GF Blog 24 – Week 4

26th January

Today there is a very welcome full post-bag to share, followed by some ‘matters arising’, with (warning) a massively unexpected sting in the tail (or tale).

Having slogged over a hot laptop and finally launched the 1st 2024 blog to readers, there is nothing better than responses coming right back with many thoughts and greater knowledge to offer. This was what arrived in the first email last Friday, from Bruce in Cambridge: –

Happy New Year!  Thanks for another excellent blog.

We spent Xmas in Northern Italy and were very distressed by a visit to the location where we used to ski, both black runs and cross country, in the past.  The snow was very thin, certainly not good enough for skiing and the cost of providing enough artificial snow was prohibitive. This is impacting the normal volume of visitors and tourist business. However, we managed a bit of tobogganing and a long walk on very icy snow.


You are already aware that I am very involved in chalk stream preservation, as we walked my local “river”, the Mel, together back in autumn 2022. This was a silted up straightened channel when we first started work on it about 20 years ago.

River Mel, chalk base with gravel added
Sheene Mill
Flow beneath old wheel

The approach we took, with advice from the wildlife trust and a river ecologist, was to remove silt from the base and create revetments to narrow the channel.  This forces the stream to flow faster, moving the silt away and cutting down to the bedrock chalk, which is now revealed. We have also added large amounts of gravel, which is good for the invertebrate population and hence the whole food chain.  This is your “Let Nature Loose” approach (with a bit of help).

Caroline adds – this is of great interest for us, so I asked Bruce to elaborate:-

Revetment construction:-

Essentially stakes are put into the riverbed about 2-3 feet from the bank and then faggot bundles are put in behind them and secured with wire.  The gaps are filled in with debris collected from the river and silt.  We get the faggot bundles from a sustainable wood i.e planned planting, coppicing and felling.  

There is some good stuff in:  with pictures.

This approach has been successful from our perspective, as invertebrate and fish counts are good, although this also attracts the bird fish predators like heron and egret.  There is also evidence of otters.  Don’t mention the invasive American crayfish!!!

The second approach you mention is interesting, but I would expect the river to just silt up again, or maybe the smart sluices will prevent this.

At this point, Caroline interjects – when you study the entire leat system, silt management was built into the structures and timetables, with regular flushing out dates. This is something we will need to study further.


Cam Valley Forum have applied for Bathing Water Designation for a stretch of the Cam. We expect to hear something in March with a decision, if the application goes forward, April or May.

Details of the application is on the CVF website:

Looking at their web page is very informative. I have copied some elements here, but all the content should be helpful if Lostwithiel is to progress their own application. It was asserted at the recent meeting that our water quality designation will not be as bad as this Cambridge area, but we can’t be sure yet.

Once the site is “Designated”, the Environment Agency will test the water quality every week throughout the bathing season, publishing the results on the DEFRA website. These results will be very useful for swimmers and other river users.

If, as is very likely, at the end of the first year, the status is officially rated as “Poor”, under section 13 of the Bathing Water Regulations 2013, this creates a Statutory Obligation to clean it up. The Environment Agency will be required to undertake research to identify the sources of pollution. If as we expect, Haslingfield Sewage Works is identified as a major source, Anglian Water will be legally required to clean it up, and it creates a “driver” for Ofwat to release funding under the water industry national environment programme ( WINEP) for England funding cycle.

Bruce continues, It was a lot of work doing the counting and the consultation and drafting the application. Although there was strong support there also was a group of local residents, including some members of the Green Party, who were very opposed.  They were concerned that it would attract large numbers of visitors which would overwhelm the area.

Like you, we also linked with Surfers against Sewage and have “wild swimmers”. We certainly encountered issues with the regulations changing during the preparation of the application.

One of the main reasons for the application was that the water company would get funds to clean up the river if the application was successful.  They were therefore supportive (which created problems for us with the “Friends of the Cam” action group who decry any working with water companies).  

Lastly, this week our political ecology seminar group read and discussed Slow Hope, by Christof  Mauch:

It is good you are so into Hopeful activities. Very best wishes  

THANKS very much Bruce, for such helpful advice.

SOUTH WEST WATER specifics, from Gerith of Tideford, PL12.

I’m just reading your blog, and found the source of your comment re Colliford reservoir‘s current level. Staggering, really, given all the rain. So much of it simply flows down our hill and straight into our poor Tiddy!

Caroline replied    I have no proof, it was simply a passing comment at a party! So, I have to be careful where I say this.  What happens to the poor Tiddy? Does it burst its banks or rise into houses anywhere between the village and the sea?

Gerith answered, The Tiddy bursts its banks and affects four properties, all of which have in the past spent a fortune on flood defences (with limited success).

This backs up what we have heard in Luxulyan, that individual property owners can really struggle to know how to deal with flood threats and feel completely abandoned by authorities.

Next came an email from Richard L, of Luxulyan.

Hi Caroline;  In your blog this week talking about Colliford you ask, ” How can it not be at 100%?”

