GF Blog 24 – Week 24

June 14th

The election is hotting up, but weather continues cold and wet. This week I am really pleased to have numerous other voices and opinions to share, especially a major piece on battery technologies.

Thinking back, I am not sure in all my vast number of years that I’ve ever been to a true general election “hustings”. Or, if I have been to one it obviously was very underwhelming, cos I can’t recall anything about it.

late Old English husting ‘deliberative assembly, council’, from Old Norse hústhing ‘household assembly held by a leader’, from hús ‘house’ + thing ‘assembly, parliament’; hustings was applied in Middle English to the highest court of the City of London, presided over by the Recorder of London. Subsequently it denoted the platform in Guildhall where the Lord Mayor and aldermen presided, and (early 18th century) a temporary platform, on which parliamentary candidates were nominated; hence the sense ‘electoral proceedings’.

This week, though, I have been to 2 – a real one and a side-event, which was predominantly for the Labour party. Both were well attended by devoted environmentalists, all of them rating the topics of nature and climate resilience as top of their priorities. I was somewhat taken aback and very pleased to see various neighbours, some of whom I had no idea really cared. That’s an early point to make, of climate hope for the week. Well done, Lostwithiel!

In this constituency we should have 5 candidates to question, but the Reform party and Conservatives were not represented. No one questioned the lack of appearance of the incumbent Conservative MP, Sheryll Murray, at an event to consider environmental issues. But I wonder, do they know the full picture? For this lady and any other person who has supposedly ‘served’ their community the past 5 years or more, it is easy peasy to see their record. The image here is a summary; just visit that website and you get the full record. Apart from approving the increase of tax on air fares, which I do not quite understand, Sheryll could not claim to have a green bone in her body. I definitely would encourage readers, if still undecided, to use this website as a resource for checking their options.

For me though, rather than the exterior, the policies of the party, it is the personal qualities I put as top priority for my own representative. I wanted to get a real feel of who they are and would they care about me, my work, my drive to deliver education and hope. I wonder if it will surprise non-Cornwall readers to learn there is a strongly active Facebook page called Sheryll M is unfit for office?! The unfitness is because she has no empathy; she absolutely has not cared for individuals or businesses in the way they needed.

To the left of the picture above you can see Anna, for Labour, then Colin for Lib Dems in the middle and Martin for the Green party on the right. I have pages of notes on the different performances, happy to share if you ask, but in a nutshell, each has their own strengths. Anna said thank you, almost every time she opened her mouth. I was left thinking there is genuine humility in this young lady, no sense of entitlement, but also a very resilient core. She gave as good as she got in nasty mud-slinging with Colin. I hate that it happened, but she was ready for it.

Colin I have known and worked alongside for 5 whole years in his role of Chairman and mine of Minutes secretary of Luxulyan Valley Partnership. I chose not to share details in such a public forum, of the track record tackling our many hydro and heritage challenges, but could clearly have spelled out the story of failed ambitions, some members even say we have gone backwards in this time. Instead, I chose to present the topic of lithium and mining when I got to the chance to speak. More on that later …

My favourite personality was the slightly bumbly, professorial Green party gentleman. He is not in it for career progression or ego, just a trooper all his life! If only we had proportional representation, I would surely be voting that way. Anyway, the good thing is that all three have deep knowledge and seemingly also the required sense of responsibility and green values, in an election which – for nature and the planet – the host, Cheryl for Cornwall Wildlife Trust, reminded us is probably the most important of our lifetimes. We still have this little window of just one more parliament to turn things round.

The business began with personal statements from each party, followed by questions put to them by the trust, then questions from the floor. A wide, wide range of topics was covered – from farming and the land, to fishing and our seas, energy, education about climate and nature and the hottest topics of our patch – mining, sewage in the sea and desalination.

Southwest Water performance exposed

Sat 8th – one lucky fine day
Drumming fun
Thurs 13th – what a contrast!  

