I've decided to take a break from being closed (another one?), as I've had some time off work, and as Madame De La Suicide was unable to get the same time, I've found myself at a bit of a loose end. On a bit of a whim, I decided to go and see what ISBW is droning on about when she sings the praises of Dungeness. A bit of a jaunt from here (500 mile round trip), but what else am I going to do? DIY? Watch Strictly Formulaic Panel Shows?
So I hotfooted South, stopping briefly in Hastings and Winchelsea for a cursory look around, then onto the Dungeness Nature Reserve which is an RSPB site with lots of hides for twitchers to fall asleep in.
I paid my three quid entry to the reserve and prepared to walk the two miles around the trail.
The trail guide tells me about it being home to a third of Britain's plant species and over 200 species of birds are recorded annually. It tells me about the wigeons and pintails. It drools over the male smew and the dragonflies, butterflies and frogs plant species and over 200 species of birds are recorded annually. It makes no mention of the elephant in the room which is, of course
the nuclear power station. Smack bang in the foreground and dominating every view (unless you turn your back on it, or close your eyes, or both). Whilst it may not be wholly responsible for the eerie otherworldliness of the place, it certainly adds to it.
The walk around the shingle is trail is a tranquil and lonely. I expect November is not their peak month, and my silence was only occasionally broken by the sound of ducks. A couple of twitchers suddenly break cover, a hybrid of tweed, oilskin and Scarpa, tripod legs shooting off them at bizarre angles. They are pointing towards me,
"Is that a lesser-brained Wulfrunian?" I look over my shoulder, but see nothing, except a nuclear reactor, glowering at me, silently.
Leaving the nature reserve, I drive around to the Dungeness estate. This again provides such an odd landscape. Essentially a flat grass and shingle prairie, with wooden and metal dwellings and boats in various states of disrepair. Part of what makes it appear so odd is that you can't really see the sea. It all just looks out of place.
Look one way you see this
Look the other you see this
Strange eerie place. The only other place I've visited that has anything like the same feel, is the beach at Redcar.
Now, if your looking for a dissection of the nuclear power industry, you've obviously come to the right place. This blog is internationally renowned* for its insightful views of current affairs, hot political issues and the latest in geo-environmentally scientific analysis...Ok maybe not. Bigger risks in my life currently are being trampled by a cow, or punched by a civil servant, but nuclear power makes me very uneasy. I know little of the pros and cons. I hear that the government is interested in building more as an alternative to dirty coal-burning CO2 emitting outdated legacy units. I also hear they're very safe? I fear the former residents of Prypiat, Ukraine may disagree..?
(Oddly, Prypiat is now something of a tourist attraction. Interested? Go here. I confess to being tempted..)
I'm sticking my faith in wind-farms. I understand they produce very little in the way of useful power BUT
- Surely ANY unit of power produced by non-fuel burning, non nuclear natural source is a good thing?
- Noel Edmunds hates them. Anything that irritates the man who gave the world Mr Blobby/Crinkly Bottom should be pursued aggressively. Give him something to do until he elbows his way back onto Prime-Time.
- I think they have their own other-worldly beauty and the ones on the coast of Cornwall always make me feel oddly hopeful.
*one hit from Jersey circa 2006.