A Big Swell Hits North Cornwall

The Magic Seaweed surf forecast for today promised the arrival of a new long period swell:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1459833492804620293

Plan A for today involved getting in the water and out back before said swell arrived.

When that failed to materialise plan B involved heading for spot M with video recorder and tripod in rucsack.

When that failed to materialise plan C involved heading for high tide Crackington Haven. When that did materialise here are the sights that met our sore eyes:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1459989890049925132

We also recorded some moving pictures, including sound effects:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1460182222351351811
https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1460360741643599886

Finally, for the moment at least, the almost imperceptible damage to my left arm after the almost undetectable injection of what ultimately turned out to be a dose of the Moderna mRNA Covid-19 vaccine for my booster jab:



November Parish Council Meeting

The November 2021 meeting of the Davidstow Parish Council has been scheduled for Monday November 1st at 18:00 at Pendragon Country House. More details are available on the Parish Council web site:

https://www.davidstowparishcouncil.org.uk/council-meetings.html?month=11&year=2021&submit=Go#item-1519265

Agenda

To decide planning applications:

1) PA21/09141 – Proposed Custom Build Home – Land south of Lower Trevivian

2) To authorise signing of a Deed with Lightsource BP for the provision of a community payment

All Welcome

More Pollution on North Cornwall Beaches

Another downpour last night has resulted in all too familiar news this morning. Here’s the NetWeather.TV rain radar view of Cornwall at 9 PM last night:

Davidstow is under all that rain dropping cloud somewhere! This morning there are flood warnings in place for North Devon, and flood alerts across North Cornwall:

What’s more the Surfers Against Sewage map reveals that nearly all the beaches in North Cornwall also have water quality warnings in place:

The little low tide “beach” at Trebarwith Strand is currently clear, but Watergate Bay is not.

[Edit – October 26th]

Here is Baroness Jones from the Green Party explaining the problem on BBC Newsnight:

[Edit – October 28th]

The heavens have opened over North Cornwall yet again:

As a seemingly inevitable consequence flood alerts have now been issued for the middle and upper River Tamar, amongst other places:

P.S. The heavy rain has continued:

Flood warnings have now been issued for several rivers just over the border into Devon:

According to the Environment Agency: Flooding is expected. Act now!

A flood warning means you need to act: flooding is expected. You should do all the actions for a flood alert, but also:

  • move vehicles to higher ground if it’s safe to do so
  • move family and pets to safety
  • move important items upstairs or to a safe place in your property, starting with cherished items and valuables, then furniture and furnishings
  • turn off gas, electricity and water supplies if it’s safe to do so; never touch an electrical switch if you’re standing in water
  • if you have property protection products such as flood barriers, or air brick covers, use them now
  • keep track of the latest flood risk situation

[Edit – October 30th]

This seems to be the meat of the letter I received from Scott Mann MP a couple of days ago:

The facts are that we have a combined sewer system in this country, meaning rainwater and sewage both flow into it. This means that heavy rain and storms can lead to additional pressure on the system that needs to be released”. lt is not a coincidence that discharges happen most often during or after a storm. lf this pressure is not discharged the wastewater – including sewage – will back up into the streets and into people’s homes. This is not hyperbolic; it is a fact. The age of this Victorian sewerage system means that the complete elimination of storm overflows would be extremely challenging. Unfortunately, they have always been a part of our wastewater infrastructure and until now little action has been taken by any government or party.

One of the recent amendments in the Lords would have required work to be done to eliminate sewage discharges, and I was one of several hundred MPs who opposed it. Initial estimates of the work necessary to achieve this are in the region of £150 billion and upwards. To put that in perspective, this is more than the entire budget of the NHS. These costs would inevitably be passed onto taxpayers or water bill payers. No sensible legislator could have backed this. I am of the view that the water companies should foot the bill for improvements over time and not the taxpayer, so these improvements must be manageable.

That rather begs the question about where we would be now if the necessary improvements had been started a decade or two ago? And indeed what the actual cost would be in today’s day and age!

[Edit – November 1st]

This tweet from Professor Dieter Helm seems apposite at this juncture?

[Edit – November 3rd]

After almost continuous heavy rain, hopefully the end is in sight for the current series of pollution incidents on the beaches of North Cornwall. Several beaches are not being monitored at this time of year, but currently Widemouth Bay and Trevone are the only ones still marked in red on the Surfers Against Sewage water quality map:

Hopefully those two will get the all clear tomorrow

[Edit – November 5th]

In answer to my question above about “the actual cost of the necessary improvements to the UK’s ageing sewage infrastructure”, the Government has just announced:

An independent research project that considers options, costs and benefits for reducing storm sewage discharges in England.

Reducing sewage discharges from storm overflows is an important priority to protect the environment.

This research, the first assessment of its kind, was commissioned by the Storm Overflows Taskforce – made up of Defra, the Environment Agency, Ofwat, CCW, Blueprint for Water and Water UK – and funded by Water UK.

The independent research, carried out by Stantec, presents a detailed overview of potential approaches that will act as an important evidence base for government action.

The Storm Overflows Taskforce will now consider the report and its recommendations to:

  • support the development of the best mix of policy solutions
  • inform the government plan on storm overflows to be published in September 2022.

The report itself evaluates the costs and benefits of a range of scenarios. The methodology used is summarised like this:

The policies tested consider the universal implementation of permits to control storm overflow spill frequency to an average of either 40, 20, 10, 5 or 0 (zero) times per year (named F40, F20, F10, F5 and F0, respectively).

