Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Joanna Lane, the Wales Public Affairs Manager of Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd, talking about the proposed Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and plans for further tidal lagoons in four areas around the coast of the UK (Severn, Thames, west coast of NE England into Scotland, and The Wash), including a proposed tidal lagoon between Cardiff and Newport.
The final planning decision on the Swansea Tidal Lagoon will be made this summer (June 2015). If successful, work on site will begin this September, with a two-and-a-half year build envisaged. The technology is ingenious (see the video: http://vimeo.com/60176151), but both the turbine and construction techniques are well-tried and tested elsewhere (e.g. the Netherlands). At Swansea, a 9.5 km breakwater wall will enclose a tidal area of around 11.5 km2. Water will be held in the lagoon on the outgoing tide and kept out on the incoming tide. Given two tides, electricity will be generated four times a day as the water released in both directions drives 26 low-head bulb turbines. The power generated will be equivalent to 90% of Swansea’s domestic use. The lagoon infrastructure is designed to generate this power for at least 120 years. The proposal incorporates plans for 10 km of marine ecosystem restoration and mariculture (e.g. mussels, oyster, samphire, seaweed, and possibly algae for biofuel in collaboration with Swansea University).
Tidal Lagoon Power’s business model depends on the eventual completion of six tidal lagoons, which will generate around 8% of the UK’s electricity. Locations around the UK enable differences in the timings of the tides to be exploited, so that demand can be met around the clock. The other lagoons will be considerably bigger than the one in Swansea, as this first UK tidal lagoon is also acting as a demonstration project for future developments and a starting point for a new tidal power industry. Different considerations will come into play at each proposed site. At Swansea, for instance, no rivers enter the lagoon, it backs onto a brownfield site (Swansea University is building its new campus on part of this site), and there is a focus on providing public access and civic amenities (e.g. sports).
The proposed tidal lagoon between Cardiff and Newport (tidal range 9.2 m) will have a breakwater wall running for around 20-25 km, enclosing a tidal area of around 70 to 80 km2. The tidal range will be converted to electrical power using 60 or 65 turbines. It is likely to extend from the coast around 2 km from Cardiff Bay to around 2 km from the mouth of the River Usk in Newport. This lagoon is likely to be more problematic from the environmental impact assessment point of view than the one in Swansea, because the river Rhymney may flow into it and it will incorporate wetlands. Some of this area is of conservation importance at the European level, which will oblige Tidal Lagoon Power to create compensatory habitats in collaboration with Natural Resources Wales. The company acknowledges that this is a “new science”, and that importance lessons can be learned from the Cardiff Barrage experience.
A pre-application for the Cardiff and Newport Tidal Lagoon has just been submitted (November 2014), with a full planning application expected around 2017 and a goal of generating power around 2021. There is an opportunity for the Cardiff Naturalists' Society and similar stakeholder organisations to get involved at an early stage of this proposal.
Friday, January 16, 2015
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Parc Slip is a noted reserve for amphibians and reptiles, included great crested newt, adder and grass snakes. Rob explained how the newts and grass snakes are individually identified by digital photography. You can join rangers on weekly reptile rambles, during which reptiles are monitored; which is part of the reserve’s extensive education programme.
Part of the agricultural land is managed for lapwing, which includes rush cutting and grazing by highland cattle. Snipe, teal and little ringed plover are among the other birds of note to be seen here. The reserve is also important for rare damselfly species, orchids (e.g. bee orchid) and a range of wetland meadow and field boundary plant species, and harvest mice.
Rob concluded his talk with a brief look at developments on other Trust reserves in the area, including Taf Fechan near Merthyr Tydfil. He was thanked by Rob Nottage for the insightful talk on how the nature reserve is managed and for all the hard work he has put into making Parc Slip such a biodiverse and successful nature reserve.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
In the December 2013 newsletter we published an introduction to galls, including those we had encountered on some of our field trips. This is an update on some that we have come across more recently.
