GF Blog 23 – Week 23

7th July

‘Making a splash’ – from Wimbledon to Spain, London to Devon & W Cornwall, we have lots of watery updates, plus latest news of Lithium and a reader request for help with a project

DROUGHT 1 Spain & Portugal’s veg and fruit areas struggle again this summer
DROUGHT 2 – this crop should be almost 1m high. But in dry Devon, yields are down by almost 75%
RELIEF – A few days of showers dampen Wimbledon spirits, but bring welcome respite

We have heard before that Spain and Portugal grow vast quantities of fruits and vegetables to grace our tables here in the UK. And, because the crops require intensive irrigation, when rains do not come life for farmers becomes very difficult. The first image shows how this is happening again now, and the TV report I saw included the effect on local pigs as well as crops.

Next comes an image from Devon, but here there is some hope as unexpectedly OFWAT has put up £1m to test the concept of water ‘batteries’ to address drought. If this is of interest, please message and I can send a film.

Devon Council is establishing better engagement with residents to my mind, than in Cornwall. Here our council publishes a dry PDF or 2, but does not seek opinions or stimulate debate via a Citizens Climate Assembly. They left that to Exeter University, Penryn, who ran an event at the end of 2021.

Key findings

Four interlinked themes emerged during the event: processes, communication, practical solutions, and gateway connections to nature. From this they concluded

  1. We need to improve our transport and housing systems to help us to adapt to more environmentally friendly behaviours.
  2. The need to improve how we share information about solutions and issues is crucial, as are the sectors which can help us to do this more effectively (such as museums and the creative sector).
  3. We need more of certain ‘gateway’ activities which help connect people to their environment.

Would anyone like to tell them that Green Fridays blog is the way to answer item 2?! 


Exeter Uni is such a force for stimulating debate, exchanging concerns and opinions, no matter how controversial. I know this from first-hand by linking with the engineering, sustainability and Camborne School of Mines sections. Which brings me to news of a desperately sad loss to the University. How great it was to see such respect and support for the family of Richard Cochrane on June 25th at Gerrans Village Hall, especially to learn more about his innovative wind turbine designs and the ways that his work may be continued by the Rheenergise team in Canada.—richard-cochrane

Another link with the Penryn campus, (Falmouth Uni, not Exeter) is that my son Tom is in a studio at AMATA (Academy of Music and Theatre Arts) for the final week of rehearsals for his one-man show, ‘All that Glitters’. He and his small team have been acting like squirrels for months, really exploring and digging out a wide range of facts and perspectives on the future of mining in Cornwall.

Unfortunately, the only thing I can do here is share some images and not invite you to watch the show next week, cos it is already sold out. Hopefully, there may be more opportunities later this year. It weaves personal stories of being a young gay lad growing up in Cornwall, grasping that his Granny and his Mum both were determined ‘Eco-warriors’ and at last, in his 30s, finding that this theme has drawn him back home after a decade of world travel, choreography, direction and performance.

Richard Cochrane
Photo-shoot at Wheal Maid
Arts and Culture, 2 universities & National Trust support this show

The above photo-shoot location was down the Bissoe trail in a historic mine, called Wheal Maid. What a day that was, carrying all the gear in from miles away and being amazed at the weirdly other-worldly scenery! We thought we had nailed down the content around that time, but since then more Lithium industry press releases have come thick and fast. Last week I was very pleased to view a BBC local TV report, about a collaboration of British Lithium with our local china clay company, Imerys. I have always thought that re-working old mines and quarries would be a better option than drilling deep new shafts, as is required for Lithium brine. This way, when the dry Lithium Carbonate and any other potential ‘goodies’ are all extracted hopefully a responsible remediation process will follow.

Clay pit area today
Potential remediated pit, tomorrow

TRAVELLING with WATER WHEELS  – 1st July at Kresen Kernow, Redruth

I have in mind a little old song some readers may remember, ‘Didn’t we have a loverly time, the day we went to Bangor?!’ … but substitute, ‘the Day we went to Kresen!’

Let me be perfectly frank and acknowledge that I breathed a sigh of relief, when Mailchimp pulled the plug on us last weekend and gave time off. Not because I am a lazy bones, but rather that we had so much to prepare for this long anticipated Big Day Out. I was determined that the name and achievements of our green hero, Joseph Treffry, would ‘Make a Splash’ (definition = ‘attract a lot of attention in an exciting way’) both figuratively and literally at our county history archive.

Happy to say things worked brilliantly in both categories. We helped participants get a much deeper understanding of Treffry, through a power point presentation, but also through hands-on activities. Although playing with wheels, water, trucks on tracks and making a viaduct arch from sugar cubes was primarily for the family session, it also prompted some deep discussion of adults, including my team members, Bob and David, when I said that breastshot wheels are more efficient than over the top ‘Overshot’ ones. Now we have reached agreement, that I was correct. Breastshot takes water at the shoulder or waist height of a wheel and spins it down in a counter-clockwise direction. This is more efficient than the clockwise, over the top version. An excellent summary, if you are interested to grasp the whole concept, is here:-

More about Kresen Kernow

The name stands for Cornwall Centre, a wonderful building which opened in 2019. It is home to the world’s biggest collection of archive and library material related to the county. Funded by the Heritage Lottery and County Council, it houses around 1.5 million items, including over 100,000 books, 40,000 maps and 220,000 photographs and postcards – all kept in over 14 miles of shelving!

