Bristol Channel haze

FURTHER to the recent correspondence on the haze floating across the sky, in particular Mr Mundy’s letter of May 15, I would like to suggest that it has nothing to do with the shipping in the Bristol Channel.

This haze is often seen, has been a constant feature of the seascape for many years now and forms a continuous band from somewhere beyond Rhoose Point extending eastwards to, and probably beyond, Avonmouth.

It is more noticeable on days when the wind is light as stronger winds will tend to disperse it more quickly, but it is very unlikely to be caused by ships for several reasons. Firstly, most modern diesel powered vessels do not produce any significant amount of smoke except when starting their main engines.

This is usually a brief small cloud of dark grey smoke which disperses quickly, not the long continuous streak of brownish smoke which we are discussing. Even poorly maintained diesels do not produce this colour smoke, and certainly not in every case.

Secondly, it does not coincide with the presence of ships and thirdly, there are simply not enough of them to account for the frequent appearance of the haze. The colour, the frequency, the long continuous band and the direction in which it begins suggest very strongly that it originates from one of the processes of the industrial plants at Aberthaw, the power station or the cement works and probably the latter.

Given this origin and the prevailing winds from the west and south-west, the haze is probably quite near the Welsh coast to start with but will drift across to the other side eastwards of Sully Island as the channel shifts to a north-easterly direction.

The reason that ships sailing down channel appear to coincide with the origin of the haze is that after dropping their pilot at Barry, they will continue down the northern, that is the Welsh, side of the channel. They will then appear to be quite close to Rhoose Point.

I would add that this argument is based on observations from the NCI Station at Nell’s Point, Barry Island, and that Mr Mundy, Mr Back and anyone else interested in matters to do with the local sea and coast would be welcome visitors.

Tom Fletcher

Via e-mail

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