The official announcement on the Cornwall Fire & Rescue section of the Cornwall Council web site concerning the most recent “wildfire” in the vicinity of Brown Willy/Roughtor is fairly bland:
Rough Tor area at 22/04/2021 09:47
Cornwall Fire and Rescue resources have been in attendance throughout the day at a multiple seated fire covering an extremely large area, crews have been using beaters and hosereel jets to check the spread of the fire. There have been appliances in attendance from Delabole and Wadebridge, also the Wadebridge Water Carrier. A Wildfire Officer is on scene this evening and monitoring the incident which is likely to progress well through the night. Arson is suspected, Devon & Cornwall Police have been informed.
Update 0030 hours: Approximately two hectares of gorse is affected, with hot spots continuing to smoulder, crews are monitoring and continuing to damp down.
My bold! The assorted pictures on Twitter are much more revealing, including some from the intrepid investigative reporters from Davidstow.info:
There were two similar fires in the same area around this time last year. Since then some CCTV cameras have been installed:
What additional steps could be taken to try and apprehend the guilty party(s), who apparently have no qualms about incinerating the local wildlife on a regular basis?
Following the usual monthly meeting in the first week of June another Davidstow Parish Council meeting has been scheduled for Monday June 15th at 19:00 via a Zoom Conference call. More details are available on the Parish Council web site:
The agenda includes several planning applications:
Approval of minutes 2nd March, 11th May & 1st June.
Planning application PA20/03751 | Hendra Farm Titchbarrow Hendra Road Camelford Cornwall PL32 9SQ Modification of planning obligation in respect of decision notice 2003/0726 dated 24.05.2004 – erection of detached farmhouse.
Planning application: PA20/04186 Certificate of Lawfulness for Existing Use or Development: to confirm a material commencement was made in respect of planning permission reference PA15/11004 – Land At Lower Tregeen Davidstow Camelford Cornwall PL32 9XU.
Approval of Parish Council Accounts 2019/2020.
To decide Davidstow Council’s view of the Pendower Beach development.
Item 3 refers to planning application PA15/11004, which gave permission for the:
Installation of a 5MW solar PV array, together with associated infrastructure and formation of temporary access track to serve the development.
Since I’d already been writing to my MP about the probable problems of policing the new Covid-19 lockdown exercise guidance revealed by Boris Johnson over the weekend, the thought of asking Shaun Sawyer a question or two was irresistible! I duly dialled the listed number and was told to expect a call back once Shaun Sawyer was on air later in the afternoon.
Sure enough a couple of hours later I was listening to what Shaun had to say when my mobile phone rang. Now listening via my phone I heard Laurence frighten Shaun off by asking him about his worst ever date! Not long after that Laurence said my name. You can hear what happened after that by fast forwarding the following recording on BBC Sounds to 1:53:45
The recording will be available for another 29 days, and during that time I’ll endeavour to post a more complete transcript below. For the moment here’s an extract to give you a flavour:
Jim – I was hoping to speak to our Chief Constable, but he’s gone… Can I make my point?
Laurence – Please do.
Jim – Lots of other people have made all sorts of other points that I was endeavouring to get across to our Chief Constable, but I’ll just quote one from Twitter, not written by me. He was “tweeting” to Shaun, saying “What do you make of the ill thought out, poor legislation made in haste by our Government?”. So my question would have been “Has the Government consulted either the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall or indeed the Chief Constable’s organisation before implementing these hasty, ill thought out measures that all of us in Devon and Cornwall are having to put up with?”
He’s gone, so I can’t ask him!
Plus the question I’d have put to @CCShaunSawyer if you hadn’t frightened him away with a question about his first date!
Before the recent “easing” of the #lockdown regulations, were you and/or the @PoliceChiefs as a whole consulted about the new “infinite exercise” guidance?
As the editor of Davidstow.info on Monday May 11th I wrote to Scott Mann, the Member of Parliament for North Cornwall, to express this view:
How on Earth does HM Government expect Devon and Cornwall Police to enforce the rules that from Wednesday “Driving from London to surf” in North Cornwall is OK but then “staying in a tent, B&B, hotel or second home” is punishable by an increased fine?
What if somebody drives down from up country in a traditional VW “surf bus” for example, and kips in the back for a few nights?
Scott Mann’s Parliamentary Assistant replied on his behalf as follows:
It would not be permissible for someone to travel down in a camper and stay the night.
In any case, the Government is largely relying on the public’s common sense – the regulations are there to provide some clarity. It is not, to my mind or yours I imagine, a good idea for people to travel across the UK and risk spreading this disease! Hopefully the public can deploy sufficient common sense for it not to be too great an issue.
The police are doing a brilliant job of enforcing these restrictions, and from following their social media I can see they have taken numerous actions to prevent people from breaking the regulations. Whilst they cannot stop everybody, they can certainly act as a disincentive.
I hope this helps.
Subsequently the Davidstow.info Twitter feed expressed this sentiment yesterday morning:
On my habitual Covid-19 lockdown permitted cycle ride across Davidstow Moor earlier today I glanced in the direction of Roughtor and noticed something strange. I cycled across the moor, parked my bike by the fence, hopped over the stile and walked to the edge of Crowdy reservoir.
Here is what I discovered:
The part of Crowdy Marsh I crossed wasn’t marshy. What’s more the water level in the reservoir seemed very low for the time of year, particularly given the winter we’ve just experienced!
A lot has happened since Dairy Crest requested a screening opinion regarding a potential solar farm next to their Davidstow “cheese factory” back in September 2018. Not least of which is that Dairy Crest have been taken over by the Canadian company Saputo.
At long last Saputo have formally applied for planning permission to install a “a solar farm and associated infrastructure, including a battery storage facility and underground electricity connection to Saputo Dairy UK” on land South West of Saputo Dairy UK (SDUK), Davidstow, Camelford, Cornwall:
The map reveals that only one of the two areas shown in the original EIA request is part of this application. Consequently the stated peak power from the proposed solar PV installation is 4.2MW. According to the project’s planning statement:
Lightsource BP and Saputo Dairy UK (SDUK) have entered into a Power Purchase Agreement, which forms a contract of the sale of electricity from an energy generating asset (Solar Farm/solar PV installation) owned by the asset manager (Lightsource BP) to the consumer (SDUK) at a fixed price. This provides SDUK with both immediate savings on their electricity bill and price certainty over the operational life of the solar PV installation.
Should you wish to comment on the planning application the “Neighbour Consultation Expiry Date” is Thursday 21st May 2020.
News has reached us via the What’s On in Camelford Facebook page of another big blaze on Bodmin Moor.
Emma Williams has a good view of the Moor from her garden, and reports this morning:
Another fire been started at the same place near Roughtor absolutely ridiculous! They are putting people’s lives at risk as if the fire service doesn’t have enough to deal with!
Graeme and I had just gone out into our front garden to let the dog out when we noticed it and phoned it in at 12.20 AM. There were cars up on Davidstow Moor. I cannot understand why anyone would be driving around there at that time, and when the blue lights appeared they turned their headlights off.
It was small when we first saw it but within 5 – 10 minutes it had got to the size of what you see in the first photo and then kept spreading. Which is why we were suspicious that it hadn’t long been started due to the speed it spread.
Thanks very much to Emma for these pictures of the fire and its aftermath:
P.S. After a bike ride up on to Davidstow Moor, here are my own images of the two big blackened bits of Bodmin Moor:
I did see a few masked up folk in the street today, but many more without. Several were evidently not conforming to the social distancing measures displayed in the gate to Enfield Park. Perhaps they hadn’t been to either the park or the doctors’ surgery recently?