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Starlings etc


By Arlene


This information is for all those who love to see the huge flocks of Starlings that roost on the Somerset Levels and might want to do something to make sure they don’t disappear!
Photo courtesy of GEE19

The UK’s biggest renewables project
A plan to build shallow lagoons fitted with turbines rather than a strip barrier across the Severn would generate equal amounts of electricity at a far lower cost, say campaigners

  • John Vidal, environment editor
  •, Monday 5 January 2009 16.38 GMT
  • Article history

Proposed site of the Severn barrage

Lavernock Point, the proposed site of the Severn barrage. Photograph: Martin Godwin

Government consultants have been accused of miscalculating the costs of a project to generate vast amounts of green electricity in the Severn estuary, promoting a 10 mile-long tidal barrier strongly backed by ministers in preference to a scheme that engineers and environmentalists say is far less damaging.

The US engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff has been hired by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) to assess technologies that could meet, from the Severn estuary, up to 7% of the electricity consumption of England and Wales. Its feasibility study for the estuary, which has the second highest tidal range in the world, has been sent to ministers, who will soon announce a shortlist of potential schemes based on the assessment.

Finding a way to harness the power of the Severn’s tides is important as it would represent a big step towards Britain’s target of generating 35% of all electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Sources in Decc say the firm favourite is the 10-mile barrier, which would span the entire estuary and is costed at about £14bn. Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) said the barrier could generate between 5GW and 8.6GW of renewable electricity at a cost of about 3p/kWh, but that it would impede shipping and lead to permanent flooding over more than 100 MILES OF SHORELINE!

Ministers have already called the scheme “visionary” and a “trailblazer for clean, green energy”.

But correspondence seen by the Guardian shows that a row erupted between PB and a company promoting a scheme that environmental groups and other engineers claim would be far less damaging, as well as cheaper and more efficient.

Tidal Electric wants to generate electricity by using tidal lagoons built on the estuary floor from rock. Up to 13 lagoons would be dotted around the Severn estuary, not across it. These would trap water at high tide and release it later through electricity-generating turbines.

Studies carried out by the engineers AS Atkins, for Tidal Electric, have suggested that the lagoons could generate twice as much power, per square mile impounded, than the barrage, and therefore generate about 25-40% more energy without damaging the shoreline.

However, the plan sent by PB to ministers says the tidal lagoon option would be eight times more expensive than the barrage scheme and would not generate as much power.

But Peter Ullman, chief executive of Tidal Electric, said: “PB has made huge miscalculations. They have submitted [to ministers] cost-numbers on power from tidal lagoons that are roughly 800% higher than all the previous studies of tidal lagoon power conducted by UK engineering giant WS Atkins and corroborated by AEA Technology, Ofgem and Rothschild Bank. They have arrived at their extraordinarily high numbers by ignoring the technology developer’s design parameters and introducing their own design.”

One key issue is that Tidal Electric plans to site the lagoons in shallow water, while PB assumes they would be built – at a higher cost – in deeper water.

Tidal Electric is backed by many leading environment groups, including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Friends of the Earth, as well as a vocal west country lobby, which believes a barrage would be ecologically and socially disastrous. According to the Bristol-based group Stop the Barrage Now a barrage would add to local flooding, reduce fish stocks, damage bird life and destroy the Severn bore, as well as ruin mudflats across an area of more than 77 sq miles. They say a barrage would impede shipping, adversely affecting ports such as Bristol, Sharpness, Gloucester and Cardiff, and put at risk thousands of jobs.

A PB spokesman said: "We are unable to comment on Mr Ullman’s complaint, but it is important to stress that during the selection process all options have been technically assessed to a common engineering and cost baseline.

“The same technical and energy yield approach has been applied to all options and the process and outcomes have been subject to peer review. The selection process is reviewed by an independent panel of experts appointed by Decc.”

In correspondence with Tidal Electric, seen by the Guardian, PB executives note that the consultation will continue: “There [will be] ample opportunity for dialogue to continue even though the public consultation documents are in the final stages of preparation. The public consultation process provides you with the opportunity to formally respond to the consultation documents, which will include our appraisal of the long-listed schemes. If the offshore lagoon concept is shortlisted, specific optimisation of proposals will be carried out in the next phase, which will require further dialogue.”

A range of barrage studies were made between 1974 and 1987 at a cost of £65m, out of which a specific Severn barrage scheme was drawn up by the Severn Tidal Power Group. A revised report was published in 2002 but all the plans were rejected at the time as being too expensive or too ecologically damaging.

More blog posts by Arlene

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Very interested to read about this. I know someone who lives in your area who might be involved with this issue. I'll find out and email you.

6 Jan, 2009


This seems as though it would be ecologically sounder than wind turbines - and cause less disruption to wildlife.

7 Jan, 2009


Lots of information here.
Useful blog.
Well done Arlene. :o)

7 Jan, 2009


~ thanks TT
I hope that everyone can spend a few minutes researching this as the implications are huge!
I have emailed my MP asking him whether there is to be a Public Enquiry and where I can register my objections to the barrage scheme.

7 Jan, 2009


Fairweather ~
If your friend has any new information, could you please put a comment under here so we know the latest ?
Would be grateful. Thanks.

Wagger is right that the ecological aspects are so important.

7 Jan, 2009


hi everyone
Check out this report~A british company is actually doing this~shame it's not for the UK!

'Wave snakes' switch on to harness ocean's power
World's first commercial wave-power farm goes live off Portugal - the 140m-long wave snakes are British made

* Alok Jha, in Aguçadoura
*, Wednesday 24 September 2008 15.49 BST
* Article history

Link to this video

From a distance, they look like nothing more than thin red lines on the horizon, easily lost amid the tumbling blue of the Atlantic Ocean. But get closer and the significance of the 140m-long tubes, 10 years in the making by a British company and now floating in the sea off the coast of Portugal, becomes apparent: they are the beginning of an entirely new industry in the hunt for clean power.

Yesterday, the red snake-like devices were inaugurated as part of the world's first commercial-scale wave-power station, three miles from the coast of the northern Portuguese town of Aguçadoura. The project, which will generate clean electricity for more than 1,000 family homes in its first phase, marks the latest step in Portugal's moves to become a leader in developing renewable energy sources.