Well the quick answer is, “Because South West Water haven’t filled it up yet.”

I have reached this conclusion after reading the following year-old document:-

On page 4 is a map that shows that most of the tap-water supplied in Cornwall comes from the River Fowey. Extraction occurs at the Restormel Water Treatment Works (WTW) in Lostwithiel. In the summer extraction would be limited as The Environment Agency specify how much water must be left flowing down the river. To provide sufficient flow, SWW releases water from Colliford as required. 

On page 5 we are told that Colliford Water Resource Zone (WRZ) has a very small catchment area of 12.4 square kilometres. It doesn’t matter how much rain we get, Colliford will never fill up from rainfall alone. It is actually filled by pumping water from the River Fowey at Lostwithiel. SWW have a pipeline running from the Restormel works up to Colliford for this. This is described below the map on page 4.

So you see, whether it is for technical or other reasons, SWW haven’t yet pumped enough water up to Colliford to fill it!  (Caroline answers with the comment, and perhaps will not ever do so? Maybe they are using some for diluting sewage as well?) 

Still enjoying your blog, thank you.         Glad of that, thank you Richard. 

Using the Internet, Planting Trees  –

From time to time Lin, who lives not far from Truro, sends me important snippets and this was certainly one. Thank you so much!

Nearly all of us use our technology rather than books to research and browse these days. Why not switch to Ecosia to make a positive green contribution to the world while you scroll?

I had not heard of Ecosia until it was recommended to me by a friend. I simply installed the app from ‘Google play’ on my android phone which gave me free and instant access to the browser. To date I have ‘planted’ 199 trees through my searches. Ecosia total says 195,297,588 to date and €81,413,588 total monetary investment.

Another way to install is to select Ecosia from your regular search engine and then set Ecosia as your default. 

So how does it work? All revenue from Ecosia advertisers go to planting trees where they are most needed in the world. (No it’s not strewn with annoying pop-ups and bitty advertising) A tree is planted for every 50 searches made. Each tree absorbs approximately 50kg of carbon over a period of 15 years. 

Ecosia is used by 20 million searchers, the resulting trees are being planted in 35 different countries with 75 active projects in collaboration with local organisations. Other green credentials are that Ecosia’s servers are powered by 100% renewable energy sources.

With regard to privacy Ecosia is similar in policy to ‘Duck Duck Go’ as it anonymises searches and deletes info regularly. It does not create profiles for its users and does not collect data. Some report that users find searches are limited but that’s not my experience. There’s nothing to stop one using another browser as a backup should one have the occasional need.

Please watch this report from Senegal to see for yourselves what an amazing impact using Ecosia can have on individual’s lives as well as the planet’s overall health:-

So simple so positive 👌    PS please pass it on

The CHINESE Topics

As we make final preparations for our Dragon building workshop this coming Saturday 27th, the pace of investigations has ramped up, in a variety of areas. First, the confirmation that we cannot simply make a red and gold dragon, because this is a special year featuring ‘Wood Dragons’, which are quite often coloured green. An email from Jackie D told me

I am forwarding something totally illuminating about the year of the Wood Dragon. Hope you enjoy it and find it as inspiring as I have,

This is a very long film, presented by what appears to be a Caucasian man. It leaves me a little uncomfortable. Why are we not hearing explanations from a Chinese person? But it certainly helped me to grasp more about the way Zodiac animals also link up with not 4, but 5 elements in Chinese traditions. Indeed, it reminded me how vital 5 is in other aspects of our project – Pentatonic music (5 note scale) and 5 spice mix.

Five is a lucky number and is usually linked to the 5 elements which are wood, earth, water, fire and metal. This number is usually linked to the Emperor of China as well and the Tienanmen gate. “A great practice to familiarise ourselves with the Chinese number five is to adopt the founding five Chinese blessings like Wealth– Happiness– Longevity — Luck and Prosperity.”

5 elements, in Feng Shui and health
5 spices for tasty meals

I won’t dwell on this further, because it is not relevant to sustainability or Climate. Similarly, you may think initially not relevant, is the information I gathered by travelling to watch a performing arts group called ‘Shen Yun’. However, it is so horrific, I really feel it is important to share.

Let me quote first from the programme:- ‘For over 2 decades the Communist Party has been persecuting practitioners of our group “Falun Dafa” (AKA “Falun Gong”), for our unacceptable beliefs. They have arrested, tortured and even killed our supporters in relation to an illegal trade in organs for human transplant’.

This moment, hidden within a 2 hour glamorous, Americanised show, was like a bolt out of the blue. I had to wait til well into the next day to process it and be ready to start work, verifying if it is true through further research. It also rang bells in my memory of another group of persecuted – the Muslim Uyghur people in the Xinjiang province.

Here is a source that I assume is trustworthy, an NBC news report in America, but based on a London investigation:-“Forced%20organ%20harvesting%20has%20been,last%20century%2C”%20it%20added

LONDON — The organs of members of marginalized groups detained in Chinese prison camps are being forcefully harvested — sometimes when patients are still alive, an international tribunal sitting in London has concluded.

