GF Blog – Week 26

June 28th

Tidal developments by the Tamar, a meeting with British Lithium and a ‘rag-bag’ collection of other shorter items, all served up with our latest ‘Teatime to Twilight’ offer.   

Brunel and a Victorian lady beneath the Royal Albert Bridge
The entry welcome board of a community event in Penwithick, from Imerys and British Lithium

The first photo above, taken below the railway bridge at Saltash, was an event where I played and sang amongst a lovely group of locals last Sunday. Included in my music were two pieces about waves, because I told everyone ‘there is news of a potential new tidal energy scheme to be developed right here!’  You will discover more about this, below. But now let’s get to …


It is never easy to guess which topics in a blog will stimulate readers to get involved and write responses, but certainly last week’s theme of the orange paint and tomato soup on ancient stones and precious pictures pushed the buttons!

John wrote

I agree with you Caroline. Friends of the Earth achieved so much in court this week by getting a ruling that this government is acting illegally over oil franchises. I firmly believe that XR raised the whole background music though in 2019 and now the enduring melody of climate and the common good can be heard.  But sadly, the Just Stop Oil campaign creates cacophony and switches off support. But who knows what history will make of it? Maybe we need their noise.

A quick word of response to John – love the musical analogies! Clever. And yes, I think you are right on both XR and JSO.

Then came Mat with a much longer piece:-

Hi Caroline, Thanks for the newsletter. Well, what can I say??  As far as Just Stop Oil goes, this has crossed a line. While I support reducing the burning of fossil fuels, what they are doing is anarchic vandalism of the highest order and when they target works of art, historic monuments or even major sporting events then they should be punished without impunity and to the full extent of the law.  Yes, we need activism in a world controlled by the greed of corporations, however, their particular brand needs to be met with riot police, rubber bullets and batons…..  Deep breath eh? Sorry! 😊

By the way, I include Drax in one of the greedy corporations as mentioned above.  They seem to be in the news quite a lot for Greenwashing as well as using wood from protected rain forests to be burned in their bio-mass plants.

Thankfully Extinction Rebellion have stopped doing stunts to promote their campaigns. 

A few years ago a band of them decided to climb into a lot of the yachts that are moored up in Falmouth to hoist flags up their masts.  I can tell you that it did not go down too well with the boating fraternity as they do not take kindly to people trespassing on their property.  Most of the sailors I know are ex-military and they are not the sort of people who would ‘have words’ with them, there would have been actions too if they had been caught.  Instead, the yacht clubs contacted them and asked if they wouldn’t mind not doing it again and even asked for the flags to be delivered to the yacht clubs so that the owners could hoist them themselves if they wanted. So fortunately, no one was hit on the head then taken out to sea to act as fish food!

Oh and another relevant point:- apart from the sequestered carbon in making a sailing boat, they are quite green, harnessing the wind for transport rather than using an engine.  The ones that do have engines are transitioning over to electric engines, powered from solar and wind generators..

Carry on the good fight.    Mat

Big harbours, tidal opportunities & matters arising

Another bit of correspondence, out of the blue, was from Rupert, the Hydro expert that I collaborated with on a government petition a couple of years back. He asked me ‘have you come across the tidal turbine proposals for Plymouth Sound, all based on the technology we developed here in Cornwall?

I did some sleuthing, including a phone conversation with sustainable energy top man at Knight, Frank, Rutley. They are tasked, by the King and his son, our Duke of Cornwall, with finding a suitable company or companies to deliver on a vision of Tidal energy in the location shown (poor quality snipping tool shot, sorry) to the west of Drake’s Island.  

OVERVIEW – Despite the potential, the market in Tidal Energy is still nascent.

Existing capacity is extremely small compared to overall UK renewable energy production. This is despite tidal ventures being far cheaper per GW than many renewable and alternative energy projects. For example, while Hinckley Point Nuclear plant will cost approximately £7.8bn per GW to commission, in the same area, West Somerset’s proposed tidal power venture will cost only £2.5bn/GW – e.g. it is 70% cheaper per GW.

The technical studies undertaken by a consultancy firm are not publicly available. So, I went back to Rupert and asked if he could explain a bit more regarding his perspective, before I got into deeper research and he replied

My point about the tidal project is that it was a local project and now it’s the big international people. I wasn’t even contacted, so it’s not confidential and the press have it anyway. I am no longer interested in projects that involve years of paperwork and no action, so I work entirely below the radar!