At the heart of the Aguçadoura power station are three cylindrical wave energy converters, designed and built by the Edinburgh-based company Pelamis Wave Power. Moving up and down on the endless supply of waves in the open sea, they convert the motion into electricity, without emitting any of the carbon dioxide responsible for warming the planet.

"The future of wave energy starts today," said Manuel Pinho, Portugal's economics minister.

"Finland is very good in mobile phones, Portugal wants to be good in renewable energy. We are among the top five in the world, and we are just in the beginning of the process.

"Renewable energy is the source of energy for the future and we think this can create an industrial revolution and a lot of opportunities for jobs and research and we want to be ahead of the curve."

Peak output

At peak output, the Pelamis wave machines near Aguçadoura will generate 2.25MW, enough for the annual needs of about 1,500 family homes. Eventually, the station will be expanded with a further 25 Pelamis machines so that it can generate up to 21MW of power. That will save 60,000 tonnes of CO2 per year compared with a conventional fossil fuel plant.

"If you compare it to wind energy, wave is more predictable and is more sustained typically," said Ian Sharp of Babcock and Brown, the company that built and commissioned the Aguçadoura wave farm.

Each of semi-submerged Pelamis devices is 142m long, has a diameter of 3.5m and is made from 700 tonnes of carbon steel. A single wave converter is composed of four articulated sections that move up and down as the waves pass along it. At each of the hinges between the sections, hydraulic rams use the wave motion to drive generators to produce up to 750KW of power at peak output.

The electricity generated by the three Pelamis devices will be carried by undersea cable to a substation in Aguçadoura, which will then feed the power into the Portuguese national grid.

In addition to this flagship wave power, the Portuguese are investing heavily in other renewable technologies. They are already spending £250m on more than 2,500 solar photovoltaic panels to build the world's largest solar farm near the small town of Moura in eastern Portugal. It will have twice the collecting area of London's Hyde Park and supply 45MW of electricity each year, enough to power 30,000 homes.

In the past three years, the country has also trebled its hydroelectric capacity and quadrupled its wind power sources – northern Portugal has the world's biggest wind farm with more than 130 turbines and a factory that builds the 40m-long blades.

Pinho wants Portugal to rival Denmark or Japan in its commitment to developing renewables industries – he predicts his country will generate 31% of all its primary energy from clean sources by 2020, compared with Britain's target of 15%. The Portuguese target means increasing the generation of electricity from renewable sources from 42% in 2005 to 60% in 2020.

'Time to take note'

Greenpeace UK's chief scientist, Doug Parr, said the UK government's energy secretary, John Hutton, should take urgent note of the developments in Portugal. "Wave technology invented in Scotland is powering Portuguese homes and making money for Portuguese suppliers, because our government has consistently neglected the renewables industry here in the UK."

The €9m (£7.14m) first phase of the Aguçadoura project, which involves the energy firms Enersis and Energias de Portrugal, has been helped partly by the Portuguese government agreeing to guarantee a premium for the electricity the station will generate via a feed-in tariff of 25c per KWh. The project has also been given a €1.25m grant from the Portuguese Agência de Inovação.

"The Portuguese government has moved forward on wave energy more quickly than has happened in the UK," said Sharp.

"[In Portugal] we have a feed-in tariff arrangement so we had a guaranteed price for the power that was produced and you don't have that in the UK. The environment here was better to stimulate development."

Parr said there could be dire consequences for the UK unless the government got its act together in developing renewable industries: "There is a danger that jobs, investment and clean energy will go overseas because of Hutton's obsession with old technologies like coal and nuclear power.

"It's time we stopped the rot before our performance on renewables becomes a national disgrace."

Friends of the Earth's renewable energy campaigner, Nick Rau, said that wave and tidal power could play a significant role in tackling climate change and reducing the UK's dependency on fossil fuels. "The potential for this technology in the UK is enormous - but the government is not doing enough to develop it."

In the UK, Pelamis is also involved in the South West Development Agency's project to build a wave power station off the north coast of Cornwall, called Wavehub. This will be the UK's first offshore facility for demonstrating a commercial-scale wave power plant - but it is not expected to be operational until at least 2010. The SWDA estmates the project could create 1,800 jobs and inject £560m into the British economy.

· This article was amended on Thursday September 25 2008. We should have made it clear that Manuel Pinho's prediction that Portugal will be generating 31% of all its "power" from clean sources by 2020 referred to primary energy. Also, we implied that Portugal generates 20% of its electricity from renewable sources. This figure should have been 42%. These errors have been corrected.

8 Jan, 2009


Well done Portugal :o)

8 Jan, 2009


There are some good sites showing info about the Somerset levels including this one from the BBC
Bill Oddy goes Wild!

Bill explores the legendary land of Avalon.

The Somerset Levels and Moors are the largest area of lowland wet grassland and grazing marsh remaining in England. This is some of the lowest, flattest land in the country that was once a great marshy sea. They are of outstanding nature conservation importance for the rich, varied mosaic of wet grasslands, reedbeds, mires and fen meadows, with 8,000km of rivers and ditches. Birds, plants, insects and mammals are here in abundance and include wintering wildfowl and waders, birds of reedbed and flood meadow, plants and insects that thrive in ditches and, of course, ancient pasture.

Bill visited in early May, just as spring was getting into gear. Resident herons and grebes are well into breeding but most spring migrants have only just arrived and are singing their hearts out.

Many of the moors remain wet through spring into early summer, perfect conditions for breeding waders. By June, the richer meadows are a blaze of colour as traditional flowers reach full bloom. Pools and ditches hold large numbers of invertebrates. Look out for 59 species of water beetle, the spectacular raft spider, dragonflies, the rare marsh fritillary, grasshoppers and crickets.

Birds of prey include kestrels and barn owls and Shapwick has the largest and most spectacular pre-roosting flocks of starling in Britain
Grey heron

Swell Woods RSPB Reserve
Swell Woods has the largest heronry in the south west, with more than 100 pairs most years. A public hide in the wood (open at all times) allows visitors to watch the breeding birds.

West Sedgemoor RSPB Reserve
The large RSPB reserve at West Sedgemoor (adjacent to Swell Woods), is made up of small, low-lying fields and meadows separated by narrow water-filled ditches. It is one of the richest sites for breeding waders in southwest England. Large numbers of wintering birds visit and feed on the moor.

Shapwick Heath English Nature Reserve
This reserve includes Westhay, Catcott and Ham Wall. Since 1993, 6,000 hectares of peat workings at Shapwick have been converted back to reed bed, meadow and woodland by English Nature.

