“This is not a drill” book launch

Five Leaves Bookshop arranged a launch of the “handbook” written by Extinction Rebellion.
The organisation has a very different feel to traditional political groupings.
Concentred most to compel people to realise there is a climate emergency through a range of actions including direct action.
Now famous for their blocking of transport, the road blockages in Nottingham were very brief.
I had expected such campaigns to generate some hostility, but the public have reacted by saying the climate is now one of their top priorities; something that might have been bolstered by documentaries on BBCtv showing the impact of plastic on the environment.
Having only 3 broad policies, but 10 principles, and a membership requirement that says you have to undergo non-violence training.
Three speakers from London had been organised for the meeting but two were on a train from London that was stopped by a landslide / bank collapse at Corby, triggered by the long spells of rain. (Turns out part of Arnold town centre was flooded too.)

As a veteran of working for progress through party politics, when called to speak, there seemed little point in saying that Extinction Rebellion are wrong, and acknowledging the change in public opinion, more relevant to say to work together where we can in our concern to get faster and more significant action on climate change.
Indeed, Cllr. Sally Longford, our new Deputy Leader, has worked with XR in getting a zero-carbon Nottingham policy adopted at the January full council.

I circulated a 2-pager on the council’s outlook (“cities are good for us”), our recent achievements, a 2006 plan showing how green policies need to be embedded in the planning of the council and our manifesto commitments.
In my speech, I emphasised the radical history of the city council, often led by Fabian & Co-op minded Labour members, had led to opposition to inner-city motorways, realised the bus needed help and introduced bus lanes, tried radical change with zone and collar (which was re-introduced in a different way in 2000), introduced free bus passes for older people and the less mobile, introduced the tram and alone in the northern hemisphere introduced workplace parking levy so that commuters to the larger companies (that can provide alternatives) pay for new facilities and extra services, rather than residents.

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Joint Strategic Planning and Transport cttee – June 2019

Road map for the proposed HS2 East Midlands station

The joint cttee. between the City and County Councils reviewed the plans for an economic development around the railway station.
I suggested 2 undertakings –
– a review of all the heavy rail improvements we should be seeking in Notts. & Derbyshire;
– exploring the concept of the new developments being constructed with green architectural technologies.

I also expressed pessimism about the Waste Plan – there’s no national framework to boost food digestion and introduce re-use.
The Sinfin re-use facility in Derby has hit significant problems; de-gasification technology has not made progress, including at Blenheim Allotments in Nottingham.
Plainly the potential for incineration remains – better than burial – but one site along the MARR has already been stopped.

The progress of the Minerals plan was reviewed and I complained that the residents of Clifton saw the choice of Barton-in-Fabis as a new site for a sand and gravel pit was driven for narrower political reasons.

Pineapple leather and furniture

NTU degree show 2019.
The annual event is always worth a visit.

A seat made out of processed pineapple heads, and a “vegan” pineapple later cushion (filled with coconut fibre)

One student heard about pineapple leather and then found out that the heads of pineapples, and the skin, can be processed into blocks from which furniture can be made. Or maybe insulation panels.
Material from the nearby pineapple canning factory in Leicester, who otherwise have to pay to have it taken away.

Steam engines in Shrewsbury during the 1960s

“In this video we take a look at movements around Shrewsbury Station in the mid 1960s as steam was coming to an end. All credits for this video must go to Michael Clemens of B&R Videos who once again kindly gave me permission to use these clips that were filmed by his late father Jim Clemens, who did such a superb job recording these scenes which were taken from the DVD Steaming Through Shropshire Pt 1. Enjoy.”

Video can be found in youtube under “1960’s trains at Shrewsbury”.
Now given my Dad drove these engines, you can bet I spent the whole 12 minutes 42 seconds looking for him, but the focus here is the engines and the only thing you can make out about the drivers are the pale blue denim jackets.
Other surprises is that the black engines and the maroon carriages don’t always sparkle and it was a bit dirtier than I’d been led to believe. (And check out the recent visit of a steam engine to Salop.)
They also seemed very comfortable reversing – in this video seemingly more than going forward.
You sense that diesels were smoother as well as cleaner (look out for the cab videos), although I sometimes wondered if they’d kept steam for Wales, whether it might have sustained an interest for tourists. Sometimes.

BR steam engine 34052 at Shrewsbury railway station

Arriving at Salop, as I was waiting for a train to Brum, this BR steam engine arrived, pulling a Pullman collection of carriages.  
A tad emotional cos my Dad was a locomotive engineer, though starting with the LMS part of BR, and serving from Salop, I think it is unlikely he would have driven this engine. (Advice welcome.). 

From wikipedia – 
“Steam locomotives that comprised the Bulleid light pacifics, the West Country and Battle of Britain classes of locomotives that ran on the British Southern Railway network …”

Fuller res photos available.

Climate Emergency

When Extinction Rebellion took off recently, I was a tad sceptical. Blocking traffic can be used for good and bad, and potential victims can include the very innocent. But the Nottingham version was for 6 minute versions only, so the risk was low. Also a sense of the protestors being from outside of the Nottingham municipality.
Then the debate it was triggering seemed so banal – that the protests increased greenhouse emissions.
Meanwhile, the Greta Thunberg campaign – that a 16 year old can tell the truth and others can’t – I wasn’t keen on either.

Yet, look what happened. A government unable to vote against declaring a climate emergency.
An opportunity to get gov’t to re-appraise what it’s doing.

Nottingham does have reason to be proud on climate change action.
Bus lanes, then zone and collar.
Energy from waste instead of burying it.
Free bus passes for the older and less mobile.
A Green Charter.
The Nottingham declaration on Climate Change.
Embracing agglomeration.
Clear Zone, the tram, and increasing bus patronage.
Workplace Parking Levy – finding a way to ask the commuter to pay rather than the resident.
Notable examples of solar panels and external home insulation.

But perhaps not so brave in recent decisions.
So a lot to be proud of, but a lot more to do.

Meanwhile, how limited is the discussion of climate change.
In America, you have to have rehearsed what you’d do about a gunman in the classroom, rather than reducing the chances of a gunman being in the classroom.
Here, people are clear that road humps cause you to waste energy and thus increase emissions, and that protests do the same, but people are much less clear on what to do to remove the need for protests.

Extinction Rebellion have given us a new opportunity, that we last saw when “An Inconvenient Truth” was first shown.
[Text written on 12 May.]