Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay: the lustre of pearls?

The video presentation released by Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay certainly looks impressive, but will the scheme have a ‘lustre of pearl’ effect on the bay?

The presentation describes plans to construct a 10.5 km causeway, using innovative techniques, to create a 11 sq km lagoon in a £650m development. But will it live up to its promises?

A lagoon for energy?

Fitted with turbines capable of generating enough electricity to power over 100,000 homes, the causeway certainly ticks the environment-friendly boxes, helping to create a carbon-neutral Wales. But what will the impact be on the local ecology? On its website the company appear to be quite honest in accepting that the development will have some impact on the local environment, and have confirmed that they will be producing an Environmental Impact Assessment report.

A lagoon of opportunity?

The developer states that the lagoon will provide an environment for reviving old marine-based industries such as oyster beds, kelp farming; and watersports like sailing and triathlon. These are to be welcomed and can only further enhance the bay’s status as a premier location for seafood and watersports.

A lagoon for jobs?

It is fair to say that the tidal lagoon will create some much needed jobs for the area and give our local economy a boost. But I assume that a development as cutting edge as this will require some highly-skilled expertise. I wonder how many of these jobs will come to Swansea Bay? I believe that the lagoon offers the Swansea Bay region an exciting opportunity to create a research centre, possibly at the new university campus on Fabian Way, to lead the way in the development of tidal power technologies for export.

A lagoon for art?

Some may find the suggested dragon sculpture a little cliche. However, the developers should surely be applauded for their efforts to include public artworks in the scheme. Cape Farewell, an arts group committed to engaging the public around the issue of climate change through the arts, have been commissioned to develop a creative inquiry into the scheme and how it will impact change on the area. Perhaps, artworks that stimulate debate around climate change and the marine environment specifically would be more appropriate and beneficial, and better reflect the innovation of the scheme?

What do you think?

Detailed plans are still being prepared ahead of an expected public consultation during the summer and submission to the UK Secretary of State for Climate Change and Energy in the autumn.

Meanwhile, here’s the report of the children of nearby St Thomas Primary:

And here’s what the children of Grange Primary had to say in a classroom debate:


Vince Cable talks tough, but will he get tough?

The Guardian reports Vince Cable as calling time on excessive boardroom pay and bonuses.

Vince Cable talking tough at Liberal Democrat party conference

The paper states that the “business secretary champions ‘responsible capitalism’ model, forcing companies to justify pay policies in their annual reports.”

However, the devil is in the detail.

The Guardian further reports that pay increases and bonuses will have to be justified to shareholders. Now I’m no expert in company law, but surely the requirement for the CEO and other executive officers to justify their actions to the board and key shareholders already exists?

If not, then Vince Cable’s announcement is welcome. Although, I fear it will lack the teeth to really bite.

Wouldn’t it be better to legislate that remuneration at the top can be no more than say 25 times that of the lower paid, as per John Lewis?

Thus, to pay extortionate salaries to executives a company must significantly improve the lot of all its workers. Now that really would narrow the pay gap and create a more equal society.

Sadly, there are too many vested interests in maintaining the status quo. So whilst Vince may talk tough, his Tory bedfellows will prevent him from getting tough!

March for the Alternative

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March for the Alternative, a set on Flickr.

I joined the TUC’s March For The Alternative last Saturday. It was a great demo and everybody was warm and friendly. These are a few of the photos I took with my phone.

Alternatively, take a look at this video. It’s really well presented with interviews of some of the people marching. The demo really did attract a cross section of UK society.

HM Government replies to petition to protect our canals

Earlier this week I received an email from Her Majesty’s Government informing me that an official response to a petition I started some time ago was now available on their website.

It was one Sunday in November 2009 that I posted my petition on the Number 10 website. I was driven to action by a report on BBC’s Politics Show programme highlighting plans being considered by the government to sell off the property portfolio of British Waterways, the agency tasked with the restoration and maintenance of the nation’s canals and waterways.

