Herald Express 26/8/93 Captain Bob Curtis Brixham's Shipping Pilot
One Man's Dream really could shape our future...
LISTENING with only half an ear (the other was tuned in to the radio) to a phone call from another Paignton Resident during the week, my mind told me-"this chap has escaped from the kind of institution that comforts pilots who have climbed one ladder too many."
He bent my ear for about ten minutes about something he'd dreamed up, called OASIS.
This is a scheme that should make all the "Greens", environmentalists and politicians en masse, sit up and listen avidly, once they've accepted that he really isn't one of life's lunatics.
Because I Couldn't believe what was coming down the line and finding it impossible to hide my scepticism. This friendly "nutter" from Paignton offered in his broad Midlands twang, to come along to the office and explain the full meaning of OASIS.
Mr Andy Fletcher duly arrived and laid siege to my senses with a thirty minute lecture on the problems of sewage and the stupid way in which we the civilised world got rid of its....manure,
Long before I'd started to read the documents he'd laid out in front of me, I was well on the way to agreeing with his barmy logic.
Years ago, well known politician, the late Mr David Penhaligon, rose in the House Of Commons and drew fellow members' attention to his Cornish wit in his references to the vast problems with waste disposal. He steadfastly pleaded with Parliament to "think on" about the future and, if I recall correctly, his words went something like: "Even in Cornwall we have come to terms with the fact that we can't go on forever, 'eaving it over the edge.' And yet all these years later, that's what we're still doing.
Perhaps not over Mr Penhalgon's 'edge, but out there into the sea, treated and untreated, is there really that much difference? Can we honestly go on treating the sea as a giant sewer? There must surely come a day when that sewer will overflow and where will we be then? Right! Up to our necks in ---- and serves us right!!
Bloody heck, Curtis you're well adrift again, get back on course (less 40 degrees). Sorry"!
OASIS is a plan to gather sewage in bulk---treated or untreated---pump it into tankers and ship it out to the Middle and far East, there to discharge it onto the waste desert of Africa and Arabia.
The simple basic plan is that before sinking into the sandy soil the sun would destroy all the remaining bacteria, and as the cargo contents settle into the desert , it would form a crust beneath the surface and change the dead infertile sand into fertile soil. Creating in fact an Oasis!
Okay so maybe I haven't explained it too scientifically and it might appear that my words are mocking a brave man and his dream of a cleaner world. "NOT TRUE!!"
Mr Fletcher will grin if you say he must be bonkers. He's been down that drain and come up smelling of roses. Already there are some influential citizens out there who are listening to what Andy Fletcher is saying.
Perhaps, now and again it might do us all a power of good to take notice of a certain flavour of "madness" that just might in the end make the world a better.
Cornish Guardian, 23/9/93 by Sue Doyle
Duchy Sewage could help the desert bloom
Ships that pass in the night could well link Cornwall and the land of the Nile if the vision of one of the campaigners who visited the Surf To Save contest last week is realised.
Mr Andrew Fletcher from Paignton, travelled to the contest to promote "Operation Oasis"-the use of sewage and waste water as a fertiliser in the arid deserts of Egypt. He thinks it should be possible to use the returning super tankers after they have offloaded oil in this country, to transport effluents back again.
Once unshipped in the Near and Far East, whole areas of desert could be sprayed with liquid mulch made from sewage and waste water. The Mixture would bind with the sand grains to create a fertile crust of top soil, where trees and plants could grow to slow down evaporation.
If additional water was needed it could be pumped from underground using methane also derived from the sewage.
Mr Fletcher's occurred to him some years ago, but only recently has he decided to follow it up, following a discussion with an Egyptian Doctor, Dr Awad told him that as only three per cent of the land on either side of the Nile is fertile, the populations there suffer from a paucity of good soil. He urged him to make his plan public.
The Egyptian Embassy in London has responded with interest in the idea.
One persons annual faeces outlet is equivalent to a 25kg sack of EEC 20:10:10: NPK fertiliser.
Despite its potential no ultimate strategy has ever evolved for dealing with it usefully in a widespread way.
Recently South West Water has been encouraging experiments with land reclamation in the baron clay tip areas of Cornwall, by giving treated sewage cake or powdered form to the ECCI horticultural department.
Experiments are underway to see what combination of sewage and infertile soil are best for growing grass and later trees and crops.
These experiments started only last Spring-an indication of how recent an idea this is.
A SWW official explained that all the sewage sludge collected from cesspits in the county is used on farmlands here (on two hundred and fifty farms in all).
