Health & Safety


Managing Health & Safety may well be regarded by many as the proverbial thorn in one’s side, a nanny state gone mad or a costly, time consuming aspect of life that impacts on virtually every facet of our existence with far reaching implications from work through to social and leisure time.

Let’s face it, it can be a great fall-back position for when we want to ‘persuade’ others into a new process or use it as a way of limiting certain actions. However, look at the statistics and you might think twice the next time you find yourself cursing the 1974 Act that causes so much perceived hassle. In the Construction Industry for example there have been significant reductions in both the number and the rate of injury as a result of legislation but as the facts below illustrate, as an industry we still make up large numbers and we’re a long way from what might be considered anything like an acceptable standard:

Construction related Statistics 2013/14

  • 31% of fatal injuries to employees
  • 10% of all major specified injuries
  • 2.3 million lost working days
  • 1.7 million as a result of ill health with 592.000 due to workplace injury
  • a total of 1.1 days lost per worker
  • a total cost to society of over £1.1 billion

Bearing in mind that the industry still only accounts for around 5% of employed workers in the UK and those numbers still look high.

The HSE graph below shows the reduction in fatalities in industry over the last 25 years but it seems we still have a long way to go in making the industry safer.

health and safety

Graph depicting fatalities from 1974 when the Act was introduced to 2010 (number of people per year per industry

A broader view shows that something as simple as slips and trips account for 1 in 3 non-fatal major injuries and 1 in 5 over 3 day injuries in the wider workplace in the UK. That accounts for 35,000 injuries a year or one serious accident every 3 minutes. It seems hard to believe but the HSE suggests most of these accidents are due to contaminated surfaces – water, grease and even talc type substances, all seemingly innocuous but with a major impact to the economy and to individuals.

On a lighter note interpretation of the H & S Legislation can go a step too far… the following are not legal requirements from the Health & Safety Executive in spite of what you may have read.

A job advert for bus drivers with a body weight limit of 18 stone

Declining a glass of water to a person who had come round from a fainting episode

Children being banned from playing conkers in school

Banning Christmas decorations from offices

Hanging baskets for fear of people bumping their heads

School children wearing clip on ties so they can’t be choked by traditional neckwear

Park benches being too low

And finally….. Graduates not being allowed to throw their mortar boards in the air – more about damage to the hats than to any individual.

Keep it simple…

As an employer you have responsibilities to keep your employees and/or visitors and contractors as safe as possible. Protecting people from harm and therefore protecting the success and future of your business doesn’t have to be complicated – some fairly basic tasks can be used to control the risks in your business and also protect you from the possibility of litigation. A Risk Assessment should allow you to identify sensible measures to do this as long as you consider everyone who could be harmed including homeworkers or even members of the public if they could be injured through your activities.

Some specific risks may have legal requirements such as working at height or with chemicals and you will also have an obligation to provide a healthy working environment as well as maintaining premises and equipment. Don’t forget also that risks can change as your business or equipment changes.



Do your bit…

There’s a lot of information about requirements to be found on the HSE website but to have an immediate effect perhaps we just need to eliminate the simplest stuff… trips, slips and falls.

Pay attention to your surroundings; expect the unexpected and pay attention to good housekeeping – it’s worth it in the end!

Japanese Knotweed – Fallopia Japonica

In 1825 Japanese Knotweed was introduced into the UK as an ornamental plant as a result of the Victorian’s love of new and different species during an age of travel, discovery and industrial development. It must have been an exciting era and one with perhaps, no real thought of why certain plants or animals didn’t naturally exist in this country. Nature has a great knack of balancing things without any interference from us and therefore, when we introduce something that doesn’t naturally belong here, we upset the balance.japanese knotweed

The grey squirrel brought here from North East America in the 1870s, decimated our native red species which now exists only in comparatively small numbers in few parts of the UK. Likewise the Japanese Knotweed with its prolific growth of up to 20cm a day in the right conditions now costs the UK economy £166 million per year in terms of treatment and home devaluations. It has been known to grow through floors to the point of it being more economical to knock down a property and rebuild rather than try to treat and remove the problem. It can also affect your chances of getting a mortgage on a property where it is present.

