Les anglonautes

About | Search | Vocapedia | Learning | Podcasts | Videos | History | Arts | Science | Translate

 Previous Home Up Next


History > 2008 > UK > Nature, Weather, Climate, Energy (I)




UK overtakes Denmark

as world's biggest

offshore wind generator

Completion of a 194MW windfarm
off the coast of Lincolnshire
sees the UK become the world leader
in generating electricity from offshore wind


Tuesday October 21 2008
15.36 BST
Alok Jha, green technology correspondent
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk
on Tuesday October 21 2008.
It was last updated at 15.36 on October 21 2008.


The UK now leads the world in generating electricity from offshore wind farms, the government said today as it completed the construction of a farm near the coast off Skegness, Lincolnshire.

The new farm, built by the energy company Centrica, will produce enough power for 130,000 homes, raising the total electricity generated from offshore wind in the UK to 590 megawatts (MW), enough for 300,000 UK homes.

The completion of 194MW of turbines at Lynn and Inner Dowsing means that the UK has overtaken Denmark, which has 423MW of offshore wind turbines.

"Offshore wind is hugely important to help realise the government's ambition to dramatically increase the amount of energy from renewable sources. Overtaking Denmark is just the start," said Mike O'Brien, a minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. "There are already five more offshore windfarms under construction that will add a further 938MW to our total by the end of next year."

But despite today's announcement, the UK is still near the bottom of the European league table when it comes to harnessing renewable energy, campaigners say.

Nick Rau, Friends of the Earth's renewable energy campaigner, said: "The government must stop trying to wriggle out of European green energy targets and put a massive effort into making renewable power the number one source of energy in the UK. The UK has one of the biggest renewable energy potentials in Europe - this must be harnessed to make this country a world leader in tackling climate change."

Maria McCaffery, the chief executive of the British Wind Energy Association, was enthusiastic but also urged more government action. "We are now a global leader in a renewable energy technology for the first time ever. Now is the time to step up the effort even further and secure the huge potential for jobs, investment and export revenues that offshore wind has for Britain."

Greenpeace chief scientist, Doug Parr, said the only downside was that many of the turbines for the UK windfarms were being manufactured abroad. "We need a green new deal for renewable energy, creating tens of thousands of new jobs and providing a shot in the arm to the British manufacturing sector. If the government now diverts serious financial and political capital towards this project it will put Britain in pole position to tackle the emerging challenges of the 21st century."

The UK currently gets 3GW of electricity from wind power, but 80% of that is from onshore farms. On Tuesday, the Carbon Trust detailed its plans to accelerate the development of offshore wind in the UK. The trust plans to work with major energy companies on a £30m initiative to cut the cost of offshore wind energy by 10%.

"The UK has an amazing opportunity not just to lead the world but to be the dominant global player," said Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust. "Our research shows that by 2020 the UK market could represent almost half of the global market for offshore wind power. To make that happen it will be critical to improve the current economics of offshore wind power."

UK overtakes Denmark as world's biggest offshore wind generator, G, 21.10.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/oct/21/windpower-renewableenergy1






3pm GMT update

Thousands of homes left powerless

as 80mph winds batter Britain


Monday March 10 2008
Peter Walker and agencies
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Monday March 10 2008.
It was last updated at 14:57 on March 10 2008.


Thousands of homes were left without power today and ferry, rail, air and road passengers suffered delays and cancellations as a major storm pounded much of the UK.

Severe flood warnings, in place this morning for the entire coast of Devon and Cornwall, were mainly removed as flooding remained limited and localised, despite a combination of 80mph winds, unusually low pressure and high spring tides. Some homes in Wales were also waterlogged.

The Environment Agency warned of more potential flooding this afternoon as winds pick up and the tide rises. The areas most at risk were identified as around the Bristol Channel, Severn estuary and Somerset coast.

"We are still urging people to find out about local warnings and to be prepared," an Environment Agency spokeswoman said.

