Water shortages ahead – another side effect of population growth and man-made climate change!

England is facing water supply shortages by 2050 unless rapid action is taken to curb water use and wastage, the Environment Agency has warned. Its new report says enough water to meet the needs of 20 million people is lost through leakage every day. Population growth and the impact of climate change are expected to add to supply pressures. The agency wants people to have a personal water target and has urged them to use water more wisely at home.


Well, well, well – more people and man-made climate change (partly a result of more people) – what do we get water problems!

Time to get serious about population and misplaced economic growth and remind growth deniers of the problem!


Helping Mark and Angela – we think not!

According to City Metric we need to build lots more homes. Well here we are 162 flats planned for Hampstead. Ideal.

Oh hang on these are luxury flats, £10 million each!

No, we dont need to bump up the house building numbers, we need to make sure that new houses are for the average person not for those in the luxury end of the market!

The NHS is privately marketing a 100-year-old hospital building that provides affordable housing for 52 nurses and other key workers to property developers to create a One Hyde Park-style complex of luxury flats overlooking Hampstead Heath.

The Royal Free hospital is promoting Queen Mary’s House – a gift from the Lever Brothers co-founder Lord Leverhulme 97 years ago – as “Hampstead Gardens … a rare opportunity to create one of the most desirable new-build schemes in London”.

A password-restricted website set up by the Royal Free London NHS foundation trust describes the 1.6 acre site as “the last major development site in Hampstead with an unrivalled position between the heath and Hampstead Village”.

The hospital’s Hampstead-Gardens.com website shows architect’s plans to convert the site into 162 luxury flats in four five-storey blocks with underground car parks. Local agents said the three-bedroom penthouse flats could sell for up to £10m each. They put the total sale value of the scheme at about £280m.


The abuse and misuse of information!

In these days when fake news has gained notoriety, it is often assumed that the purveyors of fake news are either supporters of Donald Trump, or various right wing news sites.

The reality is that fake news is quite common as the following quote shows.

What is undoubtably a problem – the lack of security in the private rented sector is turned into supporting more house building. It was not a housing shortage that caused Mark and Angela a problem it was the insecurity in the private sector. In Cornwall, an added problem is that it is more profitable to rent out housing for holiday use than for residential use!

Before Mark and Angela moved into their new home, they rented privately in Cornwall. In the space of 11 years, they were forced to move nine times. That would be shocking on its own, but when you factor in the couple’s four children, the scale of the disruption starts to look tragic. They are just one of the families that have been hit by the shortage of homes across England. A shortage which, according to our joint piece of research with Crisis, has now topped four million homes.

So the question remains – what can we do to address this? Well, on one level, the answer is clear: build more homes. But how many will make a dent, helping to provide homes for people like Mark and Angela? Most calculations of how many homes we need to build are based on what we expect the population to look in the future. It’s a calculation that weighs up how many ‘extra’ people will need a home that doesn’t already exist.

But if we only look at future demand, we won’t have any impact on this pre-existing backlog: things wouldn’t get any worse, but nor would they actually get any better. We would, in effect, be treading water. This is why we have also calculated how many homes we would need to build to meet both future need and this existing backlog: around 340,000 homes every year for the next 15 years.


More roads – more houses – more people – more traffic – more roads – more houses – more people!

Cornwall Council will be voting on whether to invest in a new road to serve the Duchy of Cornwall’s new development next week. The council’s Cabinet recently agreed to invest £8.7million in the Newquay Strategic Route (NSR) as well as provide Prince Charles’ Duchy of Cornwall with £7.1m for the road. The road is a major access route for the new Nansledan development in Newquay, which will see thousands of new homes built along with employment space and other facilities including a school. The NSR is said to directly unlock 1,600 new homes and 800 new jobs for the area. If accepted by full council work would start on the section of road in May next year and be completed by January 2021.