Sneaky borrowing of Intellectual Property

If there is anything makes me spit, it is this total disregard for the individual, who has come up with great ideas in the past, shared them tentatively and then ended up being used and abused! The big money, the big organisations have no moral code, they just will steal ideas with no respect. It is happening to me all the time. It has happened to Rupert, in this field, but also I believe to another Cornwall-based inventor – Pat Cooke of Freeflow 69, which you will see a bit later.

First here is the Rupert story (dated way back in 2009), from which I have taken a section for you.”The%20government%20called%20on%20engineers,power%20generation%2C”%20said%20Evans.

Rupert Armstrong-Evans, who pioneered renewable energy in Britain and now runs a marine engineering firm in Cornwall, spent 18 months researching the idea of a 12-mile long “tidal reef” for the Severn estuary. His construction, planned to run between Minehead in Somerset and Aberthaw in the Vale of Glamorgan, would be cheaper to build and could generate as much electricity as several nuclear power stations without destroying tens of thousands of hectares of internationally protected wetlands, he claimed.

The idea was last year picked up by the RSPB which commissioned engineering consultant WS Atkins to assess its technical and economic feasibility. The 23-page Atkins report published in November 2008, confirmed that the idea was workable and could be as much as £2bn cheaper than a giant barrage. Professor Rod Rainey of Atkins, one of the world’s leading marine engineers, who did the assessment said at the time: “We believe this scheme could be more powerful but less costly than other plans being put forward, particularly the barrage.”

Armstrong-Evans’s idea was then entered in a Department of Energy and Climate Change competition to find the best way to harness the Severn’s tidal power and was shortlisted into the last five one month ago. But last week it was rejected in favour of a fundamentally similar design put forward by Rolls-Royce and WS Atkins.

The disputed design, which relies on a very low head of water rather than the Severn’s enormous tidal range, is now considered to be a surprise frontrunner for what would be Europe’s largest single green energy project. It is also politically attractive because it is more likely to appeal to the powerful consortium of green groups including the National Trust, the WWF and the RSPB, who have condemned the idea of a massive barrage.

“The government called on engineers for proposals to generate large amounts of electricity from the Severn. I spent 18 months full time devising and developing the idea, and had to raise a mortgage. This was a totally new concept in tidal power generation,” said Evans. The design requires more turbines than a large barrage but Evans said it saves greatly on weight of concrete in the foundations and installation costs.

Armstrong-Evans is one of the fathers of British marine energy and has developed hundreds of hydroelectric schemes around the world. He calculates that his idea would cut Britain’s carbon emissions by around 12m tonnes a year, create more than 30,000 jobs during construction and give a global lead for local manufacturing companies.

“The idea was entered in good faith into the government’s competition. The Atkins proposal is the same as the one I put in. It’s a dead crib. They call it a low head scheme and I call it a reef but it’s the same,” he said.

Armstrong-Evans yesterday accused the government of working for the two multinationals companies. “I smelled a rat when I did a presentation to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. They were fast asleep and had only two questions for me. I thought, at worst, that they would be a collaboration between me and Rolls-Royce. But I got a phone call saying I had not been selected.” He was further dismayed that Rolls-Royce refused to collaborate with him.

“The reef is a completely new idea for tidal energy. I took out 16 patents, but they are only as good as you are prepared to fight for. The little man does not stand a chance. … and yet, let me tell you, I was quite happy to give the idea to the nation for free.”

And now the ideas of Pat, which – being in pictorial form- are even easier to copy, along with further details on the Freeflow69 website. I asked him if his company would be making an application to deliver the new scheme for the Crown and he said no. I imagine his reasons are similar to Rupert.

Freeflow web page continues

There are at least five perfect locations for the OHEG, such as in the Bristol Channel and Severn estuary, where there are National Grid connections on the site. This happens to be one of the best places in the world to harness tidal power.

“The new Energy Rig would be in multiples of 10 to 20 units, creating an Energy Rig farm. It would work efficiently in many sites throughout the UK and have a truly world market.”

“Both systems could significantly help the UK achieve its renewable energy targets and create a lot of jobs in the Southwest as well as contributing to a new green growth in the economy. Investors wanting to find out more about either project and the funding opportunities should call Pat Cooke (number and email available from Caroline).

British Lithium and Imerys, public event

The date of this was Tuesday June 18th and I want to thank a new reader, Judith from Lostwithiel, for alerting me to it via Facebook. There was so much content, I definitely had to hold it over to this week.

