#Fracking in Lancashire: Interview with Friends of the Earth campaigner

Ali Abbas of Manchester Friends of the Earth answers questions about fracking in Lancashire. Please SHARE this post. It’s full of information that  you and other people can ACT upon.

There was supposed to be a decision today in Lancashire, but it didn’t happen because the company that wants to frack requested more time. Why do you think Cuadrilla wanted the delay? Are they hoping it will get lost in the general pre-election fuss, or are there other motives afoot?

The planning committee was due to decide on whether or not to give Cuadrilla permission to frack at two sites near the Fylde coast. Officers had recommended refusal because of the noise and traffic impacts, so Cuadrilla asked for a deferral so they could amend their plans to lessen those impacts. By doing so, Cuadrilla are hoping planning officers will recommend approval of the revised plans, making it harder for the planning committee to refuse them.

More importantly, what would you like individuals and organisations who don’t want fracking to DO in the next few weeks?

If you haven’t already, please sign and share this petition to Lancashire County Council leader Jenny Mein – and encourage all your friends and colleagues to do so too.

If you’ve got any spare time over the next few weekends, we’ll be out with local anti-fracking groups across Lancashire asking residents and businesses to sign letters to the council – call/text me on 07786 090520 for more details.

And if you’re short of time but have some money to spare, please consider making a donation to Friends of the Earth’s campaign fund to help stop fracking in Lancashire (and across the UK).

How can they get involved in what Friends of the Earth is doing on fracking?

As well as supporting the campaign in Lancashire, we’ve also been taking action against fracking in Salford and Trafford, and we’d like to encourage more councils across Greater Manchester to go frack-free. If you’d like to get involved, come to the next Manchester Friends of the Earth meeting at 7pm on Tuesday 10th February at the Green Fish Resource Centre, 46-50 Oldham Street, M4 1LE, or call/text me on 07786 090520.

Some people will think “If not fracking, how are we going to keep the lights on? What about the jobs?” What would your answers be.

The best way to meet our energy needs affordably while staying within our carbon budgets is to focus on using less energy, such as by properly insulating our homes and workplaces, and accelerate uptake of renewables, with a particular focus on community ownership to make sure the profits stay in the local economy.

And that would create many more jobs than fracking – six times as many jobs per unit of power generated or saved, and around three times as many jobs for the same investment, according to recent analysis by the UK Energy Research Council.

If you’d like to see more investment in renewables and energy efficiency, please support Friends of the Earth’s Run on Sun campaign, and join the Energy Bill Revolution. And if you’d like to read more about future energy scenarios, this report shows how we can cost effectively decarbonise the power sector by 2030 without the need for nuclear power.

Anything else you want to say

On a related note, a small group of us is in the process of setting up a community benefit society so we can raise funds via a share issue to install solar panels on schools and community buildings across Greater Manchester. If you’d like to find out more or get involved, especially if you’ve got legal or marketing skills, please call/text me on 07786 090520.

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Manchester Council aims for 60 carbon literate councillors. Gets … 23.

Manchester City Council set itself a public target last year of getting 60 of its 96 councillors to undertake “carbon literacy training.” The training involves an “on-line component, and a face-to-face session, and takes less than a day.

“23 councillors have completed on-line and face-to-face elements of carbon literacy training.”  In a long-overdue and only partial response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Council was also replied-

b) 1 councillor has completed on-line training.
c)  22 councillors have completed face to face training.
d) 50 councillors have not completed face-to-face or on-line training.

Yep, over half of Manchester’s councillors (all Labour) have not completed either training….

On 4th December 2014 MCFly requested not just numbers, but names of councillors in each category. This portion of the FoIA has been ignored.  This has been pointed out to the Council.

MCFly recently revealed that is Manchester Metropolitan University is being paid £12,960 “for Delivery of the Carbon Literacy training to MCC staff Phase 1b and Councillor training.

It will be interesting to know if there are any performance criteria at all for that contract, and if penalty clauses for poor performance exist and are being invoked.

