OPINION: Council is dreaming of a Green Christmas - Dave Griffin

North Devon Gazette

North Devon Council’s well-meaning ‘Carbon Savvy’ newsletter has just popped into my inbox, and it’s full of helpful hints on reducing carbon.Â

Don’t worry, you won’t have to stop breathing! There’s also a supplementary Christmas shopping guide suggesting alternative ways of giving, such as ‘experiences and art class memberships.Â

Forget buying presents. Instead, why not baby-sit, paint someone’s kitchen, or somewhat discomfiting, pay for a massage, (by whom, I wonder?) Ironically, whilst our Devon councils celebrate verdant landscapes that attract millions of tourists, their planning officers vote to blacken the glorious green pastures of south-west England under solar panels, entirely disfiguring rolling vistas with mechanised wind turbines capable of supplying just a fraction of our electricity needs. Â

Hundreds objected to the Torridge solar farm proposal, but councillors voted for it anyway, which doesn’t seem much like democracy at work. We continually seek ways of becoming carbon neutral, and among solutions to achieve it is carbon capture, now being trialled in Iceland with promising results.Â

Let’s remain optimistic because positive thinking is our saviour. Children’s mounting anxiety over climate change, alongside incessant forecasts of doom and catastrophe, is now a growing problem familiar to parents and teachers.Â

Being reminded each day that our world is teetering on the edge of Armageddon is likely to trigger major mental health issues over the next decade.Â

A recent radio breakfast time debate cheerfully compared the carbon footprints of bacon butties and French croissants, the latter being the greater offender thanks mainly to butter content. If we dwell on these kinds of comparison and allow them to adversely impact upon our daily lives, then we’re in trouble.Â

No human can tolerate oppressive running commentaries predicting our earth’s demise and the unsustainability of life upon it, let alone contemplate their personal responsibility for the looming apocalypse. Thanks to its media-driven prominence, the climate change issue has acquired the paradoxical status of being extremely important, yet at the same time, extremely boring.Â

We could become deranged by carrying an everlasting burden of guilt, repeatedly chiding ourselves in the belief that every single activity we indulge in menaces mankind’s occupation of the globe. We must avoid, too, the challenge of climate change morphing into a dogma that leads to a curtailment of liberties, fuel rationing and the introduction of domestic travel permits.Â

Do we really want some bureaucrat stamping a pass enabling us to take a holiday, or visit relations? We know the world is warming, and more of us are making individual contributions to tackle the issue, but as Christmas approaches, can we please change the record?Â


Having said that, the benefits of climate change awareness are becoming evident. TV’s Repair Shop and Money for Nothing represent a worthy new genre of make-do-and-mend entertainment signalling the end to our throwaway culture. Manufacturers are being encouraged to make products last longer, hopefully for a lifetime. Even my Tesco carrier bag implores us to ‘Be kind to our Earth’, which certainly chimes well in Ilfracombe’s centre of eco-awareness, the Earth Repair Shop, its name implying that our planet is not beyond repair.Â

Callers popping into the former Venner’s bakery can get advice on recycling items we tend to overlook, such as tablet blister packs and toothpaste tubes. My partner is a regular visitor. I’m forbidden to throw anything away without her inspecting it. I’ve got the shortest pencil in Ilfracombe.Â


Last week I dubbed our newly built road layout at Lynton Cross the ‘Magic Roundabout’, but I’ve discovered another magical wonder here in Ilfracombe. At a large plot of land visible from St. Brannocks Park Road, a ring of trees has been grown, and I wonder if it was inspired by sculptor David Nash, whose Ash Dome, admired by television art historian Dr. James Fox, features in BBC4’s identity clips. Its location remains a closely guarded secret. Since its planting in 1977, Ash Dome has sadly succumbed to ash die-back. Let’s hope that Ilfracombe’s own tree circle will be marvelled at a century from now.Â