Editor’s comment August 2014

Solar panels on houses are an increasingly common sight in the Cotswolds / photo: CreativeNature.nl

Solar panels on houses are an increasingly common sight in the Cotswolds / photo: CreativeNature.nl - Credit: Archant

Cotswold Life’s editor, Mike Lowe, admits to solar power Nimbyism, discusses an American solution - and offers advice to ATM slowcoaches

Cotswold Life magazine's editor, Mike Lowe

Cotswold Life magazine's editor, Mike Lowe - Credit: Archant

I have no real problem per se with the solar farms that are springing up in the Cotswold countryside. If farmers decide that that they can make more money by turning over acres of decent arable land to the green energy drive, then that’s up to them. But it’s like affordable housing. While I accept that we need it, I just don’t want it in my backyard (i.e. the field next to my house). I’m not going to lie about that.

What I do have a problem with is solar panels on the roofs of private houses. Again, I have no objection to the principle; it’s just the practice that can often offend. I obviously suffer from mild OCD tendencies because while I find a neat row of solar panels tacked to the tiles in a straight line quite all right, once a greedy householder – encouraged, no doubt, by a greedy salesman – decides to cram panels onto every square inch of their roof in a haphazard fashion, I have to shield my sensitive eyes. A bizarre, mirrored jigsaw is not remotely acceptable and should not be permitted. You know who you are.

Of course, we could always solve our alternative energy needs in more imaginative ways. Over lunch at the excellent Graze in Cirencester the other week, a ‘friend of ours’ (I also have Mafia tendencies) described a cunning system being trialled in the USA whereby the entire surface of some roads is made up of special solar panels. As you can imagine, the heat absorbed and then re-purposed is enough to power a small town.

This strikes me as an excellent solution, and one which I would be delighted to see in the Cotswolds. Just imagine – a solar stretch of the Fosse Way the length of Lord Vestey’s magnificent wall would generate more than enough power to light up Cirencester. There is, however, one small snag.

The current state of our roads does not inspire confidence when it comes to building and maintaining a state-of-the-art solar network. I have this vision of a man with a bucket of tar pottering along obliterating solar cells while the lights gradually go out all over the Capital of the Cotswolds. Or, even worse, one of our new highways contractor’s vehicles spray-painting the road black to make it look better – or micro-surfacing, as I believe they call it.

ATM aggravation

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What is so difficult about using a cash machine? I was queuing for 10 minutes behind a lady the other day who I swear was trying to arrange a mortgage through an ATM. The rules are simple: check for loitering gangs of UKIP’s rampaging Romanians; check the machine hasn’t been tampered with; card in, number punched, cash selected, amount pressed; collect your money and walk away. No more than 45 seconds, tops.

Anyone taking longer than this should see their card swallowed and their bank account closed. That would teach them.


This article from the August 2014 issue of Cotswold Life is by Mike Lowe.

For more from Mike, follow him on Twitter: @cotslifeeditor

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