History Of Operation OASIS
Where this journey began and why we must not fail.
History of Operation OASIS
Around 10 years old while out playing all day with my brother and a few friends, we found a field full of tomatoes on the other side of a railed fence in Roway Lane, Oldbury. The fruits were ripe and juicy and we were hungry. Carrying some of the fruit home to our parents, we learned that the tomatoes had been growing in human dung and that the field was in fact a disused sewage bed. Those seeds that thrived in humanure had been eaten by someone and passed through their digestive system, flushed down the toilet and sprouted in the perfect growing medium. We did not suffer any health related problems. This is where the Operation OASIS Seed was first planted in my head.
Years later, while in my teens, a good friend down the road used to present enormous leeks, onions, runner beans down the local pub. He worked in a sewage farm and had been growing these impressive vegetables in treated and well rotted human sewage cake which had conditioned his garden soil and greatly increased it's fertility. This same local pub was where I planted my first tree, a willow, which I watched grow to impressive stature over the years.
In the West Midlands, I worked as a trainee boiler maker where we made radioactive sludge cans out of thin mild steel plate. Eager to learn more, I found that these were being dropped into the ocean encased in concrete, containing waste from nuclear power. I felt sick to the stomach thinking that I was making these wholly inadequate vessels that were polluting the oceans. And this was yet another environmental wake up call.
Aged 21, I got a job as a sewer engineer, I guess the smell and taste of those tomatoes was always in the back of my mind. Here I learned about the massive waste of water and how we pay a fortune to clean the water up to safe drinking standards and then flush most of it down the toilet or pour it down the drains from washing machines. An unprecedented miss use of water, which is after all the most precious and most undervalued resource on our fragile Earth. Without water there would be no life!
In 1984 The television and Newspapers erupted with the most horrific scenes I have ever seen.
Thanks to Television the pictures of starving and dying children and parents in the devolving world are burned in our memories forever. Their meagre existence closely resembling the pathetic
Battery farmed chickens, in their unimaginable short yet long suffering lives. Although the African children do not have walls to confine them to this inhumane existence, it is the vast void of dust and unrelenting heat, drought, war and starvation that walls them into an early grave. But in a sense even the chicken endures far less suffering than the starving peoples of Africa. For the chicken at least the end is swift and possibly painless.
Bob Geldof and Midge Ure rose to the challenge of raising money to feed the starving millions and released the Band Aid Single, Do They Know It's Christmas? Everyone was overwhelmed and pouring money into collection boxes. Geldof took on the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and demanded that she removed the VAT Levy from the records sales and such was the level of public support the Iron Lady was forced to back down.
I remember thinking then that there must be a reason that the rains failed and that while handing out food to the starving people was without question essential to prevent this shocking suffering and death, it would do nothing to avert another catastrophe in the future.
What happened in Africa and why did the rains fail? Why do some areas become dry while other areas experience catastrophic floods? To find an answer, I became interested in deserts and how we could alter the climate to cause it to rain on arid lands.
History tells us that mankind over the centuries has impoverished the soils through poor soil management and the first onslaught is often the removal of trees from coastal areas and river basins, followed by agriculture and overgrazing, stripping away all of the vegetation. Today thanks to NASA's Space Observatory we can see the ancient irrigation channels etched into the desert surfaces showing how mankind has been forced to abandon the land and how famine and farming practices are closely related.
Many past civilisations were abandoned because the soil was unable to support the constant demand for grain which fuelled the manpower required to build the great monuments that lay in ruins in lands around the World. The skeletons of these peoples tell a story of malnutrition, drought and famine. Television documentaries, endless hours of open University Programs provided me with a good understanding of the challenges that lay ahead and ample evidence existed that coastal deforestation and poor soil management was to blame for continental climate change. But what could have gone wrong?
The recipe for disaster is surprisingly simple.
Remove the forests and the vegetation from a coastline,
Farm grain repeatedly year after year and the wind and sun will desiccate and strip away all of the organic matter from the soil, leaving only sand and stone.
Once exposed to the suns energy sand and stone heats up rapidly and the air above it rises high into the atmosphere, creating a thermal barrier or a wall of heated air that effectively prevents moisture rising from the ocean from crossing onto the land. Thermals are felt as they buffet aircraft when flying over heated coastlines. These same desert coastal thermals are navigated by all migrating birds to and from Africa.