Westhay Moor NNR
An area of tall fen vegetation with scrub, marshy grassland ditches and small pools right in the heart of the peat moors.

8 Jan, 2009


Yes, I can imagine that Bill Oddie would love that area with all the wildlife. Great variety of birds, insects and plants. :o)

8 Jan, 2009


I've found these great pictures that show starlings in flight above the Somerset levels:

8 Jan, 2009


Arlene ~
On behalf of British starlings ~
Thank you. :o)

9 Jan, 2009


I think I will have to read this blog several times to take everything in. Well done, Arlene, for bringing to everyone's attention.

9 Jan, 2009


Good article on power production in Portugal. My son will be interested in hearing about how the the snakes work. Seems like a great idea. The world needs to get on wagon and get going on these things!

Nice pictures of the starlings. In the fall they are almost that thick here, making "schools" like herring, swirling and diving like they are all connected. I have heard them mimic robins but the starling in this film goes far beyond!

10 Jan, 2009


More information below

‘According to the Bristol-based group Stop the Barrage Now a barrage would add to local flooding, reduce fish stocks, damage bird life and destroy the Severn bore, as well as ruin mudflats across an area of more than 77 sq miles. They say a barrage would impede shipping, adversely affecting ports such as Bristol, Sharpness, Gloucester and Cardiff, and put at risk thousands of jobs.’

Not only is our campaign penetrating the national media and escalating the debate, the Stop the Barrage NOW campaign is becoming recognised as the united voice of those who oppose the development of a Severn Barrage. At a time when all our efforts need to be directed to persuading the Government that a Barrage across the Severn estuary is not the right renewable solution this is great news.

The campaign urges all those who share our commitment to a renewable energy alternative to a Severn Barrage that does not harm the environment of the estuary or hinder the economic development of the region, (amongst other arguments) to sign our petition, and to write to your local MP NOW.

If you would like to sign the petition please click here:

If you would like to write to your MP please click here:

11 Jan, 2009


That is a mine of information, Arlene. Thanks for all the work and time you have put into this.

11 Jan, 2009


~thanks Wagger~
~it is nice to know that someone is reading it and taking interest!

11 Jan, 2009


Sorry Arlene not commented before read through several times to make sure I understand the implications.

Seems like Government feel they have the moral high ground by saying they are investigating renewable energy sources.

The basis of their position seems to be if a small area is affected by such proposals the long term benefits for us all as a whole - outweigh this.

If nothing is done then sea levels will rise through global warming and produce a similar threat to the Severn estuary .

I love birds but not everyone shares the view of protecting starling roosts - esp those living in Rome at the moment.

Hopefully there is a rare animal or plant that can only be found along the Severn estuary - imagine if a certain type of wild orchid only grew there for example.

This would add gravitas to your position as protecting starlings which I understand , will not come high on the priority list of many.Good luck and will continue to read - not always sure how to answer doesnt mean not interested, honest!

11 Jan, 2009


Arlene ~
Thanks for adding additional information above.
I, too, am not always sure how to answer, but I'm more than aware of all the time and effort you've put into this blog.

Wagger is right. You're doing a grand job.
As I said earlier on the blog.
On behalf of British starlings. Thank you.
These are birds which deserve a better image, and you are certainly helping with that. :o)

11 Jan, 2009


Thanks BB and TT
~Its not just starlings~ I understand that most of the birds mentioned in Bill Oddies article earlier will be affected plus peoples homes and lifestyle over about 100 miles of coastline. and inshore.
My argument is with the proposal as it stands which appears to have been costed by the company who will be awarded the contract whilst they have overestimated the cost of the alternative lagoons scheme which which will still produce the necessary electricity but without quite the environmental damage.
That does smack of producing the answer to suit your question and there is no way I can stand by and let such a catastrophe happen because of government machinations ~and I am not anti government either!
Trafalgar square here I come!
BB I understand what you are saying about Sites of Scientific Interest and that would be excellent but maybe not realistic given a decision will be made in November.
I am not against exploring ways of generating our necessary power as I have demonstrated several ways
that are alternatives to the barrage scheme.
Has anyone heard of the hub scheme off Cornwall?

~check this out!

This is from Business Cornwall 10 Jan 2009

South West Wave Energy Company Orecon Harnesses Support of US Embassy

The South West wave energy company Orecon has caught the eye of the US Embassy with its hi-tech plans to capture renewable energy from the sea.

Orecon’s Chief Executive David Crisp was among industry leaders invited to a meeting in Bristol to brief Seth Patch, Environment, Science and Technology Officer at the US Embassy in London.
Mr Patch has a watching brief to monitor new technologies that could benefit the United States and was keen to learn more about progress being made by the South West company.

David Crisp said: “Seth Patch was very interested in what we had to tell him and appears determined that the US should not miss out on the new, renewable technologies we are developing here in Britain.”

“He was also extremely keen to know how we are going about producing and training the specialist people required to work within the industry around the world and was impressed to hear about the Renewable Energy courses being offered at the CUC, Combined Universities in Cornwall.”

From Orecon’s point of view, the meeting could prove an important opportunity with Mr Patch ideally placed to introduce the company to some of the world’s largest potential corporate partners.

David Crisp added: “Getting a major global offshore operator on board for construction of the buoys is one of our key objectives and many of those large corporations are based in the United States. Given that the US is committed to reducing its’ dependency on non-US energy supplies, we very much hope our talks with Mr Patch will prove fruitful for both of us in the months and years to come.”

Orecon will deploy its first 40 metre buoy here in the UK in 2010. Designed to address problems experienced by earlier wave power devices, the buoys are the result of six years of development work. Each will have a rated capacity of 1.5MW, that’s enough to power around a thousand homes.

Editor’s Notes

Orecon has patented technology for a Multi Resonant Chamber device to overcome difficulties experienced by other wave energy projects in the past. Based in the South West of England, the device is the result of six years development work together with more than 20 years of coastal and offshore experience. Orecon is committed to preserving the environment and it’s buoys pose no risk to marine life.

A syndicate of international Venture Capitalists including Advent Ventures, Venrock, Wellington Partners and Northzone Ventures have this year invested a total of £12 million in Orecon. The investment will enable Orecon to build and deploy its first full-scale device before moving on to the commercial rollout of its technology.

It just goes to prove there are lots of new innovative ways to harness power from the sea and considering nine tenths of the planet is covered in water it has to be the way to go!