In case you had been lulled into thinking we have a summer on our hands, the pics above certainly break that illusion! Saturday, for the Desalination protest on the beach, we were very lucky. It was joyful, lots of lovely music, plenty of people paddling or on their boards or boats, and the leader of actions, Jenny, able to galvanise almost 300 people into completing comments online. The deadline is middle of next week:-

The deadline of Wednesday 19th June is fast approaching!

Our last in person support session was held at Par Track café this very day (Friday 14th June a.m.) If you couldn’t make it, here’s a few pointers to help you submit an objection yourself:

Whether you choose postal letter, email or online submission, you need to ensure the application case reference is entered in your correspondence. MMO Case ref: MLA/2024/00129 Desalination Plant, St Austell Bay, Marine GI Works

Postal letters – We recommend these are sent by Saturday 15th June at the latest to Marine Consents, Marine Management Organisation, Lancaster House, Hampshire Court, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 7YH

Email or online submissions   We recommend you submit these by 12 noon on Weds 19th June in case of any last minute technical `glitches’! Email address for objections:

MMO public register web address:

Objection templates – Please click here to access example objections to copy and paste plus step-by-step instructions to make objecting easier. Many thanks for your continued support


I have just seen a link to a podcast about the situation, on Facebook. It is so good, covers all the ground and includes a very appropriate top expert voice, do give it a go. In fact I have removed quite a bit of text from below, in favour of this option, as it is so much easier to take in.

My Objection Letter

Having not been able to join a public support session for writing a suitable objection, it seems only right I should do my own research and work up my own objection letter. I found the SW Water application to MMO online and have taken a few sections to share. If this isn’t for you just scroll on down!  and

Marine Geotechnical Investigations (GI) are required at St. Austell Bay 

The marine GI works at St Austell Bay are located within the site boundary. The works encompass marine boreholes (n=4) and Cone Penetration Tests (CPT’s) (n=14). The marine GI works are proposed to commence no earlier than 15 April 2024 and finish no later than 15 September 2024.

Programme of worksThe marine GI works at St Austell Bay are located within the site boundary, as shown in Figure 1. The marine GI works are proposed to commence no earlier than 15 April 2024 and finish no later than 15 September 2024.

A WFD (Water Framework Directive) compliance assessment and HRA (Habitats Regulations Assessment) have been undertaken.

Due to the location of the GI works within an SPA (Special Protection Area),an Appropriate Assessment was carried out as part of the HRA process. It was concluded that the proposed marine GI works would not have an Adverse Effect on Integrity (AEOI) of the Falmouth Bay to St. Austell Bay SPA (or any other Protected Site) either alone or in combination with other projects or plans.

There follows a very big list of required standards in numerous categories – infrastructure, fish, birds, other habitats, aquaculture, etc etc   

SW-AQ-1 SW-AQ-1 Proposals within existing or potential strategic areas of sustainable aquaculture production must demonstrate consideration of and compatibility with sustainable aquaculture production. Where compatibility is not possible, proposals that may have significant adverse impacts on sustainable aquaculture production must demonstrate that they will, in order of preference: a) avoid b) minimise c) mitigate, adverse impacts on sustainable aquaculture production so they are no longer significant. If it is not possible to mitigate significant adverse impacts, proposals should state the case for proceeding.  Mitigate nificant adverse impacts, proposals should state the case for proceeding.The proposed works are not located within existing aquaculture production areas and will not prevent aquaculture opportunities in the future.  SW-AQ-1 is therefore not considered to be applicable to the proposed works.  
As noted in the response to Policy SW-FISH-3 the loss/damage to benthic habitat (including seagrass habitat) will be highly localised, of small magnitude and highly temporary in nature and therefore not significant. Potential essential fish habitat loss will be avoided through micrositing where possible and minimised as much as feasible.  

