Pleased to explain how Nottingham has met environmental challenges in the past and has set itself a challenging one for the future – carbon neutrality by 2028. – Positive coverage everywhere, including BBC East Midlands Today. Kinda unusual. – Nice to be part of something that what protested about across the planet. – But a bit too much to expect many kids to attend. We’ve spent years drilling into schools that they must ensure children attend and that they are responsible for child safety. And notable that there were a few parents around.
An N Post article highlights NCT’s plans to redevelop the west end of the larger of its 2 depot buildings, with a new and extra entrance from Pyatt Street. The proposal could enable a larger electricity sub-station to re-charge more buses (and potentially do more for other Meadows development, including for green projects); and may also enable the demolition of the Gotham bus depot – for housing. In 2011, the expectation was that the 2 main city NCT bus depots would move to the former Manvers school site and the Meadows site cleared for housing. But that plan went some years back. Now, the Lower Parliament Street bus depot has become about servicing the double deckers and The Meadows depot about the single-deckers, some of which may become electric powered over time. But, there may be features within the buildings worth protection, and the existing perimeter buildings blend in incredibly well with the existing streetscape – you can forget that they are there. Hard to envisage modern buildings fitting in so well. The Civic Society have raised concerns and some constituents have protested.
The city and county are pioneering ways to become ‘greener’ claims Kit Sandeman, a Local Democracy Reporter for the N Post (and I think the BBC). 17 initiatives are highlighted; the article is helpful to read and to have, though I quibble with the emphasis given (or not given). What sets Nottingham apart is –
incinerating waste otherwise destined for landfill, using resultant high pressure steam to generate electricity , and the resultant hot water to heat the city centre, St.Anns and Sneinton; whilst equivalent schemes elsewhere in the country fail to start and other schemes to sort waste more first have financially failed.
determined and early prioritisation for buses (bus lanes, and city centre clear zone), and the first bus passes for older and / or less mobile people anywhere in the country;
workplace parking levy; asking the commuter to pay for better public transport rather than the general tax or council tax payer;
What sets The Meadows apart is the Meadows O-zone energy services company (Mozes) – providing solar panels and now a domestic energy initiative (Project Sensible). At various times, companies have demonstrated excellence – from memory, Experian and their management of energy at their offices and computer bureau.
We’ve had set backs too. The loss of a city-wide food re-cycling scheme. The loss of the local food scheme for our hospital catering. An inability to do more with anaerobic digesters. Slow progress on green architectural technology. Wasted time as some of the green progress made has been threatened from within. The lack of progress for an electrified Midland Main Line, the nonsense of the dual energy trains proposed instead and the very limited progress on a south Notts rail network.
I’m intrigued by new possibilities – such as –
outer leaves being used instead of plastics to sell fruit and veg.;
copying European ideas – much more adventurous use of heat pumping to heat and to cool;
the return of biodigestable plastics; and
can’t we do more with paper instead of plastic?
We also need to re-balance the country and our education provision so that people travel less to work and to school.
Better financing for councils will allow general progress across services and in the design of projects. Calls for councils to do more without the extra finance can only frustrate.
A reminder of how it all started. A district heating scheme to be powered by burning coal (cleaner air in the city needed the coal to be burned in a controlled way) and district heating would be relatively cheap to install when St.Anns was being re-built. (A separate scheme for The Meadows was not to be so successful.) It was soon converted to burning waste – 100 kilo tonnes is incinerated, (a further 80 kilo tonnes recycled) providing steam at 800 degrees and 30 barrs. 10MW of electricity is supplied to a local private wire network (59 GWh per year) and the condensed steam providing 141 GWh of heat to the district network of 95km of pipes at 85 and 100 degrees at 10 Barrs to 4,800 customers in St.Anns. An infra-red survey of the neighbourhoods from a drone found cracks in the pipes that lost 120 metres cubed of water every day, and repairs triggered have reduced the loss to 10 to 20 metres cubed. All this is heavily regulated. More could be done to re-use material (e.g. more maintenance that simply replace, use less plastics in the first place, re-process wood and fibre), reduce the amount to be disposed (e.g. the recycling of food waste was lost cos of revenue cuts), extract more materials for re-use (e.g. gasification can extract a greater range of metals; bio-digestion to create gas for burning and compost for soil) but these technologies need new investment and subsidy (most sensibly from taxing the creation of waste). Extracting energy from waste still beats the burial of waste and there will be plenty fo waste to be incinerated for a long time into the future. Profits for the last year of £487k was reported. ENGINEERING NUMBERS TO BE RE-CHECKED
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.