Saying the Unsayable – Cut Meat Out.

orang-utangToday, at a WWF event in Cardiff, I stood up and said the unsayable. I talked about diet. Gasp! The room was quiet – is she really saying out loud that a population heading for 9 billion humans has to learn to eat sustainably? Is she really saying out loud that eating less meat is the only way to live kindly on this one single planet? Is she really saying that compassion and sustainability turn out to be two sides of the same coin?
Well yes she is. I’m not attacking anyone for eating meat, but asking that they think about where it comes from and how it is treated. I’m asking you to think about the fact that the 95% of non-human animals on this planet are those we breed to eat. I’m asking you to think about just how much land is required to feed them all. Above all I’m asking you to think about how our intensive farming practices are a huge part of the decimation of wildlife in this sorry world. Is it really fair to kill hundreds of orangutans just so that we can have a bit of cheap palm oil in our Ginger Nuts?
So lets not have this conversation in hushed tones lest we offend anybody. Let’s get it out in the open. Either we cut our own numbers, or we change our daily menu.
If you feel your eating habits are in question you are probably right. I’m not saying everyone should go vegan (though think how much help that would be !), I am saying that if you are eating meat 3 times a day you are not only living on a planet 3 times the size of the one we have actually got, you are contributing to suffering and hunger, because the grain used to feed the animals is grain which should rightly be feeding people.
58% of our wildlife is under dire threat. Wildlife populations  have more than halved in 40 years. The fish population has declined 36%. If you are eating meat simply because you like the taste, then either save it for a special treat or take a smaller portion. If you are eating it out of tradition, then think how many traditions have not stood the test of time and have been abandoned. Should animal sacrifice go the way of human sacrifice?
If you are going to eat it, always check that the meat comes from an approved RSPCA supplier ( if it doesn’t, you shouldn’t touch it anyway) and the fish is MSC approved. Those of us in the UK who can afford to buy Fairtrade and Organic, should do so whenever possible (and that’s most of us).
So much of our beloved wildlife is under real and imminent threat of extinction, yet we can do something, but it has to be now. So try a meat-free Monday, or a dairy-free Friday. Every single action in the right direction is going to help.
Once the hedgehogs, the turtle doves, the crickets and the butterflies have gone it will be too late. We only have now.

White Poppies, The True Act Of Remembrance

White poppy wreath 2 2013

I wear a white poppy on Remembrance Day to remember the civilians, the maimed, and the dead; the starving children, the conscientious objectors, the deformed children, the servicemen and women, and the folly of it all. The white poppy is a symbol of peace, and I wear it to remind people that the avenues for peace are seldom exhausted before the bombs are made to fall.

The First World War (ironically labelled the war to end all wars), was the only modern war in which more servicemen and women than civilians were killed. Looking back, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 seems a frivolous reason to kill 9 million service personnel and 7 million civilians. I wear the white poppy for all of them.

Subsequent wars have claimed the lives of a disproportionate number of civilians, millions of whom have been brushed callously aside as ‘collateral damage’.

Modern warfare is about carpet bombing, depleted uranium shells, cluster bombs and chemicals. Nagasaki and Hiroshima remind us of the terrible cost of ‘collateral damage’. Underneath those hellish explosions were 200,000 ordinary people going about their daily task.  I wear the white poppy for them.

I would not hear a word said against the good work done by the British Legion, but the fact is that they should not have to raise this money. If the government decides to send troops into the gates of hell, then the government should also pay to take good care of their broken minds and bodies when they limp home. The true cost of war in terms of healthcare, broken families and broken lives is never measured.

The devious lies which propelled us into Iraq and caused the death of more than 600,000 Iraqis, was morally and factually unjustifiable. This was not a just war. The women of Fallujah are still giving birth to deformed children. I wear the white poppy for them too.

No amount of Invictus Games, Help for Heroes and Poppy Appeals makes up for the damning act of war. Wars beget more wars. The middle east has been a war zone for decades. Iraq – a place we were duped into fighting – sees no respite. Syria is not our war, yet we are busy bombing it. Yemen is not our war, but we are supplying the weapons for the Saudi’s to fight it.

War, and the law of unintended consequences, such as the creation of ISIS, are frequent bedfellows. Returning violence for violence only multiplies violence. Taking an eye for an eye is not what we teach our children.