The trouble with Knotweed

So what is it about this particular, supposedly ornamental plant that causes so much havoc? Well apart from the rapid growth rate, which allows it to quickly overwhelm other garden plants and also wild native plants and weeds, it’s virtually impossible to get rid of once established. It doesn’t produce seeds but can spread from the smallest sections of rhizomes (stems that grow underground) which can survive through top soil movement or construction traffic. Given the opportunity it will grow through concrete and tarmac and reach heights of over 2 metres producing wide heart shaped leaves a d white flower tassels around 15 cms long. The roots can reach a depth of 3 metres which makes it virtually impossible to dig out.japanese knotweed brickwork

Wondering what they do in Japan? The natural habitat of this nuisance perennial is a volcanic landscape where the climate and deposits of ash on a regular basis keeps the plant small, its survival thanks only to the deep root system storing energy. And here in the UK? If you can dig it out before it gets established, it still needs only 0.8g of root to grow back. As it is now classified as controlled waste under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, you can only dispose of it at a licensed landfill site. You could try drying it out and burning it or burying it at least 5 meters deep but that isn’t much of an option for your average householder. It cannot be disposed of in household waste or green collection schemes.

Getting rid of it

These are the other things that have so far been recommended, in all cases call an expert:

  • Chemicals containing glyphospate but this can take years with professional treatment costing thousands. There are a range of well-known over the counter products but these may not be as effective on well-established tall plants. It could take 3 or 4 seasons to finally get rid of this persistent plant.
  • Trials are being conducted on some sites in the UK using a plant louse for biological control which could become available in the longer term and is estimated to become widespread in five to ten years by natural spread. The bug aphalara itadori has only been bred in captivity so far but seems to be the best solution to reducing the vigour of the plant.

There are few places in the UK where this plant has not reached – the Isle of Orkney was safe – so watch out for it and if you see it in your garden or neighbouring gardens, get ready to do battle – legally of course!

Conservation – the history of tomorrow

Do you ever wonder given the volume and variety of building works that are completed each week in the UK, which will be the ones still standing in a couple of hundred years’ time and which will be the listed and conserved buildings of the future?

The UK has conservation laws that are amongst the most powerful in the world that protect buildings as well as areas of outstanding beauty or of special scientific interest. In terms of buildings from the past going forward into the future, the concept of listing them was introduced during the Second World War with a view to deciding which would merit rebuilding if damaged or destroyed by bombing. Not long after this the 1947 Act for Town and Country Planning led to the first detailed list of important historical or architectural buildings.

To list or not to list

The criteria for listing can be based on the importance of the building either in architectural quality or expressions of either technical or social innovation. Good examples of these are pumping stations or asylums. Pioneering construction or buildings that form part of a streetscape or group can be listed and likewise early or rare examples that survive and denote our industrial history and that would otherwise be lost forever.

And when we do…

Heritage can be big business and legislation has given the government the power to act when historic sites are under threat. Interesting to note that in 19th century Britain a great many of the UK’s most important and historic sites belonged to private individuals or families who could and did, do anything they wanted including razing them to the ground. There is a slight problem however in that many historic and important structures fall into a state of disrepair as they have no actual use and local councils often can’t afford to restore them to their former glory. Ironic that something we deem important enough to protect often can’t be converted so guaranteeing its future use as well as displaying all its former glory. Even when someone has the vision and desire to save something, the red tape involved in sympathetic restoration can be a long and expensive process. As a result we are left with large overgrown sites with crumbling buildings versus a shortage of land and space for housing. No simple solution and we’re not suggesting that all crumbling historically important property be demolished but simply slapping it on a ‘List’ of important structures won’t actually preserve its future either!

Gartloch Hospital (1896) Scottish former asylum Grade A listed converted to apartments

Gartloch Hospital

What do video cassettes, carpet tiles and toothbrushes have in common?

Usually not a lot but read on…

Video Cassettes

Back in 1971 when Sony introduced the VCR – Video Cassette Recorder – it seemed like an amazing advancement in technology. The introduction of videos, pre-recorded or otherwise, some 40+ years ago, was the ‘must have’ technological advancement of the day bringing films to the masses in the comfort of their own home. Fast forward to the present and you can now access information, your favourite film, new or old, on any number of digital systems be it computer, TV, smart phone or android and watch any amount of TV using ‘catch up’ technology that allows the capture and storage of digital information on a scale with few limits.

So in the age of now redundant video recordings, what do we do with millions of video tapes still being harboured in a great many homes? Not a lot! It seems as they are now one of the most difficult household waste items to dispose of – at least 1.5 bn of them. Hats off then, to the University of Brighton who have managed to incorporate around 4,000 video cassettes into Britain’s first house made entirely of rubbish. If not exactly rubbish, then at the very least, materials that had no viable outlet and were destined for landfill regardless of their potential ‘value’.