There is one major flaw in this document, as it is not impartial, far from it. SWW have paid a firm called Stantec to answer each of the categories and it is their response you see in the right hand box. This is the tone throughout, dismissing or disregarding all pertinent concerns and the legal requirements. Fortunately, there is a conclusion showing that Natural England officers have significant powers and are setting them out:-  

FURTHER INFORMATION REQUIRED TO DETERMINE IMPACTS on Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay Special Protection Area (SPA)

Natural England notes that your shadow HRA, on behalf of Southwest Water as competent authority under the provisions of the Habitats Regulations, has screened the proposal to check for the likelihood of significant effects. Your assessment concludes that the competent authority can rule out the likelihood of significant effects arising from the proposal, either alone or in combination. On the basis of information provided, Natural England advises that there is currently not enough information to rule out the likelihood of significant effects. Natural England therefore advises further information is required on the nature of the habitats impacted by the proposed ground investigation works. As submitted, the application could have potential significant effects on the maerl beds and seagrass beds which are supporting habitats within Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay SPA.

Further information is required in order to determine the significance of impacts and the scope for mitigation. Natural England advises that both subtidal seagrass beds and maerl beds are supporting habitats for the designated bird features of the SPA, providing valuable shelter and habitats for the prey species of all three designated features. Any loss is considered a likely significant effect regardless of the size impacted. See Supplementary Advice on Conservation Objectives.

Further information on the nature of the habitats impacted by the ground investigation works is required before Natural England can concur with a conclusion of no Likely Significant Effect on the SPA.

We have not assessed this application and associated documents for impacts on marine protected species as listed on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981 as amended). The onus is on the applicant to ensure that they are legally compliant with the legislation throughout the duration of the licence. Further details of the species protected through this legislation can be found here: Please consult us again once the information requested above has been provided.

Before I write my own objection, I have one other source to consult and that is David and his boss, Gary, at St Austell Bay mussel and seaweed farm. I wonder if they are paying anyone to defend their interests against impacts?

Back to the Sharkey Session

This was meant to be an outdoor gathering on Par Beach, but eventually the conditions forced us into the pub, where we had a famous figure in our midst – Feargal Sharkey – who came to tell us home truths about water companies and show his support for Labour in that (different) constituency.

It was a last- minute affair, announced on Facebook. It was definitely worth being there, and I was able to record his words into my phone, for listening back and analysing after.

Feargal was accompanied by 2 presenters – Noah Law, Labour candidate for St Austell and Ken Penton, of SERA.

SERA & an unanswered ? Why have we never heard of this before? Isn’t it silly to resurrect the SERA idea so late in the campaign?

The Socialist Environment and Resources Association (SERA), founded in 1973, is an independent environmental association affiliated to the UK Labour Party as a socialist society. SERA is the only environmental group affiliated to Labour, and campaigns for the party to adopt ambitious environmental policies. But – as the candidate, young Noah, agreed – no one has heard of it and it is a bit late in the day to start banging the drum.

From climate change to community energy, we’re passionate about tackling the most important environmental and social challenges facing Britain; challenges only Labour administrations can tackle. (NOT TRUE, Lib Dems and Greens are on the case to an equal extent, so far as I can tell)

As a membership organisation we act as a hub for red-green politics across the UK, with active local branches raising the profile of environmental issues in their area.

We hold events, run campaigns, publish new thinking and ideas, and work with partners across the Labour and environmental movements to shape the political debate. (No Sign of these publications etc. on the web page)

We’re run by a voluntary Executive Committee. We’re one of the 22 socialist societies affiliated to Labour, and are therefore represented on Labour’s National Executive Committee and National Policy Forum.

And finally, an astonishing Key Point to be made from all this recent action

SW Water has proposed investment of £125m (POUNDS STERLING) going forward, with much of that due to be spent on Desalination.

Some DAYS, and not at all unusually, more than 125m GALLONS of water is lost through leaks.

If their expenditure was all directed at MENDING LEAKS, I bet it would not cost anything like £1m for each LEAKING GALLON!!

And PS at the hustings, a reminder was given that we have very many redundant china clay pits and old quarries in our midst. SW Water has begun to use one as a new small reservoir, why not fill up more across the whole county?

NEW TOPIC – Series of posts re Battery Technology

Roseney Mill, Lanlivery

It is a month now since my colleague Bob and I visited Roseney Mill and heard the aspirations of the resident family, for reducing their carbon footprint. Joining us that day was the person I consider Cornwall’s top man in terms of advice about solar, batteries and many other sustainable energy topics … that’s Mat Green of Eco NRG. Having not heard much since that visit, I chased Mat and felt very pleased to know his company will be installing the new equipment required. I wanted to find out if there were any unusual items or considerations to share with you … here is the first part of his info:- (somewhat technical, again scroll through if you need to!)  