The thermal barrier effectively channels clouds around the coastlines. causing interior forests to receive less rain and increase the risk of forest fires, not that mankind isn't more than capable of destroying forests with fire without a helping hand from the weather.
Animals, like humans are destructive, particularly along coastal areas. We know now that the eggs of large reptiles are sex temperature dependent. Many dinosaur fossils are found in deserts. Could the dinosaurs have initiated climate change by over-exploiting the coastal areas, much the same as we are doing today? Could raising the global temperature by a few degrees have caused their eggs to become all males? Did the dinosaurs that survive today, including the alligator, crocodile, and turtle, survive because unlike the land based dinosaurs they laid their eggs near water and in doing so regulated the temperature of their eggs?
Can we learn from our mistakes and if so how can we positively affect our own climate and environment?
If trees are removed and the rains failed, then replacing the trees and vegetation is a logical approach. The problem is that we need massive volumes of water, nutrients and organic matter to repair the soil. The Sahara has a huge underground reserve of fossil / non/renewable water that is currently mined for agriculture. Irrigating with this water source will deplete the aquifers, cause the water to become saline and lead on to salt contamination of huge areas of land, rendering them infertile salt deserts. This is happening to huge areas of farm land in many arid countries.
We clearly need a reliable inexpensive external source of relatively salt free water. Which got me thinking about marrying up Europe's massive problem with sewage and waste water pollution with the arid coastlines of North and South Africa, The Middle East, Australia, South America and the USA. So I got to thinking initially about the costs of hiring redundant super tankers, known as Very Large and Ultra Large Crude Carriers (VLCC's & ULCC's) to store and transport waste water to the desert coasts, removing pollution from one country to create a rainforest in the desert of another.
During my research, I learned that all of these VLCC's and ULCC's transported sea water half way around the world at considerable financial losses as ballast. After unloading crude oil, these super tankers have to take on board water to lower their massive hulls back into the water. This was the key to ending starvation in Africa. But time was ticking by and writing letters to tanker companies, water companies and anyone else I thought might listen was having little to no effect.
In 1991 I had a chance meeting with an Egyptian doctor who did listen about The OASIS Project, which it was now called. After hearing me out he urged me to make the whole project public and to contact the Egyptian and other Governments.
I purchased a Sharp electronic typewriter from a car boot sale that had a spell check on it and a memory function that enabled me to print off documents and send out mail shots.
The project during this time took over my life and I fought against ignorance and contempt, gaining some valuable media attention. I gave regular talks in Torbay and everyone who heard about this amazing project loved it. After a few articles went out in the local newspapers, The Herald Express, Western Morning News, The Cornish Guardian, I was approached by Adrian Van Zweden, Adrian Sanders who is now an MP and David Perret Green who became good friends.
We formed Oasis Concepts Ltd and began to gain interest from many avenues, including the UK Government, water companies, Television, European and National Press.
The local Newspapers regularly published articles, BBC Radio and TV Covered the story and we began to make headway, knocking down each barrier we came across only to find another one behind it. I attended Surf to Save regularly and won the support of Surfers Against Sewage, and many more environmentally concerned groups.
I travelled to Southern France to meet with the Water Company in Marseilles. Met with Jasem Al Mubaraki, Kuwait Embassy London who thought the project was exciting and feasible. Met with Mohamed Al Sheddi at the Royal Saudi Arabian Embassy and won their support. Both wrote to me offering an open invitation to go to their country and discuss the matter further with the appropriate departments. At the time I had barely enough money to feed my wife and kids so could not see my way to spending what little we had on travelling at my own expense to help oil rich nations out.
A New Theory for Circulation in plants, trees, animals and humans.
While trying to address soil salinity caused through high evaporation rates in arid land irrigation schemes as mentioned previously, I wanted to learn how trees were surviving in irrigated areas and how they were using the salts from the soil. On reading about tree circulation, I found a wholly inadequate explanation for the way trees raise water to their leaves. It took me 20 minutes to solve this problem after reading a GCSE Biology Book. But this diverted my attention away from Operation OASIS for many years as I had attributed the discovery in circulation to posture while we sleep, now known as Inclined Bed Therapy (I.B.T.) (sleeping with the head of the bed raised by 15cm's) and spent many years helping people with serious illnesses and disabilities.