The live research programme being carried out by the University is a test bed for, amongst other things, the properties of insulation qualities, hence the videos and also 20,000 toothbrushes – waste from long haul flights that might otherwise have ended up in landfill or the sea. Students, apprentices, local builders, school children and volunteers were all involved in building the house using some materials rescued from construction waste such as concrete blocks, timber, ply, but also oddities like vinyl banners, pieces of polystyrene and bicycle inner tubes.  The kitchen worktop is made of old coffee cups and grinds, the staircase from compressed thrown away paper and the lights had a previous life on board an old ship about to sail to the scrap yard in Bangladesh. Chalk waste was used to create a chalk wall with the intention of being able to store passive solar energy contributing to the overall energy efficiency of the building.brighton recycled house

Carpet Tiles

The outside of the building is eye catching although possibly not for the right reasons. 2,000 redundant office carpet tiles placed with the waterproof underside facing outward create a shingled effect. Beauty is in the eye perhaps…recycled house

The house has been built as a project in part to show what can be done using recycled materials and with a view to achieving Passivhaus standards, with temperature and humidity monitored through sensors in the house. It’s also thought provoking in the sense of what might be done with waste in the future and how much there is that we don’t generally recycle, simply because as with the video cassettes, we don’t know how or where.  In the UK we throw away about a million tonnes of electrical goods every year often putting hazardous substances as well as electrical material into landfill.

We’re not sure we’d want to live in the Brighton house or even how long it will last but it’s a great concept and gives rise to the idea that the future needs to REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE a whole lot more!reuse reduce recycle

Plastic… here to stay!

Plastic is an amazing material and one which modern day life depends upon in many ways. No matter where you are the chances of you being very far from an item made of plastic is becoming less and less likely, be it a bag or bottle, a seat in a stadium or whatever mode of travel you may favour. The great thing about plastic, or so we confidently boast , is that it can be recycled and yes we all do our bit, sorting our rubbish to prevent unnecessary waste and to reduce the volume of all things plastic going to landfill. We even take our ‘bag for life’ to the shops (when we remember)! plastic waste in the sea

It may come as a surprise then, to learn that around 5 trillion pieces of plastic, with a collective weight of around 269,000 tonnes, are floating in oceans around the world. Some items you would recognise, no surprise if you live near a beach and see what the tide washes up. Some however is totally unrecognisable, measuring less than 5mm, effectively shredded by ocean gyres around which the debris collects.


Pollution… also here to stay!

A 6 year collection of data by scientists from America, Australia, Chile and New Zealand has provided results that strongly suggest this modern and useful ‘material turned pollutant’ must invariably end up on our dinner plates as small fish that ingest the plastic particles are eaten by the larger fish. The process is then fed up through the food chain. Larger plastic items can and do injure or kill other types of sea creatures. Whilst this happens for the most part in the 5 major oceans around the world (think Pacific and an area the size of Texas,) our very own English channel reputedly has around 100 items of waste per square kilometre of sea, often made up of plastic bags. It is estimated that 4.5bn of the overall amount of plastic bags supplied annually to Europe end up in either the sea or in landfill. This number is expected to rise over the next 5 years to 5.1bn. Campaigners against such waste suggest that 1m plastic bags are used every minute around the world, with a working life span of approximately 15 minutes and with a redundant life span of hundreds of years in whatever grave they find themselves in.plastic bags ocean




So, wherever you sit, stand or float on plastic as a material of the 21st century it can be a controversial topic. The UK exports a massive 70% of recycled plastic to China, dependent on such practice to achieve recycling targets. A staggering 887,000 tonnes of waste derived fuel is exported overseas compared to zero tonnes 6 years ago. Is it not possible that at some point in the future, China and other parts of Asia will develop the capacity and more sophisticated processes to use their own domestic waste, reducing the demand for imports? Likewise countries such as The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, with high energy-for-waste capacity may see fluctuations in economic activity which could increase their recycling rates, again reducing reliance on imports from the UK. Neither does the energy generated by other countries from waste imported from the UK, contribute to our own renewable energy targets so is therefore a lost resource.plastic bottle recycle china

Does this not beg the question about why the UK isn’t investing in more recycling facilities, not just for plastic but for paper, glass and metal?