He thought that demand far outstripped the ability to supply as only 1/200th of available land is covered. 'Possibly because no one wants the stuff and already have a massive problem dealing with the waste generated by farm animals,'
If there were inland treatment works for sewage from areas such as Newquay, eventual export of effluents would become more likely, but at present there are only limited supplies of "human fertiliser" for land use.
Mr Fletcher's comments that if we continue dumping sewage in the sea, not only will we ruin the marine environment, we will lose a valuable soil compost.
His idea compares with a scheme piloted some years ago in Kinshasa, Zaire, for using grow-bags filled with a mixture of earth and excrement.
Called "The Eco-Lavatory" the bags were used to nurture plants again in arid and infertile regions.
Seeds where sown in holes in the plastic bags, which were sunk into the land.
The bags had the advantage of preventing the spread of contamination and retaining water.
Perhaps the most novel use for sewage is the one sited by Surfers Against Sewage in its Campaign Journal, Pipeline News.
In Japan treated sewage is compacted into paving slabs... insoluble it is hoped in water.
Herald Express, 21 6 93 by Joe Cole
Sewage-to-soil 'miracle' idea by Bay Pioneer
Pharaoh scheme's dune-right clever!
South Devon sewage could cultivate land in Egypt if a Paignton man's idea becomes reality. Andrew Fletcher, has thought up a radical way of getting rid of our sewage and helping other countries to grow their own food.
And so far his OASIS Irrigation idea has met with an enthusiastic response from South West Water.
There is water underneath desert areas like Egypt, but to put it onto sand is futile, according to Fletcher.
His plan to spray whole areas of land with liquid mulch, made from our own sewage and massive amounts of waste water.
The mixture would bind with the sand grains to create a fertile crust of top soil, where trees and plants could be grown, to slow down evaporation.
Grasses could eventually grow and additional water could then be pumped from under the ground using methane pumps running on gas produced from the digested sewage.
"We have got no use for the sewage at all," he said. "it would mean savings for those who actually pay the water rates, because it will no longer have to have expensive treatment."
He had the idea many years ago, but decided to go public following a meeting with an Egyptian Doctor
Mr Awad told him about the large population and how only three per cent of the land either side of the Nile is fertile and urged him to make his plan public.
Mr Fletcher, who used to work on sewers in the Midlands, has already met an official from South West Water services who was very interested and referred him to the companies project manager. He has also tested the waters with the Egyptian Consulate in London, who also seem keen on the plan.
Herald Express 25/8/93
Desert Oasis idea probed
South wet Water have been discussing a pioneering project to ship South Devon sewage to cultivate the deserts
The water company has had talks with Paignton's Andy Fletcher who dreamed up the Oasis project.
South West Water representatives showed an interest when Mr Fletcher was at the Surf To Save at Polzeath in Cornwall last month.
Since then they have contacted him about the scheme. Spokesman for the company Stephen Swain said; "they were always wide open for ideas as to how to get rid of sewage mulch.
"in considering many possible options we are obviously interested in any new developments," he said.
They would continue to keep in touch with Mr Fletcher, he added.
Mr Fletcher also has the support of Dr Trevor W Tanton of the Institute For Irrigation Studies at Southampton University.
On Earth magazine
Regenerating the desert (sent to Oasis by post from New York) 30/1/96
The Overseas Agricultural Sewage Irrigated Soils-(OASIS) Project aims to regenerate irrigate and propagate desert areas.
The project echoes the vision of Richard St Barbe Baker, who was interested in fertilizing and irrigating arid areas of North Africa The organisers are hoping to interest the governments of Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Ethiopia, in the scheme.
The driving forces behind OASIS are Andrew Fletcher, Adrian Van Zweden, David Perret Green and Adrian Sanders.
OASIS writes:- The Sahara has not always been a desert; there is abundant evidence of Tropical rain forest from fossilized tree trunks and also of men made weapons. In fact most of the worlds deserts were created by deforestation. But now the process is accelerated. Once it took a thousands of years to create deserts, whilst in recent times five years is enough.
It is possible to reverse desertification. Within desert regions there exists a convection system which at present is continually circulating hot dry air.
In the Sahara for example, the sun recycles hot air drawn from the exposed North Coastline, taken to the Equator and returned. The wind system is also circular.
To break this cycle vast amounts of water are needed preferably waste water, at the North Coast. This would reverse the existing cycle by circulating moist, cooling air, rising and falling as rain in the desert and promoting growth from the night dew and a basis for reforestation.
