HS2 – will it be scrapped?

HS2 is one of those grand projets beloved of policymakers – something highly visible and full of promise. Yet such projects are often pursued more in hope than based on hard evidence. It is likely that HS2 will suck more people into London rather than help local economies.

It would be more sustainable and desirable if funds were spent on local rail and bus services.

The future of the HS2 high-speed rail project has been thrown into doubt after the government launched a “go or no go” review into the proposed £55.7bn network, with a leading critic of the scheme as its joint author. The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said on Wednesday that the government needed “clear evidence” before deciding whether to go ahead. The project is opposed by many Conservative party members and has been beset by questions over its escalating budget, with the prime minister, Boris Johnson, recently admitting he expected it to be “north of £100bn”.

Shapps said he had told the review to “just give us the facts … really, genuinely what it would cost to complete this project. Then we will know and we will be in a much better position to make the decision to go or no go by the end of the year.” News of the review, which sources said could be completed by early October before the Brexit deadline, was met with dismay by business groups, unions and northern leaders, who called on the government to commit to the full line between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds as soon as possible.



Green house gas emissions – all proposals must be evaluated

All existing and proposed projects must be evaluated in terms of their impact on the environment particularly greenhouse gas emissions.

Bernard Deacon@bernarddeacon Cornwall Council’s behind the scenes ‘ask’ to central government for approval for its pet spaceport project fails to mention the words ‘climate’, ‘carbon’ or ‘greenhouse gas’ once.

Lib Dems and transport policy – look out for the gaps!

The Lib Dems state The Liberal Democrats will crack down on air pollution and invest in renewable energy, creating green jobs across the UK. This is a global emergency. We will work in the EU to lead on this emergency and protect our planet.

All sounds very commendable but there are some rather large gaps!

There is nothing about road building or reducing traffic levels (you still get congestion with electric vehicles!).

And oddly enough nothing about aviation, one of the most polluting and least justifiable forms of transport!

Air pollution in the UK is a killer. It contributes to 40,000 premature deaths a year and costs the NHS £15 billion. This year, London exceeded its annual air pollution target in just five days. The government has failed time and again to comply with EU limits on pollution.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats will pass a Clean Air Act, based on World Health Organisation guidelines, enforced by a new Air Quality Agency, enshrining the legal right to unpolluted air wherever people live. The Act will reduce air pollution and protect UK citizens and support the manufacture of low-emission and electric vehicles, generating jobs and exports. This plan will include:

Banning new sales of petrol and diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2030.
Extending Ultra-Low Emission Zones to ten more towns and cities.
All private hire vehicles and diesel buses licensed to operate in urban areas to run on ultra-low emission or zero emission fuels within five years.

We will also reform vehicle taxation to encourage sales of electric and low-emission vehicles and develop electric vehicle infrastructure including universal charging points.


Climate emergency – we need to change course now!

All policies need to be reviewed particularly those based on population growth and inappropriate economic growth – that means cutting the housing target, abandoning road widening and new road schemes and taking radical action on aviation.

Bernard Deacon@bernarddeacon Jekyll and Hyde Council plans to tackle the #ClimateEmergency by not reviewing current plans to build record number of houses despite voting to ‘review the impacts of plans we are developing’ only a few weeks ago.


Cornwall Council’s Climate Change Plan: Too little, too late?

From Cornwall – a developers’ paradise?

On July 24th Cornwall Council’s Cabinet approved a report from its Climate Change Programme Team and their ‘emerging’ Climate Change Plan. This had been triggered by councillors’ declaration of a climate emergency in January and their demand that Council officers produce a report to establish how Cornwall might become carbon neutral by 2030. On a global scale this is necessary in order to restrict global warming to at least 1.5 degrees. (It should be noted that this target is challenged by many climate scientists who believe we are now on a course to overshoot that target unless carbon neutrality is achieved by 2025 at the latest. Meanwhile the UK Government target is net zero by 2050, which is looking to be a dangerously complacent and inadequate response to the growing crisis of climate breakdown.)

What does Cornwall Council’s Climate Change Plan tell us? It certainly can’t be accused of mincing its words. The report is replete with apocalyptic and spine-chilling warnings. We’re facing ‘rapid biodiversity and ecosystem loss’ and a ‘mass extinction event that threatens and severely impacts all life on our planet’. This ‘unprecedented’ crisis requires an ‘unprecedented’ scale of change. In Cornwall the current 4,000 kilotons of greenhouse gas emissions a year will have to be reduced to zero by 2030. To put that in perspective the last eight years saw a fall of 938 KT, or 117 KT a year. That rate will have to be boosted to 290 KT a year, or more than doubled, to have any chance of hitting the 2030 zero target.

Although this report correctly identifies both the scale of the environmental crisis that industrial capitalism and human stupidity has generated and the radical changes required to overcome it, it remains reluctant to spell out what changes individuals will have to make to their deeply unsustainable lifestyles. There is also a lack of urgency in providing examples for the rest of civil society to follow. Too much is made of inadequate previous policies which have either been contradictory greenwash (such as the ‘environmental growth strategy’), have had marginal effects (e.g. walking/cycling networks) or even been counter-productive. For example, academic research suggests park and rides work to increase traffic flows rather than reduce them. More honesty, more recognition of the mistakes made in the last wasted twenty years, more identification of the contradictions of current Council strategy are all required to make this more convincing.

Moreover, greater imagination would be welcome. The report ends with the rather plaintive remark that solutions to the ‘grand challenges’ of the climate emergency ‘in reality are yet unknown’. Yet proposals for a steady state economy have been floating around in the literature since the 1970s. Tim Jackson’s book Prosperity Without Growth was a short-lived best-seller in 2009. Before that the de-growth movement has been around since the 1980s. Moreover, in 2006 DEFRA drew up plans for a system of carbon rationing. None of these solutions are mentioned in this report. Thinking more broadly, political ideas of decentralised socialism could well provide some of those long-term solutions the authors of this report appear to be unaware of.

To sum up, there’s food for thought in the Council’s Climate Change Plan and much of it easy to swallow. The scale of the crisis is recognised and the need for radical changes, both to political structures and to lifestyles, correctly identified. Yet, without being too cynical, doubts remain. Cornwall Council has a sorry record of saying one thing and proceeding to do another and as a result has lost much credibility. Will it actually live up to the principles it now proclaims in its Climate Change Plan? When will it stop hiding behind the Government and passing the buck? When will it reject its high population growth strategy? When will it admit its plans for mass housing and urbanisation are unsustainable? Finally, if councillors are really committed to the Climate Change Plan when do they intend to bin their New Frontiers ‘ask’ of Government, with its stale, failed, outdated and dangerously inappropriate policies?

For the complete article – https://cornwalldevelopersparadise.wordpress.com/cornwall-councils-climate-change-plan/?fbclid=IwAR0MRbS2Wmb1N5uoHz_eLOK0fyHL5zNNNkL53EmRCZ7gr9CCsc_1D2TzYA0