The new road is also seen as providing benefits to the wider community and easing traffic congestion in Trencreek and Quintrell Downs. It will also allow the relocation of Newquay’s household waste recycling centre.

Full council will be asked on Tuesday to approve the Cabinet decision to add the £24.4m NSR scheme to the council’s capital programme and that the council enters into a loan agreement with the Duchy of Cornwall for £7.1m.

Bob Egerton, Cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said: “Without Council intervention the full Newquay Strategic Route is not likely to be delivered in the next ten years. This proposal provides a way forward to make the lives of local residents better by improving the road network more quickly, as well as bringing forward more homes, jobs and growth.


This is a familiar situation – you put in a new road, then build more houses – the new road will not lead to less congestion as the new households will add to the number of cars in the area which will use the new (and existing roads!).

An extra 1,600 houses will result in an extra 2,160 cars on the road – no chance of less traffic then!

Llewelyn-Davis revisited – a returnees realistic perspective!

This is probably what a returnee would say, some 11 years after the Urban Framework Plan appeared and ‘developments’ have proceeded.

I was brought up in the Camborne–Pool–Redruth area. I remember the sense of identity the communities showed; an example being the pride we took in being part of a Cornish community and our local rugby teams. But what had been a prosperous mining and industrial area had experienced a long period of economic decline. When I left, it was difficult to get jobs. Even if you did, it did not pay much. My father reluctantly moved us up–country where he had found a better job. I went to university and embarked on a career of my own. Last week, after ten years, I returned to what I still regard as home. They say you should never go back. I disagree. You can learn a lot.

I remember much of the housing was run down, the town centres were drab and the shops struggling. There were abandoned buildings but these were usually surrounded by re-vegetated land which gave a rural feel to the area. But large industrial estates with drive-in retail and industrial sheds had spread out from the towns.

But what did I find when I returned? Now there is even more retail and wholesale outlets. New industrial estates have been built while fast food outlets seem to be the main focus at East Hill. Whereas before, the two towns and the nearby villages were quite individual and distinctive, now its all just one urban landscape – housing, roads, industrial estates and shops, one incoherent urban mess. Carn Brea overlooks a vast urban sprawl totally divorced from the rural areas. The old mining land around Crofty, which had been slowly but surely turning into a green area is now being developed.

New housing estates have been crammed into Camborne and Pool with little green space and often only feet away from the road. The new housing looks out of place and are distinctly un-Cornish, failing to fit in with the existing old style housing. I wondered where I was at times – was I in some inner city in England?

Where once there were quiet pathways now you feel like you are in the middle of a town. A fake landscape has been created at Pool with totally out of place housing next to it. A the same time the old town centres are still run-down and battered, not surprising as with the new super highway it’s a lot easier to drive to Pool than shop locally. On the surface with all the new development there is the illusion of activity yet there are just more people crammed in.

The long promised new road has been built, but this has just led to more traffic in the area. I have never seen so many cars in the place. And traffic lights have proliferated, their serried ranks adding to the sense of urbanisation. As for people walking or cycling you would be mad to do so, with all the traffic noise and fumes.

There has clearly been a substantial growth in population but with many new jobs in retail and fast food, incomes still low. There is a wide range of new housing but how much goes to meet local need is anyones guess.
It all seemed a far cry from the optimistic vision outlined in the Llewelyn-Davis Urban Framework Plan, but then I realised that had been just a creative publicity stunt. I was glad to get on the train and leave the place. It was not somewhere to return to again.

A return to Camborne-Redruth – the Llewelyn-Davis plan revisited

In 2007 an urban framework plan was published by Llewelyn-Davis. This set out the brave new world that regeneration would bring to the Camborne-Redruth area, with new housing, employment and retail together with the ubiquitous roads. In the introduction there was a tale by a mysterious returnee who after visiting the area was enthralled with all the changes, writing about how wonderful and utopian the area now was.

It portrayed a past where ‘much of the housing was run down, the town centres were drab and the shops struggling. There were abandoned buildings and great areas of derelict land.’