This comprehensive but sadly not unprecedented failure would also explain why the agreed report about the Carbon Literacy training’s successes and failures to January’s Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee did not happen. There ARE no successes…

MCFly says: The levels of incompetence are bewildering and revolting. There has been a complete and abject failure of political and bureaucratic leadership. In any functioning democracy, this would be front page news and a major scandal. In any functioning democracy…

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Jan 28, 1987- “A warning from history” – Two scientists tell the politicians how it will be…

As well as “sniping” at Manchester City Council (I’d happily publicise anything climate-y they were doing that was genuinely innovative or useful), and doing a PhD, I also… run a blog called “All Our Yesterdays – 365 climate histories.”  Today there are two posts – one about the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, the second (cut and pasted below) about two scientists who tried to get politicians to listen.  Back in 1987…

An extra “All Our Yesterdays” post today, in honour of two excellent scientists, Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan and Professor Wally BroeckerIt was Ramanathan’s work on non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases which had stiffened the resolve of the Villach attendees, and Broecker had been similarly involved. On January 28, 1987 they testified to Congress. Here is a long quote from a chapter in an ancient but sadly prescient book, “The Challenge of Global Warming.”

The Senate took up the greenhouse effect and ozone depletion issues again in January 1987. In fact, it became the subject of the first major hearing by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the new Congress. Two critical and relatively new problems were discussed at this hearing that were to become central aspects of the growing urgency associated with the global warming problem.

Ramanathan argued in the hearing that atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations had already been altered sufficiently by 1980 to commit the earth to a 0.7 to 2 degrees Celsius warming. With each passing decade Ramanathan estimated that an additional 0.2 to 0.5 degrees Celsius was being added. His analysis meant that by the year 2020 – in 33 years – the earth would be committed to as much as 4 degrees Celsius warming. Many scientists believe that the earth has not been 4 degrees Celsius warmer for tens of millions of years. Ramantahan’s testimony established that society was already locked into a substantial amount of climate change no matter what governments did. The problem was no longer a question of whether a change would occur but how much and when.

The second major issue was raised by Wally Broecker, a geochemist at the Lamont Dougherty Laboratory.  Broecker’s testimony was a follow-up to a talk he had given at an EPA conference in June. Broecker said that an examination of the history of climate change suggested that the greenhouse effect might push the earth into a state of rapid change – reorganizing the earth systems in the process. Broecker had little faith that society would experience a linear and gradual change in global temperature and climate as suggested by general circulation models of the atmosphere. The key implication of Broecker’s testimony was that the buildup of greenhouse gases could force the climate system to go into a state of rapid change and that society ultimately had limited ability to predict what that change might bring.

Page 264 Pomerance, R. (1989) “Dangers from climate warming: A public awakening,” in Abrahamson, D. (1989) The Challenge of Global Warming. Washington, DC: Natural Resources Defense Council

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Upcoming event: #Manchester Saturday 31st Jan: How Clean is my Air? (Clean Air Workshop)

Saturday 31st Jan: How Clean is my Air? (Clean Air Workshop)

This workshop will give you the skills to undertake a ‘citizen science’
study of air quality/ air pollution in your neighbourhood. Find out how you
can check the air quality where you live using easy to use equipment. Is it
within the limits?

The workshop will cover:
* planning the project; materials to use; creating an air quality map; interpreting the results;

* national limits for air pollution. No special equipment or skills needed – just bring yourself.

* Meeting at 1pm for a shared lunch. Bring your own food/food to share.

Tea/coffee provided.

The event is free but please register in advance by emailing: Andrew Wood of Network for Clean Air at contact@cleanairuk.org

Clean Air Workshop – open to everyone

Organised by Manchester Friends of the Earth and Network for Clean Air.

When: 1pm – 4.30pm, Saturday 31st January.

Where: Meeting Room A ; Green Fish Resource Centre, 46 – 50 Oldham St, Manchester, M4 1LE

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#Manchester Council spends £50k out-sourcing basic green work