After a while we realised we were on a merry-go-round facing empty promises, ignorance, contempt and vested interests. Everyone was passing us on to someone else and eventually you get referred right back to where you started.
David Bellamy, once wrote to me saying people in these desert lands would not accept our waste water because we eat pork? Gideon Tzur, Israel’s Water Commissioner pointed out that Israel has visitors from all over the world, with a wide range of diets, and that they use Israel's sewage for land reclamation. Bellamy then did a BBC radio show called Global Growbag at the BBC Natural History Unit 28/8/1994, in which he stated: I see a time in the future, when great oil tankers will carry waste water to the deserts to irrigate them and feed the starving millions.
OASIS Concepts LTD was dissolved.
The main project Operation OASIS was shelved, leaving information on the Internet in case some one wanted to help get it off the ground and a blog was set up in 1997. My research into IBT can be found on the Internet.
Greg Peachey of the Fredome Visionary Trust contacted me in February 2010 after watching a video on Youtube about Operation OASIS and he offered to join forces, bringing together a great team and network capable of getting the job finished and for which I am eternally grateful.
Andrew K Fletcher 22/04/2011
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.
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.
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.
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 place.
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 15/12 94 Captain Bob Curtis Brixham's Maritime Pilot
One man's dream but a benefit to all
Most of the troubles of the world seem to be caused by man's greed. We tend to reach out grabbing that which we know to be in short supply.....Man is stupid.
Andy Fletcher of Paignton wants to change our basic indiscretions by re-routing the most basic of man's movement.
He has a dream to change the world's deserts into vast Oases, using irrigation from unwanted sewage and unless a government or international consortium somewhere step forward to transform his dreamed of project into acceptable reality, I feel that his deep concern for the future of our planet will turn into a nightmare of frustration.
Along with several others drawn to meet this interesting, friendly man, I attended a gathering in Torquay last week to listen to and comment on the outlined "bones" of his ideas.
... so let's hope high and mighty take it on board
In conjunction with many governments, health organisations, responsible authorities an companies such as South West Water, we must all attend to the universal problem of what is to be done with our own waste material.
Many years ago that exceptional Cornish Politician, the late Mr David Penhaligon, yelled his anger at parliament and accused his honourable friends of adopting a Cornish Farmers' philosophy-"...just 'aive it over the edge, me ansom!"
Andy pointed out to the small collection of people the mounting economical and complex measures that we-that is, all of the civilised nations-have to face NOW, if the earth is to survive.
Someone with power, drive and sharing the same aspirations for the future of this once good, green globe of ours must surely take the Oasis Irrigation Project on board and carry its banners to the parliaments of Europe, demanding that they listen-not only listen but act...before we all find ourselves in the... mire!
For instance, did you know that the city of New York packages two thousand tons of crude human waste, each and every day, and transports it to distant Texas, to be spread across deserted farmland? The worlds gone bonkers!
Of course, there were bound to be those present at the meeting who believe that the "dreamer" is only intent on seeking fame and fortune.
I believe those assumptions to to be quite wrong.
Others concerned that Andy has not protected his ideas from exploitation and it was lovely to here his laughing reply of : "But if someone steals my ideas-great! It will only prove that someone out there has listened and acted on it. More to the point, it will not have been in vain."
What a man! The world would develop a darker shade if it lost it's idealists and dreamers such as Mr Fletcher of Paignton.
Andy following in the steps of Marconi
There was a time all those years ago, when the world's merchants believed Christopher Columbus to be crazy.
The way to India, they said was to the East, not sailing the uncharted western ocean... He'll fall off the edge of the world, never to return, was the cry.
As the years rolled on, the same sort of things were said of Marconi. "Sound signals cannot possibly be carried on invisible radio waves around the contours of the globe!" Marconi, too was considered mad.
Today, word is that Andy Fletcher (Pictured) is a "fruitcake". It is being said that Mr Fletcher's Oasis project is simply the rambling of a confused dreamer.
You might remember from previous scribblings that Andy's idea is to remove the problem of unwanted sewage and deposit it onto various deserts of the world, thereby rejuvenating those barren wastelands into fertile Oases.