More than 7,000 homes in the West Country and south Wales were left without electricity this morning. Fire services reported dozens of fallen trees across roads and damage to some houses.

Lloyds TSB Insurance said it had seen a 150% increase in new claims registered, compared with a typical Monday morning, with customer call levels up 55%.

Transport was severely affected and the Port of Dover closed for a few hours before reopening, despite gusts remaining at force eight and nine. Ferries between Holyhead and Dublin, and from Pembroke to Rosslare, were also called off.

A number of flights were cancelled or diverted at Heathrow and Gatwick airports, while rail services into London and elsewhere were badly delayed.

Accidents, high winds, floods and, further north, blizzards, caused problems on many roads, with firefighters using an inflatable boat to rescue one motorist from the roof of his car after he drove into floodwaters near Ilminster, Somerset.

The AA said it was on course for its busiest day of the year so far. It predicted it would receive 16,000 call-out requests, compared to 9,500 on an average day, with London and Glasgow worst affected.

Coastguards were trying to tow an oil tanker to safety after it encountered difficulties in stormy conditions off the Isle of Wight.

Although the south-west of England and Wales were the worst hit, severe weather warnings were imposed for much of England and Northern Ireland, and forecasters warned of heavy snow in parts of Scotland. Snow ploughs were also brought out to clear the A66 trans-Pennine route in Cumbria.

There was a small amount of limited flooding reported in parts of Cornwall, mainly in Looe, Flushing, Fowey and Mevagissey. Pembrokeshire county council said some houses in Fishguard had been flooded, as well as commercial properties in Haverfordwest.

The storm, caused by one of the deepest weather depressions for several years, brought a "potent cocktail" of low pressure, strong winds, pounding waves and high tides, likely to last until Wednesday and bringing the risk of major flooding, the Environment Agency said.

"We probably get wind speeds that high around the UK about once or twice a year," said Dave Britton, a Met Office meteorologist.

"What is more unusual about this is the low pressure, at 940, which we only see about once every five years or so. Again, this is not a completely exceptional figure, but it is a very large area of low pressure."

Devon and Cornwall coastguards toured exposed areas with loudhailers, warning householders of the potential threat. Police forces placed officers on standby, while fire services borrowed extra rescue boats from other counties.

Emergency services warned people not to venture too near to the coastline. "Hopefully the public will also stay away from the beaches," said Geoff Matthews, from Solent coastguard. "It's very nice to go and watch the waves but it's also very easy to get swept away by them."

The government's crisis committee, Cobra, held an emergency meeting in Whitehall last night, overseen by Gordon Brown via a conference call. The committee discussed potential damage to infrastructure by the expected flooding and threats to transport, including flights from the main airports.

British Airways cancelled a number of short-haul flights at Heathrow and Gatwick airports this morning after air traffic controllers imposed controls on the frequency of take-offs and landings, and some inbound flights were diverted. A few flights at Bristol airport were delayed.

Many rail lines had speed limits imposed, and commuters heading into London from Surrey faced delays after a fallen tree halted South West Trains' services between Staines and Windsor and Eton.

Rail services between Looe and Liskeard in Cornwall, and Pembrey & Burry Port and Llanelli in Wales were suspended, with other delays affecting trains in Hertfordshire. London Underground passengers also experienced problems on a series of lines.

There were problems on the roads, notably on the M25 where flooding caused the closure of two lanes in Surrey. Accidents and floods hit a series of other roads, while police in Dorset warned people only to make "essential" journeys. The Sheppey crossing and the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Dartford, Kent were closed.

The tanker in trouble off the Isle of Wight - an 11,000-tone, Swedish-registered vessel - was being helped by tugboats after stormy seas caused rudder damage. There were no immediate plans to evacuate the 13 crew members.

"We launched in force 11 winds. It was pretty horrendous," said John Keyworth, a spokesman for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute in Bembridge, Isle of Wight.

