• Richard Hammond

Eden Project North & Green Space Dark Skies

Updated: Feb 10

The Green Traveller Digest


Welcome to my latest round up of news, features and comments on green travel.


This newsletter is written by me, Richard Hammond, the founder of Green Traveller. Please do forward this newsletter to anyone you think might be interested in receiving it or ask them to subscribe via the link on the button below:


A dark sky night at the visitor centre, Brecon Beacons.
A dark sky night at the visitor centre, Brecon Beacons. Photo: Georgina Harper

Call for 20,000 volunteers to create artworks in UK landscapes A call has gone out for 20,000 volunteers to create large-scale outdoor artworks in some of the most iconic landscapes in the UK. The ambitious initiative is part of a Green Space Dark Skies project, which aims to create the artworks from April to September 2022 in 20 of the UK’s National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The gatherings will be created at dusk by participants, referred to as 'Lumenators'. They will be guided along pathways or waterways carrying smart lights (specially developed for this project by Siemens) that will enable digital choreography to be captured on film (while also being sensitive to the night-time environment). Each short film will incorporate the stories of the people and places featured and will be broadcast online after the event. The first gathering will be created in the Peak District National Park on 23 April. Other locations for the artworks include Dartmoor National Park, North York Moors National Park, The Chilterns AONB, Lagan Valley AONB; Sperrin AONB, Causeway Coast AONB, Cairngorms National Park, Gower AONB, Brecon Beacons National Park, and Anglesey AONB. The organisers say that Green Space Dark Skies "will be a carbon net-positive project combining exemplar low-emissions production with climate investments."

Green light for Eden Project North Councillors in Lancashire have granted planning permission for a new £125m ticketed visitor attraction in Morecambe known as 'Eden Project North'. The Lancashire Post reports that securing funding from central government is now the major focus of the Eden team after the plans for the tourist attraction were given the go-ahead by Lancaster City Council. The report says that Eden has asked for a £70m public investment in the £125m project and that this investment "would be paid back many times over in economic benefit for the region". Eden Project North says it would directly employ more than 400 people, with an additional 1,500 jobs supported in the region, and inject £200m per year into the North West economy. Subject to funding being secured, it is due to open in 2024. The website of the Eden Project lists several other 'new Edens', including Eden Project Foyle – a new riverside cultural and environmental attraction in Derry-Londonderry in North Ireland, as well as other 'Eden Projects' in Scotland, Australia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, USA, and China.

Artists impression of Eden Project North
Artists impression of Eden Project North

National Trust plans 20 'green corridors' connecting city centres to countryside Steven Morris, writing in the Guardian, reports on the National Trust's plan to establish a three-mile ‘green corridor’ that will link the historic city centre of Bath with the surrounding countryside. The initiative is the first of 20 proposed projects that the National Trust is planning in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by 2030, knitting together patches of green space to create accessible "green corridors" to rural areas.

Paris plans to be "completely cyclable" by 2026 Visitors to Paris will soon be able to cycle around the entire city according to The World Economic Forum, which reports that France is investing 250 million Euros to make the French capital entirely bikeable, adding an additional 130 km (80 miles) of cycle pathways by 2026.

The Return of Direct Rail Services to the French Alps After a six-week delay to the launch of the inaugural Travelski Express train service from London to the French Alps (delayed because of the pandemic), the service finally got underway on 29th January. Iain Martin from Ski Flight Free went along to try it out.

Eurostar ticket sale Eurostar is offering a week-long seat sale until 8th February with seats from £35 (39€) one way for travel between 21st February and 19th May 2022. The operator says it is providing 48,000 tickets on offer for travel between London and Lille, Paris and Brussels, and has ramped up its timetable during the promotion period with up to nine daily returns between London and Paris and five daily returns between London and Lille and London and Brussels. NB. All Eurostar tickets – including sale fares – are flexible, with no exchange fee up to 7 days before departure.

Changes to Highway Code for safety of walkers, cyclists and horse-riders Nicholas Hellen reports in The Times on the changes that have been introduced to the Highway Code to improve the safety of people walking, cycling and riding horses. Among the updated guidance includes encouraging cyclists to ride "in the centre of their lane on quiet roads, in slower-moving traffic and at the approach to junctions or road narrowings" and keeping "at least 0.5 metres (just over 1.5 feet) away from the kerb edge (and further where it is safer) when riding on busy roads with vehicles moving faster than them". The guidance also asks motorists to leave "at least 1.5 metres (5 feet) when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30mph, and giving them more space when overtaking at higher speeds".

