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Painted Lady summer

The UK could experience a once-in-a-decade influx of millions of Painted Lady butterflies this summer, after large arrivals of the nomad insect have already been spotted on the south coast.

The distinctive butterfly, known for its orange and black wings, is a long-distance migrant which embarks on a 7,500-mile round trip from tropical Africa to the Arctic Circle every year.

But this summer could be a “Painted Lady Summer” in which millions arrive in the UK to breed while on their migration north.

The last great influx of the species was in 2009, when 11 million were recorded at the beginning of the summer.
Dr Richard Fox, a butterfly conservationist, told The Telegraph “big arrivals” have already been recorded on the east and south coast of England in June.

“There were two to three hundred Painted Ladies recorded in one small area in a single day,” he said.
Conservationists are hopeful similar numbers to the 2009 influx will be recorded this year, and are calling on the public to participate in the Big Butterfly Count, organised by the charity Butterfly Conservation, to help record the event.

One reason for this year’s mass arrival could be related to favourable breeding conditions along their migration route, Dr Fox said.

He added: “Weather conditions further south, either in southern Europe or in Africa have dictated how successful the previous generation was.  “There were huge numbers reported in the eastern Mediterranean, on islands like Cyprus and on some of the Greek islands like Rhodes.

“I think that probably the conditions were really good for breeding in the eastern parts of North Africa.”

So far this year, sightings of the Painted Lady have been recorded as far north as Shetland and even on the island of St. Kilda which has no native butterflies, Dr Fox said.

Cornwall is at the forefront of the energy revolution

There is no doubt we are facing a Climate Emergency, writes Mark Duddridge, Chair of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.

The evidence is compelling that urgent action is required to tackle climate change. Unless we act now, future generations will condemn us for our failure to respond to the biggest challenge of the age.

Vital to that response is how we generate energy. Unless we create a low carbon energy future we have no hope of hitting the UK target of a net zero carbon economy by 2050 as we attempt to head off a tipping point in global warming.

In Cornwall we are being more ambitious. Having formally declared a Climate Emergency, we are working towards being net zero carbon by 2030, a full 20 years ahead of the UK.

That’s a huge challenge but also a tremendous opportunity, and one where Cornwall and the wider South West can become a global leader in the transition to a low carbon economy, especially when it comes to renewable energy.

This isn’t fanciful thinking. In the last eight years, Cornwall has cut its carbon footprint by almost a fifth, and two-thirds of emissions reductions have been achieved by decarbonising electricity.

We are the sunniest place in the UK with one of the best wind climates in Western Europe, so we are ideal for solar and wind power.

That has helped Cornwall meet 37% of its electricity demand from renewables, up from just 6% in 2009. Now we are looking at how floating wind turbines, anchored miles offshore, could deliver power, jobs and prosperity to our coastal communities.

Our geography means we have more geothermal energy resources deep underground than any other part of Britain, which we are only just starting to tap.

The minerals and metals of Cornwall and Devon that powered the first industrial revolution will power the next. Burgeoning battery technology for electric vehicles is driving global demand for lithium, cobalt, tin and copper. That’s why the prospectors are back.

Our universities and businesses boast world-leading renewables expertise onshore, offshore and underground. Technology is being harnessed to decarbonise our economy and tackle fuel poverty, from local electricity grids on the Isles of Scilly, to capturing methane from cattle near Truro.

And we are looking to space to provide the vital earth observation we need to make essential decisions about tackling climate change and global warming.

By combining our natural assets with our centuries-old spirit of discovery and invention, we will drive innovation, create jobs and tackle some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges of our age.

At the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership we are putting green energy at the heart of our economic plans. Clean growth is not a contradiction. By generating our own heat and power from renewable sources we can drive our economy, secure our supply, tackle energy inequality in our communities and respond to climate change.
Cornwall and the Great South West could become a centre of excellence for the development of a global floating offshore wind industry, supporting thousands of potential jobs.

That’s the ambition of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which is promoting the region as an ideal location for floating windfarms that would generate clean, green energy miles offshore and not be visible from land.

The UK Government’s target is for one third of the UK’s electricity to come from offshore wind by 2030. It wants to develop the UK’s offshore wind supply chain and increase exports fivefold to £2.6 billion by 2030, and triple the number of UK jobs employed by the industry to 27,000.

The Celtic Sea off the coast of the South West and South Wales has one of the best wind resources in Europe, but the water is too deep to install conventional offshore wind turbines which rest on the seabed.