Steven Mann, from the local coastguard, said he hoped crews could fix a line to the tanker and tow it to safety before winds strengthen again on the south coast.

"We have winds increasing and the tide coming back in," he said. "It could increase the wave height and make working conditions on board more treacherous."

The highest recorded wind speed was 82mph at Berry Head in Brixham, south Devon, while the Needles - off the Isle of Wight coast - experienced gusts of 70mph.

The winds also hit London this morning, with Heathrow buffeted by 42mph winds. In other parts of the country, winds on the east coast of Northern Ireland hit 63mph, Crosby in Merseyside saw 42mph gusts, and gales reached 46mph in Birmingham.
Thousands of homes left powerless as 80mph winds batter Britain, G, 10.3.2008,






How the storm developed


Monday March 10 2008
Peter Walker
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk
on Monday March 10 2008.
It was last updated at 10:19 on March 10 2008.


The storm that battered large sections of the UK today originated high above Newfoundland late last week, deepening as it moved across the Atlantic.

While the winds that hit the south and east coasts early today saw gusts peaking at just over 80mph, such speeds are not in themselves that exceptional, according to the Met Office.

"We probably get wind speeds that high around the UK about once or twice a year," Dave Britton, a Met Office meteorologist, said.

"What is more unusual about this is the low pressure, at 940, which we only see about once every five years or so.

"Again, this is not a completely exceptional figure, but it is a very large area of low pressure. It is also the gradient it approaches at which is so important."

The severe flood warnings in place throughout Devon and Cornwall were caused by a combination of yet more factors, Britton said.

"What is happening is that you have the spring tides, which are particularly high near the equinox.

"Then you have the low pressure, which you could say sucks the water further upwards.

"Then you have the extremely strong winds pushing the water towards the shore. All this is combing to cause the flood risk."

The flood risk peaked around the morning high tide, between around 6am and 7am - but as winds increase again over the course of the day there is a renewed risk of more flooding with the next tide.

One positive for meteorologists, Britton added, was that they had anticipated the scale of the storm more or less exactly.

"On Friday, we were predicting coastal winds of around 60-70mph, which gusts of up to 80mph - and that's pretty much what we've seen," he said.

    How the storm developed, G, 10.3.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/10/weather1






12.30pm GMT

High seas, storms and sandbags

Steven Morris gives an eye-witness account of this morning's storm in Looe, Cornwall, where the mopping up has already begun and flood defences are being reinforced in preparation for tonight's high tide.

Monday March 10 2008
Steven Morris
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Monday March 10 2008.
It was last updated at 12:56 on March 10 2008.


To begin with, the water came pouring over the seawall. It charged across the car park and then, more slowly, started seeping into the harbour-front shops, cafes and cottages of this pretty Cornish town.

Next, it started to bubble up through drains and into cellars so that by the time most shop workers arrived this morning, they had to wade through chilly, knee-deep water.

Tina Dicks, manager of the Presto coffee shop, said: "We won't be opening today. It's caused a real mess. We put sandbags against the door but the water just poured in through the cracks and through the letter box. It didn't help when people in 4x4s kept whizzing by, sending water whooshing into the shops."

A high spring tide, coupled with the storms that lashed the West Country, forced the water out of the tidal river and into the town centre.

Within an hour or so, most of the water had vanished back over the harbour wall, leaving sticks, pebbles and streaks of seaweed in the main drag and grim puddles in people's businesses and homes.

But it could have been so much worse. "Fortunately, the strong wind dropped just as the tide was at the highest," said Robbie Alberry, the chair of the local branch of the RNLI and the owner of the Ice Cream Factory on the quay.

"If it had been just a little bit windy when the tide was at its height, we'd have been in real trouble. It could have been a metre higher."

This was why people were spending today reinforcing their flood defences. Some were piling more sandbags in doorways; others were hastily nailing flood boards into place across their front doors. The fear is that if the next high tide this evening coincides with a bit of a blow, the town could be badly flooded.

