Green perspectives on Stockwood and Bristol. Mostly.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Whitehall puts the South Bristol Link on hold

It turns out that the West of England's bid for funds towards the cost of a South Bristol Link Road (plus the token bendy-bus route and cycleway alongside) was put on hold by Whitehall. That's even before the election, the coalition deal, and today's announcement of spending cuts. It doesn't seem to have been made public at the time, though.

Within a week of the bid going in in March, the DfT replied to say that a comprehensive spending review of its budget was to take place, affecting all major transport schemes. A decision on the South Bristol Link would therefore be delayed. They warned that "if you choose to continue work on your major scheme, it will have to be at your own risk".

It is unthinkable that the new government, with its programme of deep public spending cuts, won't take at least as strong a line.

Except for one ominous sign. The LibDems' presumption against new road building, part of their pre-election puff, has mysteriously disappeared from their website. Presumably another victim of the seductive call of power?

Friday, 14 May 2010

New Look for Whittock Rd Open Space

Just arrived....


A youth shelter....

..... and cowslips.

Thanks to the staff of the youth service for finding and installing the shelter and the posts.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Jon Rogers is ditched as Transport Exec

It looks like Jon Rogers was a bit too radical for Bristol's LibDem establishment. At Tuesday's council meeting, they'll hand over his transport brief to Gary Hopkins, (who'll also find time to continue with waste and 'targeted improvement' - whatever that is). Jon will take on responsibility for care and health.

The more progressive part of Bristol will consider this is very bad news. We've all had differences with Jon - for instance over his endorsement of the South Bristol Link Road bid - but we all know that he's been ready to discuss things on line and in person, he's been very open about his ideas, and he's been ready to think the unthinkable (like the exclusion of through traffic from the Centre).

On the council's website, the page about current Cabinet responsibilities has been wiped clean.

But as I remember, another of Jon's responsibilities was sustainability. That doesn't appear in the new list of Cabinet responsibilities. Instead, Neil Harrison is charged with that portfolio as a mere 'assistant' to the Exec. Sustainable planning doesn't get a look in - though no doubt it'll turn up in the small print somewhere.

All of which seems to reflect the national lurch of the LibDems to the right.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Down to Earth - 2

Nearest I could find locally to a real peat-free compost.

It's not unlike the way political parties are marketed.

Flying - and down to earth

First, the all important highs

Caroline Lucas becoming the first Green party member of the British parliament.

Tess Green consolidating the party's position on the city council with an increased majority in Southville


Which compensates magnificently for my own very disappointing result in Stockwood - down from second place to a poor fourth this time round. Detailed result on the council web page

I blame the general election. Loads of extra voters who aren't usually interested enough to vote in local elections, taking the opportunity to echo their national preference on the local ballot paper. That's my excuse, anyway!

Standing 'telling' outside the library polling station for some hours, I seem to have galvanised a stronger response from the other parties than from the voters!

David Morris - re-elected as our councillor - felt it wise to position his car (and poster) outside the same polling station.

That upset the LibDem agent, not a happy man... he made a complaint to the Presiding Officer about the tactic, adding his concern that a resident of Maple Close had a Vote Green poster up in the window opposite!

Of course the LibDems would never advertise themselves like that on polling day! Here's one I took earlier (2005)in Easton.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Lib-Dems to build on Green belt! Read the proof!

So the LibDems really do mean to build on Bristol's Green Belt. Here's the evidence from their election leaflet.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Follow-up on plastics recycling (or, er.... landfill?)

Thanks to Gea for the comment (reprinted below) on my earlier April 24 post about extending household plastics recycling in Bristol. I don't know if Gea lives in Bristol, but these are issues that destroy confidence in recycling (and, as Gea says, rip off the councils)

Gary Hopkins' unusual silence suggests that he's still busy promoting himself and other LibDems to the voters - so lets take up the issue direct with the council's contractors, Recresco at Avonmouth.

"I hope you can help with this, given Bristol's plans to extend household plastics recycling - and in the light of comments on my 'Stockwood Pete' blog about it.

It would be very helpful to know what happens to the plastic bottles etc collected from Bristol's household waste - both from the bring sites and from the planned kerbside collection pilot scheme.  Are they sorted (automatically or manually) back into the different plastics types for 'higher grade' recycling, or do they remain co-mingled, to be turned into some composite material?   Above all, are you confident that they cannot simply end up in landfill when the market presents that as the cheaper option?

Can I also ask whether the new PET film packaging, described in the same blog post, will be acceptable to your plastics processing plant?