Waging war is a big and highly profitable business. Little wonder then that financiers, manufacturers, trade unions, the military and the growing band of support charities are loath to call for peace and disarmament. ‘Lest we forget’ has become a message of support for the worlds’ arms manufacturers.

Wearing the White Poppy is not an act of heresy, it is an act of true remembrance in which we can remind ourselves of the futility of war and the suffering it causes. It tells us that actively pursuing a practical policy to avoid war is a realistic and worthwhile strategy. It is not necessarily any cheaper, and it’s not the easy path. Skilled negotiators are hard to come by, and I wear the white poppy for them too.

White poppies supporting the Peace Pledge Union can be bought here: http://www.ppu.org.uk/ppushop/

Education has become Training

Letter to South Wales Argus 20.10.16

We hear about the cuts to education subjects almost every day. But in truth the people of South Wales deserve a better conversation about education than they’re getting. Getting outraged about the loss of Archaeology and Classics is all well and good, but how useful is it when the vast majority of pupils would never have been offered these A levels in the first place?

Where’s the outrage about the everyday failings of our education system. The underpaid, overworked teachers, the students who are failing to connect with the curriculum they’re being taught, and leaving school where the only clear path to their future is debt.

If the objective of education is to funnel students down into being vassals for current industry, then it is not true education, it is training. If we are to inspire minds and create a bright sustainable future, then the broader the subject matter taught, the better.

Education is important, and Wales has been lagging behind for too long. Our elected AM’s are just tinkering around the edges. It’s time to address the failings of this system head-on, and give our young people something to be inspired about.

M4 Public Inquiry – Debunking WG Statements -Proof of Evidence submitted by Wales Green Party

M4 Public Inquiry – Debunking WG Statements -Proof of Evidence submitted by Wales Green Party

To: The Public Inspector, Mr WSC Wadrup

Purpose of this document

To examine some of the ‘facts’ produced in the Welsh Government (WG) leaflet (appendix 6) which has been distributed to the public and deal with the FoI responses received. There is concern that the public are being persuaded, through a public misinformation campaign, to support a poor value for money solution to the alleged problems on the M4 between Magor and Castleton.

  1. Traffic Volumes

 

WG documentation distributed to the public states that in 2014 ‘the road’ was 95% full. This appears to be misleading as it cannot be 95% full 100% of the time.

FoI Request: Please provide documentation detailing at what times of day the road is 95% full, if any, and between which junctions this volume of traffic has been measured.

  1. Projected figures for future usage between the points above, taking into account demographic trends and the impact of the SEW Metro system on this stretch of road.

Response: Appendix 1

Observations: Based on WG FoI Response documents (Appendix 1)

The lower end of the forecasts shows the recent fall in trips continues over the next 30 years[1].

At peak times the motorway is as little as 46% full. The M4 around Newport is, on average, 76% full at peak times. On one section of the motorway, and in one direction only, the figure reaches 95%.

Traffic Volume data for the three-year period 2009-2011 is unavailable.

No account has been made for traffic scenarios arising from the completion of the Heads of the Valleys Road (A 465) improvements, due in 2018. It is likely that upon completion, much of the traffic coming from Birmingham and the midlands will not use the M4.

Demographic changes are a key driver of the number of journeys[2]. The population of Wales has grown by only 200,000 souls since 1995, most of those being in the north. The increase in population is mainly down to age, and older drivers tend not to populate the roads at peak times. This has not been examined.

 

Conclusion:

The forecasting models are based on a high degree of uncertainty and do not take account of planned public transport impacts and demographic trends. By stating the road is ‘95% full’ the WG is misleading the public.

 

  1. Jobs

FoI request: Your pamphlet documentation states that 6,500 new jobs will be created by the Black Route.

  1. Please let me have a breakdown of the industries and businesses projected to achieve these ‘new’ jobs, and where exactly they will be situated geographically.
  2. How many will be in Newport?

Response: Appendix 2

Observations: Based on WG FoI Response documents (Appendix 2)

The high scenario for new jobs is 6,750. Medium scenario is 2,800, low scenario is 750 new jobs[3].

There are few possibilities for industry either side of the proposed motorway around Newport. The south side is scantily populated with few opportunities for development due to SSI status and flood risk. The north side is already well developed, with much of the available land allocated for housing.

There is no breakdown of the industries likely to be created.