The mercifully abolished Environmental Strategy Team awarded over 50 thousand pounds worth of contracts in 2014, for work that many will wonder “why isn’t this being done in-house?” Manchester Climate Monthly used the Freedom of Information Act to extract the following information about contracts; To the Manchester Metropolitan University for Delivery of the Carbon Literacy training to MCC staff Phase 1b and Councillor training. The value of the contract is £12,960.00 [The Councillor training – that’s the one where it was overwhelmingly chaotic, and the Council STILL hasn’t released the numbers of councillors trained, breaching their legal obligations to do so.]  b. To BDP who are lead partner in a consortium with Eftec and  Countryscape for the contract for work on the Green Infrastructure Strategy. The value of the contract is £30,000. [That’s the one where, when asked what “consultation” had been done, bureaucrats referred to a “Green and Blue Infrastructure Committee”, without mentioning that the BDP man sat between them, headed that committee. See this extraordinary video.] c. To Groundwork as part of Eco Neighbourhoods activity to undertake    detailed environmental audits of 7 wards, design and deliver community    environmental workshops in 5 wards including arranging invitees,    presenters, and facilitation, produce environmental action plans, and    undertake follow-up surveys of the workshops. The value of the contract    is £9,500. [Which wards? Which workshops? When? Where are these plans?  Isn’t this PRECISELY what ward co-ordinators are supposed to do?  More info requests will be going in…]

Posted in Democratic deficit, Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

#Manchester Council abolishes its Environmental Strategy Team

Manchester City Council is disbanding its “Environmental Strategy Team. The spin – and I hope you are sitting down and not eating anything that you might choke on as you read this – is that environmental thinking is now embedded throughout the council, so the EST’s individual members can be sent out to continue the good work.

Bwahahahahahahaha.

It does not appear that the Neighbourhoods “Scrutiny” Committee, which is supposed to keep tabs on all matters environmental was informed, let along formally consulted. That’s just how the bosses roll…

We’ve asked the Relevant Authority for a statement about who

“will be overseeing the Council’s various environmental strategies such  as
a) the Biodiversity Action Plan, which expires in 2016.  Will there be another one?
b) the new “Green and Blue Strategy” – who will oversee that?
and, of course
c) the Low Carbon Plan with its 2020 targets.
Who will be producing reports that are presented to Scrutiny Committees and who will be producing the Quarterly progress reports on the Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan 2014-17”

However, given how long it is taking to get basic information (even when you use the Freedom of Information Act – to which the council is legally obliged to respond within 20 working days), MCFly felt that waiting for the answer might mean we didn’t publishing before February… 2016.

MCFly says: this really is no great loss, given the extremely low quality output from this outfit. If you take a long view, it might even be beneficial, in that new talent might now be attracted to come and work on environmental issues in Manchester without the fear that they are would be stuck under a level of crusted on bureaucracy. That said, the REAL long view is that “devolution” is coming, and that lots of decisions are going to be pushed up to the even-less-accountable Greater Manchester level. In that process, lots of awkward promises (“low carbon culture” for instance) will be forgotten/airbrushed out of history.

We’re toast, basically, with the stay-or-go of the Environmental Strategy Team an amusing irrelevance.

Posted in Democratic deficit, Manchester City Council | Tagged | 8 Comments

Wythenshawe junction cycling debacle! Oh, #Manchester…

Below is a statement released by Manchester Friends of the Earth on 10th December.  It’s long, and complicated, and exactly the sort of vital work that is needed to stop councils and planners making completely ridiculous decisions.  If you care about the future of this city and you have spare time, energy or cash, there are worse places to direct it than Manchester Friends of the Earth.

Concerns with Metrolink tram routes: Statement to Manchester Cycle Forum

On Thursday 4th December 2014, cycle forum members were invited to a briefing meeting to look  at the proposed signage for the ‘cycling provision’ at the Southmoor Road / Altrincham Road junction in Wythenshawe which has already been built as part of the Metrolink route to the Airport.

This was the first time that any of the cycling organisations had seen the actual designs which have already been installed.  Love Your Bike was dismayed at the designs and is seriously concerned that Metrolink have made the road junction less safe for cycling and have also installed a so-called ‘safe alternative’ that is not easy, convenient or intuitive to use.

Love Your Bike helped co-ordinate a response from a range of Greater Manchester cycling organisations which was presented to the Manchester Cycle Forum on 9th December and to Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and Metrolink.

The Statement text is shown below. If you would like to add your support for the statement please email us your name and location (e.g. Wythenshawe, Bolton etc) and details of any organisation (that you represent) to gmloveyourbike@gmail.com

We would also like to hear about people’s experience of cycling along/across tram tracks in Greater Manchester.  Please send details of your experience (good or bad) to gmloveyourbike@gmail.com

The following photographs and diagram highlight some of our concerns with the junction design.