Audrey Cheadderton, who lives in an old net storage shed on the harbour, was moving her antiques onto the stairs. She was philosophical. "It's one of those things. From time to time, it floods here," she said.

But she gestured at the view from her, dry, first-floor living room. "It's such a lovely sight with the river and the harbour and boats. It's worth getting a little bit wet, isn't it?"

    High seas, storms and sandbags, G, 10.3.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/mar/10/weather.flooding






Home insurers

braced for storm claims surge


Monday March 10 2008
Hilary Osborne
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Monday March 10 2008.
It was last updated at 12:28 on March 10 2008.


Insurers are preparing themselves for hundreds of millions of pounds worth of claims from householders as storms continue to lash the UK.

The 80mph winds that started to hit Wales and the West Country last night look set to damage homes and cars and lead to a surge of claims on home insurance and motor policies, which cover storm damage as standard.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said that while it was too early to put a figure on how much the repairs would cost the industry, experience suggested the bill could run into many millions of pounds.

A spokesman for the ABI said the cost of clearing up after Hurricane Kyrill, which hit the UK in January 2007, had come to £350m, and this week's events could lead to costs in the same region.

However, he said the industry was well prepared for events of this nature, adding that "probably the only surprise is that we haven't had this kind of high winds and rain already this winter".

Weather forecasters started warning about this week's storms several days ago, giving insurers time to prepare, and the ABI said some of its members will already have started contacting policy holders in the hardest hit areas.

"Insurers will be contacting customers and saying that they know they are in the eye of the storm, as it were, and offering them help with their claim."

Companies have also had chance to increase staff levels at call centres to deal with incoming claims. Norwich Union and Legal & General both said they had drafted in extra people to deal with increased volumes of calls.

Norwich Union said calls from policyholders had started coming in overnight as gales buffeted the West Country, and had peaked at around 8am this morning.

Insurer Direct Line said a recent spate of bad weather meant some households were more vulnerable than usual to damage from today's storms.

"Representatives from our emergency home response team are already providing assistance to customers whose property may have been affected by today's bad weather," said the company's head of home insurance, Andrew Lowe.

"Our priority will be to offer assistance and to provide help and advice on the steps that need to be taken to get the claims processed as quickly as possible."

According to price comparison website Moneysupermarket.com, insurers should also brace themselves for a rise in the number of people calling to buy cover.

It said that after last year's floods in Yorkshire and Gloucestershire it had seen a 300% increase in applications for home insurance. In one affected area applications had soared by 1,700%.

One in four households are currently without home contents insurance, and the ABI said some of these people were likely to rethink their arrangements after this week's events.

"The best advert for insurance is not an expensive advertising campaign but natural bad weather," the spokesman said.

    Home insurers braced for storm claims surge, G, 10.3.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/mar/10/homeinsurance.motorinsurance






10am GMT update

Biggest quake since 1984 hits Britain


Wednesday February 27 2008
James Sturcke, Thair Shaikh and agencies
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Wednesday February 27 2008.
It was last updated at 14:34 on February 27 2008.


Britain's largest earthquake in nearly a quarter of a century has left one person injured and a trail of damage.

The magnitude 5.2 quake hit just before 1am today and was centred near Market Rasen, Lincolnshire. Its effects were felt as far away as Wales, Scotland and London.

Student David Bates, 19, suffered a suspected broken pelvis when he was hit by a falling piece of chimney in his attic bedroom in Wombwell, South Yorkshire, his father, Paul, said.

Paul Bates said he was woken by a deep rumble which was followed by shouts from his son upstairs. He said David was hit by a piece of masonry about 2ft square, which had fallen from the chimney stack.

"This massive piece of stone had landed on his hip and he was just shouting that he thought it was broken and I called an ambulance," he said. "You just don't expect it. Of all the things that can happen - an earthquake."

Emergency services across England received more than 1,000 calls from people who had woken up to find their homes shaking.