11 Jan, 2009


~the wrong way to go?~
From today's Guardian
Two of the biggest gas and electricity providers in Britain have joined forces in their bid to build up to three nuclear plants in the UK in the latest sign of an increasing commitment to atomic power.

E.ON and RWE, both German-owned, said their 50:50 partnership aimed to construct and operate 6 gigawatts of new generating capacity on sites that are being sold off by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The move follows the final agreement on the £12.5bn EDF takeover of British Energy last week which gave new impetus to the French utility's determination to construct atomic stations in Britain.

The companies said that their partnership gave them the "financial stability and balance sheet strength" required to support the kind of large investment needed while industry experts said it also made clear the Germans would be the main competitors in the British nuclear sector to the French in future.

E.ON and RWE have stakes in 20 nuclear power stations around the world. They already jointly own three nuclear reactors in Germany.

"New nuclear build is a key part of RWE npower's commitment to meet the UK's energy needs and to reduce carbon dioxide intensity. E.ON is the ideal partner for UK development given that our businesses have complementary strengths and capabilities, and a successful track record in nuclear power," said Andrew Duff, chief executive of RWE npower.

"The UK power industry needs significant investment to replace ageing coal and nuclear plant and to drive the change to a lower carbon economy. This joint venture will deliver an early, substantial and vital contribution from nuclear power. At the same time, large infrastructure projects can bring major benefits to the UK economy through jobs, direct investment and supply chain opportunities," he added.

Paul Golby, his counterpart at E.ON UK, said: "The UK has to replace a third of its generating capacity in the next 15 years in a way that ensures security of supply, reduces carbon emissions and keeps energy as affordable as possible.

"The only way we can achieve this is to have a diverse energy mix, and new nuclear power, alongside cleaner fossil fuels, renewables and energy efficiency, will be vital going forward."

RWE has made clear in the past that it would like to construct a new 3.6gw plant at Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey where an existing reactor is coming to the end of its life. E.ON has also expressed interest in different sites while EDF wants to construct four stations on land owned by British Energy, the main UK atomic power generator using designs developed by fellow French firm, Areva.

14 Jan, 2009


A huge area of land has already been bought by EDF - Electricite de France - on our bit of coastline. They wouldn't have done that unless they had inside knowledge that more Nuclear Power Stations would be approved.

The possible Severn Barrage could be built in sight, too, There are at least two places being considered.

Shapwick is only a few miles away - it's the where the Peat Moors Centre is and it's a very interesting place - important, too..

14 Jan, 2009


From The Guardian

In medieval England, peasants were allowed to collect as much deadwood as they wanted from the royal forests - just so long as they could reach it "by hook or by crook". But the rapidly rising number of households now turning back to the forest for fuel, to protect the environment, or to simply make a lifestyle statement are finding a supply chain of this renewable, carbon-neutral fuel far more complex.

Despite the fact that Britain is now more than 10% wooded, an unprecedented increase in demand last year both for logs and woodburners - triggered largely by soaring energy prices - has caught stove manufacturers and log suppliers on the hop. It has also highlighted our profligacy. Of the 7.5m tonnes of waste wood that currently ends up in landfill every year, some 30% is of burnable quality, says the Forestry Commission.

Exeter-based Stovax, one of the UK's largest woodburning stove makers, says demand increased 50% in the last three months of 2008 compared with the same period in 2007, with a fair proportion of it coming from urbanites happy to burn wood products that do not emit smoke. Stovax's managing director, Morley Sage, reports "bulging order books".

Britain grows up to 1m tonnes of domestic firewood per year, according to the Forestry Commission, but we also import up to 180,000 tonnes of wood and wood products. The 25% to 30% increase in demand for logs year-on-year is proving hard to satisfy, says Vince Thurkettle, a forestry and woodland consultant. He believes that the shortage of good-quality, seasoned hardwood logs such as ash, beech and oak has, in the last three months, led to profiteering among suppliers.

"My own research suggests that prices are up by a third on this time last year, and there is a new generation of rogues trading in the type of unseasoned or 'green' wood that produces practically no heat, and spits at you into the bargain," he says.

While £35 will currently buy you a single "load" of logs in East Sussex - not so much a scientific or specific term as the amount that the local woodsmen can carry in their pick-up trucks - the same "load" will cost around £65 in Oxfordshire and as much as £95 in parts of the north and the west country, says Thurkettle, who fears that prices will continue to rise this year.

In some areas, supplies of good logs are now so sparse that traders are being forced to buy logs from hundreds of miles away - Kent, Surrey and Sussex being three of the favourite hunting grounds - or even to ship them in from eastern Europe.

"The dramatic upturn in demand for firewood is fantastic news in many senses because, in theory, we have so much of this resource that it is hard to see it ever running out," Thurkettle says. "Yet after so many years of relying on coal and gas to provide most of our energy needs, we have lost the art of effective woodland management. Until we relearn how to assess, manage, cut, store and burn exclusively local wood, we will continue to squander the potential of our woodlands."

His views are echoed by those of the Forestry Commission, which, while welcoming the wood comeback, fears that it exposes 50 to 60 years of undermanagement by private landowners, as well as woefully out-of-date statistics. "This is an ad hoc, 'man and boy' operation in most areas of the country and we are still relying on inadequate guesstimates in assessing our future needs," says Geoff Hogan, information officer at the commission's Biomass Energy Centre.

"If you're lucky enough to have your own woodland, or if your farmer neighbour has just felled a couple of trees and become a short-term supplier, it's good news for you, but nothing goes on the books and the official stats remain well short of the true figure. What we do know for certain, though, is that demand for woodfuel is rocketing and that its effects on the environment are negligible when compared to the harm caused by burning oil or gas - even if [the wood] is transported by road or sea."

Ensuring that there is enough quality, seasoned wood to go around is becoming trickier, Hogan says. "If we don't manage woodlands, they become inaccessible to human beings, and instead of supporting a whole array of plants, including bluebells, we get nothing but oak trees that can't easily be converted into fuel."

The commission controls just 827,000 hectares of British woodland - compared with the 2m hectares owned by the private sector, the Crown, local authorities, big government departments and charities - the current problem of scarcity, Hogan says, cannot be laid at the commission's door. "We harvest 99% of our woodland because we believe that this is the best way of both protecting and utilising it," he says. "But until the private sector wakes up to the fact that wood can be a valuable product, under-supply will remain a problem."