As British Waterways rely on the income generated from rents to undertake a considerable amount of its work I was concerned that  stretches of our canals and waterways, enjoyed by many, would no longer be maintained should it be forced to dispose of its property portfolio.

After a staggering 22,309 signatures (it was in the top five most popular petitions on the website at one stage) and a change of government the future of our waterways looks more certain. In its official response the government has confirmed plans to create a new charity, similar to the National Trust, and transfer the property portfolio to it.

Whilst I disagree with many policies being developed by the current government I must applaud them on this decison and look forward to hearing more about their plans in the next few weeks.

Government consider measuring happiness

I don’t know if any of you have picked up on yesterday’s story in the Guardian – the government are considering measuring the nation’s happiness and well-being alongside conventional statistics like GDP, etc. to track how well the country is doing.

I’m not sure yet what relevance this has to my next OU assignment (outline who are the winners and losers in a consumer society), but it’s quite interesting that the government should consider this at a time when people’s incomes are likely to stagnate for a few years.

You can read the article here http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/nov/14/happiness-index-britain-national-mood

Learn more about the types of questions likely to be asked in the ‘happiness index’ survey here http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/nov/15/happiness-index-government-questions

The Happy Planet Index here http://www.happyplanetindex.org/

What the government are likely to measure here http://www.nationalaccountsofwellbeing.org/

And see how well we currently compare with the rest of Europe here http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/nov/15/happiness-index-wellbeing-nef

Oh, another thing. I’ve just started reading an interesting book which expands on issues touched upon in the above studies -‘ The Spirit Level. Why equality is better for everyone.’ It’s written by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.

The main thrust of the book’s arguments (from what I’ve read so far) is that there are limits to the benefits of pursuing growth (in an economic sense). It gives a good example of how in the UK we have seen the economy grow, with GDP rising, yet the income gap is wider. This has created greater inequality in our society causing many of the problems we face today, such as mental health, educational performance, etc.

HM Government closes down e-petitions

The ConDem coalition government have seen fit to shut down the e-petition service on the Number10 website.

Unfortunately, that means that the Protect Our Canals petition has been closed with a total of 22309 signatures.

Now is a time when we really need to maintain pressure on the new government to honour the previous Labour government’s pledge to mutualise British Waterways, thereby helping to secure the future for the country’s canals and waterways.

Alun Michael, MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, raised the subject during Treasury Questions in the Commons on the 8th June. You can view the record in Hansard on the Parliament website.

Please write to your MP urging them to raise the question in Parliament and seek assurances from George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his new Treasury team that British Waterways will be mutualised with its property portfolio intact.

Don’t know your MP? Find out at theyworkforyou.com

Public pressure moves Government to mutalise British Waterways

With a current total of 22,245 signatures the petition to Protcet Our Canals on the Number 10 website is helping to make a difference.

This week’s budget statement by HM Treasury may have been described as safe and unexciting by some pundits, but hidden in the detail was an anouncement to mutualise British Waterways (BW).
A narrowboat using Britain's waterways.

A narrowboat using Britain's waterways.

Establishing BW as charitable trust, with its property porfolio intact, secures the future of our canals and waterways. BW will be able to continue to invest in maintining and renovating the nation’s network of waterways, allowing more of us to enjoy the pleasures of walking alongside still waters, or step back in time by taking a holiday aboard a narrowboat.

Welcoming the announcement Tony Hales, BW chairman, said: “This is a significant moment in the history of our inland waterways, which helped put the great into Great Britain as an industrial nation. A mutualised canal network will give the communities that have grown up around the waterways since the 18th Century an increasingly important role in the way they are run in the future.

“The proposal reflects a widely-held, cross-party and stakeholder view that the waterways are a national treasure which should be moved into the third sector if we are to unlock the enormous public support that there is for them. This is a tremendously innovative model for reinvigorating the waterways, it will ensure their continued revival and safeguard against a return to the decline and dereliction which they faced in the last century.”

Thanks to everyone who has signed the petition.

If you haven’t yet signed please do so at Number10.gov.uk – let’s keep the pressure on until the job is done.