Saturday, January 31, 2015
I never fail to be entertained on these evenings and the best thing is getting ideas of places that we'd like to go and see ourselves and things we'd like to learn about if we had time
We had Christine and Paul with Cyprus and Morocco respectively and Phill with a whirlwind tour of Northern Europe's top sites. Linda entertaining us with how you can use the new books that are coming out to review and revise the things you have previously identified Barbara enticing us to visit the Ger region of France with some of the wonderful scenery (and apparenrtly food & drink ) of the area
Oh! and I followed up with some California girls (and boys)
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.