This effect can be seen in several places around the world such as Morocco where desert reclamation and reforestation was begun forty years ago, and to a lesser extent on the Fuengerola coastline in Spain, where new building, in an otherwise arid area together with new water supplies have led to a wetter local micro-climate, as the water was used for small scale cultivation.
Herald Express 9/5/94
Kuwait door ajar for Bay Man's Brainwave
KUWAITI government officials have invited a Torbay engineer to the Middle East to show them how to make the desert bloom!
Andrew Fletcher reckons he can conjure up rain out of thin air, literally by dumping sewage on the barren sands.
His pioneering Oasis Irrigation Plan involves sending empty oil tankers to The Gulf with billions of tonnes of European sewage and waste water.
He says moisture will rise from the muck no one else wants, and create a "vacuum effect" over the desert as it cools.
Clouds trapped off the Kuwaiti coast by a wall of heat rising from the hot dry sand, will then be sucked inland, causing it to rain.
Mr Fletcher 's invitation comes after he met officials at the Kuwaiti Embassy in London on Wednesday.
Staff from the Scientific and agricultural communities are eager to learn more about his proposals.
"They want me to go to Kuwait and discuss the project with them," Mr Fletcher told the Herald Express.
"It looks like a goer. I'm on cloud nine, although this is just the start."
The idea has already found success on a small scale in countries like Spain and Morocco. These countries have used their own water to create a micro-climate but Kuwait has no river.
"Just one tanker could transport 26 million tons of waste water from Europe every year. "That would sustain a tropical rain forest the size of Brixham in the middle of the desert
Herald Express 19/3/94
SWW back bid to ship sewage to the desert!
South West Water have added their support to a South Devon man's pioneering idea which could solve the problems of starvation.
Andy Fletcher of Paignton met up with Bob Baty South West Waters Engineering Director for top talks about his project.
In the past year Mr Fletcher has received support from environmental groups like Friends of The Earth and Surf To Save and interest from governments like Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia. He has even travelled to Southern France to explain his idea there.
Fletcher was pleased with the way the meeting went, he said "they were not negative at all, they really encouraged what I am trying to do," he said. It was suggested that he contacted North West water who have a storage facility next to an oil refinery.
A spokesman for South West Water said the meeting was successful and they would monitor Mr Fletcher's work.
Western Morning News 26/8/94
Mulch Idea may enrich deserts
A Paignton man who has masterminded a pioneering project to cultivate Third World deserts has met officials from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to promote it.
Fletcher said; "It will create a fertile crust on an otherwise barren landscape, which would help crops to grow and increase rainfall levels.
Mr Fletcher's meeting at the Pakistan Embassy was immediately followed by an appointment with the commercial attaché for Saudi Arabia in London.
Mr Fletcher's ideas have since been passed on to the director general of the Agriculture and Water Research centre at Riyadh.
Mr Fletcher said that he was hopeful that they would take the project on board.
"it is still a long way from actually going into fruition."
Mr Fletcher has also set up his own tree planting and reforestation project , "A Pocket Full Of Acorns" Torbay Borough Council has agreed to let him plant two miles of seeds for broadleaf trees, along the verges of Kennals Road, Churston. Mr Fletcher is looking for 30 volunteers to help him.
Western Morning News 4/11/94
Group sows acorn seeds for future
Environmental group OASIS has planted thousands of seeds in it's 'Pocket Full Of Acorns' campaign in the WestCountry.
The organiser has had two major planting schemes, one at Tebbit Copse, near Exeter, and the other at Kennals Road Churston in Torbay.
During the latter project which was completed on Tuesday, two and a half thousand seeds and saplings were planted along the road.
But the organiser was disappointed. The scheme failed to attract the involvement of any other environmental groups he had invited which included Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, The British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and the International Tree Foundation (formally Men Of The Trees).
"Where were the friends when the earth needed them"? said Mr Fletcher.
Herald Express, 4/3/94
Pollution problem cure would transform deserts
'Night Soil' plan to cure world famine
The plan which has been developing over the past years, involves oil tankers returning from Britain to Desert areas, filled with a cargo of sewage mulch from South Devon.
That would be spread on desert areas where it would create a fertile crust and enable the land to be reclaimed.
So far Andy has had interest and support from organisations including the Egyptian Embassy, environmental groups like Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Surfers Against Sewage.
Andy has had interest from researchers at institutions like Southampton University,
In his latest research Mr Fletcher claims that one tanker could deliver 300,000 tonnes of water enriched with organic materials and plant nutrients.