New jobs are indicated to be around motorway junctions, two of which have been in place for some years. The two new junctions are Glan Llyn, residential to the north, SSSI to the south, and Docks Way, which prioritizes Port traffic. Whilst some new jobs may be created at the Port in spite of the proposed low Usk bridge, it is difficult to see how the proposed M4 can compete with a Metro[4] system in terms of job creation.

Conclusion:

Whilst the documentation does not specifically say the jobs will be created in Newport, the entire document is Newport centric and will be read as such. The possibility of 6,500 new jobs in Newport is remote, and overplays the economic benefits of the proposed motorway.

 

 

  1. Accident Rates

FOI Request:

I have received a copy of the WG Statement of Case for a new M4 Black Route. Paragraph 1.5.2 states that ‘The current accident rates on the M4 between Magor and Castleton are higher than average for UK motorways.

  1. Please advise me which figures you are using, and from which reliable sources, in order to make this statement about accident rates on the M4?

Response: Appendix 3

Observations: Based on WG FoI Response documents (Appendix 3)

The average accident rate for this stretch of motorway as a percentage of UK average was 88.6% (2002-2008), 86.8% (2002-2005), 91.1% (2006-2008) 74.9% (2006-2008,12).

The claim that Junction 25-25A, the Brynglas Tunnels and Junctions 26-27) had a higher observed accident rate than the UK average for motorways, is not substantiated.

In 2012 and 2013 there was a reduction in the number of Police Stats19 Form accidents compared with previous years.

The FoI response did not report the following:

  1. The number of recorded UK personal injury collisions decreased from 9588 in 2000, to 6850 in 2010[5]. No comparable data has been put forward for the J24 – 28 stretch of M4 motorway.

 

  1. The number of casualties on UK motorways has gone down by 27% in the years 2014-2015[6]

 

  1. Statistics for Wales[7] does not single out the M4 Brynglas Tunnels as being any worse for accidents than any other part of the M4 (appendix 6). The area it chooses to detail is J33 Cardiff.

 

  1. The Variable Speed Limit (VSL) is expected to reduce accident rates by around 13%[8], yet this is not taken into consideration. Edwina Hart said, “In 2012 and 2013 there was a reduction in accidents compared with previous years.” We are not told what that reduction actually was.

 

  1. WG states that there was a reduction in accidents in 2012 and 2014 yet uses Police Stats 19 Forms for 2006-2008 as a measure of current accident rates.

 

  1. VSL installation was introduced in June 2011 between Junctions 24 and 28, but not enforced until autumn 2016.

 

 

Conclusion:

Analysis of the figures between 2002 and 2008 (the only figures available), show that the stretch of motorway between Magor and Castleton reached at most 91% of the national rate for accidents.  The WG statement on accident rates is wrong.

 

  1. Air Quality

FoI Request: Your pamphlet documentation states that air quality will improve by up to 15%.

  1. ‘Up to’ is misleading. It might improve 5% or not at all. What is the accurate figure?
    How do you calculate improvement in air quality when at the same time you project an increase in traffic

Response: Appendix 4

FoI Observations: Based on WG FoI Response documents (Appendix 4)

The data shows there will be an overall increase in air pollution in future years: Changes in emissions (tonnes/year) :CO2 + 1,215. NOx  -155. PM10  -21. (Table 7.23, P48)

Local NOx concentrations in the region between Castleton and Magor will go up. (7.15.8). The concentrations, not the total emissions, are the measure of air quality.

There will be significant risks to designated sites, which cannot be mitigated. (Table 7.25)

There is no modelling of emissions along the A48 Eastern Avenue, which would in all probability go from bad to worse.

Emissions reduction is not likely to be achieved due to induced traffic using the present M4.

Conclusion:

The 15% air quality improvement figure doesn’t exist in the documentation, and should not have been used to mislead the public into thinking the proposed M4 was a good thing. If we are to meet the Paris climate change targets, the overarching aim should be to reduce CO2 as quickly as possible. The proposed M4 is increasing CO2 emissions.

 

 

  1. Environmental Impact

The plans for the M4 Black Route include re-directing some reens through culverts. Evaluation of previously culverted reens will be a measure of the environmental impact of this apparent mitigation measure.

FoI request:

  1. What monitoring and evaluation of the culverted reens adjacent to Gwent Europark have been done, and the results of this.
  2. The monitoring and evaluation of the effects of any other culverted reens across the Gwent levels.

Response: Appendix 5

Observations: Based on WG FoI Response documents (Appendix 5)

No records provided.