Struggling against the scepticism of those who find it easier to laugh than to listen and learn, Andy has battled on with only his strong belief to sustain his endeavours. He knows that the worlds waste problems will not just go away-indeed they will most likely multiply-therefore. In time, the so-called "experts" will, by necessity, find it expedient to listen to his findings.
Andy has extended his research and projected the economics of the operation to a point where South West Water, Greenpeace and many other International research departments have started to sit up and take notice.
The people of Torbay will have an opportunity to consider the findings and beliefs of this likeable "fruitcake" tomorrow at Paignton's Redcliff Hotel where at 2pm he will explain to the media all they want to know about his ideas for "Operation Oasis".
The general public are invited to join in at 3pm, when he will outline again his plans to transport a problem that won't go away on it's own-and how it can save an average of £200 per customer per annum off their water bills!
Go along and listen-you might just learn something-something that portrays a completely new light on our ever expanding environmental problems.
You might very well come away thinking Andy Fletcher is a "fruitcake" but what have you got to lose?
Remember Columbus and Marconi!!
Herald Express 13/1/95
Where there's muck there's money to be had for SWW users
A plan to make the deserts bloom could save South West Water users up to £200 each and every year.
That's the claim of a South Devon man who has spent years researching ways to cure the world of two major problems.
Andrew Fletcher of Paignton has identified a way of curing the relentless spread of deserts by using the increasingly burdensome sewage problem of the industrialised countries of the world.
And in doing so he claims to have found a cheaper way of processing sewage and so cutting pounds from water bills.
The scheme known as Oasis irrigation and firs revealed to the Herald Express last year-plans to transport sewage an waste water form Europe to desert areas by utilising oil takers which currently return without paying loads.
Figures show that London, for instance, already dumps 3.75 million tonnes of sewage in the North Sea every year-but oil tankers deliver 4 million tonnes of crude oil to the capital in the same period.
"Present disposal methods are expensive, unnecessary and damage the environment," said Mr Fletcher.
"My plan would transport sewage,
Paignton man claims paying cure for deserts
presently polluting our coastline to parts of the world needing irrigation."
The project has interested governments in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. But it's the South West of England where the plan could reap dividends, he says.
Besides the immense savings in water charges, Mr Fletcher claims that his scheme would make South West Water's Clean Sweep Programme redundant over night.
According to his associate, former South West Water engineer Adrian Van Zweden, the EC directive which made Clean Sweep "a Godsend".
"The privatised water industry wants a good return on its investment," he said.
"Because it's profit percentages are controlled by OFWAT the only way to increase it's profit is to increase turnover. The best way to increase turn over is to spend more. With a monopoly this automatically means increased bills. There is no incentive to cut costs."
Oasis is already talking to one other water company from the South East of England which dumps its sewage in the North Sea-a practice which becomes illegal under European Law in 1997.
The company's estimate of disposal costs is £2 per cubic metre. Mr Fletcher estimates that his proposals would cost 42 pence per cubic metre.
And the big bonus is that the deserts can be reclaimed. Currently they are expanding at the rate of 6 million hectares every year---half the size of England.
Herald Express 13/1/94
Local 'product' could bring new life to Kuwait desert!
If you have ever wondered where the potholes in South Devon country lanes come from then a Paignton man has the answer-Cow-pats an horse droppings.
And this unusual discovery has led to a plan to purify the pollution caused by the Gulf War.
Andrew Fletcher, well known for his ideas to use sewage to make the desert bloom, noticed that cow-pats and other animal droppings attack the tarmac on our quiet country lanes.
Tarmac is oil based. If manure eats tarmac then it will also eat oil-and the huge problems in Kuwait where Sadam Hussein's destruction of the oil refineries has left a pollution nightmare, could be answered.
The desert is covered in crude oil and there is no way that the Arab country can clear it.
Already the British and Kuwait governments are listening to his ideas seriously.
Support for theory
A letter from John Major has resulted in a meeting with the Department of Trade and Industry officials who now look as if they will start to take his ideas seriously.
Mr Fletcher described this meeting as "long overdue". The Kuwaiti Embassy in London has passed his plan on to it's government.
The idea may well sound crazy but Andrew has support for his theory from Trevor Tanton, of the Institute for Irrigation studies at Southampton University, and from Sean Tyrell, a lecturer in micro-biology at Silsoe College, Bedford.
