Category Archives: Planning

Will the next government move more freight by rail and waterways to reduce air pollution and road accidents?

Money Supermarket reports that more than half of fatal accidents on British roads involve HGVs, though lorries make up only 10% of the traffic. HGVs are involved in one in five fatal crashes on A-roads and an HGV is five times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident on a minor road than other traffic.

Department for Transport figures are quoted, showing that 82% of articulated heavy goods vehicles exceeded the 50-mph speed limit on dual carriageways and 73% broke the 40-mph limit on single carriageways in 2013. Despite this, in 2015 government raised the speed limit for HGVs travelling on single and dual carriageways in England and Wales. An HGV over 7.5 tonnes can now travel along a single carriageway at 50 mph, up from 40mph. The speed limit for HGVs over 7.5 tonnes travelling on dual carriageways increased from 50mph to 60mph.

The arrival of even bigger HGVs (double articulated mega-trucks) and ‘platooning’ trials pending with a driver in the first cab, controlling the following vehicles has raised further safety concerns. Last year, the Government announced that trials of partially self-driving platoons of lorries were set to take place on roads in the UK by the end of 2018.

Edmund King, president of the AA pointed out that we have some of the busiest motorways in Europe with many more exits and entries – and that platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona or Nevada but this is not America.

 

A few recent accidents:

12.9.19

The northbound carriageway between junctions 38 (Huddersfield) and 39 (Wakefield) was closed after an HGV overturned following an earlier collision with a car. The HGV was fully laden with glass bottles that had to be unloaded and diesel that had spilled across all three carriageway lanes had to be cleared.

11.9.19

M6 was shut after lorry crash between J12 and J13, near Cannock. The HGV hit the central reservation and later caught fire. Three lanes reopened southbound just after 12:30. Northbound remained closed most of day.

3.9.19

The M6 northbound between J14 (Stafford) and J16 (Stoke-on-Trent) was closed following an HGV fire.

13.8.19

The A38 was closed in both directions, between the A513 near Fradley and B5016 near Burton on Trent due to a crash and an overturned HGV. Around 40 tonnes of grain were spilled in the carriageway.

9.8.19

Police officers investigate the collision involving an HGV, between J25 and J24 near Taunton.

6.8.19

An HGV driver died following a collision on the M6 when his lorry burst into flames after colliding with a safety barrier.

5.8.19

There were severe delays on the M6 southbound between Junction 16 and Junction 15 due to two lanes being closed following an HGV fire. There was approximately seven miles congestion back to J16.

 

There is an alternative:

 

 

A Route One article reviewed reports by continental researchers who believe that their findings offer some support to policies being developed at Pan-European level to promote new multimodal transport corridors. These involve rail, inland waterways, short-sea (coastal) shipping. The researchers concluded that shifting a greater proportion of freight from roads to rail, boat and/or ship for part of its journey would be a sustainable way of meeting continuing rises in freight demand and reducing numbers of road accidents.

The Freight by Water 2018 conference, part of the Inland Waterways Transport Solutions project, highlighted how switching freight from road and rail to water can compete on cost and cut emissions. Inland waterways across the world have proved to be effective and efficient channels for moving everything from beer to building materials.

The conference highlighted several success stories and discussed several opportunities for freight by water, including the Leeds Inland Port at Stourton, which could take at least 200,000 tonnes of freight traffic off the roads. Its conclusion:

The time is right to increase freight using inland waterways throughout the UK and across Europe as an alternative to road and rail freight.

 

 

 

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Build local food systems and local business alliances: eliminate unnecessary trade

In 2001 Caroline Lucas pointed out that over the past 30 years, the rise in the trade in meat, live animals and other agricultural products in and out of Europe which has been dramatic, often involves, simultaneously, a reverse trade in precisely the same products. Examples of this absurd “food swap” include the facts that Britain:

  • imported 61,400 tonnes of poultry meat from the Netherlands in the same year that it exported 33,100 tonnes of poultry meat to the Netherlands and
  • imported 240,000 tonnes of pork and 125,000 tonnes of lamb, while at the same time exporting 195,000 tonnes and 102,000 tonnes of pork and lamb respectively.

This truly absurd position mostly rewards a few already very wealthy farmers, the supermarkets and multinational food companies, at the expense of small and medium scale farmers in developed countries, and – via the dumping of CAP surpluses – those in developing countries as well. 