But new floating wind technology could be the answer. Using turbines on floating foundations which are anchored to the seabed could see wind farms deployed in depths of up to 800 metres, opening up huge areas of the sea for wind energy.

The UK’s first floating windfarm opened in 2017 off the coast of Aberdeenshire and consists of five 175m high turbines, anchored by chains weighting 1,200 tonnes. It’s that type of technology which could in the future be deployed far offshore from Cornwall and the South West, using local companies and ports.

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP is working closely with the offshore industry, regulators and Government to investigate how the region can be a world leader in floating offshore wind.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are already at the forefront of marine technology with the local supply chain providing products and services to offshore renewable energy clients throughout Britain and across the globe.  Parts of Falmouth, Hayle and Tolvaddon have Enterprise Zone status, offering incentives to inward investors in the sector, and the EU-funded Marine-i project has been set up to help the marine technology sector in Cornwall and Scilly to grow through research, development and innovation.

Cornwall - officially the best place for a 'staycation'

A new survey into the most popular locations across the UK has seen voters pick our beautiful county as their favourite place for a 'staycation'.

Celebrated for its countryside, rich coastline and pretty towns, the county ranked in first place, beating of stiff competition from some of the nation's favourite staycation locations, including Devon, Edinburgh and London.

The research, which was conducted by photo printing specialist CEWE, also found that Truro was voted as one of the UK’s most beautiful cities, with St Michael’s Mount topping the chart as the most photogenic location in the UK and one of the country’s best landmarks.

The study revealed a continuing trend into Brit’s opting to holiday at home, rather than travelling abroad, with 83% of Brit’s looking to staycate, with the majority (63%) revealing convenience and cost were key considerations when choosing to take their main summer holiday in the UK.

The study also found peace, isolation, exploring somewhere new, and - most importantly - beautiful scenery were also major driving factors for those choosing to ditch the passport and holiday at home.

The top 10 staycation locations were voted as:

1. Cornwall
2. Devon
3. Dorset
4. Somerset
5. Northumberland
6. Norfolk
7. Yorkshire
8. Edinburgh
9. London
10. Lancashire

Clare Moreton, digital marketing director at CEWE, said: "We already know from the amazing images we receive on a daily basis as part of our photo competition and the beautiful photobooks our customers make that the UK is bursting with amazing staycation locations, so it’s fantastic to see that the trend of holidaying at home seems to be here to stay.

"The UK is spoilt for choice when it comes to beauty spots, and this really comes across with our research, from the stunning York bars walls, to the Cornwall coast and further afield, there’s so much choice and beautiful scenery that the UK has to offer. The hard bit now is choosing where to visit first."

The CEWE research forms part of a free photographic travel guide the company has compiled for those looking to take advantage of the diversity Britain has to offer.

Those looking to holiday at home can access a range of travel guides on the CEWE website, complete with best spots to take stunning photos, the most delicious eateries the UK has to offer and hints and tips on what to do and where to stay.

To take a look at CEWE’s travel guides to the top locations in Britain, visit: www.cewe-photoworld.com/bestofbritain

Britain enters the space race with plans for spaceport in Cornwall

The UK Space Agency has confirmed that it is drafting regulations for Europe's first spaceport set to be built in Cornwall.

Rules are being drawn up now to allow sub-orbital human spaceflight from the spaceports on Virgin Galactic spacecraft within the next decade.  Sub-orbital flights, which are currently undergoing tests in the US, could be operating from the base in the early 2020s, officials said.

Rocket trips will allow passengers to experience weightlessness and view the curvature of the planet and could mean 90-minute journeys to Australia.

Virgin will use the Cornish site to carry small satellites into orbit aboard their LauncherOne rockets, which are ferried into the atmosphere by carrier plane.

The UK Space Agency are putting forward £7.85 million ($10 million) in funding for the scheme, which will be joined by £12 million ($15 million) by Cornwall Council, subject to final approvals.

Further contributions are expected, including £0.5 million ($0.6 million) from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership and £2.5 million ($3.2 million) from Virgin Orbit, the US-based space launch operator.

The collective support will enable Spaceport Cornwall and Virgin Orbit to develop the facilities needed to launch small satellites from the UK as soon as early 2020.  In the future, the spaceport could also see fee-paying space tourists take off on sub-orbital pleasure flights.