Southmoor - Atrincham Road junction and Metrolink route

The diagram to the left shows the layout of the Southmoor Road – Altrincham Road junction and Metrolink route to/from Manchester Airport that has been installed.

The green line shows the so-called ‘safe alternative’ route that people wishing to cycle from Southmoor Road to Moor Road (or the other way) are supposed to take. This route crosses 7 Toucan island crossings.

Anyone wishing to cycle from Southmoor Road across Altrincham Road (from bottom of diagram to top) will be sandwiched between a left turning lane with only 1.2 metres from the white line separating the traffic lane and the first tram line.

Left turning lane and tram lines

Spot the cycle lane!

Once across the traffic light junction you will then need to cross at a shallow angle the tram lines as they go off to the left and the traffic lanes veer to the right.

If you are attempting to cycle the other direction from Moor Road (top to bottom of layout diagram) the pavement buildout at the top of Southmoor Road will force you (and all the other traffic) out towards the tram lines.

Southmoor Road buildout

Moor road to Southmoor Road

You may then have to pass between a bus parked in the bus stop, a tram line and 2 lanes of traffic trying to merge into one lane behind you.  Good luck!

5 minutes and 20 seconds

Toucan isand 2.56 metres wide

According to Metrolink, people wishing to cycle across this junction should use the ‘safe alternative’ (see the green route marked on the layout diagram).  At approx 8.15am on a weekday morning it took 5 mins and 20 seconds to cycle aong this route – from Southmoor Road (bottom of diagram to top) to Moor Road the other side of Altrincham Road.

In addition, two of the Toucan islands are not wide enough to safely accommodate a bicycle and child trailer/buggy.

Love Your Bike believes that cycling provision that is not easy & convenient to use and is not intuitive to understand will not be used by many of the people who choose to cycle and therefore does not provide a “safe alternative”.

It is hard not to agree with the claim from Shane Sutton (previous British Cycling coach) that tram lines around Manchester are “death traps”.

Statement text: The Manchester Cycle Forum meeting of 9th December 2014:

1) Notes the serious concerns raised by British Cycling in November 2012 on the new tram lines around the Manchester Velodrome [1] and previous concerns raised by a Manchester Wheelers member in 2010 regarding the Eccles New Road route. [2]

2) Also notes that many Manchester residents already use cycle routes through Trafford Park and to Media City and that funding has been secured to build the Trafford Park Metrolink line.

3) Is dismayed that despite raising concerns over the design and provision of cycling provision alongside Metrolink routes that yet again inconvenient and, in some cases, unsafe cycling provision has again been installed on the Metrolink extension routes. Notably, the Altrincham Road / Southmoor Road junction on the Metrolink Airport route

4) Calls on Transport for Greater Manchester, Metrolink and its project contractors to ensure that:

a) remedial measures are taken to improve the cycling infrastructure provision along existing Metrolink routes;

b) future Metrolink routes, such as Trafford Park, must be designed to meet the TfGM Cycle Design guidance which outlines the 5 key criteria “for successful and effective cycling infrastructure”, namely: safety, coherence, directness, attractiveness and comfort.

c) the cycling organisations in Greater Manchester are involved from the beginning of the design process.

This statement is supported by the organisations listed below:

British Cycling, Martin Key

CTC Right to Ride, Dave Butler

GM Cycling Campaign, Jonathan Fingland

Love Your Bike, Dr Graeme Sherriff

Manchester Cycling Lab / The University of Manchester, Gabriele Schliwa

Sustrans, Rosslyn Coldersley, Regional Director

UMBUG, Kathy England

The following people have expressed their support for this statement:
Ben Griffiths, Stockport
John Sanderson,Manchester

Notes

[1] Olympic coach Shane Sutton, badly hurt in bike crash, says tram lines around Manchester Velodrome are ‘death trap’ for cyclists. Manchester Evening News.

[2] Is this Dangerous? (Eccles New Rd in Salford) Manchester Wheelers.

– See more at: http://www.manchesterfoe.org.uk/concerns-with-metrolink-tram-routes-statement-to-manchester-cycle-forum/#sthash.LchHy6IA.dpuf

Posted in Transport | Tagged | 2 Comments