Conclusion:

 

The documents contain NO record of monitoring or evaluation of reens at Gwent Europark or anywhere else. This unknown factor in environmental impact is a crucial omission. The absence of monitoring data affecting approximately 2568m of SSSI reen and 9136m of SSSI field ditch would indicate that culverting does not work, and the impact on flora and fauna would be unacceptably high.

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Only five aspects of the documentation have been examined, and in all five, the information publicised by the Welsh Government is misleading. In some cases the figures used are exaggerated, or information is withheld. In other cases they are fiction. A sample score of 0/5 for openness, honesty and transparency is worrying.  All other claims should therefore be subjected to rigorous scrutiny.

 

The basis for building a 19 mile stretch of new motorway at a cost of £1.2 billion+ is discredited.

This proposal represents bad value for money for the taxpayer, and all costs and expenses to date should be referred to the Wales Audit Office for further action.

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/timeseries/wapop/pop

[2] changebehaviourhttps://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/411471/road-traffic-forecasts-2015.pdf

[3] Table 6.22 (p.150).

 

[4] See separate submission : M4 Public Inquiry – Better Value for Money from Integrated Public Transport

Proof of Evidence submitted by Pippa Bartolotti, Wales Green Party

 

[5] http://gov.wales/docs/det/publications/130719delplanen.pdf

[6] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras40-reported-accidents-vehicles-and-casualties#table-ras40001

[7] http://gov.wales/docs/statistics/2016/160405-accident-cluster-sites-fatal-road-accidents-welsh-trans-european-network-2012-2014-revised-en.pdf

[8] http://www.traffic-wales.com/media/33521/m4-vsl-qa-sheet-january-2011.pdf

M4 Public Inquiry – Better Value for Money from Integrated Public Transport

M4 Public Inquiry – Better Value for Money from Integrated Public Transport

Proof of Evidence submitted by Pippa Bartolotti, Wales Green Party

To: the Public Inspector, Mr WSC Wadrup

Strategic Objectives – The Case for Integrated Public Transport

The aim of this submission is to prove that an Integrated Public Transport (Metro) System is better value, more resilient and will more accurately reflect the strategic aims of the Welsh Government than any proposed motorway solution.

 

Metro – Current Situation

The Welsh Government (WG) has identified the South Wales Metro as its flagship infrastructure project for the next decade.

According to the WG the “Metro will significantly improve transport connectivity around the region by reducing journey times and increasing frequency of service.”

Work on the second phase South Wales Metro, with electrification of the Valley Lines, is due to commence in 2019 and be completed by 2022/23, with an indicative price tag of £734m. By contrast the M4 south of Newport is stated to cost £1.2b for just 19 miles of road. (other Metro costs Appendix 1)

Currently the railway line from Cardiff to the Severn Tunnel is being electrified, therefore some of the cost of the Metro on that route has already been paid for.

 

Debunking the strategic case for the proposed M4 south of Newport

According to the WG website, the stated aims of the WG[1] for the M4 Corridor around Newport are to:

  1. Make it easier and safer for people to access their homes, workplaces and services by walking, cycling, public transport or road.

The proposed M4 will not provide public transport, cycleways or footpaths, and represents a failure to provide safe transit. The simplest, cheapest and healthiest solution to congestion (Metro) is blocked by a misplaced assertion that more cars on the road will solve congestion problems.

The South Wales Metro will deliver a viable public transport solution which will be safer, faster and cleaner than road travel, with the capacity to expand with demand.

 

  1. Deliver a more efficient and sustainable transport network supporting and encouraging long-term prosperity in the region, across Wales, and enabling access to international markets.

These aims are not met by building the proposed M4. Average occupancy of cars in the UK is 1.6. The undercapacity of the roads arises from the overcapacity of the vehicles that use them. Every coach/tram swallows up a mile of car traffic and reduces carbon emissions per passenger mile by an average of 88%, helping to achieve global warming reduction targets.

There is almost no traffic joining the M4 from the south due to the nature of the SSSI’s, the low population, and the potential for sea level rise affecting land less than 10ft above sea level discouraging further building. By contrast a Metro system with frequent stations (Fig 1), feeder bus routes, and more northerly position would create many more opportunities for employment along its route and achieve greater ROI.

Long term prosperity in Newport will be increasingly dependent on the Port as international trade increases in the post-Brexit UK. The growth of the Port will be stymied by the low height of the proposed M4 bridge.