Both the scientific alumni confirm that sewage would actually "eat" the oil.
"The implications for oil spills on land are enormous," says Andrew. After being a lone voice in the wilderness Andrew Fletcher may just be on the verge of producing one of the most original plans to help save the planet.
Jonathon Porrit 23/11/94
Thank you very much for sending me the materials about 'Oasis Irrigation'.
I did find them most interesting, and congratulate you both on your persistence and vision. I am not able to judge the technical merits of what you are proposing, but it certainly looks a winner from a layman's point of view.
I do wish you all the very best with such an interesting innitiative.
Surfers Against Sewage
Here at Surfers Against Sewage we are very excited by your proposed ideas.
In particular it is encouraging to see that you are looking a t sewage sludge as a resource that can provide a benefit to society and the environment if suitably treated.
The disposal of Sewage does not have to pose the risks to public health and the environment that it does at present when dumped at sea.
Your ideas show that alternatives exist that do make sense.
One of S.A.S.'s principle aims is to explore and publicises possible viable alternatives to the disposal of sewage at sea. Therefore we enclose a donation for your continued work and research into the OASIS project.
Christopher Hines. General Secretary.
Surfers Against Sewage 18/8/95
Congratulations on the experiment! Also very good letter to SWW. Do you need help with the rail ticket to The Royal Embassy Of Saudi Arabia. If so let me know!
We also have contacts with the band Oasis who seem to be storming the country this year. I will run your project passed our contacts. It may be something they wish to support.
In the meanwhile best of luck
Chris Hines General Secretary
Silsoe College 25/8/93
Thank you for your letter and additional information. There is no doubt that sludge management is and will continue to be high on the environmental priority list in the UK. In addition, novel ideas to overcome problems of soil infertility, scarce water resources and low food production in the developing world are to be encouraged.
Your concepts are on the face of it technically feasible. Surely the biggest question mark however is economic viability. If you can show that the complex transport arrangements required are cheaper than the alternatives, than the proposals might have merit. However it is difficult to see imagine that transpoting sludge to Egypt would be cheaper than application to local agricultural/derelict land in the UK.
Water companies will always opt for the cheapest, environmentally sound option.
S F Tyrrel Lecturer in Microbiology and N E Haycock Lecturer in Water Management.
ODA Overseas Development Administration
to Rupert Allason Esq MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
The disposal of sludge in a cost effective environmentally acceptable way is of increasing concern and interest to sewage operators around the world and disposal strategies are under active re-consideration by most of the UK utilities responsible for sewerage and wastewater treatment now that the sea disposal route is no longer an option.
Further ideas for sustainable development in agriculture are always welcome and innovative schemes such as Mr Fletcher's will require increasingly serious study in the future if larger populations in the developing world are to be fed.
The UK water companies have already demonstrated their interest in commercial activities such as transporting fresh water in tankers from the Northumbrian region to Gibraltar. I am sure that they will not wish to neglect any opportunity for economical sludge disposal in the future.
Mr Fletcher may wish to keep up his dialogue with the South West Water managers to ensure that options of developmental benefit are also included in their review of commercial opportunities.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey The minister for the ODA
United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office 13/6/94
Thank you very much for your letter of April 7, 1994
It is encouraging that creative people like yourself are engaged in trying to solve the major environmental problems of our time.
Your proposal is certainly imaginative and has it's merit. However it raises several questions and concerns we want to share with you.
* The Major objective of the proposal is to reclaim deserts and settle populations on the reclaimed areas. While this objective has it's merit in long term when the productive lands have reached their limits in terms of carrying capacity, the short and medium term priority for the countries with arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid lands, particularly in Africa, is to prevent desertification (land degradation). This constitutes the major challenge of the International Convention on Desertification which is being negotiated now in the last session of the International Negotiating Committee on Desertification, in Paris.
* Although very attractive, the proposal poses the question of it' cost-effectiveness and it's replicability.
* There are also cultural issues/sensitivities involved in the transfer of sludge from the industrialised countries to the developing countries.
* From a technical point of view, sludge could certainly be used to build nutrients into the soil. Given the desert conditions, the main issue remains however, the permanent irrigation of planted crops or trees. Can we rely on the water from the sludge? If we are to use deep ground water, often available in deserts the cost of irrigation is so high that it's exploitation is not economically feasible.