This announcement is the culmination of five years' hard work and will be transformative for Cornwall,' said Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.  'It puts us and the UK at the heart of the international satellite launch market, offering affordable access to space and will inspire a generation.'

Spaceport Cornwall's development is expected will create around 150 new jobs and permit the UK to compete within the global market for deploying small satellites into Earth orbit — and industry expected to be worth £3.9 billion by 2030.

Virgin Orbit's contribution to the development will allow the firm to operate its LauncherOne system from the spaceport.  LauncherOne is a two-stage, air-to-orbit rocket that can carry small satellite payloads weighing up to around 660 pounds (300 kilograms) into low-Earth orbit.  The rockets are carried up into the atmosphere on a carrier aircraft, dubbed 'Cosmic Girl', a Boeing 747-400 that was converted from its former role as a passenger airliner in the Virgin Atlantic fleet.

A maiden launch of the Virgin Orbit system is expected to take place, launching from the US, sometime in late 2019.
Meanwhile, the UK Government is working with US authorities to establish the legal and technical frameworks needed to lift-off US space vehicles from launch sites on UK soil.

These funding announcements come at the same time as the UK announces plans to establish a new National Space Council later this year.  Once formed, the body will provide the government with strategic guidance on all space-related issues and coordinate the UK's space strategy.

The UK will remain in the European Space agency and is considering launching an investment programme to forge new international partnerships in the space sector.

'As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, these announcements demonstrate the UK government's commitment to space,' said UK Science Minister Chris Skidmore.  'Satellite technology is crucial to our daily lives, for observing the Earth and gathering vital climate change data, and the space industry is growing rapidly with 42,000 jobs across the country,' he added.

New Tintagel bridge takes shape

A spectacular footbridge that will link the Cornish mainland with the island fortress of Tintagel is beginning to take shape thanks to technology usually employed for challenging construction projects in the Swiss Alps.  Hefty sections of steel, each weighing up to 4.5 tonnes, have arrived in Tintagel village having been manufactured off-site and are being manoeuvred into place this week.

The 70-metre-long bridge is to comprise of two cantilevers, one reaching out from the mainland to the island where according to legend King Arthur was conceived. The other stretches back towards the mainland but the two will not quite meet, creating a 40mm gap.

For hundreds of years, since the collapse of a narrow natural land bridge that used to reach out to the rocky headland on which the castle sits, visitors have had to scramble up and down hundreds of steps and across a modest wooden bridge to visit the attraction.

English Heritage, the custodian of the site, decided that a bridge would improve access, recreate the historical crossing between the mainland and island and help to conserve and protect the landscape.

The footbridge will be installed without scaffolding or free-standing supports and instead an unusual cable crane has been constructed for the task.  Using technology pioneered in the Swiss Alps, the cable crane has already been used to deliver materials to the site, put in place the rock anchors and build the foundations for the bridge. Now it is being called into action to drop each of the 12 prefabricated sections of the bridge into place.

Preparation work for the bridge began in autumn 2018, with the installation of the rock anchors and foundations, but it is only now when its possible to see the bridge really coming together.  It is set to open in summer 2019.

English Heritage says the new footbridge will follow the path of the original land bridge, allowing visitors to experience the castle as its historic inhabitants once did. The original narrow access point gave rise to the stronghold’s name, the Cornish Din Tagell, meaning “the fortress of the narrow entrance”.  The new bridge will hugely improve the experience and access for visitors.

Tintagel Castle attracts almost 250,000 visitors each year and English Heritage says the new footbridge will help to reduce congestion, especially at peak periods, and provide a step-free route to the island.

New hedgehog traffic sign to protect small animals announced

A new traffic sign featuring a hedgehog will soon appear on roads across the UK to warn drivers of potential hazards from the spiky animals and other forms of small wildlife.

The warning is also designed to reverse the decline in small wildlife numbers, especially hedgehogs – whose population in rural areas has halved since 2000.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling unveiled the sign on Monday, and said it could be placed in areas where accident rates are highest.

It is aimed at complementing other signs already used on UK roads, filling a gap between warnings about creatures such as migratory toads and wildfowl, and large animals such as deer and livestock.

Mr Grayling said: “The new small mammal warning sign should help to reduce the number of people killed and injured, as well as helping our precious small wild mammal population to flourish.”

He added: “We have some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking at how we can make them safer. Motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users are particularly at risk.”

The minister is calling on local authorities and animal welfare groups to identify accident and wildlife hotspots exactly where the signs should be located.