Local Futures is focussing on the absurd way trade works in the global economy

“Countries ship identical amounts of identical products back and forth every year – from potatoes and beef to waffles and bottled water. More than half of the seafood caught in Alaska is sent to China for processing, then shipped right back to be sold in American supermarkets (Alaska Journal of Commerce, 2018). And all this unnecessary shipping generates enormous amounts of carbon emissions”.

They believe that it’s time to raise our voices, spread the word about ‘insane trade’, and change the rules of global trade to support local livelihoods instead of corporate profits

It wastes resources, worsens climate change, and undermines the livelihoods of millions of small-scale producers worldwide. Yet it is an almost unavoidable consequence of de-regulatory ‘free trade’ agreements and the billions of dollars in supports and subsidies – many of them hidden – that prop up the global economy.

  • Mexican calves fed American corn are exported to the United States, where they are butchered for meat, which is then sold in Mexico – The New York Times, 2017.
  • African-grown coffee is often packed in India,
  • Canadian prawns are processed in Iceland
  • and Bolivian nuts are packed in Italy – UK Times, 2007.

The way forward: 

– Prevent Climate Chaos: eliminating unnecessary trade would immediately reduce pollution – including CO2 emissions – and slow resource depletion.

– Say YES to Local Economies: localizing helps small farms and local businesses to thrive,
strengthens community, and supports personal well-being. 

– Buy local food and other local products.

– Help to build local food systems and local business alliances. For links to other organizations working on these issues, see the Local Economies and Rethinking Economies and Food & Agriculture categories on the Links page.

To raise awareness about this issue, we’ve produced a short film and a fully-referenced factsheet (cover above, right) that helps to explain how and why ‘insane trade’ happens.

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Anyone interested in volunteering time to translate the film or factsheet into another language, please contact info@localfutures.org. Readers could also help by getting the film and factsheet seen by as many people as possible, following the Facebook and Twitter pages and sharing posts about insane trade which will be going up throughout the week.

 

 

 

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BREXIT: a proposal to unlock the stalemate

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Richard House, who has no axe to grind either way on Brexit, as he deliberately spoilt his ballot paper in the 2016 referendum, proposes a solution to Brexit that does full justice to the closeness of the 2016 result, and would help to heal our divided nation:

  • The Commons first formally affirms the result of the 2016 EU referendum – that the Leave vote currently stands, and should be respected and honoured.
  • A new referendum (with clear choices offered) is held which is strictly advisory, with all options on the ballot paper – i.e.

Remain,

Theresa May’s Deal,

A Labour Deal proposal,

or Leave with no Deal.

  • People can vote by preference if they prefer (1,2,3,4). This possibly complex result will then be interpreted as objectively as possible by an appointed independent body.
  • Results will be published for each individual constituency, so that MPs know the view of their constituents and will be honour-bound to faithfully represent their constituents’ decision in future Commons votes.
  • All future Brexit Commons votes will be free and unwhipped.
  • If the result of the second referendum is very close like the first one (say, 54/46 or closer, either way), the 2016 referendum result will be upheld and honoured.
  • If there’s a substantial majority for Remain in the second referendum, the first referendum result can be overturned, with the agreement of a free vote of MPs.
  • Conservative and Labour Parties must agree before the 2ndreferendum is held that they will work together to honour the procedure set out above.

Such a procedure would mean that all sides are honoured and respected.

Specifically: the 2016 referendum result would not necessarily being overturned by a second referendum unless there were a dramatic shift of opinion towards Remain; and both Remain and Brexit supporters will also again have the opportunity to take their case to the country.

Only a procedure on these lines offers any hope of saving the country splitting asunder, with the social unrest that could possibly ensue if either side were to feel ignored and their concerns sidelined. 

All politicians have a grave responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that this national schism doesn’t happen – and the above scenario, or something like it, is by far the best way of avoiding it.

Dr Richard House

Stroud, Gloucestershire

 

 

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Use of waterways for freight and passenger services: advocated by government and facilitated by London’s Mayor

Waterways are ‘an under-used resource’ according to Christian Wolmar, award-winning writer and broadcaster specialising in transport. As he writes: “Inland waterways could take thousands of annual lorry trips off North London’s overstretched roads.”

On 11th March, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan sent a message to his mailing list which opened:

“London’s toxic air is a public health emergency. Pollution is shortening lives, it’s linked to asthma, strokes, heart disease and dementia. It costs the NHS £3.7 billion each year and affects children at more than 440 schools who are breathing air that exceeds safe legal pollution levels – this can’t continue. That’s why we’re launching the central London Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) on 8 April — a daily £12.50 charge for the most polluting vehicles, 24/7 in the central London Congestion Charge Zone”.

