-up mussels. There have been numbers of large white and Vanessa butterflies along the beach of late, blown by the NE breeze or, are they possibly looking to migrate south??
Thursday, Aug 3. Rather un-seasonal weather during the past 24 hours with substantial rainfall through yesterday afternoon and through much of the night. That has been followed today with quite windy conditions – Force 7- Near Gale, being recorded out in the Channel and the average wave height reaching 6.5 feet, producing plenty of white-crested waves.
Sunday, Aug 13. Slow boat to Turkey – a new twist on that old saying! A dutch tug, the Fairmount Glacier, 3,239 gross tonnes, is on passage towing a large drilling rig to Aliaga in Turkey. It is shadowed by the Belgium-registered offshore support vessel, Smit Nicobar of 2,606 gross tonnes. The towering rig was a feature on the horizon for much of the day off Hastings for it is travelling only between 2 – 6 knots, walking pace! Monday morning and they were south of the Isle of Wight. ETA in Turkey is September 10th!
Friday, Aug 18. There has been much talk just recently about the amount of rain this month. One of the BBC weathermen was asked for an explanation about it. He stated that of ‘the last 13 consecutive Augusts, 9 had been wetter than the average, perhaps indicating a new trend.’
Wed, Aug 30. Quite a number of house martins hawking above the town this evening, probably because of their migration being put on hold by the wet, cloudy weather and less than perfect visibility?
Ballast-Water Reform. An international agreement on ballast-water, water which is taken on by ships for stability and when discharged, often on the other side of the world releasing invasive species, causing huge problems for local marine wildlife. As of September 8th, all discharged ballast-water will have to be treated beforehand.
Shrinking Shorelines. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment estimates coastal habitat has decreased by 16% since 1945. In England, this has amounted to a loss of some 13,000 hectares with only 800 hectares created or restored.
Pesticides and Profitability. New research from France has found that reduction of pesticide does not necessarily result in reduced crop yields and profitability. The study looked at 946 non-organic arable commercial farms showing contrasting levels of pesticide use and covering a wide range of production situations in France. It was estimated that, on 59% of farms nationally, total pesticide use could be reduced by 42% without any negative effects. France hopes by 2025 to cut pesticide use by 50%. The UK has no plans to reduce overall pesticide use.
I remember this being built. It was to be the first of several to this design but I believe because of construction delays and costs, no others were built. I recognised one local face in the construction crew; in the film, there is at times some rather grating accompanying music. Note the masses of ‘personal protective clothing’ worn! The tower, as were all lighthouses in the UK, was later converted to run automatically.
July 7 2017. The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, (CIWEM).
Green Groups and MPs are calling For an Amendment To the Repeal Bill.
Thirteen major environmental charities in the Greener UK coalition have begun working with a cross-party group of MPs to ensure the Repeal Bill does not “dilute” the force of environmental law in the UK
The MPs that back the amendment so far include Ed Miliband, former Labour Party leader and secretary of state for energy and climate change, and Caroline Lucas, Green Party co-leader.
The government has said that existing UK mechanisms, primarily judicial review and the role of parliament, are enough to replace all the functions currently carried out by EU agencies and the European Court of Justice (ECJ). But these UK mechanisms do not compare to current EU arrangements, the groups say.
Currently, EU agencies play important roles in monitoring the state of the environment, checking governments comply with environmental law and, where necessary, enforcing the law by initiating investigations into possible breaches, including in response to complaints from citizens and civil society organisations. If breaches of the law are identified, remedies and sanctions can be applied, including fines.
Shaun Spiers, chair of Greener UK and executive director at Green Alliance, said: “No one voted for dirtier beaches or worse air quality. The government has promised to bring all environmental protections into domestic law, but laws are only effective when there are strong institutions to enforce them.
“The ultimate risk of fines imposed by the European Court has led the UK government to clean up its act several times – for example, when it stopped pumping raw sewage into oceans on a regular basis and, more recently, being ordered by the courts to publish stronger air quality plans.