  1. To produce positive effects overall on people and the environment, making a positive contribution to the over-arching Welsh Government goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to making Wales more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Increased traffic has a negative effect on the environment, on the health of people, and will increase greenhouse gases. The transport sector does not meet its full environmental costs. We cannot put a price on peoples’ lives. The ‘social cost’ of global warming is estimated by the British Government Dept of the Environment to be £70 per tonne. Building more roads will encourage more cars and make Wales less resilient to climate change impacts. Induced demand[2] is a feature of the WelTAG Stage 1 & 2 (Scheme) Appraisal[3].

Encouraging more cars on the proposed new road will exacerbate traffic congestion east of Cardiff.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is unprecedented in its emphasis on how an urgent and rapid transition away from fossil fuels is a prerequisite of avoiding the 2°C characterization of dangerous climate change. A truly sustainable transport network would be frequent, affordable and clean.

By building and operating a Metro system across South Wales, demand is likely to increase due to the Sparks effect.[4]

 

 

Ambition

In the last ten years, station footfall in Newport has grown by 35%, Cardiff by 63%, and Severn Tunnel Junction by 120% annually. Cardiff has a footfall of about twelve million, Newport two and a half million, Severn Tunnel Junction is a quarter of a million. Train travel in the UK has grown has grown 74% since 1995 and is increasing.

About 78,000 people commute into Cardiff to work every day; 80% do it by car, many from the east. Making it easier and quicker to do this journey by public transport will cut down car travel and reduce incentive for future travelers to commit to car journeys.

66% [5]66% of the people who live and work in Zurich travel by public transport. By contrast Newport City has set its sights rather low by hoping to achieve 6 – 7 % of commuters traveling by other than car. This paucity of ambition, and bias towards roadbuilding, is hindering progress in the city.

WG Objectives for the Metro (Appendix 3) are that it should have high frequency, be fully integrated with other modes of transport, be extendable, and a catalyst for regeneration[6]. The scope and ambition of these objectives, if achieved, far excel anything 19 miles of new motorway could deliver.

 

WG Transport Planning Objectives

By prioritizing early build of the Metro between Magor and Castleton, the existing M4 will be relieved of ever increasing amounts of traffic and therefore meet all Transport Planning Objectives (TPOs) (Appendix 2), negating the need for further roadbuilding.

 

Employment and Business Opportunities

[7]Every person moving from unemployment into genuine full time employment saves the ‘State’ £78,000 at today’s prices. Getting just twelve unemployed people from Ebbw Vale into full time employment in Cardiff (which could not happen without public transport) would save the state around £1m. It is right that the valley line gets a high priority, but the economic opportunities for getting more people into work by extending the Metro service from Sudbrook Pumping Station to Cardiff and many points in between (Fig 1) are greater than the opportunities provided by the 19 mile M4 proposal – and more cost effective.

Fig 1

The Railfuture (Fig 1) proposal deliberately does not follow the main line around the north of Newport, but picks up the area that at present is only really accessible by car. Maesglas Retail and Business parks, The Docks area, Newport Stadium and the National Velodrome, Nash Campus, Leeway and Queensway Industrial Estates, Spytty Retail Park. Further east it picks up the Wilcrick Distribution Depots (Tesco and Wilkos) that between them employ some 2,000 workers that are incredibly not served by any public transport whatsoever at present. It covers the areas of high population densities Duffryn, Maesglas , Liswerry, Magor, Undy , Caldicot etc. Further extensions (Severnside & Lower Wye) pick up the large Newhouse industrial estate and its associated Distribution depots which are equally not served by any public transport.

The WG has estimated that 7,000 new jobs would be created with the building of the Metro, with a further £8bn in additional economic impact. By contrast the Proposed M4 is claimed to bring 6,500 new jobs with [8]£1.4 billion of increased benefits, but only if the Severn crossing toll is removed, which is unlikely.

 

Summary

In short, the WG aims for the proposed M4 are the same aims as for the Metro. Yet the overall financial situation in Wales is one of increasing government cut-backs. Wales cannot afford both.

On all measures of cost, return on investment, employment, safety, sustainability, resilience, health and climate change the Metro system outperforms the proposed M4.

The existing M4 is not going to be taken away, and long haul traffic will experience fewer delays and faster travel time across the contested 19 miles between Magor and Castleton if an effective Metro system is in place.

