Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Energy: Saving

We recently received our energy bill. Normally this is cause for a sharp intake of breath, the jumble of figures on the page aligning in such a way as to achieve a larger sum than might reasonably be expected. On this occasion, though, it proved to be slightly less eye-wateringly expensive than usual, this being some reward for our efforts to reduce energy consumption.

We both dislike waste, be it over-consumption of energy, reckless creation of landfill volume, irresponsible attitudes towards the use of water or other precious resources, or anything else (don't get me started on the estimated £12 billion of food we throw away in the UK each year). Use, re-use, repair, recycle, up cycle: to me it doesn't really matter, as long as waste is reduced and profligacy prevented.

However, it was another figure on our bill that really caught our eye: apparently, we are ranked as the 7th most energy efficient household in a comparison of 100 similar properties. This is good news for two reasons: a) our efforts to reduce energy consumption appear to have been effective, and b) we now know how many households we need to catch to become the number one most efficient. (Competitive? Who, me?)

On that basis, you’d be forgiven for thinking that "clean, green" energy production would be a real passion too. And, up to a point, it is. However, regular readers of this blog will know I have commented unfavourably on wind farms in the past. This is not simply through some blind belief that wind turbines are possessed of an inherent wrongness, or that they are in anyway aesthetically displeasing (which is entirely a matter of opinion).

No, my dislike of them is a considered position based upon facts that are widely available – if you look hard enough! Namely, that they are grossly inefficient, very expensive, ecologically unsound, subject to a planning process that favours the energy companies, and often inappropriately situated. 

And it is this last issue which for me is the cause for most concern.

Take a look at this example from Alan Sloman’s BlogI won’t elaborate further, as Alan’s post (and many others like it on his blog) speaks more eloquently and knowledgably on the subject than I ever could.

The main reason behind the current rush towards wind-powered energy generation is less to do with suitability or sustainability and more with the fact that that successive Governments have failed to grasp the nettle and formulate a coherent future energy policy. Now, with many of our existing power stations in the process of being decommissioned at the end of their lifetime, there is simply nothing to replace them.

It doesn’t help that so-called environmental groups have actually been complicit in this kind of desecration. Unwittingly or otherwise, their refusal to support the kind of generation necessary to power the UK in the coming years (such as nuclear) has helped create this position, as though it is perfectly acceptable to sacrifice anything on the altar of ideology, without realizing the ultimate irony of forever degrading the very thing they say they want to protect: the environment! 

To be frank, I find the implicit assertion that their dare-I-say conceited version of environmentalism is somehow more worthy than my (and many others) more holistic interpretation - an interpretation that takes into account ecological as well as environmental aspects - more than a little arrogant.

And, as renewable solutions alone can only ever generate a fraction of the energy we need, the future looks set to be blighted by increasing energy poverty: this in a nation with the 6th biggest economy in the world. A high cost is set to be paid – in more ways than one.

The truth is there are now increasingly large tracts of the Scotland, Wales and England covered by or in the shadow of wind farm developments. It just so happens that many of the areas in question are also some of the wildest, most beautiful and most remote places in the country, fabulous resources in their own right that are in the process of being lost to this and future generations. The opportunity to roam, to explore pristine wild places, to leave behind the incursions of modern life and to gain spiritual and psychological sustenance from such landscapes will be gone - changed forever. 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path

Once the summer is over and the August Bank Holiday has passed, the opportunity for a long weekend relies on taking time off work. With just one day’s leave remaining until after Christmas, it was important to ensure it was carefully considered and used wisely. So would the risk pay off, and would the long haul out to the west coast of Wales in October be worth the effort?

You bet!

As we were also spending time with family, we had to restrict ourselves to shorter, half-day walks so as not to abuse the hospitality so generously offered. No problem there, then: and a good time was had by all. But we really appreciated the opportunity to get out again for a bit longer – the first time since returning from the Camino – and over the three half-days of great coastal walking on the PCP we covered most of the ground between Whitesands Bay and Broad Haven, although not in sequence.

Day 1: Solva to Nolton Haven – 8 miles

A bright, warm morning, gradually clouding over as the day went on. Looking at the photos, it’s hard to believe its October.

Solva and harbour.

Views along the coast.


Newgale beach.

On the way to Nolton Haven.

Day 2: Whitesands Bay to Caer-fai – 9 miles

Overcast; warm and breezy, but with rain never far away.

Whitesands beach.

St Justinian's and Ramsey Island.

More coastal views.

Porth Clais and Caer-fai.

Day 3: Nolton Haven to Broad Haven (and back) – 8 miles

A bright morning after heavy overnight rain and winds. All of a sudden, Autumn had arrived.

Nolton Haven.

On the beach.

More coastal views.