There’s gold in that there hill….

Today sees ecstatic news by a smalltime prospector about a supposedly “strategic” amount of oil under Gatwick. So what’s the score in Kelston? Thanks to the UK Infrastructure Act (2015), there’s a legal duty to maximise the economic recovery of UK petroleum. That definition of petroleum extends coal-based methane (CBM).

Nearby Chew Valley has a pretty well-organised anti-fracking group Frack Free Chew Valley, with advice and resources and a process for declaring your land “frack free”.

The group has obtained the 2000 petroleum exploration and development licence relinquishment report of GeoMet, a USian CBM extractor which seems to have asset-stripped itelf in 2014. It cheerfully suggests the potential for 300 CBM extraction wells in Somerset including six in the parish of Kelston.

The licence is now held by gas merchants UK Methane. They applied in 2012 for an exploratory well licence in Keynsham but the plans were put on hold in 2013 after 600 people objected.

Don Foster MP had spoken of a fracking exemption for Bath with its world heritage status and hot springs. And there’s a higher level of protection for designated AONBs.

Let us state clearly we have a problem with CBM under Keslton Roundhill. There’s the NIMBY issue that more roads, trucks, extraction mines, gas pipelines and pollution are entirely at odds with the spirit and purpose of this exceptional location. And there’s the big evolutionary or existential issue: if we dig out and burn all our fossil fuels, suggests Prof Michael Greenstone in the New York Times, the world will get over 16 degrees warmer.

That surely means mass species extinctions, including you and us, compliant politicians and all the directors and shareholders of these benighted and misguided energy companies.

Not cool; not cool at all. Leave it in the ground. Continue reading

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Solar eclipse timelapse by Matt Prosser

Matt sent over a link to his timelapse and slides of the 2015 Total Solar Eclipse as seen from Kelston Roundhill (keep an eye out for this and more on his blog here). This one needs a special soundtrack I reckon.

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Eclipse from the Klump, by Matt Prosser

Two views of the 20 March solar eclipse from the Roundhill by Matt Prosser:

20150217-_DSC0098-1Solar Eclipse Max (small)

Matt writes:

I had a great time photographing the solar eclipse. The foggy cloud lifted just in time to reveal the eclipse through a natural filter which made the photography a joy. The clouds provided a good backdrop with beautiful halo effects.

20150320-IMG_8838-Edit-1 Eclipse Kelston Roundhill (small)

See also Matt’s new blog here.

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Bath from the top, by Scott Salter

Bath from Kelston Roundhill by Scott Salter

Via Twitter from @ScottRSalter HT @ekaterinalondon 

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Here comes the solar eclipse – heads up from Matt Prosser

Matt Prosser has been consulting his Photographer’s Ephemeris again. Plus he has a new blog – check it out. He writes:

Photos of the Moon over Kelston Roundhill are so last year, don’t you think? This year how about a photo of a 90% partial eclipse of the sun over the clump?

This Friday, 20th March 2015 at 08:29 there will be a partial eclipse of the sun. The sky will go dark (and birds will fall silent, maybe).

I’ve worked out that the place to be is on the footpath off North Stoke Lane. (This is where I will be)

See the photographer’s Ephemeris at,-2.433046&center=51.4126,-2.4294&dt=20150320092800%2B0000&z=14&spn=0.03,0.07 for details.

For more information about the eclipse in the Bristol Area, including a neat animation of what to expect, see the following link:

For safety here is some advice on how to protect your eyes when viewing the eclipse.

The fun starts at 08:23 and ends at 10:38 with maximum at 09:29

The weather at this range is sunny with cloud so let’s hope for a clear morning.

So does this mean smoked lenses I ask naively?

Yes, though the technical term for a smoked lens is a 10 f:stop Neutral Density Filter.

The sun will be quite high in the sky even though it is early morning so a portrait mode will be required. A single exposure would result in a silhouette of the hill so I’ll also take multiple exposures and blend them for best effect.

See you there eclipse hunters! I’ll try and do a better job of being in the right place at the right time than last year.

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NT asks: what’s unique about the Bath Skyline?

Not everyone loves the National Trust. Critics use words like formulaic or municipal. At their angriest they call it Nazional. But it has saved and preserved a colossal amount of national heritage, learned a huge amount about how to look after it, and it’s a huge source of expertise, resource and rallying point of love of British buildings and natural environment.

The point made by its more thoughtful detractors is that it can overlook or even compromise the spirit of the places it looks after. It is, after all, a pragmatic and secular bureaucracy. But the NT are smart and dedicated people, and they’re more than aware of that issue. See for example here the new National Trust campaign on the Bath Skyline:

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“We are trying to put into words the spirit of the place”.

Kelston Roundhill, while indpendently owned, is an integral part of the same Bath skyline. We feel exactly the same need. Songwriters and poets have done some it already, and also photographers and artists. But, as our local sage Martin Palmer points out, there is something uniquely important about words.

So do reply to their enquiry. The exam question is “What one thing do you think makes the Skyline unique?” I think it’s fine to have more than one. My first thoughts are: 1. the Peter Gabriel’s song Solsbury Hill; 2. being able to see from Wilts to Wales #KelstonRoundhill; 3. the people you meet on the Skyline: the things that bring them there and the feelings they speak of.

It’s not a remote place; it’s sociable. There’s something about a historic, populous distant view that makes people open up their thoughts and feelings.

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Visualisation of species interaction on a Somerset Farm

This is pretty cool: a team including Michael Pocock from CES in Oxfordshire has mapped and visualised species interactions, based on data from Norwood Farm in Somerset.

See the publication in Science


Species’ interaction networks at Norwood Farm, Somerset, UK. The entire network of networks is shown at top left (in which each circle represents one species), and quantitative visualizations are shown for each of the seven quantified individual networks (in which each block is a species, and the width of blocks of each color represents relative abundance). Details of the networks are given in table S1 and (14). Dark green and light green circles and blocks indicate noncrop and crop plants, respectively, whereas other colors indicate animal groups. Scale bars indicate the abundance of animal taxa. Plants are scaled in proportion to their interactions.

From: The Robustness and Restoration of a Network of Ecological Networks by Michael J. O. Pocock, Darren M. Evans, Jane Memmott

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