Lets see what that brings.....

Here's Gea's post that prompts the enquiry......

Hello Pete,

I wanted to comment on the curb collection of plastics for recycling, with some 'caveates'.

Some years ago I worked as a waste broker for a waste management company that - amongst other things - sourced waste recycling contractors for a broad range of customers.

As an Environmental Management graduate, with decades of commitment to environmental sustainability, I tried to promote recycling as a first-order option to customers.

Lamentably, I found was that:

1) the statutory instrument introduced in the UK to implement the Council Directive on packaging and packaging waste [94/62/EC of 1994], used that now infamous "light [regulatory] touch" that effectively shirked legislative responsibility by applying 'market forces'.

The introduction of [Packaging Waste Recovery Notes (PRNs) and Packaging Waste Export Recovery Notes (PERNs)] created a complex trading system that makes it possible for waste producers to simply pass on the cost of their waste to the consumer and the environment, without affecting company or shareholders' profits, and so failing utterly to modify corporate behaviours.

2) a major obstacle to recycling packaging wastes is contamination. This can be anything, from labels to substances, even mud or grit. Plastics remanufacturers are few and far between; their operations managers made it clear they wanted:
a) 'known materials' (e.g. what type of plastic)
b) 'clean' and with no stickers, labels, tape or staples; nor soiled with food, dust or other contaminants
c) 'sorted and baled', that is compressed into easily handled bales of identical plastics.

This meant, though it was relatively easy to find Waste Management Companies that offered "recycling collection"- for which they charged a high schedule of fees - and that did not care how these were packaged, when I carried out inspections of their premises and environmental audits, it emerged that they all simply took the plastic wastes to landfill.

I contacted the DTI by email, to enquire as to what sanctions would be applied to 'Recyclers' who scammed customers and the public like this; their response was - I summarise from memory:

"Commingled plastics sorting requires expensive spectroscopic analysis equipment that would make most recycling operations uneconomic. We are not in the business of placing obstacles in the path of British industry, and so leave the regulation of the plastics recyclate markets to the experts: the remanufacturers and waste management companies. The value of the recyclate will be determined by the scarcity or abundance of the virgin raw materials."

In other words: when oil starts to run out and there are no alternatives, the industry will self-regulate and scramble for recyclate (probably by digging-up ancient, rotting landfills, in what is euphemistically termed "landfill mining").

What is sinister is that, years ago in Sheffield, there was an early plastics collection scheme - I found out about it from the DTI's own Warren Springs Laboratory - and they operated exactly the same scam! - At University I met a colleague who was a driver on one of the trucks that took the plastic to landfill! -.

How has all that changed?
Should we now believe that the plastics recyclate markets have been "greened" to the point that they invested in some kind of mass spectrometers and automatic sorting conveyor belt systems?
What guarantee do we have that this new initiative will not perpetrate the same, old scam?

Many thanks for your kind attention.


Saturday, 1 May 2010

When No Planes Fly

A poem - the first on this blog - inspired by that brief respite from skies full of contrails:

(reprinted by permission of the author, David Oakley-Hill - who's on Twitter as GreenPoet)


Vivid Venus dangles from a crisp new moon

while Mars is bold, the robin of the sky

the stars all twinkle, cheerful they have lost the misty veil ~

the day the planes are not allowed to fly


No one flies to New York for a party or a wedding

there’ll be photos on their PCs by and by

can’t waste your weekend catching just a glimpse of Tuscany ~

the day the planes are ordered not to fly


no cruel crates of mynah birds, of finch or parakeet

today the lovebirds nuzzle back at home

Lisbon welcomes Chancellor of Germany, surprised ~

God’s holy skydust keeps the Pope in Rome


The mangetout stays in Kenya, the oranges in Spain

the untossed salads won’t be dressed to dine

the food miles don’t pile on the carbon calories today ~

but the blue sky seems to say the world is fine


Intended celebrations, weekend jollies, all are stemmed

the businessmen learn trains can also fly

the toxic trails evaporate, reprieve the troposphere ~

today there’s silent beauty in the sky


People walk past Heathrow with no thunder overhead

hear, for the first time, birds call in the sky

tune in to catch the sounds of nature’s gentle wings ~

that special day - when no planes fly


The magma under Reykjavic is turning up the heat

The fine dust, metal, sand and gassy sky

The geothermal interest on this bankloan has matured ~

It’s payback time, when no planes fly

Before Thursday....

if you're in Bristol, you may like to take a look at this striking video from the Greens: