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Severn estuary: the tidal barrage debate continues



In the south-west of England, a debate has surfaced around the proposed construction of a £30 billion tidal barrage over the Severn estuary. B&GT explores the pros and cons of the blueprint plans.

The River Severn is the longest in Great Britain. With a tidal force second only to Bay of Fundy on the Atlantic coast of North America, the prospect of harnessing such a giant power is becoming impossible to ignore.

On May 16 this year, Peter Hain, the shadow Welsh secretary, quit his position to commit all his efforts to the project.

In a statement on his website, Hain spoke in a promising tone and alluded to the benefit the barrage will have to the local and regional economy. He said he hopes “to help secure Wales the biggest infrastructure project it has ever seen.”

Back in September 2010, the coalition government ruled that no public funding shall be seen to aid the ongoing energy venture.

With the requirements of both a private bill and strong governmental support, the proposal to build a tidal barrage across the Severn estuary has sights of generating at least 5% of the UK’s electricity needs; the equivalent to about three nuclear power stations.

Beyond any low-carbon electricity that the barrage might create however, lies an abundance of environmental negatives that, for now, are creating an equal counter-weight.

Not only will the treasured habitat potentially lose many of its marine occupants, but tourism in the surrounding areas may equally be at a loss.

According to the Welsh Assembly’s Severn Estuary Tidal Power: Supplemental Information report from 2010, bird watching at the Slimbridge site alone attracts approximately 200,000 visitors a year.

The report said: “It is likely that the predicted reduction in waterbird numbers within the Severn estuary will have a negative impact on the popularity of the location… To what extent the decrease in visitors will be displaced to other locations would depend on the position and success or failure of any compensatory habitats.”

Mark Robins, senior policy officer for the RSPB in the south west, has said: “A barrage like the one proposed between Cardiff and Western Super-Mare would not only destroy huge areas of estuary marsh and mudflats used by 69,000 birds each winter and block the migration routes of countless fish, it would also dramatically increase the risk of flooding to residential properties.”

So far, it is abundantly clear that the success of the project depends heavily upon a visible sensitivity to the surrounding environment, as well as the effectiveness of the barrier itself.

On May 14, the BBC produced a four-minute video addressing the severity of the conflicting issues behind the barrage plans.

Peter Jones, RSPB ecosystems officer, goes so far as to suggest they have been completely misrepresented in Hain’s pitch.

“The fact is”, he explains, “that a Cardiff-Western barrage would lead to the loss of between 60% and 80% of feeding inter-tidal habitat in the estuary.”

Hain spoke with The Guardian’s Leo Hickman recently expressed why he is so keen to continue making progress with the Tidal Barrage across the Severn Estuary: “The Cardiff-Weston Severn barrage is the single most important low-carbon, renewable energy project in Europe.

“It would harness the enormous tidal power of the Severn estuary which has the second highest tidal range in the world.”

In response to varied worries about how the barrage will impact the surrounding environment, former shadow Welsh secretary Hain said, “Turbine design has been reconfigured to be fish friendly and the ebb and flow of the mechanism to be used will enable the Severn estuary above the Barrage to be maintained at a much more stable level.

“Research suggests that a Barrage would also reinvigorate the environment and protect declining species such as the Dunlin, an iconic bird in the Severn which has experiences a catastrophic fall in numbers.”

Hain also draws reference to the existing La Rance barrage in France, whereby the slowing down of the powerful tide introduced more light and oxygen, improving the water quality, attracting more fish and supporting a diverse and thriving birdlife.

So, should a barrage be built? As yet, the prospect of a bill remains a contentious topic.

The tidal energy potential of the estuary however remains the overriding factor. Harnessing the natural resources of the UK is the only way we’ll ever witness a renewables revolution in the country.

Further reading:

DECC fund targets tidal technology

Renewable energy backed by 85% of Brits


What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?




shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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