Archive | September 2012

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it

Powys Council opposes wind farm applications‘ (BBC News, 26 September 2012)

Anti-wind campaigners need to be careful what they wish for.

Every wind farm proposal rejected takes us further down the path of reliance on imported gas, imported oil and imported uranium in order to provide our energy needs.

As demand for energy grows worldwide, this dependency on finite resources will inevitably lead to fuel shortages, ever-rising prices and a dramatic increase in fuel poverty in the UK, which will have a disproportionate impact on communities in Wales.

The major benefit of renewables – particularly wind, wave and solar – is that the fuel is readily available to us all, and it’s free.

With both new generation nuclear and  the “new dash for gas” (aka Fracking and UCG) both stalling for economic reasons, we need to put aside specious arguments about aesthetics and/or intermittency and start developing the only practical, safe and sustainable solution to our future energy needs. – before the lights start to go out!

Underground Coal Gasification in Swansea Bay

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

The Lougher Estuary proposal (‘Coal firm’s bid to produce energy from under estuary’, page 4, Tuesday 28 September) is part of a wider plan to exploit the coal seams under Swansea Bay.

The spokesman for Cluff Coal states that Underground Coal Gasification (UCG), “had been demonstrated on a commercial basis in the US.”  I have serious doubts about this statement.

What has been demonstrated is that it is possible to extract gas from ignited underground coal seams in commercial quantities; but they are a long way from demonstrating that it is safe to do so.

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Response to a recent e-mail to the FCO about demolitions of Palestinian homes

Our reference: EMOP/1236/2012

21 September 2012

Thank you for your recent email to Alistair Burt, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister responsible for our relations with the Middle East, about demolitions of Palestinian homes.  I have been asked to reply.

The British Government shares your concern about the threatened demolition of Palestinian homes in the town of Silwan, East Jerusalem.  We view such demolitions and evictions as causing unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, as harmful to the peace process and, in all but the most limited circumstances, as contrary to international law.

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Wind versus Nuclear

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

In response to Selina Pouillet (‘Wind farms not wanted’, Have Your Say, 21 September), I am a “permanent resident” of the Uplands Ward, and I fully support Councillor John Bayliss’ views on the proposed Atlantic Array wind farm.

Whilst I also support Ms Pouillet’s suggestion that all new builds should incorporate solar panels, it is going to take a lot more than this to deal with global warming.

All forms of power generation are to some extent inefficient, but we are going to need large-scale carbon free solutions to our energy needs in the future and wind power will be an essential part of this.

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Another Public Inconvenience

‘Warden abuse will be caught on body cameras in Swansea’ (South Wales Evening Post)

It’s unacceptable that traffic wardens or any public servant should face abuse and even assault when they are working for the benefit of the community.

One growth area that I’ve noticed over the past few years is the significant rise in the number of people who no longer seem to care about the inconvenience or risk that they cause to other people, be it speeding, illegal parking, dropping litter, fly-tipping or talking loudly on their phones in public places.

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Public (in)Convenience

“ARRIVA Trains Wales has added a further 125,000 seats to its services. The increase builds on the third of a million seats added in May.”  (‘Increase in train places‘, South Wales Evening Post, Friday 14 September).

Have to admit, there were three carriages on the 08:55 Swansea to Manchester train this morning.  But it was back to the usual two for the return journey (11:12 from Port Talbot).

Pity they can’t do something about the toilets at the same time.  There seems to be a particular issue with their trains, where you can clearly smell the toilets as you pass through the vestibule.  Even worse when the train is (invariably) crowded and the only space is in the vestibule.

But then the British don’t do public toilets very well in general.

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There will come soft rains

Slightly related to the previous post, one of my favourite poems is ‘There will come soft rains’ by Sarah Teasdale, published in 1920:

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pool singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

Incredibly prescient when you consider it was written well before the Second World War, nuclear weapons and climate change.  The poem was featured in a short story of the same name in Ray Bradbury’s ‘Martian Chronicles’.

The rain in Wales may be getting warmer

(Letter to the South Wales Evening Post)

For the benefit of Liz Eales (‘Mysteries of Wales’ water’, Have Your Say, Thursday 13 September) and others who seek to imply that the wettest summer since 1912 is evidence against the idea of man-made climate change; this is how it works.

The increase in (man-made) greenhouse gases in the Artic region has lead to a record thaw this summer.  Dr Edmund Hansen of the Norwegian Polar Institute describes this summer’s melt as “unprecedented in at least as much as 1500 years”.

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