And he says that would provide enough water to support 9,000 nomads and their animals for a whole year. Or it could give enough water for sixty four tons of rice, 18 tons of cotton or 25 hectares of grain.
The European 19-22/8/93
Schemes to save a fragile world
entries are pouring in for the Ford European Conservation Awards, reports Birna Helgadottir
Perhaps the most unusual and original entry of all came from an engineer Andrew Fletcher of Devon in England. His Oasis scheme, to export sewage to the Sahara in returning oil tankers, "is a crazy idea-that might just work, say the competition organisers.
The project already has the support of several environmental groups such as Friends of The Earth and is even being looked at by Shell and Japan Oil.
Exporting some of Europe's sewage is vital environmentally. "With our sophisticated waste treatments, billions of gallons of water are not soaking naturally through the earth, but going straight into the sea.
We need to take this liquid to where the Earth most needs it-like the Sahara," says Fletcher.
In this country, sewage is treated with UV light and heat-you'd get that from the Sahara sun."
Western Morning News 10/7/93 by Laura Joint
Send sewage to deserts says Westcountryman
The thorny issue of what to do with South West's sewage, which is causing South West Waters customers a multi-million pound headache may have been solved by a Westcountryman who reckons they should export it the Middle East and Africa to fertilise and irrigate their deserts.
South West Water and the Egyptian consulate in London have both agreed that the ambitious plan could work.
He says, that rather than dump screened sewage sludge into the coastal waters, it should be used to help countries like Egypt to cultivate their desert lands.
These countries are having problems trying to irrigate their arid lands because the water just goes strait through the sand. If they spread the sewage sludge onto the desert surface it would hold the water".
"The other problem with countries out there is that they don't have our collection system. We spend millions and millions of pounds collecting it, so we may as well put it to good use.
"I've thought about this for ten years or so, and I don't understand why it hasn't been done. I wouldn't like to think it was because of economic reasons, because with the world food shortage, the more we increase grassland, the better."
Western Morning News 19/8/93 by Laura Joint
Sewage exports may help fight Third World Famine
A Devon man's idea to end famine in the Third World by exporting sewage to cultivate barren lands has received the backing of the Minister for Overseas Development, Lynda Chalker.
So far OASIS has drawn a blank with South West Water to look into the project, but is hoping that the positive response from Baroness Chalker might spur them into action.
The thirty-six year old former sewage engineer reckons that after ten years of study, he has shown that produce could be grown within three weeks on land in hot, dry countries.
His scheme has already received the active support of the Cornish based Surfers Against Sewage pressure group. And now he has had a letter from Baroness Chalker saying the idea could be viable.
She said: "Further ideas for sustainable development in agriculture are always welcome, and innovative schemes such as Oasis Irrigation will require increasingly serious study in the future if large populations in the developing world are to be fed.
"Mr Fletcher may wish to continue his dialogue with South West Water managers to ensure that options of developmental benefit are also included in their review of commercial opportunities."
SW Water agrees that the idea is innovative.
Oases have a document dating back to the 1970's from the Ministry of Agriculture to the former water board that refers to the dumping of sewage from Exeter at sea in an area five miles off Lyme Bay.
He says that if Large tankers are used then, there is no reason why oil tankers cannot transport sewage waste to the Middle East and Africa.
Shell Oil is already looking at the scheme to see if it is possible and profitable.
"Things are starting to get off the ground now, and Baroness Chalker has suggested in her letter that we get in contact with Northumbria Water, as they apparently have experience in transporting water abroad."
Mr Fletcher has been in touch with the Egyptian consulate in London, Which told him they would be interested in getting the scheme operational.
The idea is that sewage would be spread onto the desert surface so that it can hold water.
N C A September 1994 OASIS PROJECT Featured last year was Andrew Fletcher%u2019s brainchild to transport raw-sewage in empty returning oil tankers, to help reclaim desert and arid areas in The Gulf and North Africa. Gathering support for the scheme, The E.U. Commission now have it on file and are studying the implications, and with the U.N. Development Programme acknowledging it%u2014although at present they say they have no plans to reclaim deserts. (Their main concern is sustainable development of natural resources in dry-land areas). Many Gulf and North African Countries have been approached. The Kuwaiti Government are the most responsive and Andrew is set to visit there later this year to discuss the project in more detail. M.E.P.A the Marine Environmental Protection Agency formed in 1991 for marine vessels is now fully supporting OASIS and using its connections to link in the Oil Tankers to the project.