'Human swan' to fly over Suffolk during 3,000-mile UK flight
- Credit: Conservation-Without-Borders.org
A daring "human swan" is to land in Suffolk during a 3,000-mile flight across the UK to highlight the growing impact of climate change.
Australian adventurer Sacha Dench has already completed several audacious challenges, including being the first woman to cross the English Channel by paramotor.
Sponsored by EDF Energy, which runs Sizewell B nuclear power station, she is now set to circumnavigate mainland Britain in an adapted electric paramotor - flying anti-clockwise around the coast in approximately six weeks.
Sacha - who hopes to set a new Guinness World Record for the first flight around Britain by paramotor, as well as the first long-distance expedition attempted with an electric paramotor - is due to be seen across Suffolk's skies sometime in July.
But as she frequently has to land to change batteries, she will stop to talk to people on the ground with interesting solutions to climate change.
She plans to visit Somerleyton Hall, near Lowestoft, to learn about the ambitious 50-year WildEast project to make East Anglia “one of the world’s great nature reserves”.
However, the journey at between 500ft and 1,000ft will very much be weather dependent - the batteries in Sacha's paramotor give her 30 to 40minutes of flight, while her speed depends on the strength of the wind.
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Her take-off from Glasgow on Monday, June 21 - to mark the Cop26 United Nations climate change conference taking place in Scotland later this year - has already been delayed due to poor conditions.
But Sacha, whose family home in Australia was tragically destroyed by bushfires, is determined to complete the mission as a "rallying cry" to tackle the dangers of global warming.
"The world is changing much faster than we think," she warned.
"It might be a more moderate environment in the UK, but other places aren't and it's changing really fast.
"Last year, we lost our home in Australia because of bushfires. We lost everything.
"Suddenly, it became an issue that was really close to home.
"All of the issues of climate change are affecting species in the UK and it will start to affect things like food production.
However, she added: "We have a huge amount of power to do something about it.
"The advantage I have as a scientist is that I understand enough about climate change to see that there are solutions.
"We just have to really start to focus on those and get enough momentum.
"If we think about how quickly we drove the industrial revolution, there's no reason we can't do the same with the green revolution.
"We just have to be bold."
Sacha believes building nuclear power stations, such as the proposed Sizewell C on the Suffolk coast, is part of the answer.
At present, renewables can only produce part of the country's electricity needs. Nuclear can fill the gap, she said.
Julia Pyke, director of financing for the planned Sizewell C project, praised Sacha's flight and said: "We live in a global climate
"At the moment, people may not see the enormous difference in their daily lives from climate change - but we have to tackle this at a global level.
"It's for us to create an industrial revolution and lead a global move to low carbon energy sources."
She argued that Sizewell C will take up 33hectares of land space - whereas 33,000hectares of solar farms would be needed at the very least to produce the same amount of energy.
Hugh Somerleyton, who is leading the WildEast project to return 250,000 hectares of land to nature, said he was delighted Sacha would be landing in Suffolk.
"If we want to have a green economy, we have to have a different conversation," he said.
"Some people that are criticising new projects are filling up their trolleys and using food systems that are not good for the environment."
Asked how she feels about the journey, Sacha said: “I’m feeling excited about it.
"I’m really interested to see how the country responds and I’m most fascinated to hear the stories of people all around the country.
“I think it’s going to be a really interesting and inspiring journey, and who knows how the electric paramotor will fare?
"No-one has ever done a long journey in an electric powered paramotor before, but I’ve got an excellent ground crew and team behind me so we’ve got the best chance of success that we can try for.
“You do get incredible views, but they also put a lot of the issues in this country in context, so you really see a landscape and how everything fits together, so that is really fascinating.
“But it is beautiful up there as well.
"Learning to understand and read the air, flying like the birds, they tend to just see you as another flying aircraft when you’re in the air, particularly with the electric paramotor which is so silent.”