* A better alternative might be to transform the sludge into dry fertiliser to be transported to Africa and put to the disposal of farmers at a reasonable cost. "The main problem in the desert is an inherent lack of water. Removing the water makes little sense?"
As you might know, we at UNDP particularly through UNSO, are dealing with desertification in terms of sustainable management of natural resources in the dry lands. We are not considering yet action to reclaim deserts.
I hope that the above reflections will be useful in your on-going efforts to look for viable alternatives for desert reclamation.
Maxine Olson Acting Deputy Director Officer in Charge
Nick Harvey MP
House of Commons
London SW1 OAA 18/10/93
Thank you for writing to me concerning the Oasis Irrigation project.
It certainly sounds to be a sensible and economically viable idea and I wish you every success with it's promotion.
I would be pleased to be kept in touch with any progress that you make. As I am sure you are aware, The Liberal Democrats have lead the way with their innovative environmental policies during the last twenty years and as a Liberal Democrat MP I am always eager to be kept abreast of any new environmental measures taking place.
I wish you every success with the Oasis Irrigation Project, thank you for telling me about it.
Nick Harvey MP for North Devon
Plymouth and Torbay Health Authority
Local office (Paignton) 22/9/93
Thank you for letting me know about your project. Although there is some controversy about the degree of illnesses caused by bathing in contaminated sea water and river water there is no doubt that a substantial burden of ill health is caused by this.
Certainly, if the sewage which is currently discharged into the seas and rivers were to be transported to another country, then the level of contamination of the waters would be reduced and hence the burden of ill health. It is obviously difficult to put a figure on how much this would save the Health Service as quite a lot of illnesses caused by bathing in contaminated water is of a fairly trivial nature.
However inevitably some of it is not and so there must be some saving to the Health Service.
Dr M.R. Kealy. Consultant in Communicable Disease Control
I have seen the references to this project in the local press. I would be very grateful to receive information
Sean O'Neill Regional Manager
IUCN The World Conservation Union 9/2/95
I am replying rather belatedly to your letter last year. I was most interested to read of your endeavours in encouraging tree planting on such a wide front. It is good to have enthusiastic people like you promoting the planting of tree seeds and saplings over such a wide area.
You should be very pleased with the extent of your influence. I have passed your notes on to my colleagues.
On the question of funding, while we are a conservation organisation, we are not in a position to provide funding to individuals. Most of our funds come from donor agencies and they are focused on conservation activities with our members and partners, largely in developing countries.
Many thanks for sharing your insights with us.
Dr Donald Gilmour Programme Co-ordinator
Forestry Conservation Programme
State of Israel Water Commissioner Office
Thank you for your letter of October 25, 95 addressed to the Prime Minister of Israel and forwarded to my office by the Israeli Embassy in London.
The letter and the attached material are intriguing and inspiring with regard of the use of sewage sludge and treated waste water for irrigation and as a practical measure against desertification.
We in Israel certainly share your views and we are far beyond a trial and a pilot phase in this matter.
Situated in a semi-arid region on a desert fringe water scarcity is a real threat and therefore 60% of the domestic effluents are already utilised for irrigation throughout the country, providing 220 million cubic metres or fifteen % of the total water used annually for irrigation. One of the major projects conveys about one hundred million cubic metres a year of effluents from the metropolitan area of Tel-Aviv to the barren dry land of the Negev, the Israeli desert.
I wish you a good success in your efforts--in this most important environmental issue and I will be very pleased to assist you with any information related to our vast experience in wastewater re-use.
Gideon Tzur Water Commissioner of Israel
State of Israel Water Commissioner Office 21/2/96
Reuse of Domestic Effluents for Irrigation
Thank you for your letter of January 21st, 1996 and the wide coverage of the subject of discussion. Beyond it's clear ecological and environmental benefits, our wastewater reclamation plan is directed to reuse domestic effluents as part of Israel water economy. Domestic effluents are substituting fresh water that in the past was allocated to the irrigated fields and now is used to satisfy the increasing demand for drinking water.
Extremely purified effluents are integrated into the water supply system and used for normal cropping and for all crops without any distinction. An annual quantity of about 220 MCM is used by the Israeli farmers and all the systems are regularly monitored and reported
A report summarising the subject is attached to this letter.