save energy, save money, save our world

Black Gold

Or Oil as we more commonly know it, has been much in the news over the last few months with the price for crude dropping by more than 50% as the oil boom in the USA continues with the more recent adoption of hydraulic fracturing (fracking to you and me.) This method has allowed energy companies to extract oil from shale that previously was inaccessible. Add to this the 30 million barrels produced by OPEC, who have decided so far, not to reduce production levels, and it’s little wonder that the price as of January was just $45 a barrel compared to $115 in June 2014. The resulting drop in fuel prices at the pump, which impacts on all of us, has been great news. (OPEC was formed in 1960, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, made up of; Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.)oil rig

British Oil Fields

The UK has been drilling in the North Sea since 1965 as it has its own sources of oil and has been the largest producer of oil in the EU for some time although production may continue to decline due to a combination of taxes (Corporation Tax and Supplementary Tax income from the sector accounts for about 25% of UK corporate tax receipts), technical issues, mature basins and high operating costs as well as challenging targets for increasing renewable energy. The high extraction costs don’t make the UK oil fields a particularly attractive prospect for investors but the government hopes to address some of these issues to keep ‘home grown’ oil a viable proposition for many years to come. Oil still plays an important part for the moment in the balance of our energy between natural gas, coal and electricity and we are still a major player in the production of petroleum, much of which is exported to Europe and in particular to Germany and the Netherlands. The UK does still import fossil fuels (39% of our oil consumption in 2013 was imported) suggesting that we are some way off being self-sufficient in our energy supplies renewable energy targets or not.

Old Technology

Oil was formed millions of years ago from the decay of plant and algae compressed on the sea beds under thick layers of sediment which heated up as the sediment layers got deeper and deeper. Some types of oil came to the surface in oil ‘seeps’ and was used by ancient peoples who recognised its value. The Egyptians, using the liquid form for medicinal and embalming purposes and Native Americans using tar as an adhesive to bind stone tools to wooden handles. Historically the first ‘drilling’ for oil was done by the Chinese using bamboo poles up to a depth of 800m in 347AD. Marco Polo noted its presence in Azerbaijan in the late 13th century and over the next few hundred years more oil and more uses for it were discovered including as a treatment for gout for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the mid-1500s. The first record of oil in the US was in Pennsylvania almost 200 years later with the first oil well drilled in Pennsylvania on shore in 1859. In 1896 the first off shore well was drilled in California.


On the down side

Oil production over the years has gone from strength to strength with a vast number of products outside of energy use being developed including Nylon, plastic and many other synthetic products. However there have been times of environmental catastrophes with oil tanker disasters and 200,000 gallons of crude oil released into the Pacific Ocean due to an off shore platform causing cracks in the sea floor creating a huge ecological disaster in the 1960s. The invasion of Kuwait by Iraqi forces saw the sabotage of around 700 oil wells with estimates of spillage being anywhere between 46 and 138 million tons in 1990 taking almost a year after liberation by Western Forces before the last well was capped.oil spillage

The Future

There are, no doubt, still areas of exploration to find new fields but progress in renewables and new technologies has seen research into the transformation of sugars or even bacteria into energy rich biofuels. Work in the field of synthetic biology shows that microbes can produce a variety of molecules from these that can then serve as blendstocks for diesel or petrol. The aim is to be able to produce fuels and other valuable chemical products from simple, inexpensive and renewable starting materials in a sustainable manner. Good news to be sure but we think oil will be around for a long time yet.biorefinery

Salt – simple mineral or life saver?

As a nation of weather watchers, winter in particular can strike fear into the stoutest hearts as dropping temperatures leave us wondering about commuting to and from wherever we are and wherever we need to be. Whether by air, rail or road, freezing temperatures have been known to bring the UK to a grinding halt. In particular the condition of our roads can create traffic chaos and regrettably, accidents with their associated heartache, with just a few millimetres of snow and ice as the winter of 2009 proved.


So in this age of science and technology, where we can predict all manner of things, including the weather, how do we deal with icy road conditions?  In exactly the same way that we’ve done for the last 50 plus years – we grit the roads with rock salt, most of which comes from Cheshire and a mine that has operated since 1844.gritter

Historically speaking

The salt deposits used to grit our roads were discovered by prospectors searching for coal. Formed during the Triassic era (220 million years ago) when the Cheshire plain would have been under a shallow warm sea, as the water evaporated salt crystals formed and were tinged pink with the help of sands blown in from eastern deserts – other geological influences mean its colour varies from clear to pink and dark brown. If you doubt the desert connection think of the Sandstone so common in Cheshire.