Three scenarios are also considered, describing the engineering approach used to deliver policies. The first relies on a conventional approach to capture spills from storm overflows using network storage (W) which is sized sufficiently to capture spills and allow for these to slowly return to the sewer network for treatment.

The other two augment the conventional approach with partly or wholly nature-based technologies (retrofitted SuDS) at two levels: 10 percent of impermeable area controlled (S10) and 50 percent of impermeable area controlled (S50). In this context, controlled means that these flows do not enter the combined sewer system. The SuDS solutions are implemented in addition to sewer network storage; therefore creating mixed grey-green solutions. The S10 level of SuDS is at a modest level across the catchment, whilst the S50 level is at a high level. Controlling runoff from 50% of impermeable area (S50) is broadly equivalent to preventing all highway runoff entering combined sewers in a fully combined catchment.

The costs of the various approaches are summarised in the following infographic:

There seem to be a wide range of available options that cost considerably less than £150 billion, and that’s before accounting for the associated benefits.



Autumn Coping With Covid-19 in Cornwall

For the previous episode in the ongoing saga of the Covid-19 pandemic here in Cornwall please see:

The Covid-19 Holiday Season in Cornwall

Schools have gone back and the clocks change in a couple of weeks, but Covid-19 is still with us. In actual fact it’s on the increase again. Both nationally:

and here in the Camelford MSOA, where we now find ourselves in the top DHSC category with a case rate of 889.8 per 100,000 people per week:

Just down the A39 “Atlantic Highway” in Wadebridge the rate is now over 1,000.

Further west the top spot goes to Camborne West, with a case rate of 946.4:

As you can see from the maps there are several other area across Cornwall in the 800+ category, whilst across Cornwall as a whole the average case rate is 539.5, an increase of 15.6% compared to a week ago:

[Edit – October 22nd]

Further to the BBC report in the comments below, the The Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust is “tweeting” much the same story:

They are also providing their current Covid-19 statistics:

https://twitter.com/RCHTWeCare/status/1451572071834734595

The UK Government statistics show Covid-19 cases still rising quickly across the nation as a whole:

Across Cornwall as a whole the rolling weekly case rate is still almost unchanged at 546.8 per 100,000 population:

Here in the Camelford area the case rate has fallen to 528.3. However the rate in Bude has risen to 924.6, whilst Bodmin West has fallen slightly to 954.1:

Further south Par is now home to an outbreak with a case rate over 1,000:

The BBC reports today that:

MPs are asking for help from the government to deal with a “perfect storm” in the health system.

There have been more than 100 patients waiting to be seen in an emergency department designed for 40, and 25 ambulances waiting outside.

The hospital trust’s medical director said the situation was improving slowly.

Steve Double, MP for Newquay and St Austell, said: “It is regrettably a sort of perfect storm of a number of factors coming together that is creating this unprecedented level of demand on our system.”

Mr Double said he had spoken with health minister Ed Argar who was “asking for further details to see exactly what is going on and what further help could be made available”.

Cherilyn Mackrory, MP for Truro and Falmouth, said she was “acutely aware of the current situation”.

She added: “Whatever the hospital need to alleviate this pressure, I will do to try and help them.



Bodyboarding A Big Swell at Widemouth Bay

A big swell was forecast to arrive on the coast of North Cornwall last weekend:

Discretion is the better part of valour, especially at our advanced age. Hence we merely admired it from afar on Friday evening:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1446814206628663301

The waves were significantly smaller on Saturday, so the Davidstow.info editor-in-chief and artist-in-residence packed our gear into Lisa, our Nissan Leaf electric vehicle, and headed for Widemouth Bay:

https://twitter.com/jim_hunt/status/1447177464556494850

We even managed to record some moving pictures of the scene at the seaside, as did Dave at Watergate Bay!

P.S. We also managed to record some video footage whilst immersed in the Atlantic Ocean. In episode one your intrepid editor inadvertently found himself in the midst of a sizeable closeout, and managed to breathe in some seawater of hopefully unadulterated quality:

Whereas in episode two:



The Covid-19 Holiday Season in Cornwall

The school summer holiday season is drawing to a close, and August Bank Holiday is almost upon us. Matt Hancock was one of many hundreds of thousands to travel down here from up country earlier this month:

The effect on Covid-19 cases here in North Cornwall is all too evident. The Camelford and Davidstow area is now in the top category for cases:

However we are still a long way behind Newquay East, which today broke the 2,000 cases per 100,000 people per week barrier:

Here once again is the “heat map” showing the age distribution of cases across Cornwall as a whole for the current wave of Covid-19:

The upper limit on the 7 day “rolling rate” legend really requires updating. In the 15-19 age group the rate has now reached 5,080.6. For 20-24 year olds it is 2,419.4.

The Artist in her Studio

As reported recently, Tremail based artist Kasia Turajczyk is currently exhibiting some of her paintings at Camelford Gallery. Ms Turajczyk is an extremely versatile artist who draws inspiration from a wide variety of sources, resulting in very different styles of painting as can be seen from the pictures below.

A Wet Weekend Pollutes North Cornwall Beaches

Yesterday afternoon was extremely wet in Davidstow and the rest of North Cornwall, as we reported on Twitter:

This morning the after effects are still affecting our beaches, as can be seen via the Surfers Against Sewage Safer Seas Service map:

Currently Bude and Widemouth Bay still have green ticks, but a bit further south there are numerous sewage pollution alerts from Polzeath down to Newquay and beyond.