The original granite Redruth Brewery building has been beautifully restored and offers a range of formal and more flexible spaces. We were in one of the latter, which luckily had a kitchen area with sink and vinyl flooring. We put tarpaulin on the floor too, thus enabling everyone to have a go pouring water and using their own ‘puff’ to drive little colourful wheels. Certainly the 2nd workshop was more about a Green Future, than looking into the past.

To sum up, the staff were brilliant, the participants ready to give everything a go and keep smiling. It was so much fun!


There will be a free presentation on MONDAY 17TH JULY in the church at LANLIVERY, in conjunction with the Lostwithiel Benefice of churches and Red Moor School,

‘How to plan and deliver your Harvest Ceremony 4 Climate Hope’

Here is the link for registering

Dramatic Resignation – another way to ‘Make a Splash?!’  

Last Friday Lord Zac Goldsmith resigned from his position as international environment minister of the UK government. In a scathing letter on Friday, Goldsmith took aim at the prime minister directly for being ‘simply uninterested’ in the environment and said his own position had been made ‘untenable’.”

 The Press Association published the full text of Goldsmith’s letter in which he says: “The UK has visibly stepped off the world stage and withdrawn our leadership on climate and nature. Too often we are simply absent from key international fora. Only last week you seemingly chose to attend the party of a media baron [Rupert Murdoch] rather than attend a critically important environment summit in Paris, that ordinarily the UK would have co-led.

Worse still, we have effectively abandoned one of the most widely reported and solemn promises we have made on this issue: our pledge to spend £11.6bn of our aid on climate and environment. Indeed, the only reason the government has not had to come clean on the broken promise is because the final year of expenditure falls after the next general election and will therefore be the problem for the next government, not this one. This was a promise, remember, that has been consistently repeated by prime ministers in the past four years, including by you, and for good reason. It is the single most important signal of intent for the dozens of small island and climate-vulnerable states on an issue that is existential for them. These states, remember, have equal sway in the UN where we routinely seek their support on other issues.

That same promise was also used successfully by the UK as leverage to persuade G7 countries to follow suit, and breaking it would not only infuriate them, along with those small island states in the Commonwealth and beyond – it would shred any reputation we have for being a reliable partner.”

This is very powerful, angry rhetoric. I particularly note his call to ‘Remember’. Politicians of all colours seem to find it so easy to forget their previous commitments.

My source for this report (carbon is new to me. At first look, it is a very useful site, covering many different topical subjects. Look at this, in just one day!

Before leaving this topic, I wanted to get a better grasp of what might motivate a life peer to walk away from his highly responsible position with such a furious and very public attack. The most significant previous campaign Goldsmith was associated with was opposition to a 3rd runway at Heathrow. Having founded and co-chaired the All Party Group on Heathrow expansion, ‘He announced his resignation as MP for Richmond Park on October 25, 2016, after the government decided to approve construction of a third runway at Heathrow Airport.’  

Is the 3rd runway going to happen? More effective than any resignation was Covid, which has provided the pause Goldsmith desired. 

Active construction and development remain on ice after being paused during the COVID-19 pandemic. Heathrow’s Director of Communities and Sustainability, Becky Coffin, confirmed that the project remains paused and under internal review.15 Jun 2023    I find it difficult to give any conclusions on this. Resignation is probably not the best way to achieve change in any major political situation. On the other hand, we need some drama if it can raise awareness. Current trends make it far cheaper and easier to take internal flights around the UK rather than trains and no one seems inclined even to notice. Unless you can plan many months ahead, the flight from Manchester to Cornwall may cost iro of £80 but the train is almost double and of course it takes forever, by comparison. The way our transport system is managed provides nil incentive to choose the best options environmentally. ☹ Disgraceful!   

Let us not end on such a low, but instead welcome new members Jake Corin, Silvia Silva and their very young son Santiago.

Jake grew up in Cornwall but has taken his family to Portugal to embrace an experimental project, in collaboration with farmers, municipalities and funders, who have as a high priority the regeneration of sadly depleted soils.

To help them achieve this end, they travel around with measuring equipment, to enable unique soil microbiology analysis. They seek to deepen public understanding of soil, with one major point of focus being to enlarge and project micro-organisms that live in a healthy soil onto screens “so that people can learn, understand and create awareness of the soil microbial life”.

My source was a website called but it seems not to be available for copying. So why not find them on Facebook?

From autumn 2023 Jake and his family hope to come back to Cornwall.

They need to connect with farmers, funders and municipalities in this part of the world, but first must locate that highly unlikely thing – reasonable cost, comfortable accommodation.

Meadow Barns can give them workspace, storage, a play place but there just is not enough suitable accommodation for all 3.

Please, if you are able to help, either use this email – Jake Corin | Symbiosis Soil Lab  or connect through the blog comment box or my email.

Thank you.

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