Good news from UK wildlife

Amidst all of the doom and gloom it is refreshing to share some good news stories about UK wildlife that you may have missed over the last couple of days.

First of all it was fantastic to hear more news of the reintroduced Scottish Beavers. One of the three family units released earlier in the year (and previously reported on this site) has constructed a 5 x 2 x 7 metre lodge, hopefully a sign that they have settled into their new home.  Although the reintroduction programme was the subject of intense lobbying by ecologists there is still some resistance to the idea from landowners and from some who think that the escalating price tag (currently at around £1.85 million) could be better spent elsewhere.

Also in the news today, a new survey organised by British Waterways has shown better than anticipated numbers of the under threat native Water Vole.  Numbers of this little mammal (the basis of Ratty in Wind in the Willows) have dropped by an estimated 90% in 20 years, caused by pollution and attack from the non-native Mink.  The survey asked people to submit sightings of any wildlife they saw along the network of canals and waterways.  Use of the internet to submit sightings prompted a growth in responses from 6000 to 42000; this partly explains the higher numbers of water vole sightings (only 89, but how easy are they to spot?).  Top of the list, as expected, was Mallard, followed by Canada Goose and Mute Swan.

The final story that caught my eye was the early arrival of a Bittern at the London Wetland Centre, the “early” possibly due to favourable winds helping it over from the continent.  What impressed me had nothing to do with the timing of the arrival, but just the fact that there is the possibility of seeing (or at least hearing) one of these rare birds in London of all places.  Surely this has to be good news for wildlife conservation, a bird as rare as a bittern in the UK, can overwinter close to the centre of London!

Lighting in Daventry.

A while ago (as outlined in Lighting – do we have too much?) I started to look at the amount of lighting on our Daventry site.  For various reasons it has taken some time to make any meaningful changes, but at last we are beginning to make some progress.

Surprising discovery number one – we had no light switches for a quarter of our warehouse – even when no one was around we had to leave 3kW of lights on.  Whilst this is only for a small proportion of the year it is still waste.  The lights were controlled by a photocell, unfortunately somewhere along the line a Health & Safety survey had declared that the lighting was insufficient and, instead of changing the levels the detectors were covered up.  This meant that other than tripping the circuit breakers, the lights could not be switched off; even on the brightest of days.

The first step was therefore to sort this ridiculous state of affairs out.  We have now installed some new photocells which can be changed remotely if the initial levels are incorrectly set.  The payback time on this is less than 12 months even if the light is only bright enough to switch them off for 4 hours each day.  The only fly in this ointment is that H&S police have again determined that the light levels initially set were incorrect, and, rather than resetting to the correct levels, they have been turned to permanently on!  A task for the next week will be to sort this problem out.

Other areas have been identified where lights are left on for no reason.  Despite being only a few fluorescent tubes (relatively small in number compared to the aforementioned warehouse) they still represent substantial savings.   The first of these areas was the Plant room – visited only by maintenance staff, and therefore it should have been better controlled.  Unfortunately, unless you are in the room you can’t tell whether the lights have been left on; it was estimated that there were about 158 hours of extra lighting each week in this area.

The second area is a small office in the middle of the warehouse that has no permanent occupant and is subsequently visited by various members of staff, none of whom appears to be capable of turning the light off when they leave.  This 200W of lighting is left on unnecessarily for about 144 hours every week.  The answer to both of these has been the addition of PIRs (Passive Infra Red detectors) – motion detectors.  I think that you can get too carried away with motion detectors and see them as the answer to everything, but in some cases, for example when there are lots of different occupants using a room, only some whom will regularly turn the light off, they can be beneficial.  Both of these projects had estimated payback times of less than 12 months.

The final change that has been made has been a no cost solution and is the most obvious. A member of the maintenance team was asked to survey the lighting of the entire site and, in addition to the number, type and power of the lights, estimate hours of use and the amount of wastage.  As a consequence it occurred to him that one of the areas was visited for approximately 1 hour per week but that all three of the 70W tubes were on permanently.  He was usually the only one to visit the room and has now promised to turn the lights off when the room is not in use, a saving of 1800kWh per year.

Other areas have been singled out as needing a motion detector – these include the toilets, the tea room and the locker room, but I am having less success in getting these fitted – it is starting to become a bit of a mission!

I have now started to look at the rest of the sites within the business unit as part of the requirements for our participation in the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency scheme (CRCEE) and have learnt more about lighting than I ever expected.  Details to follow..