Autumn Has Arrived. So Has The Sewage!

Following a very pleasant period of dry weather earlier in September the rains have arrived in North Cornwall.

Here is the Netweather.tv rain radar map from yesterday evening:

I suggested on Twitter that it would be prudent to consult the Surfer’s Against Sewage water quality map this morning. This is what it reveals:


Although not yet shown on the SAS map the Environment Agency’s bathing water quality map suggests not going surfing today at our local big beach break:

In related news here is this morning’s graph of the pound/dollar exchange rate:

It seems everything is going down the pan simultaneously here in Kernow, under the current Government in Westminster. Except bankers’ bonuses in the City of London of course! According to the Guardian:

The City watchdog is being urged to investigate whether leaks of Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget allowed billionaire hedge fund investors to make “small fortunes” by betting against the pound.

Tulip Siddiq, the shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, said the Financial Conduct Authority needed to determine whether it was possible for traders to have used insider information to benefit from the crashing currency.

The pound fell to an all-time low of $1.03 against the dollar overnight on Monday before recovering lost ground amid speculation that the Bank of England would raise interest rates to shore up the economy.

Perhaps we need our own currency here in Kernow? Bring back the dynar!

[Edit – October 3rd]

This news comes from the south coast of Cornwall, but according to their Facebook page the Gyllyngvase Surf Life Saving Club’s Endless Summer Swim event on Sunday was postponed for a week:

Unfortunately due to the deluge of rain yesterday, we have a sewage alert on the beach and with another wave of wet weather due for the morning, we have decided to postpone until next Sunday This year has felt like we’ve had constant alerts on the beach so please South West Water can you take responsibility and do something about it?

[Edit – October 22nd]

There’s been a fair bit of rain in these parts recently. Here’s the NetWeather.tv rain radar from yesterday morning for example:

Hence it doesn’t come as a big surprise that this morning several beaches on the North coast of Cornwall are yet again suffering sewage pollution according to the Surfers Against Sewage water quality map:

[Edit – October 28th]

After an all too brief respite from sewage pollution incidents along the coast of North Cornwall, this morning there has been a discharge at Widemouth Sand, our local big beach break:

There have also been incidents at Seaton and Millandreath on the south coast. Further south still, at Long Rock “sewer systems in this location are under maintenance and the water company has temporarily disabled real-time alerts”

[Edit – October 30th]

Widemouth Sand is clear again on the Surfers Against Sewage water quality map. However further west there are now several sewage pollution incidents along the north coast of Cornwall:

Some graphic videos of the pollution incident at St. Agnes have been posted on Twitter:

[Edit – November 1st]

After a very brief respite Widemouth Bay has suffered another sewage pollution incident:

So has St. Agnes:

[Edit – November 3rd]

There has been plenty of rain across Cornwall this week. Here’s the Met Office’s rain radar map at 4 PM yesterday:

Consequently there are now numerous sewage pollution incidents all round the coast:

The only good news locally is that Widemouth Bay is currently not red flagged, but at Summerleaze beach in Bude South West Water “has [still] temporarily disabled real-time alerts.”

Watch this space!

The August Heatwave(s) in Cornwall

For the previous article in this series (which is becoming overly lengthy!) please see:

Drought for Cornwall later in 2022?

As the weeks have passed the answer to that question seems increasingly likely to be “Yes”. Hence we’ll begin August 2022 with the current water levels of Cornish reservoirs provided by the South West Lakes Trust:

South West Water also provide graphs for the largest two:

As you can see the water levels in both Colliford and Stithians reservoirs are already below their lowest levels last year. Colliford is also well below its level at the beginning of August 1995, a particularly dry year for Cornwall and other parts of the United Kingdom.

Continue reading “The August Heatwave(s) in Cornwall”

Drought for Cornwall later in 2022?

It seems as though summer has finally arrived here in North Cornwall. This is the Met Office weather forecast for the next week:

The Met Office has also issued a heat-health alert for the coming week, although it is seems unlikely that a “heat wave” will officially be declared in Cornwall:

Apart from the potential impact on human health, long periods of hot weather also mean reduced rainfall and increased demand for water. According to the BBC:

Continue reading “Drought for Cornwall later in 2022?”