As the forthcoming Gosling report points out: “It is a UK government objective to transfer more freight from roads to inland waterways. The Department for Transport explained in 2017 that waterways are “attractive for the environmental benefits they provide, and the reliable congestion-free freight access they offer over alternate modes.” To this end, note:

  • London mayor Sadiq Khan’s introduction to new Freight and servicing action plan. Key actions include working with boroughs to better coordinate the control of freight movements on London’s roads and increasing use of water and rail.
  • The Mayor of London’s Safeguarded Wharves Review 2018 the mayor of London once more affirms his awareness rail electric vans and cargo bikes Supporting increased use of water by protecting and reactivating wharves.
  • The London Environment Strategy (2018), published by the Greater London Authority, refers to the Mayor’s support for increased use of waterways for freight and passenger services, as well as leisure uses. The main reasons for this are that reducing the number of vehicles and making more use of the waterways will help to improve air quality in London’s busy and congested streets.

In this strategy document, the Mayor sets out aims to reduce emissions from freight through encouraging a switch to lower emission vehicles, requiring a major expansion in electric charging and hydrogen infrastructure. To enable cleaner vessels to use the waterways, new and refurbished wharves, piers and canal moorings to generate renewable power onsite will be encouraged. Where appropriate, shore power or refuelling facilities for low emission fuels should be provided for all vessels moored onsite.

The cost of installing dockside electricity charging stations has been described as a challenge. In Amsterdam a charging rota makes the system commercially viable.

The Loadstar – a ‘multimodal online news resource for the logistics industry’ quotes information from Peter Binham (Transport for London) that the London mayor wants to see about 55% of all project materials carried by river, as well as an overall increase in the amount of freight carried this way. City government efforts are reaping some rewards, with TfL noting that a number of barge trials had been undertaken to increase load-bearing from 800 tonnes to 1,500 tonnes. TfL also uses its influence to indicate transport modes for the projects it is involved in building. (For some reason this link https://theloadstar.com/dhl-express-to-make-a-splash-with-delivery-option-using-thames-barges/, though correct, will not open – it has to be copied and pasted.

The following extract is copied from the Port of London Authority’s informative report, The Thames Vision Goals.

Inland Freight: more goods off roads onto the river

More goods and materials are routinely moved between wharves on the river – every year over four million tonnes carried by water – taking over 400,000 lorry trips off the region’s roads. Future goals:

  • Double underlying intra-port freight to over 4 million tonnes
  • Champion the Thames as a default choice for moving spoil and materials from infrastructure projects close to the river
  • Maintain or reactivate viable cargo handling facilities, with at least five additional facilities brought into operation by 2025
  • Extend the River Concordat to promote freight movements by water
  • Develop the Thames Skills Academy to provide the skills needed on the Thames

Call for a dedicated London freight commissioner

Logistics Manager, a monthly magazine for managers in charge of the supply chain of the UK’s largest industrial, retail and commercial organisations, reports that business leaders are calling on London mayor Sadiq Khan to appoint a dedicated freight commissioner to support the implementation of his transport strategy. They point out that freight movements could be reduced through better use of consolidated trips and of cargo bikes and motorbikes for shorter, smaller deliveries in central London and town centres.

The Freight Transport Association, together with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses, was responding to publication of the mayor’s Freight Action Plan arguing that there is an urgent need for a strong voice to champion freight transport and its particular interests and concerns across London.

 

 

 

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A Marshall Plan for stability and sufficiency: proposed by Essex Quaker Ted Dunn and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel

Mass migration deprives developing countries of the young, enterprising, dynamic citizens they desperately need at home

Free movement of peoples, as practised in Britain, is the opposite of internationalism, since it implies that we will continue to employ workers from other countries in agriculture and service industries and steal doctors, nurses, IT experts etc from poorer countries, rather than train enough of our own.

A year ago, Colin Hines and Jonathon Porritt challenged the “permanent propping up of whole sectors of our economy as a direct result of our failure to train people properly here in the UK”.

Hines and Porritt call for the training of enough IT experts, doctors, nurses and carers from our own population to “prevent the shameful theft of vital staff from the poorer countries which originally paid for their education” as government figures show that we currently have 1.38 million unemployed people seeking work.

Today, some of the mental and physical health risks to migrants are set out, for the first time, in a World Health Organization study

Migration is stressful: factors include loss of language, of cultural norms, religious customs, social structures and support networks

John Watson reports in Medscape that research suggests refugees or skilled office workers freely passing through borders opened to them by global trade, are connected by a higher risk for mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and somatic disorders (mental illness that causes one or more bodily symptoms).