Above ground there is little trace of the roads and chambers and hive of industry that keeps the countries roads clear so you might be forgiven for being unaware of but walk along certain parts of the River Weaver and the keen eyed amongst you will spot not only sea grasses growing in abundance but also the Sea Aster, all due to the level of salt in the soil.

Underground Road System

The Winsford mine has grown over a large underground area around 5km East to West and 3km North to South with 150 miles of roadways with an incredibly dry atmosphere and a constant temperature of 14oC. It can produce up to 8,000 tonnes of rock salt a day and at this time of year is on standby to meet the demand the Highways Agency and the weather put on it and accounts for 50% of the grit spread on UK roads. Towns around Winsford bear names ending in ‘wich’ relating to the brine springs  e.g. Northwich, Middlewich and Nantwich and all have a long history of salt extraction, even in Roman times.  salt mine borer

Great Use of Space

Although some of the space hewn into chambers from the salt face is a graveyard for old and disused machinery that can’t be brought to the surface – neither practical nor necessary it does have other uses. The dry environment with its constant temperature surprisingly is also the perfect storage facility for delicate manuscripts and books, with the excavated voids holding archive materials for a number of organisations.Winsford salt mine storage

And in future?

The geology creates an incredibly stable environment and there is more than 918 million cubic feet of space available. It is growing all the time as the huge 160 ton machines continue to carve out tunnels 200 metres below ground with the available space expected to treble in size over the next 70 years.

Wind Power

 Clean, renewable and making a big contribution!

Windmills have powered equipment used for grinding grain for hundreds of years, the first evidence showing Persia (now part of Iran) as developing the first simple towers. The UK is also no stranger to harnessing the energy from this natural and renewable resource, with evidence of windmills in England dating back to the 12th century.  In 1887 Professor James Blyth built the first windmill in the UK for production of electricity, allegedly successful enough to power his own home for 20 years.wind mill

Despite developments and experiments globally, it would be many years before the first successful commercial wind farm would be built in the USA, although small scale turbines were common place for generating power for homesteads and ranches across America.

As concerns about energy supplies continues, we should take comfort in the fact that the one thing the UK is never really short of, has this month, provided a new record  for supplying energy.  In early December, 43% of British homes were powered from energy sourced through wind farms. Compared to other sources of energy, such as gas extraction or nuclear power generation, around 61% of people would be more receptive to the presence of a wind turbine within 5 miles of their home (recent research for the Energy Institute.)

On shore…

High on a hill…

The first commercial wind farm built on UK soil was commissioned in 1991 in Delabole, Cornwall. It and further installations work so well because of the excellent wind resource available, the best in Europe. It’s cost effective, clean and productive. A modern turbine on a reasonable site within a commercial scale of 2.5MW will generate 6.5 million units of electricity a year. Little wonder that support for on shore wind farms continues to grow with small and medium turbines used to power homes, farms and businesses. Even more good news – we have many leading turbine manufacturers and developers right here in the UK and for every turbine installed since 2005, another one has been exported. wind farm


Or off…

In deep water…

Since 2008 the UK has been the world leader in off shore wind with its current installation capacity equal to that of the rest of the world combined. The first installation was in Blyth harbour in the North East of England in 2000.

Since then several rounds of licencing, co-ordinated by the Crown Estate landlord and owner of the seabed no less, have taken place resulting in 18 sites in England and Wales almost complete. It’s a long process with this first round commencing in 2001. The second round was launched in 2003 – much larger and further off shore and consisting of three strategic areas, The Greater Wash, Greater Thames and the Irish Sea. Round three released four years ago is the largest to date and will have nine zones around the UK. Scotland and Northern Ireland are also included in a further programme of development.

Renewable energy – clean and lots of it!