The owners are looking for a solution to various issues that included heating their home without using a fossil fuel and generating their own electricity to reduce reliance on the grid. Unfortunately, after a brief survey it was deemed that the house would not be suitable for a heat pump, so we had to look at other solutions for heating and hot water.  Our proposed solution is a flat roof solar array mounted onto his garage / workshop roof, with the inverter and battery to be located in the house next to the meter, connecting the inverter and battery via some SWA cable buried underground.  We will install a 10.32kW array of 24 Eurener 430W modules that have a 30 year performance and product warranty, rather than going for the cheaper Chinese modules. The total system size should produce around 9,179kWh a year even taking into account some light shading from surrounding trees.  To negate the shading we will use an 8kW Solaredge ‘optimised’ inverter, with voltage optimiser  installed onto the back of each module; this has the ability to make every module operate individually to their maximum, rather than to the same output as the lowest performing module in the series. It also has the ability to shut the DC circuit down to 1 volt per panel in the event of a fire, which is classed as fireman safe.  Please have a look on the following link for more information on this inverter

An app will allow them to see exactly how much energy each module is generating, how much they consume personally and thus how much is importing and exporting. They also have chosen a Tesla Powerwall battery, with the ability to work in the event of a powercut and hold up to 13.5kWh of usable energy and charge and discharge at a rate of 5kW.

As these systems were above the normal size that National Grid will permit to be installed onto their network, we wrote to them asking what the maximum amount of generation was that they would permit to be installed onto their network. When they advised 8kW of PV generation and 5kW of battery storage that is what we agreed to design, as the system of maximum permitted size.

At this point I gave Mat a quick call and began to quiz him about other battery types. Firstly, he told me have a look at Sunamp heat batteries,  If someone has PV and a big hot water demand they can be a great solution and there’s a local installer called South West Heating Solutions.

I was puzzled. What is a heat battery? Turns out it is the same technology you get in one of those little handwarmers, the ones you can re-use rather than the single use type:-

Reusable hand warmers don’t contain iron but instead use a supersaturated solution of sodium acetate that releases heat as it crystallizes.

I have minimal knowledge of chemistry but found the YouTube story of research at Edinburgh University, to enable sodium acetate hydrate to be re-used thousands of times, rather fascinating. In this film we hear from Andrew Bissell about the journey his company took, to ensure over years of improvements, that their material could become stable and long-lasting. Indeed, today a sunamp thermal battery can be expected to keep working every day, twice a day, giving out hot water as required for OVER 50 years!,the%20equivalent%20hot%20water%20cylinder

Sunamp tells usPlentigrade is the high-performance phase change material which powers our thermal batteries. It’s much more energy dense than water, making our thermal batteries much smaller than the equivalent hot water cylinder.

The many benefits in terms of size, reliability and long-life explain why they have won lots of awards and sold over 25,000. Quite a story! I have just copied a few basics from their website, but obviously if interested you can find a lot more for yourself.

We’re a global company committed to net zero and based in the UK. We design and manufacture our thermal battery products at our UK headquarters near Edinburgh. Here, we have our factory, research and development labs and customer training centre.

We are an ambitious, imaginative business that’s growing fast. Recent expansion includes offices in New York and Zurich.

Given my own concerns about Lithium and EV technology, I carried on questioning Mat about other battery types. He recalled another source of info called Aquion, from which I now show a topic list. Each week going ahead I shall be looking deeper into these, along with Mat’s comments.

I also am intent on further investigation of lithium recycling, which Lib Dem Colin seems to think is going to be an easy thing to achieve on a mass scale, but experts at University of Exeter have predicted will be a massive challenge.

This is becoming too long now, so let’s wind things up with a taster/ preview of one of the good news stories about batteries, sent in by a reader in Hampshire – thank you Catherine!

Leave a comment