Photos by David Goode, June 2019
Photos by David Goode, June 2019
The Oak king and his circus folk
They brought a marching band.
And felt this barn, below these trees was the fairest place to stand.
And Holly, the preacher who led them,
As the summer light held sway.
Removed his hat and stopped the crowd,
Then he turned to them to say,
‘May the winter never gather
Or those deep dark birds amass,
May these thoughts that might defeat you
Dissipate and pass’
Now there’s only bare earth
Where the elephants stood
And waited by the door.
Just yesterday their city stood here,
And the winds smelt of canvas and straw,
And miles ahead there was rain in sheets
That washed their coloured tents
And the clowns playing cards in the corner
Could’ve told you what this meant.
Kelston Laureate Jon Hamp reads his new poem at the Bard of Bath’s Solstice celebration inside Kelston Clump
Thanks to Conor Whelan, the Bard of Bath, to Jon, Graham Tic and all the other poets, to Craig, Marick and the band and everyone who came.
Kelston Tump LLP (the partnership of William, Klaus and Clare, the owners of Kelston Roundhill) has just authorised a small-scale test of a new prototype wind array half way up the hill. The Old Barn and the borehole providing water for cattle on Kelston Roundhill are off grid, currently powered by an ageing 27kw diesel generator. We want to use the abundant wind and sun to provide the modest amount of power needed for farming and events at the Old Barn.
The first Spinetic prototype on trial at a farm in Wilts (with car & tractor to show scale)
Designed and commissioned by Spinetic, a Wilts-based startup, the wind array is a lightweight, low-cost flexible way of harvesting wind resource. Wind arrays are drastically lower in height, have less visual impact and appear to have much less impact on wildlife than traditional turbines. We hope to test all that and more in the trial.
The wider policy context is that the UK now by law must be “net-zero” on carbon emissions by 2050, ending Britain’s long-standing and disproportionate contribution to climate change. Bath & NE Somerset Council declared climate emergency in May 2019, and is committed to carbon neutrality by 2030. B&NES commissioned some years ago two very pertinent reports. In 2010 CAMCO delivered the latest update of its report Renewable Energy and Planning Research. In 2011 Land Use Consultants delivered a report Landscape and Visual Issues for Areas with Technical Potential for Wind Energy Development in Bath and North East Somerset. The TL:DR is that Bath and surrounding areas are reasonably rich in wind resource (as any walker on the Kelston Roundhill could tell you), and that it’s a sensitive landscape (the reports mention Kelston Roundhill several times) with important sight lines, vulnerable wildlife and sites of special scientific interest. Wind is our biggest resource, but B&NES is not suitable for large scale wind farms.
B&NES Adopted Placemaking Plan sets out the existing framework (248pp); this is set to be superseded by a new Local Plan which takes over from 2020/1 (draft here: see p130 onwards for climate change related matters).
The 2010 CAMCO and 2011 LUC reports opine on the sensitivity of what they describe as large, medium sized and small wind resources. By this they mean
large (2.5MW, 135m to tip and 100m rotor diameter); medium (600kW, 61m to tip and 42m rotor diameter); and small (15kW, 25m to tip and 12m rotor diameter)
There is absolutely no way anyone is erecting such insanely massive wind turbines on Kelston Roundhill. It’s not even a controversy; we just wouldn’t think of them. But what the B&NES consultants are describing, remember, are turbines. What we’re going to trial is a prototype wind array. The maximum height is just 6m. These are better described as low-impact or modular; they are under a quarter the height of what B&NES’ consultants designate as “small”.
Kelston Roundhill is an iconic spot, visible from far away. It’s part of the skyline of the World Heritage City, clearly visible on any photo, painting or engraving made of Bath from the south west. It’s AONB and green belt. It’s sensitive, and we need to tread carefully towards a sensitive way to harvest renewable energy. It’s a good place to do the right thing. The wind speed is good (location is key, and Spinetic has been measuring it over the last year).
The trial prototype is 25m long by 6m high, and will be located along the hedge between Barn Ground and Seven Acres. There’s no public access there so if you want a close inspection or have any questions please contact us: email@example.com.
We’ll do an online consultation survey shortly (now launched: click here) after installation so all interested parties can express their views based on the reality an actual trial installation.
The 6m high frame from the top of Barn Ground.
Kelston clump on 1 June 2019, the start of Pride Month.
One way or another Kelston Roundhill has always been and will always be a sacred spot. We’re not aware of any records surviving from Celtic or Roman times, but in recent years we’ve welcomed CofE groups for awaydays and evensong, Quaker days of quiet, school Ascension Day assemblies, Buddhist monks and Rastafari.
They come either informally as walkers on the hill, or by invitation and booking in advance for awaydays, worship and memorial events in the Old Barn.
Pilgrims are always welcome. And it’s a perfect location for private reflection of all sorts.
But we must remind visitors to seek permission in advance for any proposed group event. That isn’t simply as a matter of courtesy; bear in mind this is a working farm on private land.
We’re very open to hosting multi-faith and interfaith events. But the Old Barn project has a certain ethos with which fundamentalism, evangelism or missionary zeal are not compatible.
And – as for each and every visitor – leave no trace.
Pride Month banners provided by Bath Quaker Wren Sidhe.
Poems, stories, picnics and a Barn Dance on Fri 21 June
This year’s Bard of Bath – Conor Whelan – is organising a summer solstice celebration on Kelston Roundhill. Poems, stories, barn dance/ceilidgh. Bring a picnic if you want, or food may be available if numbers warrant it. Cash bar.
Tickets £8 available from Komedia box office (click here, call them on Bath 489070 or drop in in person and save the booking fee).
The Bard of Bath invite. Photo by Matt Prosser
Top quality milk? That would be my Mum. One of the Park Farm calves comes to check out a charity away day at the Old Barn on Kelston Roundhill (photo: Bath Quakers).
We’re delighted to hear that Bath Soft Cheese, made by hand in Kelston, was this month declared supreme champion in the 2019 UK & Ireland Artisan Cheese Awards. It also won Gold in the ‘Organic’ category, judged against more than 400 cheeses from across the British Isles.