The UK may not immediately spring to mind when thinking of Solar Power on an industrial scale. Our climate is better suited to and has seen the installation of, a considerable number of Wind Farms both on and off shore. Sunshine is not something we can rely on. However Solar power may still be the answer to a clean renewable source of energy, even if it’s travelling here from the Sahara Desert via Rome.
A Solar project costing around $13 million has been proposed that would see a huge 100 square kilometer farm bringing energy from the desert to the UK, powering 2.5 million homes, and as soon as 2018. The installation would be made up of thousands of mirrors that are controlled individually by computer to ensure optimal reflection of the sun. The mirrors would be directed towards a central tower which would be filled with salt and water. This heats up creating steam to power a giant turbine from which energy would be diverted to a substation in Rome and onward to the UK.
Government on board?
The consortium behind the project includes British renewable energy financier Low Carbon. A subsidy from the UK Government giving a guaranteed price for the electricity produced, would help see the project realized and apparently the government is looking to grant such subsidies even though this particular project is outside the UK. It is anticipated that there will be a lot of competition over the coming years for new green energy projects for the Department for Energy and Climate Change to consider.
Been there, thought about that…
We should point out however that this isn’t the first time that such a project has been proposed and then shelved. It was in the news in 2008 but did not come to fruition as further investigation revealed that Europe could meet its energy supplies from existing sources. It isn’t new technology – in 1913 an American engineer demonstrated the concept in Egypt in an attempt to reduce the country’s reliance on British coal to power an irrigation system needed for cotton crops. The outbreak of war meant that this idea and the inspirational concept of harnessing the natural energy of the sun, slipped quietly into oblivion. In 1986 a German particle physicist estimated how much solar power was needed to provide the demand of humanity for electricity. His findings seem to show that in a mere 6 hours, the deserts of the world are in receipt of more energy from the sun than can be consumed in a whole year. The Sahara therefore, using an area the size of Wales, could power Europe in its entirety.
Great ideas take time!
What’s not to love? Will it happen? Well… work on another ingenious proposal, first begun in 1880, attempted a second time in the 1970s and finally coming to fruition in 1994 shows that stranger things have happened. It wasn’t clean energy but it was a great idea! The channel tunnel!
It takes time but it seems we get there… eventually. solar farm

Will the lights go out?

Back in August 2009 there was an article in a well-known newspaper warning that the demand for energy supplies in the UK would exceed supply from the National Grid. The time scale was 8 years. There was statement about the actions needed to address this and talk of cleaner fuels as Britain’s nuclear and coal capabilities dwindled. There was also some suggestion of doubt about whether renewable energy could bridge the gap, along with an acknowledgement that one third of British power generating capacity needed to be replaced with cleaner fuels.national grid

There was a plan, outlined by the then Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, that stated that 40% of UK electricity needed to come from low-carbon energy sources. The plan also warned of power shortages, the first short fall to be expected by 2017.

Fast Forward

October 2014 and the Energy Secretary’s speech to the Energy UK Conference is saying much of the same thing, at least as far as the need for wide ranging reform of our energy infrastructure. However the good news is that we, the UK, are more energy secure than any other European country in the EU and it seems we are in the lead in the race for low carbon, new nuclear capture and storage… apparently! All of this and the delicate balance between energy provision and reducing carbon emissions, means that the risk of blackouts this winter is at its highest for 6 years. The closure of coal based power plants due to EU legislation and plans being suspended for some gas fired plants, due to economic pressures, along with uncertainty with gas supplies and a drop in wind power, have seen UK reserves drop from 16% to just 5%.


The Royal Academy of Engineers offered this suggestion via The Institution of Engineering and Technology back in 2011, by way of considering the very complex multidimensional issue of energy security:

We apparently have to create a diverse range of energy sources using various feed stocks (or a diversity of sources of the same stock). We must have robust technologies that can convert primary energy supplies into usable or transportable forms of energy and robust, resilient networks that enable us to get the appropriate form of energy to where it’s needed. Of course what one man sees as a positive, another will see as a negative. Think wind farms, fracking and so on! If cost were not an issue we could buy what we need or develop the means to develop new sources, however the price of energy impacts on everyone and creates political and economic tensions. The sage advice also contained in the report from which this information comes, is that one of the best and cheapest methods to improve energy security is… use less! Not rocket science but whilst the politicians discuss and debate the investment needed in renewables, the grid, the need for stock building and the transport of power, we can all make our own contribution towards reducing the risk of the lights actually going out. Small measures by individuals at home and in the work place throughout the UK, can help reduce the aggregate demand for energy at those peak times and over the course of a year could make substantial differences to demand.


It’s almost Christmas!

In the 1970s the lights going out was a reality the country had to live with. The circumstances that brought it about were different but the impact was significant. Demand now for energy, especially over the next couple of months in the UK will be high. Cooking, heating, Christmas lights on 8 million Christmas trees and striking street displays, not forgetting dropping temperatures, will all put extra demand on the national grid. We can still do our bit though. Turning thermostats down by a couple of degrees, putting the heating on a bit later in the morning and switching it off a bit earlier in the evening, less time in the shower, energy saving bulbs and quality good insulation for our homes. Not only will the national grid benefit but it can and will save all of us money. Let’s help keep the light on!

Save energy, save money, save our world