In a statement released alongside the final judgment, the tribunal said many of those affected were practitioners of Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline that China banned in the 1990s and has called an “evil cult.” The tribunal added that it was possible that Uyghur Muslims — an ethnic minority who are currently being detained in vast numbers in western China — were also being targeted.

Next, I searched out a link provided to me not long ago by Mat Green, of, solar panel installers (Thanks Mat!). This link leads to a university research report :-

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has placed millions of indigenous Uyghur and Kazakh citizens from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR or Uyghur Region) into what the government calls “surplus labour” (富余劳动) and “labour transfer” (劳动力转) programmes. An official PRC government report published in November 2020 documents the “placement” of 2.6 million minoritised citizens in jobs in farms and factories within the Uyghur Region and across the country through these state-sponsored “surplus labour” and “labour transfer” initiatives. 

Evidence Base

The evidence of forced labour in the Uyghur Region is expansive and growing. The Forced Labour Lab is committed to making evidence and data regarding the oppression of minoritised citizens in the Uyghur region available to the public.

Specifics of Solar Panel Supply Chain

The Sheffield Hallam University paper … focuses on just one of those industries – the solar energy industry – and reveals the ways forced labour in the Uyghur Region can pervade an entire supply chain and reach deep into international markets. We concluded that the solar industry is particularly vulnerable to forced labour in the Uyghur Region because:-

  • 95% of solar modules rely on one primary material – solar-grade polysilicon.
  • Polysilicon manufacturers in the Uyghur Region account for approximately 45% of the world’s solar-grade polysilicon supply.
  • All polysilicon manufacturers in the Uyghur Region have reported their participation in labour transfer programmes and/or are supplied by raw materials companies that have.
  • In 2020, China produced an additional 30% of the world’s polysilicon on top of that produced in the Uyghur Region, a significant proportion of which may be affected by forced labour in the Uyghur Region as well.

In the course of this research, we identified:

  • 11 companies engaged in labour transfers
  • 4 additional companies located within industrial parks that have accepted labour transfers
  • 90 Chinese and international companies whose supply chains are affected

This report seeks to increase the knowledge base upon which the solar industry determines its exposures to forced labour in the Uyghur Region. We investigated the entire solar module supply chain from quartz to panel to better understand the extent to which forced labour in the Uyghur region affects international value chains. The examples of engagement in these programmes are meant to provide stakeholders with the evidence base upon which to judge risk of exposure to forced labour in the solar supply chain.

A glimmer of more positive news may be found in America, where there is a Solar Energy Industries Association or S.E.I.A. And if you type ethical suppliers of Solar into a UK search engine, other options will appear.

Supply Chain Ethics & Sustainability

Ensuring an ethical and sustainable supply chain is of paramount importance to the U.S. solar industry. Based on credible reports of human rights abuses in China, the solar industry is working to stamp out these abhorrent practices throughout its supply chain. SEIA and the industry are taking numerous steps to address these critical issues and are committed to the long-term sustainability and integrity of our supply chains.

See it for yourself

I am a subscriber to The Guardian online, so I can see all of the pictures. But can you?

Where does this leave any sense of Hope? I truly do not know how to answer my own question.

In another week’s time I should have completed an overview survey for February 10th entitled, “Making and Selling, Demand and Supply; Where in the World can we Safely Buy?”

If your intention is to install Solar Panels or Wind Turbines or most other paraphernalia of Sustainable Energy please look into the small print, the detail of how these items are being made. And here is a very useful overview to get you started. From’s,forecasts%20from%20consultancy%20Wood%20Mackenzie.

Explainer: The numbers behind China’s renewable energy boom

By Colleen Howe

November 15, 2023 5:08 PM GMT e.g. updated 2 months ago

Wind turbines stand on a power station near Yumen, Gansu province, China September 25, 2020. Picture taken September 25, 2020. REUTERS/

BEIJING, Nov 15 (Reuters) – China and the U.S. have agreed to back a global target to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030, the two superpowers said in a statement on Wednesday, two weeks before nearly 200 countries meet for the COP28 climate conference.

The two agreed to “accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation”, but did not mention phasing out fossil fuels, a goal that China has described as “unrealistic”.

China is the world’s largest coal user, but also the biggest producer of renewable energy.

Here are some details to put it in perspective:


China has been the world’s largest and fastest-growing producer of renewable power for more than a decade, and its lead has widened with an acceleration of solar and wind power capacity in recent years.

The country will build as much new solar capacity this year as the total installed capacity in the U.S., according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.

Fossil fuels now make up less than half of China’s total installed capacity for power generation.

In 2020, China committed to have 1,200 GW of renewables capacity by 2030 but is on track to meet that goal five years early.

China could have as much as 1,000 GW of solar power alone by the end of 2026, analysts say, out of 11,000 GW needed globally to meet Paris Agreement targets by 2030.


China’s 2020 announcement that it would become carbon neutral by 2060 provided a powerful political signal favouring renewable investments.

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