Hybrid boats to revolutionise sustainable river travel Uber Boat by Thames Clippers says it is building the UK’s first hybrid high speed passenger ferries, set to launch in autumn 2022 and spring 2023. The two new vessels, which are being built at Wight Shipyard on the Isle of Wight, will operate solely on battery power while transporting commuters and sightseers through the Capital – throughout the Central Zone, between Tower and Battersea Power Station piers – and recharge while using biofuelled power outside of central London. The company says the technology is not reliant on shore-based charging; the new boats will use excess power from the biofuelled engines to re-charge their batteries for the central London stretch.

Electric flying taxis The Economist has published a future-gazing podcast examining a range of scenarios about the emerging technologies to watch in 2022, including the rise of interest in electric flying taxis and considering whether they are close to lift off.

Ca’ di Dio joins the 'Considerate Collection' Ca’ di Dio, a new Venetian house in the VRetreats collection, has been announced as one of the seven hotels to become part of the ‘Considerate Collection’ of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Other hotels in the collection include a "biodiversity-promoting rainforest lodge" in Costa Rica and a "culture-preserving Provençal château". SLH says the hotels are often repurposed or renovated properties - reinvigorated and revived - rather than large scale new-builds and that "people are the heart of our hotels". It says that the criteria for becoming part of the Considerate Collection is that they are aligned with the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) as well as Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) framework. Each property has either achieved a GSTC recognised certification or passed an assessment by the SLH Sustainability Advisory Panel, with independent and impartial review by the GSTC. It says "They’ve been visited, vetted, and verified against these criteria and many other SLH quality measures."

One of the rooms at Ca' di Dio, Venice, which is now part of the 'Considerate Collection'
One of the rooms at Ca' di Dio, Venice, which is now part of the 'Considerate Collection'

Ten startups shaping the mobility sector EU-Startups reports that 2021 saw a "breaking record for investment in European mobility startups" and provides a look at some of the most promising, including Dance - a Berlin-based startup that runs an e-bike subscription service, Zeelo – a London-based startup that has developed "an innovative staff commuting platform offering electric commuter bus services for people living in rural areas or in ‘public transport deserts", and Voi (which I reported on in last week's newsletter), which it says "has set an ambition to take one billion car trips off Europe’s and UK’s roads by 2030".

Coventry to become first city to host all-electric buses Next time you visit the West Midlands, keep an eye out for all-electric buses that are soon to be commonplace across Coventry. Zap Map, the digital platform for EV drivers, reports that Coventry is on track to become the UK's first all-electric bus city. It says that early next year, 130 zero-emission double decker buses will be introduced to National Express Coventry’s fleet as part of a £140 million project "in order to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions in the city."

Citizen Science - The Big Garden Birdwatch The final date for reporting your results for the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch is 20 February, so there's still time to tell them what you saw. The information gives the organisation a valuable snapshot of how birds in the UK are faring – even if you saw nothing it counts!

Solar-powered camper van The World Economic Forum reports on students in the Netherlands who have built a solar-powered camper van, designed for two people (with a kitchen, bed, shower and toilet), which can drive up to 740km on a sunny day reaching speeds of up to 120 km per hour. The students drove 3,000km to southern Spain to demonstrate the solar energy's potential.

Off-grid supper club in Hay on Wye The innovative Off Grid Gourmet supper club that's powered by solar, wind and wood is up and running again in its beautiful rural setting just outside Hay on Wye. It's currently taking bookings, including a feast during Hay Festival, for parties from 1 to 20.

In praise of wetlands This week the world has been celebrating the world's wetlands for World Wetlands Day (Weds 2 Feb). From saltmarsh to streams, peat bogs to ponds, wetlands are hotspots for biodiversity and help sustain all life on the planet. The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (whose 75th birthday was last year) manage ten wetlands in the UK, including the London Wetland Centre, Steart Marches and one of my favourites - Arundel Wetland Centre in West Sussex. Further afield, here's a feature Catherine Mack wrote for RailEurope on Nine wetlands in Europe reachable by train.

Arundel Wetland Centre is managed by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.
Arundel Wetland Centre is managed by the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust. Photo: Richard Hammond

And finally: How to change railway stations in Paris One for Valentines: Ireland's most romantic green hotel and How to reach Ireland without flying