Among them North Yorkshire police received nearly 700 calls, Humberside fire service took 200 and Warwickshire police around 250 in the two hours after the tremor.

A spokesman for Humberside fire and rescue service said the most common reports were of damaged chimney stacks, dangerous roofs and garden walls.

The Guardian received calls from startled readers in London, Bedfordshire, Yorkshire, Manchester, Blackpool and Leicester.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) said the centre was five miles east of Market Rasen and 15 miles south-west of Grimsby. "This is a significant earthquake for the UK and will have been widely felt across England and Wales," said Brian Baptie, a BGS seismologist.

The BGS said more property damage would have occurred had the focus of the earthquake been closer to the surface.

The BGS records around 200 quakes in Britain each year - an eighth of them are large enough to feel. It said there were earthquakes of this size in mainland Britain around every 30 years but they were more common offshore.

Today's quake is the largest since 1984 when an earthquake of magnitude 5.4 shook the Lleyn Peninsula of north Wales and was widely felt across England and Wales.

Alex Ferrier, 22, a marine biology student from Hull, said: "It was quite scary... we live in a road of large terraced houses and I was woken up and looked out of the window and there were loads of people on the streets."

Ferrier's mother, Val, who lives in Manchester, said she was woken when the mirrors on her wardrobe shook violently. "The whole room was shaking for about 20 seconds, it was quite violent. I ran downstairs," she said.

Geoff Halsey, 62, a salesman from Tingrith in Bedfordshire, said he knew immediately on waking up that it was an earthquake. "I was fast asleep when I felt a whiplash, it was quite violent ... lasting a few seconds. The whole house shivered, me and the wife both jumped up. The pheasants started singing and other birds began to sing as well."

John Jenkin, from Bourne in Lincolnshire, said things fell from his shelves. "I was woken up. It was hell. The police around here suddenly became very busy."

In London, the quake was felt by reporters in parliament. The Dudley area of the West Midlands had an earthquake in 2002 that reached magnitude 5.0 and damaged homes.

The last one in the UK was a 2.9 tremor in Wales in November. In April 2007, Kent had a similar event, and people in five streets of Folkestone had to be evacuated because of damage to buildings.

    Biggest quake since 1984 hits Britain, G, 27.2.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/feb/27/earthquake






Plague of rats as UK turns wetter

Even cars are at risk as floods and building sites drive out rodents from their underground lairs


The Observer, Sunday February 10 2008
Juliette Jowit, environment editor
This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday February 10 2008 on p24 of the News section.
It was last updated at 00:27 on February 10 2008.


Driven out of sewers by summer floods and an urban building boom, then nurtured by warmer winters and the leftovers of fast food, rats have been moving into homes, gardens and even cars around the country.

Rat-catchers and companies selling poison and traps are reporting a boom in business, with urban housing estates among the worst affected areas. Long-term growth in rodent populations is also blamed on a decline in 'sewer-baiting', the practice of laying down poison twice a year to prevent rat numbers building up underground.

Because rats breed on average five times a year, with seven or eight in each litter, growth can be rapid. The recent surge in numbers has been linked to a boom in urban development - not least the preparations for the 2012 London Olympics - and last summer's floods, which drove rats out from underground, through holes and cracks in pipes and drains.

Rentokil, the UK's largest pest control company, said demand rose by more than a quarter last year as hits on its website trebled. Killgerm, the country's biggest seller of rat poison, said sales rose by a quarter in 2007.

Rentokil estimates there are 65 million to 80 million rats in Britain, eating their way through 210 tonnes of food a year. This compares with an estimated 45 million to 50 million a decade ago, a rise of nearly 40 per cent, though the company admits such calculations are 'not an exact science'. The biggest increases appear to have been in the south of England, western Scotland and Northern Ireland; only East Anglia and the south Midlands reported a fall. 'It's a bit like crime statistics: it's difficult to tell whether the number of incidents has gone up, or if the reporting is more prevalent,' said Rentokil's UK managing director, Jed Kenrick. 'But there's no doubt that the number of calls we're getting about rodents is significantly up on 12 months ago.' Rats can spread diseases to humans through their urine, including Weil's disease and salmonella, though the Health Protection Agency said cases which could be linked to rats were 'rare' and there was no evidence of any increase in recent years.