The Metro brings a measurably more valuable, cost effective, and sustainable solution for increasing prosperity than the proposed M4.

Appendix 1

 

 

 

Appendix 2

  • TPO 1: Safer, easier and more reliable travel east-west in South Wales.
  • TPO 2: Improved transport connections within Wales and to England, the Republic of Ireland and the rest of Europe on all modes on the international transport network. Welsh Government M4 Corridor around Newport Economic Appraisal Report M4CaN-DJV-GEN-ZG-GEN-RP-TR-0001 | March 2016 Page 4
  • TPO 3: More effective and integrated use of alternatives to the M4, including other parts of the transport network and other modes of transport for local and strategic journeys around Newport.
  • TPO 4: Best possible use of the existing M4, local road network and other transport networks.
  • TPO 5: More reliable journey times along the M4 Corridor.
  • TPO 6: Increased level of choice for all people making journeys within the transport Corridor by all modes between Magor and Castleton, commensurate with demand for alternatives.
  • TPO 7: Improved safety on the M4 Corridor between Magor and Castleton.
  • TPO 8: Improved air quality in areas next to the M4 around Newport.
  • TPO 9: Reduced disturbance to people from high noise levels, from all transport modes and traffic within the M4 Corridor.
  • TPO 10: Reduced greenhouse gas emissions per vehicle and/or person kilometre.
  • TPO 11: Improved travel experience into South Wales along the M4 Corridor.
  • TPO 12: An M4 attractive for strategic journeys that discourages local traffic use.
  • TPO 13: Improved traffic management in and around Newport on the M4 Corridor.
  • TPO 14: Easier access to local key services and residential and commercial centres.
  • TPO 15: A cultural shift in travel behaviour towards more sustainable choices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 3

WG Transport Planning Objectives for the Metro

High frequency

Metro will run at least four services an hour across the whole network when needed and even more on busy sections. This gives a ‘turn up and go’ experience for passengers using vehicles designed for speed and capacity.

Integration

Metro combines heavy rail, light rail and buses to deliver a seamless network. With just one ticket, people will be able to move quickly and easily across the region. It also links with active travel – cycling and walking – to create a completely integrated network.

Extendable

Metro is designed so it can grow to make it even more accessible. New stations, new routes, increased frequencies – in future, the network can bring better public transport to more communities and economic centres.

Regeneration

Metro will deliver better passenger facilities and community focal points around key stations, and stimulate opportunities for more strategic development and regeneration across the region.

 

 

 

 

 

Pippa Bartolotti, Wales Green Party

07981717757 pippabartolotti@walesgreenparty.com

[1] http://www.m4newport.com/assets/the-plan—english.pdf Page 22

[2] This well-established response is known in various contexts as the Downs-Thomson Paradox, The Pigou-Knight-Downs Paradox or the Lewis-Mogridge Position: a new road may provide motorists with some level of respite from congestion in the short term, but almost all of the benefit from the road will be lost due to increased demand in the longer term.

 

[3] http://www.m4newport.com/assets/weltag-s1-2-report.pdf

 

[4]Sparks Effect: When you electrify a service, even if the service level remains the same there is an increase in modal shift to rail. This is a proven phenomenon. It also appears when you open a tram stop at an existing railway station.

 

[5] Paul Mees – Transport for Suburbia Beyond the Automobile Age

 

[6] http://gov.wales/topics/transport/public/metro/?lang=en

 

[7] David Freud’s report for Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007

 

[8] http://www.m4newport.com/assets/weltag-s1-2-report.pdf Table 6.7

 

Formal objection letter to WG re the M4 motorway extension

 

Dear Madam or Sir,

Re: M4 Corridor around Newport

 Formal objection – please forward to the Welsh Government.

I strongly oppose the proposal to build a new M4 motorway through the beautiful Gwent Levels.

Building another motorway will inevitably cause the burning of yet more fossil fuels. ‘Build it and they will come’ has never been truer than in the case of road building. Far from solving the problems of congestion, new roads are the harbingers of even more congestion. More congestion means more pollution, and more pollution is the very thing we want to avoid.

Pollution hurts our health, our environment and all living things, sometimes terminally in the case of heart and lung disease.

I would like to see the Welsh Government protect our most important places for wildlife such as the Gwent Levels that are already recognised as being nationally important through their designation of SSSI status.