When I arrived early at Penwithick Community Hall, I realised I was being a bit unfair, because the team were still in hectic mode, setting up. So, I went out in the sun for a bit and then entered as their first guest. Taking out the phone, as usual, I recorded a walk-by with explanations in a film, plus afterwards a sound recording with 2 experts.

First, let me share their introduction from

Imerys British Lithium plans to use its technology and an existing hard rock quarry, alongside a processing plant and lithium refinery to produce over 20,000 tonnes of battery-grade lithium carbonate every year, for at least 20 years. This is enough to supply over half a million electric car batteries every year.

The project will prioritise environmental protection, benefit to the local community and wider socio-economic benefit to Cornwall. It will be delivered in consultation with all local and national stakeholders – while aligning with the IRMA benchmark – the international reference certification for responsible mining.  Imerys British Lithium believes in building good relationships with government, communities and local stakeholders and rigorously adheres to World Bank environmental and social policies.

Here is the area of Mid-Cornwall to be explored for Lithium:-

Now let me reproduce the text beside each colour (NB the word Tailings means waste products) – bright blue is the BL pilot plant; dark green or even black? is Rocks Rail siding; a mauve/blue, hatched area is Wheal Prosper Tailings Facility; medium green, hatched is Highermoor Tailings Facility; another green, more emerald, is Southern Plant Site; The large pink is Goonbarrow Tailings Facility; Rusty Orange is Great Longstones Backfill Tip and the yellow is the actual Lithium Quarry. I seem to have cut off a beige section, which is called Kerrow Moor.

Next, I moved into more detailed discussion with the Geo-chemist, Jacob. I showed him the sample of rock with Lithium in it, which I was given by BL a few years ago, for my education work. I said ‘look, it’s very blue, presumably there is copper here somewhere?’ He said yes, there was copper mining in this particular section of pit, called ‘Gunheath’, but also it was a source of Turquoise!!

The first image below is from the very specialised mine site,; the second is from Cornish Turquoise by Kernowcraft. So you can buy some Turquoise there!  And I will not be able to resist trying to get some for our future Geology Gardens.

Before leaving, I posed the question ‘will BL be getting involved in recycling of lithium batteries?’ Fair enough, the answer was ‘we have our hands full with all our tasks in the PFS – preliminary feasibility study. However, later we could get involved. In the meantime, take a look at Scandinavian recycling.’  I went hunting and don’t believe he was right about that. So, a topic deserving of further research. If you can’t wait then here is a good summary of today’s situation –,-Founded%3A%201994&text=Known%20as%20“the%20world%27s%20largest,for%20a%20circular%20energy%20economy

Final links and topics

There are many this time, which I do not want to ignore:-

  1.  The Good Law Project just released a video on YouTube which is 20 minutes long, but absolutely fascinating about the way secret, powerful funders of think tanks based at one London address can hugely influence government decision-making.  

2) have written out calling for help for a creature I never heard of, called a Pangolin. Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal on earth. They’ve been stolen and slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands because some people wrongly think that their scales cure cancer.

Now, a mining company is trying to destroy one of the last places where pangolins can be safe in the wild – a national park in Guinea.

To get involved, I suggest using this link to a dedicated pangolin rescue organisation, rather than Eko.,America%27s%20leading%20independent%20charity%20evaluator

Also from Eko comes news of another mining threat in Papua New Guinea

The Bismarck Sea, a global marine biodiversity hotspot, is at risk from deep sea mining. Papua New Guinean communities have said no to this mine which would dump toxic waste and kill precious sea life.  Help locals prevent this catastrophe and call on the PNG Government to stop the mine.

Last but not least – 2 things

1)We have a new offer from Meadow Barns for summer evenings. You will have seen it swing into your vision as you came to the webpage, so apologies if that annoyed you! We had such a lovely time last week, between 4 and 8ish, I do really recommend this option. More details are on the Home Page; just invite your family or friends, to fill up a car or 2, think of some dates and make your enquiry to find out which evenings are available.

And secondly, the dreaded E word – Election! You may have voted already by post; or possibly you have given up thinking about it; you may be determined to go out fighting for some cause or someone. While we still have time, perhaps a few moments on this Client Earth survey will help focus your mind!

PS I discovered I would not answer in the most obvious way, you might expect for every question!  Til next Friday, when all will become clear, please do the right thing for your local area and for others as well as yourself.

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