Friday, 5 August 2011

SIZEWELL AND MINSMERE

One could not think of two greater contrasts than an ugly nuclear power station and a tranquil nature reserve, but there they are, practically next door to each other on the Suffolk coast. Sizewell is the second nuclear power station to raise its aesthetically-challenged head since we began our tour around the coast – the first was Bradwell (14 July, Essex). Like all such facilities, it has had its share of opposition over the years. In October 2002 Sizewell was invaded by 120 protesters, 40 of whom were described by the Telegraph as being “on top of a cooling tower”. Four Greenpeace activists were arrested, but the protesters were defiant, declaring that they were going to stay up there as long as possible; they had come prepared for a long fight, bringing tents and sleeping bags with them. By the middle of the decade, the country had witnessed the advent of the “climate change” protests, and in August 2007 Sizewell B was chosen as one of a number of venues for the protests, along with the BAA offices and the headquarters of BP. Earlier this year the ongoing protests against this and other nuclear plants received a boost in the wake of the worrying events following the Japan earthquake.

And now for something completely different. Minsmere, just a short hop up the coast from Sizewell, is an RSPB reserve which a few years ago was chosen as the venue for the phenomenally popular annual BBC TV event, Springwatch, in which the presenters pitch up for 3 weeks in beautiful surroundings and bring the viewers heartwarming, or sometimes heartbreaking, stories of the everyday struggles of the wildlife of the area, beaming into our homes images of fluffy baby birds in their nests begging to be fed, or of cute little fox cubs play-fighting, causing the entire nation to come over all dewy-eyed. The sightings section of the reserve’s website includes plenty of lesser-known species of bird as well as insects. The reserve includes a variety of habitats surrounding the mouth of the Minsmere River, including reed beds, artificial lagoons and islands, heath and woodlands.

Map of the area.

'Minsmere Suffolk' photo (c) 2010, Simon James - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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