Mr Grayling met with road safety experts on Monday, including Brake, the AA and the RAC Foundation, together with animal protection groups including the Wildlife Trust, to discuss the scale of the problem.

Between 2005 and 2017, 100 people were killed and just over 14,000 injured in accidents involving an animal in the road.

Tony Campbell, chief executive of the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), said his organisation was “pleased to welcome these new signs that will help everyone, including those on two wheels or four legs, complete their journeys more safely”.

Jill Nelson, CEO at People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), added: “At PTES roadkill has long been a concern … We welcome this focus on road safety and protection for all small mammals.

“We have also joined forces with the British Hedgehog Preservation Society to deliver the Hedgehog Street campaign, meeting with Mr Grayling to express our concerns for hedgehogs on roads and elsewhere.”

The move comes shortly before the Department of Transport’s updated road safety statement and two-year action plan are published.

41 new Marine Conservation Zones announced

Today the Government announced it is designating 41 new Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), eight of which will be around Cornwall. This historic move will help protect the seas around our shores and follows on from previous announcements of 50 MCZs (in 2013 and 2016), bringing the total to 91. It is the third of three phases promised by the Government in order to fulfil the remit of the Marine and Coastal Access Act.

MCZs are areas at sea where a range of rare and threatened species and habitats are protected from damaging activities. The 41 new MCZs are special places and include cold water corals, forests of sea fans, rocky canyons and sandbanks – an astonishingly varied range of submerged landscapes which support the stunning diversity of marine life found in the UK.  They include the Camel and Helford Estuaries, as well as six sites further offshore, such as the important nursery grounds of the South West Approaches to the Bristol Channel, and the rich, muddy depths of the largest MCZ to be designated, the South-West Deeps.  All will contribute towards a network of areas which is urgently needed to ensure a healthy future for our seas.

The 41 special places were consulted on last year and the decision to designate all 41 sites is a really positive step to benefit our seas and wildlife.

The additional eight MCZ in Cornwall will help to guarantee a future for the extraordinarily diverse natural landscapes that exist beneath the waves off our coast, and help form the network of protected marine. However, designation alone does not mean these sites will be protected and the next step is to ensure that these sites are effectively managed to aid recovery and a sustainable future for our seas and all those that rely on it for their livelihoods.

We now have a total of 91 MCZs designated nationally.  The designation of these new sites is a big step in the right direction for Cornwall’s seas but now the focus must be on caring for these special places effectively so that our ocean wildlife has the best possible chance of recovery.

Cornwall’s Roman Milestones

It was often said that the Romans never conquered the Cornish - that the county and the people were too wild for them and, like the Scottish in the north, they decided we were best left alone.  It is now common knowledge that that is not entirely true. It’s likely that the myth has only been perpetuated for so long by Cornish pride. 

There is lots of evidence that they asserted some kind of control over Cornwall, or at least intigrated with the Cornish. The Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro has plenty off artefacts that the invaders left behind from coins to roof tiles. It is well known that the Cornish had been trading with the Romans, so perhaps the relationship was one of mutual respect too.

However, anyone who knows the county well will know that they had absolutely no effect on our roads – there aren’t many straight ones! But that is not to say they didn’t make it south of the Tamar. As they gradually made their way towards Lands End the Romans marked their progress.

It’s not clear how many there are lying around, after all when all is said and done they are merely well-weathered pieces of local granite, but five are known. Like all the random finds of a parish they usually end up near a church. Four of them are easy to locate and are listed below:

St Hilary Church AD306-307
St Materiana Church AD308-324
Breage Church AD 258-268
Trethevy AD 251-253 – the nearest to Rocky Valley

When you consider that there are only 20 such milestones known in the whole of England then these weather-worn lumps of rock take on new meaning.   Add the names of the Emperors that they also commemorated – Gallus, Marcus Cassianus Poshimus, Constantine and Galerius Valerius Licinianus – they become truly significant.

These stones are ancient memorials, reminders if you like, to a time almost completely vanished from our landscape here in Cornwall and also a period of our history that is barely acknowledged that happened.  This makes their lichen covered, grey lumpiness all the more special!  They may look like plain pieces of granite, the writing may be difficult to see and for me impossible to read but their value is immeasurable to our little patch of the ancient world.  They are, like Cornwall’s Oldest Road, the Cunaide Stone or King Doniert’s Stone solid evidence of a forgotten time.

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Updated on January 27th, 2013

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