“It is particularly ironic that the battle to save the world's remaining healthy ecosystems will be won or lost not in tropical forests or coral reefs that are threatened but on the streets of the most unnatural landscapes on the planet.”- Worldwatch Institute. 2007

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Cycling Samsoe – the South

South Samsoe doesn’t have as much to recommend it as the North in terms of scenery. It’s pretty flat, and predominantly agricultural. It’s harvest time and the September sun and the dirt thrown up by the ploughs create a low lying dusty haze across the landscape. The brown is broken up by occasional green and wooded hillocks of viking burial mounds, and fields of orange pumpkins. The maritime climate means a much longer growing season for delicate crops and so Samsoe has become the Halloween pumpkin supplier for all of Denmark. This leads to some problems with waste and rat control, but a biogas plant would provide an energy efficient solution to both. Acres of them are laid out across the brown earth, drying out in readiness for transportation to the mainland whilst overhead the wind turbines spin. Even close up they’re almost silent (the turbines that is – the pumpkins are absolutely silent) but even if they were noisier the locals would be unlikely to object – more than one in ten of them have a direct share in a turbine and the rest, thanks to the investment of Samsoe council own one indirectly. There was some disagreement as to whether the council were legally allowed to invest money in the turbines and it had to go to central government for ratification. It was allowed, but only on condition that any profits were channeled back into island based energy projects. The Energy Academy is one of these. I spend some time there this afternoon on the internet but the skeleton staff are shutting up shop early – the others are at a conference in Copenhagen or busy about their other jobs on the island. One of them – Michael – I am visiting later. He and his family live in one of the hundred low energy houses that were part of a special planning agreement on the outskirts of Tranebjerg and has agreed to give me the guided tour. Until then I kill time by mooching around Tranebjerg but there’s not much to see. Most of the stuff is imported in so I could get it anywhere else. There’s a couple of tourist shops full of locally handcrafted art and jewelry and if it were a lot cheaper or a lot better I would consider buying.
Right now I’m sat at a public picnic bench with a beer and a sandwich with only the netbook and newbike to stop me looking like a complete down and out. Beside me is a man with either an old and beautifully preserved, or retro Raleigh with a basket full of ‘fine festival’ beer, smoking roll ups who has just been joined by a lady in a cerise pink knee length coat with a butterfly brooch on a similar machine. There’s a lot of bicycles – mostly for practical reasons now, out of tourist season, including a few cargo bikes. But it’s time to go and look at the housing, and I seem to be attracting flying ants.

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