Nature survives the storms just fine, thank you

Dan Spencer writes:

In common with most of the rest of the UK, Kelston Roundhill has played host to two uninvited visitors over the past fortnight- Ciara and Dennis.

With both storms wreaking havoc across the country, the team here at the Roundhill have been keeping an eye out for damage to the site. We’ve already documented the damage to the wind array. Other storm damage has included a broken shutter on the barn, damage to shed roofs, the demise of the large dove box in the ash tree by the barn, and the relocation of quite a lot of the gravel driveway by the flow of water.

With speeds of 70mph recorded in Barn Ground during Storm Ciara this was no mild breeze.

What is quite notable about this damage is that it has almost entirely affected the manmade structures on site. Apart from the loss of one (dead) tree, the natural environment around the farm has fared well. Neither the clump on the Roundhill Summit, nor the windswept Abbots Copse have seen any significant damage. Hedgerows still stand strong, and even the trees in the new plantations have weathered the storm well (although the same can’t be said for some of the plastic tree guards).

The Roundhill has also been a good vantage point to survey the Avon Valley, and to watch the floodwaters rise (and, thankfully, begin to fall) as the floodplains do the job they have been doing for millennia.

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Sun sets on first stage of our renewables trial

This photo by Tim Graham shows the unpainted wind array catching the last rays of the sun as the moon rises over the clump.

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Prototype wind array disassembled for assessment

The prototype wind array on Kelston Roundhill suffered damage in storm Ciara during the night of 9/10 Feb. The array was taken down over a few hours on 10 Feb.

Engineers are now assessing the damage and conducting an investigation. The suspected cause is a specific modified component in the Kelston trial array, not used in other prototype installations which came through the storm unscathed.

While the engineers assess this and learn any lessons Kelston Tump LLP has advised B&NES planning authorities that we will suspend the planning application process which was scheduled for submission for this week, and for which supporting information is published on our web site.

We remain committed to a renewable future for farming and other activities on Kelston Roundhill. We look forward to resuming our trials with wind technology as soon as possible, hoping to add solar trials as well.

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Retreats and quiet days now available at Roundhill Barn

Roundhill Barn has become a member of the Retreat Association, the national organisation supporting retreats. We’re happy to expand our offer of facilitated and catered days of quiet.

As the Retreat Association puts it

A retreat is exactly what it sounds like – the chance to step aside from life for a while, to rest and just ‘be’ in a welcoming, peaceful place. Retreats are for ordinary people at any time in their lives. There are no expectations on anyone going on retreat…

Most Retreat Association members are explicitly Christian organisations. Kelston Roundhill is affiliated as a secular location. It has hosted Quaker and CofE days of quiet in recent years. It has also welcomed visitors of many faiths including Buddhist and Rastafari. The retreats offered are based on the practices used successfully for the Quaker days of quiet.

Kelston Retreats suit people of any faith or of none. More info here.

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New gallery of wind array images commissioned for planning application

Based on the specifications and recommendations set out in B&NES’ pre-planning process we commissioned and just received a series of images of the prototype wind array for the planning application proper. These are taken after the new matt grey powder coating was appled to reduce shiny glare (with apologies to anyone who was disturbed by reflections).

More below. Click any of the images to enlarge.

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Celebration Earth plan: let’s join in!

This embyonic CelebrationEarth sounds like our sort of plan: an inclusive multi-faith celebration of life and nature.

First aired on BBCR4 in January, it’s yet another brainchild of Martin Palmer, whose charity ARC was for many years based in Kelston (at Kelston Park, which the owners now hope to make into a hotel). At this stage it’s an invitation to community groups, bigger organisations and individuals to work together, form new networks and new partnerships to help bring about change on personal, local and national levels.

This year comes to a head with a celebration event at St Albans Sept 18-20. From their web site:

2020 looks like it will be an exceptional year of action for the environment. As we face the current environmental problems, it is easy to lose sight of the wonder and joy of living on this planet. It is good to remind ourselves of environmental successes, however small or local they seem and of the beauty that surrounds us. The CelebrationEarth! project believes that we work most strongly to protect the things we love and therefore celebrate and that if we approach environmental work with hope and joy we can work more creatively and optimistically than if we approach it with anger and despair.

Can I get an Amen to that? Well, yes indeed. T0 be part of it we could all pack up and go to St Albans for the weekend, which is not at all a bad idea. Or we could work with them to do our own Celebration Earth event right here on Kelston Roundhill.

We’ll contact the organisers, see what the possibilities are and try to work out what’s best. Glad of any comments and suggestions. Meanwhile hold the date: 19 Sept 2020 (equinox weekend).

Earth and nature: there’s so much to celebrate (photo: CelebrationEarth)

 

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Kelston renewables prototype: review our draft planning application

Applying for planning permission is an amazing process – almost satisfying. If you want to see our draft planning application see this pdf – draft Kelston renewables planning application (pdf). Enjoy!

If you have advice and suggestions – whether you’re an expert in the planning process or just an interested party – pleased to hear from you in comments below or via the contact form.

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Photo competition entry: a birds-eye view of the wind array prototype

The wind array in Barn Ground seen from 40m above. You can also see the temporary fence and green container with test and heat dispersal equipment.

This drone photo taken by Jeremy looks a strong early contender for winning one of the Bath Soft Cheeses on offer. The competition for photos of the prototype wind array is open until 14 Feb. For details see The joy of planning: submit a photo and win a cheese

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Planning: does a renewables trial require an air quality assessment?

According to B&NES’s web site

All major developments inside or adjacent to an AQMA (Air Quality Management Area)

AQMA is a lovely acronym. But trialling a prototype wind array is hardly a “major development”. Kelston Roundhill, with its stiff fresh breezes is hardly, as far as we know, an AQMA. But it would seem a shame not include some sort of air quality statement in our planning application for renewables. Because as well as beauty and noise air quality – pollution and smell – is a major factor for generating off-grid power in a beautiful location.

It’s reliable, but it’s not pretty. The diesel generator smells and sounds bad. But – climate emergency notwithstanding – it does not require planning permission.

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Remembering a special event last summer: the concert for aural diversity

Just came across a bunch more photos of a particular highlight of last year – Prof Andrew Hugill’s “concert for aural diversity” composed and performed entirely by musicians with a diverse range of hearing conditions. It’s great to reflect on a grey January day on just how extraordinary and moving that sunny day was.

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Images by Miguel from Andrew Hugill’s concert for aural diversity, July 2019.

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