Dairy Crest Given Record Fine

According to a UK Government press release:

The environmental performance of Dairy Crest Limited has been unacceptable for too long and needs to significantly improve, says the Environment Agency.

Dairy Crest Limited, owned by Saputo Dairy UK, and its management of the Davidstow Creamery near Camelford, north Cornwall, has been falling way short of the standards expected by the Environment Agency when it comes to the company’s management of liquid waste, odour and environmental reporting, Truro Crown Court heard.

Ever since the site changed production to focus on whey processing, particularly to produce powder used in baby milk and other products, the effluent being discharged into the River Inny has been more challenging to treat. This has resulted in unacceptable pollution of the local river, which is a tributary of the River Tamar, causing significant harm to fish and other aquatic wildlife. Another issue has been foul odours which have often affected the lives of local residents.

Dairy Crest, which produces brands such as Cathedral City at its Davidstow plant, previously pleaded guilty to 21 of 27 charges brought by the Environment Agency. For committing this catalogue of offences, the firm was fined £1.52 million at the crown court on 23 June 2022. It had already agreed to pay costs of £272,747…

An Environment Agency employee inspects the WWTP outfall at the River Inny

The offences included:

  • Releasing a harmful biocide, used to clean the wastewater tanks and pipework, into the river and killing thousands of fish over a 2 kilometre stretch on 16 August 2016.
  • Coating the River Inny with a noxious, black sludge for 5 kilometres in 2018, through a release of a mass of suspended solids in July and August 2018.
  • Consistently exceeding limits on substances like phosphorous and suspended solids entering the River Inny, from 2016 up to 2021.
  • Numerous leaks of part-treated effluent into nearby watercourses and onto the land.
  • Foul odours repeatedly affecting residents over many years.
  • Failing to tell the Environment Agency within 24 hours of when things had gone significantly wrong on site, on 7 separate occasions.

Do you suppose that as a result of the court case the lives of the long suffering residents of Davidstow will no longer be blighted by “foul odours” and “unacceptable pollution of the local river“, not to mention the light and noise pollution as well?

Watch this space!

Another North Cornwall Flood Alert

According to the United Kingdom Government’s “Check for Flooding” service, which is currently being beta tested:

Flood alert for Upper River Tamar

Flooding is possible – be prepared

This Flood Alert remains in force. Flooding is possible this afternoon and overnight into Thursday 30th December. Last night’s rain has caused river levels to rise and we expect these to remain high throughout the rest of today and into tomorrow morning. This may result in flooding to low lying land and roads close to rivers this afternoon and overnight into Thursday morning 30th December. However, flooding to properties is not currently expected. Take care near the areas of concern and monitor your local weather conditions. We are monitoring river levels and have staff in the area checking for and clearing blockages. This message will be updated on Thursday morning or earlier if the situation changes.

Flood alert area: Bude, Helebridge, Bridgerule, Canworthy Water, Launceston and Yeolmbridge

As is often the case at such times, the Surfers Against Sewage pollution map reveals metaphorical “red flags” at Widemouth Bay, Mawgan Porth and Fistral Beach in Newquay:



A Damp Month for Davidstow!

Just over a month ago we reported that North Cornwall had experienced a very dry April. Today we are compelled to report that North Cornwall has experienced a very damp May!

Here once again are the weekly UK maps from the Environment Agency:

Here too is the last four weeks rainfall record from the EA’s automated rainfall monitoring station 47144 near Otterham:

On the first day of June 2021 the sun is shining brightly overhead and we haven’t had any rain for a few days now. Long may that continue!

However every cloud has a silver lining. This year Crowdy Reservoir is almost full to overflowing, unlike in May last year:

Bank holiday weekend on Davidstow Airfield

A Dry Month for Davidstow!

The Environment Agency publishes a weekly report on recent rainfall across England. Here’s an interesting graphic from the most recent edition:

The EA also maintains a large number of automated rainfall monitoring stations across the country. As revealed by this map, the nearest one to Davidstow is up the hill near the A39 “Atlantic Highway”:

Here’s its rainfall record for the past four weeks:

The last really rainy day is just about to disappear off the end of the chart.