Reuben and Louisa Hunter of Palmer's Green, north London, returned from a family holiday in Northern Ireland last month with their 14-month-old baby Sophie, to find that a rat had gnawed its way through the plastic around their car's gear stick, seat belts and the baby seat. 'The car looked like it had been broken into,' Sophie's father said.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) says that rather than call in the pest control experts it is more humane to avoid attracting rats in the first place by keeping food and buildings sealed. 'Rats are highly intelligent, social animals who excel at learning,' said Poorva Joshipura, director of Peta Europe. 'They do not want to die trying to gnaw their leg off in traps or slowly suffering from poison.'




Pest watch: How to keep rodents at bay...

· Place food and rubbish in sealed containers and clean under cookers, fridges and cupboards.

· Store pet food carefully and clean feeding bowls regularly.

· Seal holes into buildings - mice can get through the width of a ballpoint pen - and keep pipes and drains in good repair.

· Check under outside decking, a favourite nesting place for rats and mice.

    Plague of rats as UK turns wetter, O, 10.2.2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/feb/10/flooding.climatechange






High winds cut power

and cause travel chaos


January 9, 2008
From Times Online


Around 20,000 homes were without power today after Scotland was battered by gale-force winds and rain.

Gusts reached 70mph overnight and were expected to reach up to 90mph in southern, western and central areas today. The Met Office said the highest gusts, over Glen Ogle in the Highlands, topped 100mph.

Police said numerous roads had been blocked by fallen trees and some routes were affected by flooding. Thousands of homes in Argyll, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Clyde were without power.

Energy companies said that they were doing all they could to restore power, but continuing high winds were causing problems for their engineers.

Strathclyde Police said the high overnight winds had blown off part of the roof of the derelict Great Eastern Hotel in Glasgow’s Duke Street. Surrounding roads were closed and nearby residents were urged to stay away from their windows.

The Erskine Bridge and Tay Road Bridge were closed and the Forth Road Bridge was restricted to cars only.

On the M74 at Abington, the main West Coast route between England and Scotland, five lorries had overturned, blocking the carriageway and causing lengthy tailbacks. Speed limits of 30mph were in force.

Scottish and Southern Energy said around 9,000 homes in Argyll and a further 800 homes in Tayside were without power. A spokeswoman said: “At the moment we have to consider safety. Our engineers can’t climb poles in these sort of winds. We are monitoring the situation and will do everything to restore power where we can.”

She added that some of the west coast islands, including Islay and Jura, had been particularly badly affected.

ScottishPower confirmed that around 10,000 of its customers were now without power in Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Clyde.

“We are working flat out to try and get people connected as soon we can,” a spokeswoman said.

Forth Coastguard had to secure a yacht in Anstruther Harbour after it came loose from its moorings and guests at the Galley of Lorne Inn in Ardfern, Argyll, had to be evacuated after the roof came off at around 7am.

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue said it had been called out to check the structure of a number of buildings. “There has been quite a lot of storm damage - trees down, bits of refuse and even a trampoline which has gone AWOL,” a spokeswoman said.

Northern counties of England were also affected by the high winds, with reports of whirlwinds in Yorkshire and Humberside.

Meanwhile rough sea conditions in the English Channel were causing delays this morning to some ferry services, the Port of Dover said. All sailings from the Eastern Docks with P&O Ferries were running about 90 minutes late.

Norfolkline services to Dunkerque were also experiencing some disruption to their timetables, a port spokeswoman said.

High winds cut power and cause travel chaos, Ts, 9.1.2008, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/weather/article3158295.ece




home Up