Convinced that the new love affair with wood is a long-term phenomenon rather than a temporary dalliance, the government's current woodfuel strategy for England aims to bring another 2m green tonnes of wood to the market by 2020 - enough to heat around 250,000 homes.

Important start

While this represents less than 50% of the potential unharvested firewood already available in privately owned English woodlands, Hogan agrees that it "it is an important start". He says: "Having seen just how uncomfortable it is to be at the mercy of oil producers living thousands of miles away, the only sensible option for many people is to choose a carbon-neutral fuel that can, if we act sensibly, be sourced locally from people who may well be neighbours, and who will recirculate their profits back into the local economy."

But the idea of sourcing logs outside Britain worries farmer Chris Eglington, owner of Thetford-based Ugly Sticks, which has until recently supplied much of Norfolk with firewood. He can't now supply his customers during the winter months due to lack of good quality, well-seasoned dry wood.

"Although I have recently been offered a new supply of wood direct from Poland, and this is still better for the environment than burning fossil fuel, I feel that if I am not able to source my logs locally, I may as well shut up shop altogether," he says.

14 Jan, 2009


~Can this government do anything right?
I have thought for a long time that they will not have the UK reliant on Russia ~and the current debacle between Russia and Ukraine will only harden resolve!

14 Jan, 2009


~interesting article from today's Guardian!

Could new varieties of wheat and barley save the planet from climate change?
Food scientists claim planet could be cooled by up to 2°C simply by planting crops specially bred to reflect more sunlight

* Alok Jha, green technology correspondent
*, Thursday 15 January 2009 17.00 GMT
* Article history

wheat and sky

Regular wheat already reflects large amounts of sunlight. Photograph: Graham Turner/Guardian

Food crops could be used to keep the Earth's temperatures down and slow global warming, say scientists. By growing plants that can reflect more of the sun's radiation back into space, parts of Europe and North America could be cooled by 1°C in the summer, the equivalent of stopping billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere over the next century.

Growing agricultural plants such as maize or barley already cools the climate because they reflect more sunlight back into space than natural vegetation. Different varieties of the same plant can vary in how much light they reflect, a property called albedo, so selecting for higher-albedo crops would enhance the cooling effect from agriculture.

Using the same climate models as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Andy Ridgewell led a team of scientists at the University of Bristol to calculate how different varieties of crops would affect global temperatures. "It would be an optimistic scenario that, farming everywhere, people were happy to plant a slightly different variety of crop."

The results, published today in the journal Current Biology, showed that, in the most optimistic scenario with all the world's crops replaced by the most reflective varieties, the world would cool by an average of 0.1C, equivalent to almost a fifth of the warming since the Industrial Revolution.

Over the next century, selecting more reflective crops could have a cooling effect equivalent to preventing 195bn tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

Ridgewell says that farmers should seriously consider selecting crop varieties based on their climate effects, in the same way that specific varieties are fine-tuned to optimise crop yield. "The same crops are grown in the same location – all we're talking about is planting a variety of wheat or maize that you already grow, a variety that has slightly increased reflectivity," he said,

"We're very mindful of the biofuel minefield and particularly the way food supply and poverty in large regions of the world is – you could not displace any food production. We're not even talking about changing from wheat to maize or rice to something else."

To encourage them to grow these reflective crops, farmers could be rewarded with carbon credits. Ridgewell calculated that, with current carbon prices, farmers could earn 23 euros per hectare for the CO2 they prevent from reaching the air.

He added that temperatures could fall even further with careful breeding of crops. "We see no reason why, in the future, 2°C might not be achievable but it might require a lot of selective breeding or genetic modification to get that impact." This means selecting plants that have waxier leaves or leaves arranged to reflect more sunlight.

Keith Allott, head of environment group WWF-UK's climate change programme, said: "Like it or not, we are already committed to significant levels of warming because of the carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. Ideas such as this might have some value in helping to reduce some of the local impacts, but need to be evaluated extremely carefully to make sure there are no other adverse impacts on the local or regional environment. But we shouldn't kid ourselves – the only way to make sure that we keep global warming below very dangerous levels is to secure a very rapid reduction in carbon emissions by moving to clean energy and stopping deforestation."

Ridgewell said that, unlike other proposed geo-engineering schemes to cool the planet, such as dumping iron in the oceans or sending mirrors into space to reflect away sunlight, altering the crops grown by farmers was much simpler. "These would require whole new infrastructures at a cost of trillions of dollars," he said. "We came up with [the crops] idea thinking agriculture is already global-scale and coordinated, to some extent. In a way, you could just go with that and subvert the existing infrastructure to come up with a climate benefit."

15 Jan, 2009


Another intersting article from the Guardian!

Mini-turbines to harness energy from pressure in UK's gas pipelines
Scheme in east London expected to produce 20MW by 2010 with national rollout promising electricity equivalent to output of conventional coal or nuclear power station

* David Adam, environment correspondent
*, Tuesday 6 January 2009 15.03 GMT
* Article history

The enormous pressure inside the gas pipeline grid that supplies UK homes is set to be harnessed to generate clean electricity.

Work to place small turbines inside the gas network will start later this year at Beckton in east London. This first scheme will produce 20MW by 2010 from the natural gas that rushes through the pipes. Repeated across the country, the technology could generate up to 1GW – equivalent to the output of a conventional coal or nuclear power station.

Andrew Mercer of company 2OC, which has developed the "geo-pressure" technology, said: "We're very lucky that somebody else has built this pipeline infrastructure. We can borrow it to produce renewable energy."

When natural gas is drilled from underground reservoirs it is at far too high a pressure to be used safely in homes. "It would just blow up your gas cooker," Mercer said. Instead, the pressure must be released at hundreds of sites across the supply network known as letdown stations.

Currently, the energy contained in this released pressure is wasted. The new technology aims to capture it to generate electricity.

2OC has teamed up with the National Grid, which owns most of the gas pipeline network in the UK, to build mini-power stations at eight letdown stations over the next few years. They will install devices called turbo expanders that generate electricity as the gas pressure is reduced. The turbines used are compact – 20cm in diameter – but can generate 1MW of electricity each.

The idea is not completely new. US companies experimented with turbo expanders in the 1980s and Mercer said a handful of similar efforts have already been set up in Europe. "But this isn't a cheap way to generate electricity. The reason it hasn't really taken off is that it's expensive."

