Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Who will be Queen of the Channel?

Choice on the Channel

I remember my first trip across the channel on the "Queen of the Channel" many years ago from Margate Jetty. It was the only time I was ever sea sick after several hours at sea.
Things are different now with large super ferries. So what are the choices now from Kent with the demise of Seafrance. Well P&O Dover to Calais is a pretty good service. There is DFDS Seaways Dover to Dunkirk (old Sally port) , and there is Transeuropa Ramsgate to Ostend.

We did have Dover to Boulogne courtesy of Speedferries who ran a no frills fast cat. Unfortunately fuel costs scuppered them although we must thank them for the lower fares we have today. They were followed by LD lines who said that the service to Boulogne was not sustainable. Unfortunately their crossing times were not the most convenient.

For those travellers to France who want to head south towards the Dordogne or the west coast but not through Paris the best option is Calais whereas Boulogne would be more ideal. The best part about Boulogne is that the port is right in the Town. It is not so congested as Calais and has some lovely restaurants. It is a short drive on a good road direct to the Auto-route. This road also passes a large supermarket where you can fill up with fuel. For many people Boulogne would be a convenient port.

I do hope that a company will fill the void left by Seafrance to keep competition on the channel and that someone considers Boulogne as the port of choice. Maybe we could bring back a service from Folkestone to Boulogne although at present that looks doubtful.

There does not seem to be much news a present about what will happen to Seafrance boats. Whether a buy out by Eurotunnel is in the best interest of travellers is debatable. DFDS does appear to be a strong contender but lets hope whatever is happening behind closed doors will be good for travellers.

For those of you who going to France check out links to below "Gite in Unspoilt France."

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Boris Island

Well here we go again. The lunatics have left the asylum again. A London airport in the Thames Estuary?

Reasons it should not happen.

1. Cost £80 billion pounds+. Not affordable.
2. It will require massive infrastructure to support it. M2, A2, M25 already stuffed.
3. The area is a wildlife wetland of special scientific interest.
4. Migrating Geese and other birds means the potential for bird strike is highly likely. We are not likely to have pilots with the capability of the Hudson river pilot next time.
5. We have airport capacity already available and underused outside of London.
6. Demand for flights falling.

Reasons put forward for building.

1. London needs another airport so it can encourage business.
2. It will provide jobs for a deprived area.
3. Heathrow is running at 97% capacity.

Common sense.

Would it not be sensible to designate airports in London aimed at business and non charter airlines and those outside of London for holiday, charter and budget airlines.
Spend only a fraction of this £80 billion improving links. In fact you could even subsidise fares and still be in pocket.

Thanet is more deprived than the area surrounding the proposed new airport. Any extra jobs generated at Manston would help our Island out of the hole it has been for years. Other airports would benefit hence sharing the economic benefits instead of concentrating them in one place.

The need for night flights at Manston would be less as we would not be reliant on the old and noisy freight planes which we are threatened with at present. The airport would be able to generate its revenue from quieter less anti social aircraft.

I cannot understand why Cameron is even entertaining this idea or is it just a ploy to get Boris re-elected? What worries me is politics and money are the forces here. What happened to this Green Conservatism?

Maybe I am naive but isn't the solution in the words of a meerkat "simple".

Monday, 16 January 2012

Blot on our Coast

Enough is Enough

This site adjacent to the Nayland Rock has been in this state for far too long. This area was featured in a Turner painting "Margate from the Nayland". Not such a pretty picture now.

For as far as I can remember this site had poorly maintained buildings until they were demolished and the site left in this state.

For far too long have sites like this been allowed to fester destroying the chance of regeneration in our town. Unless action is taken soon regeneration will stall.

It was suggested to me that this would make a good skate park. At least it might divert activities from setting fire to toilets.

Maybe someone could enlighten us to why it has been like this so long and what is going on.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Seaweed Saga

Each year we encounter the problem of seaweed. In the summer months it is often washed up on our beaches upsetting locals and tourists alike.
Seaweed is a naturally occurring algae and tends to bloom in early summer. When the wind is in the right or should I say wrong direction it appears on the beach.
Seaweed is good for the health of our marine environment as it absorbs much of the nasties that find their way into our seas. Similarly sunlight and increased sea temperatures also increase its production. Take also excessive shellfish harvesting of creatures that eat algae and this adds to why amounts appear to be increasing.
Many of the older generation remark that we have always had this problem in Thanet but in the ‘olden days’ it was carted away by farmers to put on their fields. However in later years this practice has declined as agricultural land was built on and allegedly more efficient nitrates were used on remaining fields.
After the decline of use for agriculture the local council used to remove it and dump it much to the annoyance of residents in those areas where it was placed.
The favoured action in recent years was to push it back out to sea with bulldozers. This was not effective as usually it only moved the problem to another bay. The best example of this was in 2010 when the bulldozed weed in Palm Bay migrated to Walpole Bay. This with what was already in Walpole Bay ended up several feet thick. Last year, after many complaints, the council breathed a sigh of relief when the wind changed to a favourable direction and the bulldozed weed scurried off in the direction of Herne Bay.
At this time of the year it is easy to put the “Seaweed Saga” on hold and then my word next summer we are again attempting short term solutions to the problem.

Seaweed Uses
Seaweed is an incredible resource. I list some of uses below but as a non-scientist I will leave readers to research the many papers available on the internet.
1. Fertilizer.
2. Cosmetics
3. Pharmaceutical
4. Food additives (i.e. for ice cream)
5. Biofuel and biomass fuel
6. Alternative medicine
7. Baths
8. Waste water treatment
9. Food
10. Animal feed
I am sure there are more but it does demonstrate that there could be an alternative to just pushing it back into the sea like a modern day King Canute.

The Debate
There has been considerable debate both in the council and outside but there appears to be no solutions, joined up thinking or resolve to get a grip on the situation.
Could we not find a use for it and market it or is this too simple? I do not want to create a "stink" but avoid one. We need someone to take a strong lead on this one. Surely we can find a long term solution by pulling all the interested parties together including those with a scientific background. There may even be economic benefits and savings to our council’s much stretched budget.

Unless we find a solution soon the problem will continue to wash up on our beaches every summer.