G7 Summit Cornwall: Not Just Poldark and Pasties

Poldark and pasties? Think again. Open your eyes to a new Cornwall as it hosts the G7 summit, urges Mark Duddridge.

‘The Cornish are remarkable for their sanguine temperament, their indomitable perseverance, their ardent hope in adventure, and their desire for discovery and novelty.’

Not my words sadly but those of George Henwood, writing in the Mining Journal, 162 years ago.

He was remarking on how many Cornishmen had become ‘brilliant ornaments’ of science in their day. Watt, Trevithick, Holman and Davy, a generation of inventors, engineers and scientists who put Cornwall at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, exporting it, and Cornish culture and values, around the world.

Today Cornwall is on the cusp of another industrial revolution whose task, perhaps ironically, is to undo the legacy of the first. That legacy is climate change. And the revolution is low carbon.

When world leaders sit down in Carbis Bay for the start of the G7 summit in June, and gaze across the turquoise waters towards the very lighthouse that inspired Virginia Woolf, there will be two things at the top of their agenda: Covid, and climate change.

There’s a cartoon on Twitter showing a tidal wave labelled ‘Covid’ about to engulf a coastal town. Behind it is a larger wave, called ‘recession’. Behind that, and by far the biggest wave of all, is the one marked ‘climate change’.

It’s a triple tsunami, and it’s real.

That’s why Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging world leaders to embrace a green economic recovery at the G7 to ‘build back better’ and ‘create a better future’ in the wake of the pandemic. It’s also why he’s chosen Cornwall, because we want to be the exemplar of a better tomorrow.

The PM said: “Two hundred years ago Cornwall’s tin and copper mines were at the heart of the UK’s industrial revolution and this summer Cornwall will again be the nucleus of great global change and advancement.”

It’s no idle boast. The mineral-rich granite beneath Cornwall contains globally-significant reserves of lithium, a key ingredient in batteries to power electric vehicles (EV) with global demand expected to double by 2024.

There are several companies exploring Cornwall’s lithium resources who have raised millions of pounds from investors to investigate how Cornwall could literally power the UK’s EV revolution in a sustainable way.

That’s why we’re spending £2.9m of the Government’s Getting Building Fund on building Europe’s first geothermal lithium recovery plant in Cornwall, to demonstrate that lithium can be produced with a zero carbon footprint. And we’ve put a fleet of EVs onto the Isles of Scilly to prove how they can mesh with a local energy network.

Cornwall’s granite is also hot. If you drill five kilometres down into Cornwall you’ll hit temperatures of 200 degrees. The people at Geothermal Engineering did just that near Redruth last year, drilling the deepest hole in Britain to create what will be the UK’s first commercial geothermal power plant. By circulating water to that depth the energy can heat homes and businesses and generate electricity carbon-free.

Thanks to its granite, Cornwall has the best geothermal resource in the UK, with at least another 20 sites that could be suitable for clean energy. The world-famous Eden Project is about to drill its own £17m geothermal well and aims to produce more energy than it uses by 2023.

Cornwall is also one of the windiest places in Europe (and has the best solar climate in the UK, by the way), which is why the UK’s first commercial windfarm was built here 30 years ago.

But it’s even windier out to sea, so Cornwall is bidding for more than £30m of Government funding towards a £64m plan to build floating windfarms far offshore, starting in 2023. They could power 170,000 homes by 2030 and create a new export industry for the UK, with thousands of jobs. The first turbines would attach to Wave Hub, an existing offshore socket connected to land a stone’s throw from the G7 hotel.

Earth observation is also critical to measuring and tackling climate change. Cornwall is partnering with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit company and the UK Space Agency to launch satellites into space from Newquay Cornwall Airport as early as next year. Virgin Orbit just celebrated its first satellite launch from the Mohave Desert in California on behalf of NASA, a tremendous achievement.

So we do things differently in Cornwall. We’re on the edge, poking out into the Atlantic, a stubborn hazard to shipping. But we’ve always been connected.

Early settlers traded tools and jewellery with Brittany and Ireland 4,000 years ago. Falmouth’s Packet Ships launched the first international mail service in 1689. The first telegraph cable from India to Britain landed at Porthcurno in 1870. Young Italian Guglielmo Marconi sent the first transatlantic radio message from Cornwall in 1901.

And Goonhilly Earth Station beamed live pictures of the moon landing around the word in 1969. It’s now poised to offer deep space communications from Cornwall for future missions to the Moon and Mars following our investment of £8.4m.

In fact, Cornwall has one of the fastest growing tech sectors in the country, buoyed by one of the best broadband networks in Europe, a higher quality of life, and fuelled by the Creative Industries. And we still trade globally today, with £661m of exports and £688m of imports. A high proportion of those exports go to G7 nations: £73m to the USA, £55m to France, £47m to Germany and £25m to Italy.

So it’s a peculiarly modern view that Cornwall is on the edge and peripheral; the legacy of post-industrial decline in the mid twentieth century that doesn’t reflect our new vision and momentum.