“To secure the high level of environmental protection that the public overwhelmingly wants and needs, UK governance institutions must be sufficiently resourced, independent and expert. Otherwise, environmental law will fail.
“The government will protest its good intentions, but it should be establishing systems that are proof against any future government that may want to weaken environmental and other protections.”
The Greener UK coalition formed in response to the EU referendum, united in the belief that leaving the EU is a pivotal moment to restore and enhance the UK’s environment. It brings together 13 major environmental organisations, including the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, and WWF.
The Great Repeal Bill will end the supremacy of EU law and return power to the UK.
Amendments. The text of Repeal Bill amendment the groups are recommending the following:
(1) The relevant Ministers must, before the UK’s exit from the EU, make provision that all powers and functions relating to the UK that were carried out by an EU institution before the date of the UK leaving the EU will—
(a) continue to be carried out by an EU institution; or
(b) be carried out by an appropriate existing or newly created domestic body; or
(c) be carried out by an appropriate international body.
(2) For the purposes of this section, powers and functions relating to the UK exercised by an EU institution may include, but are not limited to—
(a) monitoring and measuring compliance with legal requirements,
(b) reviewing and reporting on compliance with legal requirements,
(c) enforcement of legal requirements,
(d) setting standards or targets,
(e) co-ordinating action,
(f) publicising information including regarding compliance with environmental standards.
(3) Within 12 months of the UK’s exit from the EU, the Government shall consult and bring forward proposals for domestic governance arrangements to ensure equivalent provision of the regulatory, monitoring, oversight, accountability, enforcement and other functions relating to the UK currently provided by EU institutions, by providing for the establishment by primary legislation of—
(a) a new independent body or bodies with powers and functions equivalent to those of the relevant EU institutions in relation to the environment; and
(b) a new domestic framework for environmental protection and improvement.
(4) For the purposes of this section ‘EU institution’ includes but is not limited to—
(a) the European Commission;
(b) the European Environment Agency;
(c) the European Chemicals Agency; and
(d) the European Court of Auditors.
(5) Responsibility for any functions or obligations arising from EU-derived UK law for which no specific provision has been made immediately after commencement of this Act will belong to the relevant Minister until such a time as specific provision for those functions or obligations has been made.
This article was originally posted on CIWM Journal Online.
July 4. Flock of about 20 oystercatchers perched on one of the reefs that run out here and there along the beach at St.Leonards this afternoon.
July 8. Trained to Brighton… Beautiful show of hollyhocks at Berwick station, real cottage flowers! Scrub is still being allowed to increase in area at a number of locations along the Firle Escarpment Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This is one of SE England’s major landscape features and if attitudes, government grants, and funding for Natural England staff do not change before too long, this majestic view will be lost to future generations. In a field near Firle, saw windrows of straw from an early combined crop of cereal. People who criticise on aesthetic grounds the Rampion wind farm some 10 miles seaward of Brighton, should turn their gaze 90 degrees and consider the factory chimney (aka i-360 attraction), parked on Brighton’s promenade! Evening withdrawal of some evening train services meant I was stuck on Lewes station for about an hour from 8-45pm but I was rewarded by one of Nature’s spectacles. I became aware of lots of jackdaw chatter emanating some 200m away in trees in Southover Road. Over the next hour, wave upon wave of jackdaws came in low over the station from the south-east, many beginning to chatter on their final approach to their companions already settled amongst the crowns of the tall trees. I was left wondering how they all managed to fit into the the available space. Home at 22-45!
July 9. Sensible dogs, and Englishmen go out in the midday sun! Why sit on baking-hot pebbles when you can lay on cool, damp ones or even better, in the water!
July 14. Buff-tailed bumble bees bottoms-up on artichokes on my allotment.
July 19. during the evening, I counted some 20-24 swifts over the centre of St.Leonards. Another couple of weeks and I guess they’ll have largely departed south.