This slightly cashew-shaped gall (above) is Taphrina pruni and it has altered what started out as a sloe. It is caused by a fungus and the common name of Pocket Plum derives from the action of the fungus which destroys the stone and seed leaving an indentation. These were abundant in 2014 along the stretch of sea-wall from the Britannia Inn at Llanmadoc on Gower and down towards Whiteford Point around Grid Ref SS 4466/9416. The gall starts off greenish and ends up shrivelled and blackish - it is closely related to Taphrina alni, the tongue-like gall on alder cones (see last newsletter for photo). It has been a good year for sloes and despite extensive foraging to produce Sloe Jelly, this was the only location at which I noticed it. The sloes were spotted in June - a few months later the sea-wall was breached and the footpath closed.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
The talk will cover the recent developments at the Wildlife Trust’s Parc Slip Nature Reserve in Bridgend, including the creation of several wader scrapes, which are now overlooked by the Mary Gilham Elevated Hide. Parc Slip nature reserve supports a variety of habitats, from meadows and wetlands to scrub and mixed woodland, which together attracts a plethora of wildlife.
The meeting on Thursday 26th February is a combined meeting with Cardiff Group South and West Wales Wildlife Trust and the student Wildlife Society Cardiff University and will be held in the Wallace Lecture Theatre, ground floor, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff.
The speaker Richard Wistow and the subject “Colliery Spoil Biodiversity” (please note the change of tittle).
The Colliery spoil sites of the South Wales valleys are a unique and valuable habitat supporting a suit of colliery spoil species. However, it is only recently that their biodiversity value started to become recognised and we have only just started to understand that importance. However, it is not just ecology; colliery spoil also has a fascinating geological, landscape and historic story which has yet to be fully told. As it stands colliery spoil; is poorly understood and undervalued without a better understanding an effective conservation strategy cannot be developed. In my talk I hope to describe some of the key issues associated with colliery spoil biodiversity and to help raise the profile of these superb habitats.
The meeting held on Tuesday 17th March the speaker is Dr Neil Price and the subject “Hemiptera: the real bugs”.
The lecture will introduce the group to Hemiptera, a largely under recorded order of insects in Wales. It will include a section on morphology, classification and survey methods: there will also be a section on keys and guides. There will be a focus on some on some of the more frequently recorded species in Wales, with a range of habitats being discussed. The speaker will draw upon his own experience of surveying for this group in Wales and will discuss a number of case studies.
Monday, November 24, 2014
I admit that I hard not heard of the sanctuary so with a bit of help from the internet
I admit to not finding any recent references so any information would be appreciated.
"The members of a branch of the Selborne Society bit upon an admirable idea. London grows outwards : every year the grip of the town fastens more and more on vanishing country, and where it fastens it generally kills.
With the coming of the town and its roads and railways the country has to be protected, if it is to survive at all, against the enemies the town brings with it ; against wanton spoiling and defiling, against the destruction of its birds and beasts, against the trippers and streets hawkers who grub up its ferns and flowers.
The Brent Valley branch of the Selborne Society looked at the practical side of that difficulty as it affected their own neighbourhood. Why should not they, while there was yet time, secure and protect a sanctuary of wild life, particularly bird life ?
A wood, one of the few remaining in the district, seemed to offer the opportunity of such a sanctuary, and after some negotiation it was arranged with the farmer on whose property it stands that the fences surrounding the wood should be kept up and that a keeper should be appointed. "
To Read more about the sanctuary take a look at this old reference http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/15th-january-1910/9/the-brent-valley-bird-sanctuary
Friday, November 7, 2014
With the aid of some props we really had an insight into how these creatures live and how close to the riverbank they are confined in their lifestyle
I had not realised how far the considerations of doing a managed release in Wales had moved forward so it was really interesting to hear about the work of the Welsh Beaver Project http://www.welshbeaverproject.org/home/
Adrian gave us the link for all the detailed documents that show the net benefits to wildlife, environment, and especially flood prevention http://www.welshbeaverproject.org/downloads/ and went through us the net benefits and the very few considerations that need to be taken into account and showed how easily these are dealt with
He also talked to us about the less reputable side of introductions (Beaver Bombing) which was something many of us were unaware of and a bit of research today turns up this upsetting article on National Geographic http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/08/140804-beavers-science-environment-britain-extinct-animals/ From reading that I can see how much education is needed of people to understand that the Beaver Dams will reduce not cause flooding. It's also clear from the comments that you need to be careful dealing with reporters from any publication as there is a need to clarify the article so read down for all the facts (and some opinions)
At the end of the talk we did a straw poll on the opinion of the audience as to whether we are in support of the project and I am pleased to say we agreed 100% with the proposal and we would be really happy to see it go ahead
There is also a twitter feed @beaverafanc for updates on progress