With a temperature of 40.3°c recorded at Coningsby on 19 July it was even more pertinent that our July programme should include the opportunity to hear first hand how each and every one of us needs to respond to the consequences of Climate Change.
As a renewable source of power, solar energy has an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change, which is critical to protecting humans, wildlife, and ecosystems, so we were delighted to hear Judy Fry’s personal experience of having a domestic Solar PV installed at her home. Her excellent PowerPoint presentation took us through all the aspects of removal of roof slates, installation of the solar panels & battery and running costs, benefits etc. It was pleasing to hear that so many members are now encouraged to make enquiries for their own installations.
Following on with our July environment theme, we welcomed an excellent gathering of interested attendees at an Open Meeting held in Ambleside Parish Centre for our speaker Matt Staniek, ecologist.
Pursuing his lifelong passion for wildlife in his native Windermere area Matt has witnessed a sharp decline in the water quality which is having a serious detrimental effect on biodiversity. He is determined that the Lake District as a World Heritage Site should be leading the way for others by doing far more to preserve natural balance by combatting the water pollution havoc being wreaked by man. As a result he is taking time out from his career to mount a self-funded crusade to educate and raise awareness about the vital importance of preventing Windermere, the jewel in the crown of the Lake District, from suffering an ecological disaster. Through his efforts he has gained nationwide attention for the problem.
Matt explained the damage that the combined effects of sewage pollution from water treatment plants emptying into Windermere and tributary rivers Brathay & Rothay, outfall from around 1900 unregulated private septic tanks in the surrounds, and agricultural run-off from farm fertilisers are having by over nutrifying the water with phosphates at an alarming rate. This leads to algal blooms which feed on nutrients from the phosphates. Algae starves the fish of oxygen, can cause serious illness in humans swimming in the lake and be fatal to animals. It sinks to the bottom forming a thick layer starving the oxygen in fish spawning grounds so eggs and young do not develop. Atlantic salmon, Arctic Char and Trout are already known to be in alarming decline as a result.
Matt’s work is already having an effect by focussing attention on the problems, constantly questioning and challenging authorities such as United Utilities & Environment Agency, seeking practical solutions to reduce agricultural pollutions and working with multiple agencies to try to reverse the decline, but acknowledges that there is an enormous way to go to achieve success.
He explained that individuals can also play their part by such as using phosphate free cleaning products, reducing fertilisers on lawns and gardens, maintaining efficient septic tank systems, not discharging boat waste and supporting local initiatives from Rivers Trusts and Wildlife groups. (Many thanks Judy for Matt’s report)
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