Blue-NG, the joint venture developing the UK projects, aims to reduce costs by combining the turboexpander with a combined heat and power (CHP) engine, which generates both electricity and heat. Mercer says this boosts the efficiency of the CHP unit to over 70%. The CHP engine would run on vegetable oil squeezed from local rapeseed, though 2OC is experimenting with other fuels, such as synthetic oil made from wood.

Electricity may not be the only useful product of the turboexpander technology. Reducing the gas pressure also brings about a sudden drop in temperature, typically from 10C to -30C. Mercer calls this "free cold" and says it could be used as a cheap and green way to replace refrigeration units and air conditioning. He says 2OC is in talks with two companies that are interested in siting computer data centres, which require massive cooling, near UK letdown stations.

The technology could also cool the London Underground network he claimed, though Transport for London has balked at the likely cost.

Another use could be to provide cooling for giant concentrated solar power plants, which are gaining credibility as a future large-scale energy source. One plan is to site such plants in desert regions of north Africa, and to transport the electricity generated to Europe. Mercer says a lack of available cooling water could cripple such schemes. Siting solar plants near letdown stations, which are common in gas-rich North African countries and the Middle East, would halve the costs and double the electricity generated, he said.

15 Jan, 2009


News for Spritz from todays Times on Nuclear Power.

Germany's two largest power companies joined forces yesterday and announced an ambitious plan to build at least four nuclear reactors in the UK at an estimated cost of £20 billion.

The plants, the first of which is set to enter service within ten years, will provide at least six gigawatts of new generating capacity, the equivalent of 10 per cent of the generating capacity of all Britain's existing power plants.

E.ON and RWE, which jointly operate three nuclear stations in Germany, are expected to propose building at Wylfa, on Anglesey, where RWE has recently been granted approval for a connection to the National Grid, and at Oldbury, beside the River Severn in Gloucestershire, where E.ON has obtained similar permission.

Paul Golby, chief executive of E.ON UK, said that the 50-50 joint venture would also explore the possibility of building reactors on other nuclear sites. These could include former British Energy sites such as Bradwell, in Essex, and Dungeness, in Kent, which EDF, British Energy's new owner, may dispose of in the months ahead.

* GRAPHIC: the fight for Britain's nuclear energy

The Government, which has been eager to foster competition in the market for nuclear new build after EDF's £12.5 billion takeover of British Energy, welcomed the announcement. Mike O'Brien, Minister for Energy, said that it was good news for Britain and offered proof that new nuclear plants were an attractive investment.

The joint approach would help both companies to reduce the risk and to exploit shared expertise and available funding, Dr Golby said. It could lead to the construction of nuclear plants with the same, or possibly greater, electrical power than EDF's proposal to build four new reactors on two sites formerly owned by British Energy. These are expected to be at Hinkley Point, in Somerset, and Sizewell, in Suffolk.

In a blow for Areva, the French nuclear reactor designer, E.ON and RWE backed away from a commitment to any specific technology, despite an earlier memorandum of understanding signed by E.ON to back Areva's EPR reactor design, which has been picked by EDF for the four reactors that it plans to build in Britain.

The decision represents a victory for Toshiba-Westinghouse, the Japanese-owned reactor designer, whose AP1000 is in competition with Areva's EPR. RWE is understood to be minded to back the Japanese reactor.

15 Jan, 2009


farming and wildlife!

Farming for wildlife wins minister’s praise
6 January 2009

Cath Harris
Media Officer

Farm minister Jane Kennedy will today show her support for a contest that encourages more farmers to help wildlife.

At a special reception this afternoon, to coincide with the Oxford Farming Conference, she will praise farmers who entered a new wildlife conservation competition - the RSPB Nature of Farming Award - and present winner Peter Davies with his prize.
The winner!

The 2008 contest was decided by public vote and Mr Davies, who farms organically in the Vale of Glamorgan, south Wales, won 36 per cent of the poll. He wins £1,000 and a plaque for his farm gate.

In advance of the event, at which the 2009 competition will be launched, Jane Kennedy said: “Peter and the other competition finalists have shown that farmers can help wildlife and produce plentiful food from their land. Support from the government and advice from organisations like the RSPB means all farmers can follow the example Peter has set.'

The RSPB Nature of Farming Award ran for the first time in 2008 with the backing of BBC Countryfile Magazine, Butterfly Conservation and Plantlife.

The competition was set up to reward farmers for managing their land in ways that help wildlife.

Peter Davies’ Slade Farm covers more than 850 acres of Welsh coastline and clifftops. He and his family have run the farm for more than 30 years. He joined the Tir Gofal agri-environment farming scheme in 1999 and switched to organic farming a year later. Since then, numbers of reed buntings, skylarks and yellowhammers – birds that are declining elsewhere - have risen.

Organic practices have helped make Slade Farm a haven for the rare chough after an absence from Glamorgan for more than 100 years.

The chough is an entertaining member of the crow family and the farm also hosts migrating swallows, hundreds of seed-eating finches, and orchids and other wild flowers found on limestone grassland.

Mr Davies said: 'I am delighted to be the first winner of this important competition. I am proud of the work at Slade Farm. I have been able to integrate positive environmental management on a tenanted holding in a commercial way. I feel strongly that good wildlife management can only be sustainable if it supports the commercial business of the farm. Good management then brings both profit and wildlife.'

Food in winter and spring, and safe and plentiful nesting sites are the most important factors in wildlife success or failure. Skylarks, lapwings, yellowhammers and corn buntings are among popular farmland birds to have suffered serious declines across the UK in the last 40 years.

Many farmers have joined green farming schemes and are putting in place simple measures to help these birds and other wildlife. The involvement of more farmers in wildlife schemes would halt the decline of much farmlands wildlife.

The three runners-up in the competition were Henry Edmunds from Wiltshire, Patrick Bowden-Smith from Fife and Isle of Wight farmer, Michael Poland. More than 300 farmers entered with the final shortlist of four chosen from eight regional winners.
Be inspired

Dr Darren Moorcroft, Head of Countryside Management at the RSPB, said: 'Peter should be proud to be the public's first choice given the strength of the competition.

'All the finalists are showcasing the best farming practices. An eye for detail in both food production and help for wildlife means everything that depends on their land is benefiting. We hope other farmers will be inspired to follow Peter's lead.'

Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive of Butterfly Conservation, said: 'Farmers are vital to conserve butterflies and other wildlife. Mr Davies provides a wonderful example of how to combine good farming practice and practical conservation.'

Victoria Chester, Chief Executive of Plantlife, said: 'Peter Davies has made environmental management a core farming activity at Slade Farm. His sensitive maintenance of the coastal limestone has resulted in thriving populations of nationally rare wild flowers and he is ably demonstrating that commercial agriculture can go hand in hand with conservation. Our congratulations go to him!'

Cavan Scott, Editor of BBC Countryfile Magazine, said: 'Mr Davies’ farm is a fantastic example of the role farmers play in managing our countryside and its wildlife. Above all, it proves that conservation work and profitable farming aren’t mutually exclusive goals.'

On Slade Farm

Peter’s hard work provides numerous examples of commitment to good practice.

Through the Tir Gofal agri-environment scheme he has created substantial wildlife corridors and linked different habitats to allow wildlife to move and exploit new opportunities. The improved habitat for voles has been reflected by the local barn owl population, which now lays larger clutches of eggs. Other exciting birds include choughs, yellowhammers and peregrines on the farm’s cliffs. Appropriate grazing of the limestone grassland is great for the plants that butterflies and moths need, both for caterpillar food and nectar once they have taken flight after emerging from their chrysalis. Species include white-letter hairstreaks, dingy skippers and chalk carpet moths. The bee orchids on the farm are greatly treasured.

Part of the success of this farm, to Peter’s delight, comes from educational visits from local groups, supported by the Glamorgan Heritage Coast Centre, helping to connect the farm with the local community. More than 2,808m of new public access paths have been integrated into the farm, including a wheelchair-friendly route.

Sensitive management of the farm for wildlife is an integral part of what happens here, with enthusiasm from all involved, to ensure that this continues to be a long-term

* The winner of the Nature of Farming Award was chosen by an online and postal vote running from June to September 2008.
* Farmers have until March 31, 2009 to enter this year’s competition.
* Each voter is entered into a prize draw with the 2008 winner being Mrs S Ewing from Northumberland. Mrs Ewing has won a year’s subscription to BBC Countryfile Magazine, a copy of the RSPB/Dorling Kindersley book, Wildlife of Britain, and a pair of Viking binoculars.
* The government has a Public Service Agreement (PSA) to reverse the decline of farmland birds in England by 2020. This covers 19 species including skylark, grey partridge, lapwing and corn bunting.
* Farmland birds have declined by almost 50 per cent in the last 40 years.

16 Jan, 2009


Well done Slade Farm !
Projects such as this, and the accompanying publicity, will be very good for wildlife.
Thanks, Arlene, for this update. :o)

16 Jan, 2009


Another article from the Guardian

Britain's largest environment groups have strongly rejected plans for a massive £15bn tidal barrage across the Severn that would provide about 5% of the UK's annual electricity demand and help the government meet climate-change targets.

In the first shots of what is expected to become one of the fiercest environmental battles in years, the groups, which include the National Trust, the RSPB and WWF, but not Greenpeace, have challenged the government to find cheaper and less destructive ways of generating renewable electricity from the estuary.

'The taxpayer doesn't need it'

Britain will need to generate nearly 40% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2020 to meet its EU targets, and a 10-mile long tidal barrage with 200 turbines between Cardiff and Weston-super-Mare is widely seen in government as one of the most attractive options. Plans for a barrage have been proposed for more than 100 years.

But the coalition of 10 groups, with a membership of more than 5 million people, says a barrage would be economically dubious and ecologically disastrous. It would, the coalition says, destroy nearly 86,486 acres (35,000 ha) of highly protected wetlands across the estuary. More power could be generated more cheaply by using other green technologies, the group says.

Their report, commissioned from the economics consultancy Frontier Economics, follows a study last year by the government's environmental advisers, the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC).

The commission found in favour of a barrage on condition that it be state funded and that the lost wetlands be compensated for elsewhere. The government is now doing its own feasibility studies.

The report challenges the idea that tidal energy from the Severn would be best for Britain. "The cycle of the tides in the Severn means that a barrage would not necessarily provide electricity at peak times."

It also suggests 5m tonnes of CO2 will be emitted during construction and another 5m tonnes emitted during transport of the materials - undermining claims that the barrage would help reduce emissions.

The group says that the real cost could be much higher than the widely quoted £15bn. "This does not take into account costs of land acquisition in Cardiff and Weston or the creation of new wildlife habitats to compensate for the lost land."

The coalition also rejects the SDC condition that the barrage be built and run by the state as it would be of such national importance. This, says the report's author, Matthew Bell, would not be permitted under Treasury rules, and would not, anyway, warrant special government subsidies or other forms of public investment. Bell said: "It is hard to think of reasons for the public sector to build or operate a barrage which would not be equally applicable to many other projects and assets that sit in the private sector. Not only is the private sector more than able to finance a scheme of this scale but, even using the most conservative estimates of costs, the barrage is one of the most expensive options for clean energy generation there is."

Graham Wynne, chief executive of the RSPB, said: "There are good reasons for trying to harness the energy potential of the Severn estuary. But the estuary is truly exceptional for its ecological value. The [SDC] has already confirmed that a barrage would fundamentally change the nature of the estuary. Frontier's report shows that this exorbitantly expensive and massively damaging proposal cannot be justified on economic grounds - there are simply too many cheaper options for clean energy generation."

Tony Burton, strategy director at the National Trust, said: "The Severn estuary is a unique and valuable asset, rich in wildlife and striking landscapes. While we support strong action to tackle climate change, we need to do this in a cost-effective way and respect the importance of our natural environment. This study demonstrates that the government should consider other ways of meeting our renewable targets which make better use of public money and are at less cost to the environment."

The land that would be submerged hosts about 68,000 birds in winter, including huge flocks of dunlins and shelducks, together with Bewick's swans, curlews, pintails, wigeons and redshanks. Breeding birds feeding on the estuary in summer include curlews, shelducks and oystercatchers. At least 30,000 salmon and tens of thousands of shads, lampreys and sea trout use the estuary to reach spawning grounds in the Usk and Wye rivers. Eels swim back down these rivers to reach spawning grounds at sea and millions of elvers return in the spring

25 Jan, 2009


The government is to shortlist the ideas to generate electricity from the Severn Estuary it will consider in the next few days~here is an article from the Guardian expaining the choices.
Harnessing the power of the Severn estuary: tidal technologies explained
Barrages, lagoons, tidal reefs and fences - the technology behind the shortlist for the UK's biggest renewables project

* Alok Jha, green technology correspondent
*, Monday 26 January 2009 17.45 GMT
* Article history


These barricade the entire estuary from coast to coast. The Cardiff-Weston barrage is the biggest of the proposed Severn estuary projects, potentially generating 8GW of electricity and costing upwards of £14bn. It would work using established hydropower technology: when the tide comes in, the water would be allowed to pass through the barrage wall and then trapped until the tide goes out. At that point, the higher-level water is released, passing through turbines in the wall and generating electricity.