But now we’ve got the G7 Summit in Cornwall to help set the record straight.

So I make a plea. By all means embrace and celebrate Cornwall for its culture, its heritage, its outstanding beauty – all those things that make this place so very special. But let’s change perceptions and raise ambitions. We have a much bigger vision. We’re so much more than the Poldark and pasty stereotype.

Not just because Cornwall could offer a model of a sustainable, low-carbon economy for the world to emulate. But because perpetuating a myth masks the deep-seated inequality in our society that all G7 nations still need to address.

So as we welcome the G7 summit in June, let’s seize a once in a generation opportunity to influence some of the world’s most powerful people to put climate change, the environment and social justice at the heart of the global recovery. And to show them how proud Cornwall is to play our part in that.

Not dreckly, but now.


For more on the G7 Summit Cornwall, check out our article on G7 Summit Cornwall accommodation

Plastic Free Holidays – Tips and guides

Article by Surfers Against Sewage


Summer is well and truly on us! Before the schools break up and the mass exodus starts, we thought we’d share some great action and advice from our Plastic Free Communities, who are all helping us reduce our plastic impact over the holidays. It can sometimes be hard when away from home or out of the usual routine, to keep up good habits. But, with more communities signing up to Plastic Free Communities every month the chances are, wherever you are, there will be support to choose plastic-free options.

Here are some ideas from around the UK … feel free to get in touch and add your own. You can find out how at the end of this article.

Straight out the blocks are Plastic Free Portsmouth, who are sharing five steps to cut plastic during the summer holidays, whether you are staying home or heading elsewhere. Lead Claire Seek said: “Remember there is NO ‘away’, so it’s best to avoid single-use items in the first place and little changes to habits can all have an impact”. Here are their tips:

  1. Ice Creams: Choose a cone rather than a tub with a spoon and avoid lollies wrapped in plastic
  2. Souvenirs: pick up a cotton t-shirt, a bottle of local brew or a local jam, reducing plastic and supporting local economies too
  3. Sunscreen: look for sun cream in metal tins and cover up or stay in the shade at the hottest time of day. You can also get plastic-free aftersun from the SAS shop
  4. Water Bottles: always remember to take a water bottle with you.  Use local refill apps to see where you can top up for free
  5. Snacks: have fun with the kids or test your own skills with a regular bake-off and make treats to take on days out. Or grab some plastic-free fruit from the local grocer.


In Whitstable the Plastic Free Communities team have recognized that many people leave their usual habits at home when they’re on holiday and don’t remember things like refill cups and bottles. So, Plastic Free Whitstable are trialling the FetchhCupscheme in local cafes, enabling visitors to borrow keep cups and return them after their stay. The town also has 45 refill water points with key tourist locations such as the Old Neptune pub signed up as Plastic Free Champions, promoting and enabling refill and reuse for visitors and locals too.

We love this next idea, from Plastic Free Denholme. They’re holding a ‘Plastic Free Summer Challenge’.  Children can register to take part and are set a challenge activity each week during the summer break.  If they complete all of the tasks they get a Plastic Free Summer Challenge Award with a certificate and fabric badge. The challenges are set via YouTube and email each Monday and all local schools have been contacted to tell their pupils and get as many involved as possible. What a great way to fill some of those down days!

In Westward Ho! a new breed of fish has been employed to help raise awareness among visitors and encourage them to reduce their plastic impact. Phillup the Fish(see what they did there?) is a 5m long and 2m high metal structure which people can fill with their plastic packaging. At the end of the project it will all be taken away for recycling, having also made a big impact and raised awareness of the single-use crisis. Community Lead for Plastic Free Westward Ho! Andrew Cross said: “We are going to bring the fish alive! We hope this will encourage those visiting Westward Ho! to use the fish for depositing their single use plastic and, in turn, further raise awareness of the ongoing plastic pollution crisis we face.”

At the other end of the UK in the Scottish villages of Charlestown, Limekilns and Pattiesmuir the plastic free movement is promoting actions that you can take whether you holiday at home or abroad. Our favourite is this great tip to use your social media holiday updates to inspire others. It could be places and businesses you’ve visited that have made positives changes or photos of yourself and family/friends enjoying alternatives to throwaway plastic while you are out and about.

Community Lead Jo McFarlane added: “Carry a little bag with you to pick up plastic pollution on beaches or in green spaces and make a difference wherever you are. Celebrate doing this on social media to inspire others. Join a local volunteering beach or community clean, it’s a great way to meet locals and get tips on where to visit, eat, socialise and find out about local events you might never have known about. Remember to only flush the 3Ps wherever you go, to help prevent sewage related plastic in rivers, the sea and on beaches too”

Feeling inspired? We’d love to see your plastic free holiday snaps and tips over the next few weeks. Just share them with us on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitteraccounts and hashtag #PlasticFreeCommunities #PlasticFreeHolidays

To find out more about Plastic Communities click here

To get your own Plastic Free Individual Action Plan click here