Now, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, we have the answers.
The Council has bought 4 more leaf-blowers in the last year, and operates 25 in total.
It has done precisely NO audit of their impact.
It has NO provision for external contractors to use leaf blowers less frequently.
Independently, a south Manchester resident called Dave Bishop (1) wrote to the Council and asked “Has the council done an assessment of the toxins emitted by leaf blowers and their effects on ambient noise levels? If such an assessment has been performed, may I see a copy, please?”
Came the answer – “In response to your request I can confirm that no assessment has been carried out on toxins emitted by leaf blowers.”
Let’s just quote Goal Two of the much-vaunted “Manchester Climate Change Action Plan” (2009).
“To engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in Manchester in a process of cultural change that embeds ‘low carbon thinking’ into the lifestyles and operations of the city. To create a ‘low carbon culture’ we need to build a common understanding of the causes and implications of climate change, and to develop programmes of ‘carbon literacy’ and ‘carbon accounting’ so that new culture can become part of the daily lives of all individuals and organisations. Every one of the actions in our plan will contribute in some way to the development of ‘carbon literacy’ in the city. However, achieving a new low carbon culture – where thinking about counting carbon is embedded and routine – can only be delivered as a
result of all the actions together, in an overall co-ordinated manner. Enabling a low carbon culture in the city will be particularly important if the challenge of meeting even more demanding carbon reduction targets between 2020 and 2050 is to be met.”
My only remaining questions on this matter to the people in charge, which you can’t really use the Freedom of Information Act for, are these…
how do you sleep? and what will you tell your children?
FWIW, Here’s the full answer I got
Dear Mr Hudson,
Re: – Freedom of Information Request – Reference Number: GAN/9NKGCG
Thank you for your request for information, which was received by
Manchester City Council on 29 August 2014. The Council has considered the
information requested and is satisfied that it falls within the broad
definition of “environmental information” in the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 (EIR). The Council has therefore considered your request
for information under the provisions of the EIR.
I set out below your request for information and the Council’s response to
How many leaf blowers does Manchester City Council own and operate,
as of August 29th 2014?
How many leaf blowers did Manchester City Council own and operate as
of August 29th 2013?
Has any audit been done on the carbon emissions impact of using leaf
blowers as opposed to some people using good old-fashioned rakes?
(if there has been, I would like a copy)
Is there any provision in contracts issued for parks maintenance to
encourage contractors not to use leaf-blowers?
In response to your request I can confirm the following:
Leaf blowers owned as of August 29th 2014 No 5
Leaf blowers operated as of August 2014 No 25
Leaf blowers owned as of August 29th 2014 [sic] No 1
Leaf blowers operated as of August 2014 [sic] No 25
No review has been undertaken
There is no provision for external operators undertaking parks maintenance not to use leaf blowers.
(1) Mr Bishop explains states “I was motivated to make my FOI request because I live between a school and a block of flats. The grounds of both establishments are maintained by contractors and I am plagued by the racket made by their leaf blowers!”