After a really rainy winter this perhaps makes a very pleasant change? Don’t forget to water your gardens though!

Davidstow Parish Council September Meeting

I attended the meeting of Davidstow Parish Council in Tremail Methodist Hall yesterday, where much discussion took place regarding the plans by Dairy Crest to invest £85£75 million in their creamery at the top of the hill. The odours apparently still emanating from the Dairy Crest water treatment plant also got a good airing!

The Chairman of the Parish Council mentioned that there had been a meeting of the Davidstow Residents Action Group (DRAG) on August 2nd to discuss that issue:

Scott Mann, the M.P. for North Cornwall, had been in attendance, but the Environment Agency and our local County Councillor Rob Rotchell had not.

A resident of Trewassa reported that due to the easterly winds over the preceding weekend the smell had been “awful” on that side of the plant. The chairman said that Dairy Crest had attempted to implement “6 solutions that haven’t worked” and reported that the Environment Agency had given Dairy Crest 6 weeks to provide an explanation for the latest odious odours.

Getting back to Dairy Crest’s expansion plans, Reuters reported back in May that:

The company said it would expand its cheese production facility at Davidstow, in southwest England to 77,000 tonnes from 54,000 tonnes a year by raising cash through a share placement.

It would place 14.1 million ordinary shares, or about 9.98 percent of current issued shares, at a price of 495 pence per share.

The cost of the expansion is expected to be 85 million pounds and will be carried out over the next four to five years, Dairy Crest said.

Dairy Crest have employed the services of St. Austell based consultancy Situ8 to handle the planning issues associated with the expansion. Situ8’s Angela Warwick was at the meeting, and she explained that whilst plans for upgrades to the creamery itself were well advanced nothing could be implemented until the waste water treatment plant was upgraded and the current issues solved. Plans for that are less advanced it seems.

In addition there are also plans to construct a solar photovoltaic “farm” near the “cheese factory” as it is frequently referred to locally. There will be a consultation with Dairy Crest in Camelford on September 21st to discuss all this in greater detail.

Watch this space for more news as and when we receive it!

 

[Edit – September 8th]

I received the following letter in today’s post. It seems Reuters neglected to mention that “£75 million of which will be spent in Davidstow” regarding the planned investment by Dairy Crest.

Dear Mr Hunt,

I am writing with reference to two matters – firstly to update you on works to alleviate the odour emissions and secondly with regard to our planned investment at Davidstow.

As you know, permanent covers were fitted to two of the tanks at the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP) at the beginning of this year. The initial results following the installation were good, indicating a substantial reduction in odours, as we had expected. Since then, we have had some further challenges due to the build-up of sludge in one of the covered tanks. lt has taken some time to safely remove this accumulation but the works have now been completed. Additional work is now being undertaken with an external consultant to check what further improvements can be made.

I am also writing to you about our recent announcement to undertake an £85 million investment to increase our cheese production capacity and improve our environmental credentials, £75 million of which will be spent in Davidstow.

This is a long term project which is expected to take place over the course of the next four to five years and will involve a small amount of additional construction on the site. A major part of this project is to make further investment in the WWTP to improve its efficacy and minimise the potential for it to impact on you, our neighbours. We will be installing new equipment, inside a process building, which will reduce the load on the current plant and thereby the potential for odour issues to occur. We also intend to develop a solar installation to generate electricity for our own consumption, thereby reducing the load on the local grid as well as reducing the site’s carbon footprint.

This investment is also good news for our 330 supplying dairy farmers, all of whom are in Devon and Comwall, and our 200 employees at Davidstow. Our existing farmers will be able to invest in their businesses and it will secure jobs at the creamery, thereby having a positive impact on economic activity in the region.

Please find enclosed an invitation to a public consultation regarding our intention to submit an application for planning permission for these projects. This will take place on Friday, 21 September from 4pm to 7.30pm at Camelford Hall, Clease Road, Camelford PL32 9QX.

We would encourage you to come to this event so that you can learn more about the proposals directly from us and so that we can answer any questions you may have. All the feedback we gather will be used to inform the planning proposals.

Yours sincerely,

Mark Evans

Site Director, Davidstow Creamery