In the following you are welcome to visit Israel and see and video as many tapes as you may want to.
In your letter you mentioned that "It is possible to arrive at the coastline of Africa and The Gulf with Europe's waste water, free of any charge", I wonder if you are refering to treated domestic effluents not contaminated by any sort of hazardous waste.
Thank you again for your interest and do feel free to write again Gideon Tzur Water Commissioner.
State of Israel Water Commissioner Office 21/5/96
Thank you for your letter received in this office April 11, 1996 and excuse the overdue reply.
Your letter touches several issues and I hope that you will be able to solve the major issues obscuring widespread use of effluents, including the contamination of effluents and sludge with heavy metals and other hazardous contaminants.
I greatly appreciate your extensive efforts to open the road to successfully harnessing adequately treated effluents for irrigation in arid and semi-arid regions and as I mentioned before we will be very happy to support Oasis Irrigation in spreading the good values of irrigation with effluents, based on our large experience in the field.
Please find enclosed a paper summarising our wastewater reclamation policy.
State of Israel Water Commissioner Office 3/9/96
Thank you for your letters of June and July and I apologise for the delay in reply, as we tried to obtain the list of the participants in the above conference.
Unfortunately the list was not published as the conference was part of an international agricultural exhibition.
At the moment we are not in a position to sponsor you, but I support your idea of promoting wastewater re-use through the Internet and will be very pleased to review your article.
As always I appreciate your enthusiasm and drive in promoting wastewater re-use
I wish you success and hope to meet you in the near future.
Joshua M Kyle, New York, USA 30th Jan 96
Dear Mr Fletcher,
I recently became entranced with the Sahara Challenge and have been collecting information and ruminating about the possibilities.
I would be very interested to learn more about your work and your thinking on the subject. I would be happy to pay the copying costs and mailing costs of anything you could send me.
Personally, I have come to the decision in my life to sell my interest in my company to my partners and begin a new phase in my life and have been considering some way to devote my efforts in the direction of the Sahara Challenge.
Perhaps it is my training in business that influences be, but I believe that any effort on a grand scale must not depend solely on contributions from individuals or governments, but must be internally economically viable to achieve long term results, at the same time a grand project has a power of charisma which can attract support from numerous directions.
My thinking was that there might be a way to unite reforestation with some of the structured input of volunteers, such as that employed by Earthwatch or training programs such as that used by Outward Bound.
If an economically viable entity focused on reforestation could be conceived and implemented in pilot form, I believe that virtually unlimited capital would be available for expansion.
I look foreword to learn more about your efforts and I enclose my CV for your information.
Joshua M Kyle New York 'Steward: Findhorn Foundation (Fores, Scotland)'
Institut Mediteranio de l'Eau IME 10th March 94
Thank you very much for the information about your project that you have sent us.
Unfortunately Mr Potie has been away a lot recently on assignments abroad and I haven't been able to get any kind of constructive reply out of him yet.
But I will continue on your behalf, don't worry!.
Embassy of The State Of Kuwait, London 14th May 1994
This is to confirm that The Public Authority of Agriculture and the Kuwait Institute For Scientific Research are considering your OASIS project and would be grateful for a video casset or any other details of your project.
With an open invitation to Kuwait, to discuss your project further.
Thanking You Jasem Al-Mubaraki Counsellor
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Office of the commercial Attache, London 28th 9th 1994
It was a pleasure to have received you at our office on 26/9/94.
I found our discussions to be useful and your detailed explanation of the "Oasis Irrigation Project" informative.
I have aranged to send the information you left with me on the project directly to the following;-
Agriculture and Water Research centre,
Minister of Agriculture and Water,
Once I receive a reply from the research centre I will contact you again.
I remain with kind regards.
M.A.Al-Sheddi Commercial Attache
British Embassy in Luanda10th 1st 1996
I have just received your letter of 25th October, addressed to the President of Angola, about your proposal for reclaiming deserts by irrigating them with sludge.
I suggest that you make contact with the Angolan authorities thorough their Embassy in London, but you may wish to contact the Overseas Development Administration, who will be able to advise you on the viability of your project in Angola.
Miss T Ann Herd, Third Secretary (Chancery/Aid)