Professor Dinesh Bhugrah is an authority on the stresses of migration. Individuals who migrate experience multiple stresses that can impact their mental well-being. Years of research have revealed that the rates of mental illness are increased in some migrant groups. Stresses include the loss of the familiar, including language (especially colloquial and dialect), attitudes, values, loss of cultural norms, religious customs, social structures and support networks.

Programmes which would build peace, stability and sufficiency in troubled areas

Essex Quaker Ted Dunn, during the war, was a Friends Ambulance hospital administrator in Ethiopia. He spent the rest of his life as an organic market gardener and in meeting or contacting decision-makers in many countries to advocate regional peace and development programmes, sometimes compared with the Marshall Plan.

His work, though highly commended, met with indifference from the British Government and a general public preoccupied at that time with its own personal well-being and interests. A few of the recommendations may be seen below.

UK politicians and media have shown a similar lack of interest in Germany’s invitation to other developed countries to support the G-20 Compact with Africa – a Marshall-style plan to bolster the economies of poor countries and give people hope for the future.

Development Minister Gerd Mueller aims to develop joint solutions with African countries, with a focus on programmes for youth, education and training, strengthening economies and the rule of law.

The latest news (October ’18) is that Germany and Ghana have entered into a 100 million euros bilateral Investment and Reform Partnership agreement on investment promotion, increased use of renewable energy, promotion of rural youth employment, digital education for girls and women and fair taxation   and vocational training. More information may be seen here.

Like Dunn and Chancellor Merkel, Porritt and Hines advocate a redoubling of our commitments to improve people’s economic and social prospects in their own countries, tackling the root causes of why people feel they have no choice but to leave family, friends and communities in the first place.   

In agreement:

António GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, which has developed the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world, urges all to work to “Narrow the gaps. Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals. Unity is our path. Our future depends on it”.

Jeremy Corbyn, speaking at the United Nations’ Geneva headquarters said: “The world’s economy can and must deliver for the common good”.

Professor John Roberts said in one of his newsletters, “Increasingly my thoughts return to the overwhelming need for all of us to think (and then act) as world citizens, conscious of a primary loyalty not to our local nationalism but to the human race (however confused and divided) as a whole”.

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SOME COMMENDATIONS OF REGIONAL PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES

A serious and thoughtful attempt to deal with what is perhaps the most urgent problem facing mankind – Lord Peter Archer, QC

The proposal is an idea which deserves the most serious consideration. H. Dale Anderson, Deputy High Commissioner for Jamaica

I very much support this initiative – Stuart Holland MP, when Shadow Minister for Development

World Peace through regional peace and development programmes should, for example, wipe out the apartheid system in South Africa – Ahaja Shehu Awak; Nigerian High Commissioner

You certainly have my support – George Foulkes, Shadow Minister for the UN

I am a keen proponent of Regional Development. The creation of an International Criminal Tribunal  (is) . . . the lynchpin of the future development of international law. Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International

I firmly believe the proposal represents a very wise and potentially creative way in which the world could deal with its most pressing needs  –  John Sarum, Bishop of Salisbury

I think regionalization of the world’s problems is the only feasible way. Johan Galtung, Peace Researcher, founder of the International Peace research Institute, Oslo

We here will do what we can to further encourage your ideas in Commonwealth capitals whenever opportunities arise – Christopher Laidlaw, then Assistant Director of the Commonwealth  Office 

It is clear that in the fifth decade of the United Nations era there is need for new thinking about the way forward in developing world order. Ted Dunn has added to his efforts in furthering public education on world peace a new work that suggests a practical formula for establishing peace through a step by step approach. He focuses on the regional dimension in a novel way – a proposal for official development programmes which are based on and integrate social, economic and political justice. The formula requires a meaningful relationship between rich and poor countries – one which would be advantageous for their common development and thus necessarily contribute to world peace. It is an imaginative and practically-oriented work, grounded in a thorough knowledge of the historical record. It is to be heartily recommended – Shridath Ramphal, when Secretary General, Commonwealth Secretariat.

 

 

 

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A localised world is possible – four talented exponents with complementary messages –4: Karen Leach

Since 2001, Karen has been the prime mover and co-ordinator of Localise West Midlands, a not-for-profit organisation which promotes the environmental, social and economic benefits of:

  • Local trading, using local businesses, materials and supply chains
  • Linking local needs to local resources
  • Development of community and local capacity
  • Decentralisation of appropriate democratic and economic power
  • Provision of services tailored to meet local needs.