It presented a vision of the future that no-one could object to with reference to ‘a substantial growth in good stable jobs and a rise in incomes’, ‘easier access suitable for buses, pedestrians and cyclists as well as cars’ and a picture of ‘car traffic [which] moves at a gentle pace.’

Talk of a better transport system ‘This has got a lot to do with the quality of the bus system which provides reliable linkages to the renewed and busier railway stations and has priority over other traffic, providing a ten minute service to every part of the area. No one lives more than a couple of hundred yards or so from a bus stop.’

In Redruth, the town centre was ‘now sparkling. The shops, cafés and pubs are attractive and busy. The ancient coaching route has really found new life. At the bottom of the hill, you can now easily walk across into a revitalised West End.’

Turning to Camborne, the writer noted – ‘The centre of Camborne is now bustling and attractive, a fine mix of the new and old. You get a real sense of arrival as you approach from both the A30 and the Railway Station. There are new parks and tree-lined avenues to complement the fine old civic buildings, villas and cottages. The main street and its frontages have had a total face-lift and there is new housing, shopping and service industries on a series of once derelict sites.’

In Pool the writer noted ‘A splendid new park runs down the valley all the way from the railway to the A30. This is enclosed by rich woodland on the slopes up to Pool. The winding gear of South Crofty provides a distinctive landmark from a distance.’ And ‘New housing and offices sit on the edge of the park providing a fine entrance to the area from the A30,’ …. the College ‘linking to an urban complex on what I remember as wasteland.’ The writer rhapsodised further ‘Altogether there’s a thriving new centre of Pool; there are artists and studios, galleries, cafés, restaurants and pubs. It was a pleasure to wander around and reflect on the scale of change that had taken place.’

He or she concluded ‘Activity and prosperity mean that the people of the area can now stay here and have a good life, rather than leave. Indeed it attracts new people. I concluded it was time for me to return home. We can both get jobs, live in a lovely place, and the kids will enjoy the access to the countryside, the coast and the national cycle network.’

But eleven years on what is the reality? Have the dreams materialised or were they the figments of a report writers imagination?

Meat consumption some issues!

What is the true cost of eating meat? is an interesting briefing in the ‘Guardian’ newspaper. It raises some questions and possible solutions.

Food and farming is one of the biggest economic sectors in the world. We are no longer in the 14th century, when as much as 76% of the population worked in agriculture – but farming still employs more than 26% of all workers globally. And that does not include the people who work along the meat supply chain: the slaughterers, packagers, retailers and chefs.

In 2016, the world’s meat production was estimated at 317m metric tons, and that is expected to continue to grow. Figures for the value of the global meat industry vary wildly from $90bn to as much as $741bn.

Although the number of people directly employed by farming is currently less than 2% in the UK, the food chain now includes the agribusiness companies, the retailers, and the entertainment sector. According to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in 2014 the food and drink manufacturing sector contributed £27bn to the economy, and employed 3.8 million people.

It is not simple to separate out the contribution that meat production makes to this – particularly globally. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation states that livestock is about 40% of the global value of agricultural output and supports the livelihoods and food security of almost a 1.3 billion people.

An influential study in 2010 of the water footprints for meat estimated that while vegetables had a footprint of about 322 litres per kg, and fruits drank up 962, meat was far more thirsty: chicken came in at 4,325l/kg, pork at 5,988l/kg, sheep/goat meat at 8,763l/kg, and beef at a stupendous 15,415l/kg. Some non-meat products were also pretty eye-watering: nuts came in at 9,063l/kg.

To put these figures into context: the planet faces growing water constraints as our freshwater reservoirs and aquifers dry up. On some estimates farming accounts for about 70% of water used in the world today, but a 2013 study found that it uses up to 92% of our freshwater, with nearly one-third of that related to animal products.

For more: https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/may/07/true-cost-of-eating-meat-environment-health-animal-welfare