The advantage of a huge barrage is that it could produce a great deal of electricity. But environmental groups are concerned about the damage it would do to the estuary. According to the Bristol-based group Stop the Barrage Now, a barrage would add to local flooding, reduce fish stocks, damage bird life and destroy the Severn bore, as well as ruin mudflats across more than 77 sq miles.

The smaller barrages – proposed at Shoots and Beachley – would work in similar ways to Cardiff-Weston but they would be sited further upstream, reducing their impact on the environment but also the amount of power they can generate.

Offshore lagoons

Proposed by the company Tidal Electric and supported by Friends of the Earth, the project would generate electricity by using tidal lagoons built up on the estuary floor from rock. Up to 13 lagoons would be dotted around the Severn estuary. These would trap water at high tide and release it later through electricity-generating turbines. These have not been selected for the government's short-list.

Coastal lagoons

The lagoons proposed at Fleming and Bridgewater Bay are similar to the offshore lagoon but sited with one side on land. This means they pose more risk to the birds on the adjacent mudflats. The government shortlisted two projects to learn more about this method of generating electricity .

Tidal fence

This technology is in its earliest stages of development. The idea would be to build a partial barrier across the Severn with turbines to harness the tidal stream energy flowing in the estuary. Its major advantage is that it has very little impact on the local environment. But the government did not shortlisted the technology because the turbines developed so far for tidal streams are small – only around 1MW – though it has provided funds to accelerate research in the area.

Tidal reef

Reefs are a new idea in which reversible turbines are attached to the estuary floor and can, in theory, generate power both while the tide comes in and when it recedes. However, there are no prototypes of this technology and it was not shortlisted. It would probably have lower environmental impact but would also extract less energy than a barrage. This technology will also benefit from government's £500,000 fund to accelerate research.

26 Jan, 2009


Govt announces Severn tide-energy scheme shortlist

By Lewis Page • Get more from this author

Posted in Environment, 26th January 2009 14:44 GMT

Free whitepaper: The benefits of boosting your green IT credentials

The government has announced its shortlist of ways to exploit the tidal energy of the Severn estuary, potentially one of the richest renewable-energy resources in the world.

The shortlist of five proposals includes the headlining, controversial idea of a massive barrage spanning the Bristol Channel from Weston-super-Mare to Cardiff on the Welsh coast. This plan, according to the government's assessment, would produce 17 terawatt-hours each year: about 4.8 per cent of present-day UK electricity demand, or 0.6 per cent of the UK's total energy requirements as of 2006*. By way of context, a smallish nuclear plant like Sizewell B generates ten terawatt-hours each year.

Some green groups were distressed to see the Cardiff/Weston barrage make the cut, as it would destroy 20,000 hectares of intertidal habitats - home to various ecologies and species, particularly wading birds, which would suffer as a result.

Friends of the Earth, for instance, told the Guardian: "Plans to build a Severn barrage are too big a threat to an internationally important wildlife site and must be scrapped - ministers must focus on developing the estuary's potential for tidal lagoons instead."

Greenpeace says that "the Severn barrage could be a huge resource of carbon free energy, but the jury’s still out on the best way to reap the tidal power of the river without having huge environmental impacts on wading birds".

Green groups generally favour the idea of artificial tidal lagoons rather than a barrage, seen as less damaging ecologically. The more bird-friendly propose that these lagoons be located completely offshore, making no use of the coast - but such schemes are assessed as terrifically expensive, and none made the shortlist.

The government's list of five includes two land-connected lagoon schemes, putting a major impoundment either on the Welsh coast (Fleming lagoon) or the English (Bridgwater Bay). The Fleming layout would produce an estimated 2.3 terawatt-hours annually; Bridgwater 2.6 TWh. This would equate to about a thousandth of the UK's energy requirements, but losses of bird habitat would be only a quarter of what the Cardiff/Weston barrage would cause.

The government also shortlisted two less ambitious barrage schemes, Shoots Barrage at 2.7 TWh/year and Beachley (upstream of the Wye) which would produce just 1.6 TWh annually. The Shoots Barrage would wipe out habitat area to the same tune as the two coastal lagoon schemes; the small Beachley scheme less.

Two more ambitious barrage schemes, further west even than the Cardiff/Weston line, were sidelined. The largest of these would have seen a barrage from Minehead to Aberthaw generating 25.3 TWh each year, almost 1 per cent of all the energy the UK uses. However, its cost was estimated at £35bn, making the energy very expensive: a modern nuclear plant would produce the same energy and cost substantially less than £5bn.

Massive government subsidy would be required for the "outer barrage"; it could never pay its own way. The Cardiff/Weston barrage, at £20bn, would still be very costly in terms of £billions per terawatt-hour produced each year, but not as much so.

Energy and Climate Change minister Ed Miliband, announcing the shortlist, said: "The five schemes shortlisted today are what we believe can be feasible, but this doesn't mean we have lost sight of others. Half a million pounds of new funding will go some way to developing technologies still in their infancy, like tidal reef and fences. We will consider the progress of this work before any final decisions are taken.

"We have tough choices to make. Failing to act on climate change could see catastrophic effects on the environment and its wildlife, but the estuary itself is a protected environment, home to vulnerable species including birds and fish. We need to think about how to balance the value of this unique natural environment against the long-term threat of global climate change."

Detailed specs on all plans, including the sidelined longlist ones, are available from the government here. ®

*We include the total energy usage figures as transport, heating, industry and so on will all need to switch away from fossil fuel energy at some point - either to cut carbon emissions, to avoid dependence on imports from unsavoury regimes, or eventually because supplies have run out. It is very common to see erroneous reporting saying that a Cardiff/Weston barrage could generate "5% of the UK's energy needs", which is of course totally untrue.

26 Jan, 2009

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