The localisation approach makes economic development and government systems more sensitive to local autonomy, culture, wellbeing and the responsible use of finite resources. It is growing in popularity with people and organisations all over the world.

Karen has played a leading role in Extending Localisation, an ongoing project identifying ways of extending economic localisation good practice in the energy, food, retailing, finance and manufacturing sectors around and beyond the West Midlands region.  She writes:

Since the general election Localise West Midlands has been reiterating the question “how can we have meaningful localism without decentralising economic power?” The UK economy is one of the most centralised in Europe, increasingly recognised as remote from people and society, exclusive and beyond control.

In a diverse, localised economy, more people have a stake, which redistributes economic power, reducing disconnection, inequality and vulnerability. LWM is a thinktank, campaign group and consultancy that promotes this localised approach for justice and sustainability.

Contrary to the stereotype of planning reform opponents, we love economic development – community economic development, which fosters competition and enterprise, strengthens local distinctiveness, and works with an area’s resources, heritage, culture and social capital. We think the economy should be part of civic fabric not something done to the community.

The importance of small business in our economy is often underestimated. For one thing, you could say they contribute more to the public purse because they don’t have the resources to work out how to avoid it! More seriously, firms with less than five employees accounted for over 50% of the new jobs between 2000-2008; without startups, private sector employment would have declined. There is increasing evidence that large established businesses destroy jobs.

So decentralising economic power should be central to localism agenda – but it’s not. Much of the localism agenda simply builds community aspirations to be knocked down by powerful economic interests.

We need to recognise and plan for the collective strategic importance of the small scale. Our problems with the planning parts of the localism agenda are probably familiar to many of you:

  • a presumption in favour of development,
  • the lack of a workable definition of sustainable development;
  • the reduced ability to impose planning conditions that the developer might feel make a development unviable;
  • weakened retail policies;
  • the need to allocate more and rolling land supplies
  • and the abolition of spatial policy for ‘reducing the need to travel’.

The combined consequence of these is the reduced ability to differentiate between quality & poor quality development. This includes a lack of ability to protect economic diversity and accessible local services from bigger competitors: not just the odd independent shop but all types of businesses and the supply chain infrastructure and spatial environment that supports them – a weakening of urban renaissance.

Easier and more lucrative sites cherry picked for economic development or housing will not be integrated with existing economy or infrastructure.

In Darlaston in the Black Country, a colleague tells me that Asda closed their central store and applied for planning permission for an out of town site nearby. They pointed out they had a 99 year lease on the central site, and hinted that any use of the site would be blighted unless they got planning permission for the out of centre site. The council stood firm on policy grounds and the store did eventually reopen in the centre of Darlaston. Strong policy works to favour quality over poor quality development – under the localism bill it might not be possible.

Adverse consequences of catering to the private sector – two examples

We also have issues with providing for every need of private sector organisations that don’t necessarily have the public interest objectives or the accountability to take responsibility for them.

Developers in Ireland now blame the government for giving them planning permission for what are now ghost estates. In Digbeth, Birmingham, there was a compulsory purchase four years ago for site assembly – closing down local independent businesses including the last Italian-owned family business of the city’s Italian Quarter. That land has been completely empty for 4 years.

This raises issues over accountability & evidence of need and also of the danger of exclusive, blank slate large-scale development that ignores community economics. Why not work round and with existing uses? The local authority’s ability to challenge this is greatly reduced in the National Planning Policy Framework [NPPF].

Neighbourhood planning goes some way to address this and has some positive potential for people to think about what local economy needs and how they can meet this, but it requires communities being able to protect, to say no and to set boundaries as well as saying yes. The failure to incorporate neighbourhood planning seems like a missed opportunity to strengthen local economies.

There is also the danger of vested interests swaying the NP agenda – it’s widely reported that Tesco was designing its off-the-peg neighbourhood plan for communities to adapt locally before the NPPF was written. How can that not be a conflict of interest? Of course pressures are worse in areas of deprivation to accept any development, however damaging.

One final example: good economic development on greenfield site: the former farmland land occupied by Lammas Eco-village in Wales used to bring the farmer £2,500 – £5,000 a year through sale of lamb. That same land now provides nine families with £60,000 worth of food, fuel and other goods and is predicted to be bringing in a surplus income of £40,000 by Year 5.

We need planning that can assess whether developments deliver quality of life, revitalised places, job creation, economic diversity, local multiplier. A blanket state of permissiveness doesn’t do it.

 

 

 

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