The Gwent Levels is extremely rich in wildlife with otters, water voles, wading birds such as lapwing, snipe, redshank and curlew, 25 rare plants including the world’s smallest flowering plant Wolffia arrihiza and 144 rare species of insects.

Damage to the Gwent Levels will include;

  • A total of 125 hectares of SSSI habitats including grazing marsh and reedbed lost or permanently damaged
  • Permanent damage to 9 Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation
  • Permanent loss of a section of Gwent Wildlife Trusts Magor Marsh Nature Reserve
  • Loss of 2568m of SSSI reen and 9136m of SSSI field ditch which would be infilled or culverted, that are full of nationally rare plants and animals that have taken centuries to reach their current equilibrium.  Replacing these with freshly cut channels cannot be described as a positive impact on biodiversity
  • Habitat and species loss outside of “protected areas” has not been quantified but is also substantial
  • Damage to protected conservation priority species populations and their habitats including European protected species
  • Cumulative loss of land which will leave the remaining spaces unviable for much of the flora and fauna.

Llanwern steelworks, Tesco Warehouse, Gwent Europark, Uskmouth Power Station and the Aluminium and chemical works have already led to the loss of 910ha of wetland habitat (CCW 1991). Further loss has only continued over the last 25 years. The motorway proposals and the anticipated loss of habitats and species are not in isolation. Cumulative impacts of development on this nationally important landscape have already been catastrophic leaving habitats degraded and fragmented and making rare species more vulnerable. We cannot let the degradation of the Gwent Levels continue.

I don’t believe that building a new six-lane motorway through the Gwent Levels ancient landscape is sustainable. The Welsh Government should do all it can to encourage cars off the road by providing greener transport options rather than making more space for traffic. The £1.2 billion (in todays money) would be far better spent on the South East Wales Metro – a plan which has been ready for some years, but which has lacked the political will to build. Reopening small stations along the Magor to Castleton route could start immediately. No-one want to spend time in congestion. A good, frequent, affordable public transport option is what is really needed.

I also don’t believe that building this motorway meets the goals of the Future Generations and Well-Being goals and in fact brings a sad future for the people of Newport surrounded by air and noise pollution with hundreds of acres of their cultural and natural heritage destroyed on their doorstep.

I urge you to stop this new road from being built and protect the natural environment and wildlife of the Gwent Levels.

Please ensure the Welsh Government receives this email so my objection will be considered and counted.

Yours faithfully,

Pippa

Pippa Bartolotti

Candidate for Newport West and lead candidate for SE Wales Regional List

The undeniable sin of destroying wetlands.

otter

Yesterday I visited Magor marshes with Peter Varley ( standing for Newport East). To say the Directors of Gwent Wildlife Trust were depressed was an understatement. They have just had a Compulsory Purchase Order served on them, in order to use this fragile landscape for a 6 lane motorway.

I studied the plans, and in some places this motorway will be banked up an eye watering 18 meters above the land. The associated bridge over the Usk will restrict the height of shipping which will be able to enter Newport Docks, thus jeopardizing the jobs and commercial viability of the dock itself.

It is important not to forget that Llanwern Steelworks was itself built on the wetlands in 1962, so even then the viability of the wetlands was being compromised. To steal yet more of this Outstanding Landscape of Historic Interest is simply wrong. This environment cannot be re-created. The damage would be permanent.

My job as a Green is to protect and enhance life on this planet for all species, including humans. Scientists are in agreement that by continuing to burn fossil fuels we are releasing too much CO2 into the atmosphere, causing the planet to warm at a speed which will be almost impossible to control. This warming, for all our sakes – otters as well as humans – must be halted at once if this planet is to remain habitable.

Building another motorway will inevitably cause the burning of yet more fossil fuels. ‘Build it and they will come’ has never been truer than in the case of road building. Far from solving the problems of congestion, new roads are the harbingers of even more congestion. More congestion means more pollution, and more pollution is the very thing we want to avoid.

Pollution hurts our health, our environment and all living things, sometimes terminally in the case of heart and lung disease.

This 6 lane extension to the M4 is not necessary. If we look at the 19 miles ( yes only 19 miles) of sometimes congested road around the Bryn Glas tunnel area, it is not difficult to see that this is the Magor to Castleton area which is poorly provided for in public transport. Crossing from one side of Newport to another on public transport is a time consuming and tricky business, for no bus goes straight across the city, and worse, you have to walk from one bus station to the other because our planned sensible bus station site – opposite the train station – was sold to out to commercial interests. Inevitably, it has become preferable to face the congestion and buy a car.

SEW metro

The real solution for our ever increasing congestion and growing levels of pollution is a fast, affordable, and frequent public service. The plans for  South East Wales Metro have been drawn up for some years, yet the political will to bring them to reality has been lacking. Conversely the political will to build a 6 lane motorway across site of internationally recognised protected habitat seems to be all too forthcoming.

The cost of this M4 extension will be ( at today’s figures) £1.2 billion for 20 miles of motorway. That is more than enough to pay for an upgrade to the relevant part of the Metro, including the opening of all the little stations along the route.

In summary, this short-sighted vanity project by the Welsh Labour government will mean the devastation of one of our most rare wetland habitats which will have the automatic effect of increasing pollution, whilst depleting the financial reserves which should rightly be used to bring us a much-needed public transport system.

I would like to see us all freed from pollution and congestion. I would like to see Wales pulling its weight to respect the health and well-being of future generations. If you elect me to the Senedd on May 5th you can be sure I will fight to stop this motorway being built, whilst at the same time working for a world class public transport system which we will all be proud to use.

 

 

 

Communities First Needs an Inspiration Injection

Pippa

I was a bit miffed to see that the Argus published part of this article today. Miffed because they chose to pick out the negative and made no attempt to point out the positive, the inspirational, the way useful way forward.

OK I should perhaps be happy enough that they printed something, but to put the record straight, here is the full press release for your perusal:

Pippa Bartolotti, Wales Green Party lead list candidate for South Wales East said “ Greens will put inspiration at the heart of Communities First. The imposed economic climate of austerity is impacting on all our poorer communities, and the staff at Communities First are fighting a battle of diminishing returns as relative poverty increases and job security declines.”

The initial aim of Communities First was to take the most deprived wards in Wales out of poverty, but 15 years later these wards are not just still in the same place on the list, many have moved in the wrong direction.

Pippa Bartolotti continued, “Communities First is first and foremost and anti-poverty scheme. The Conservative party would not understand the need for this, but Greens do.

“I’m in favour of a complete overhaul of Communities First. It is not well monitored, and in some places there is poor practice. It’s become too focused on ‘moving people towards employment’ and on individual pathways, and the postcode lottery removes many from being able to use the service. It has become a blunt instrument, and that needs to change.”

Resource waste has become embedded in the system. Tens of thousands of pounds are spent on private training companies that are inefficient. For example one course cost £600 per person for 5 days training. Communities First staff qualified themselves to train the same course, and it cost just £12 per person to deliver.

Bartolotti, who is also the Wales Green Party Candidate for Newport West added, “There is more to self-sufficient communities than low paid jobs. It’s time to inspire people with youth forums that aren’t tokenistic, and which are enabled to fight for cultural and social justice, allotment projects, community gardens, from seed to table projects, recycling/ up cycling projects, warmer homes projects and community art. Let’s put inspiration where it’s needed, right at the heart of Communities First.”

Caerleon College Under Threat

The Caerleon College site is now heavily under threat. The University will sell the site to the highest bidder, and that will ultimately mean maximising profits in the shape of crowded, cheap housing. This site should be an exemplar for sustainable architecture and high standards of carbon zero construction. I believe that this case should test the Well-Being of Future Generations Act. For example the building standards of new housebuilding should be very high – passivhaus or equivalent. The average house built in Wales today has a life of 30 years. That’s not good enough for the next generation. Also the green spaces should be legally protected from future building encroachment.

Caerleon is already overcrowded, and losing its identity as an historic place of interest as visitors are forced to walk through the worst pollution in Newport, along tiny pavements, as industrially laden lorries thunder past.

Slap-dash building on green spaces is to be avoided. Destruction of the 100 year old college building (which would be doubtless regretted in years to come) and for which there is already a demand to take the overflow from the Comprehensive school, would be a huge mistake.

400 or so houses will degrade the standard of living for current residents, and increase the already insupportable pollution. We need to set an example of clean sustainable development which decreases road use (re-open the train station) and provided zero carbon houses (building regulations are devolved) to take people out of fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions. Good sized gardens and/or allotment spaces will help to make the site fit for the future. Retention of the Old College building will be paramount in giving the site a rooted history and focal point.

We have only until Friday to submit our feedback, so lets do it quickly http://www.caerleon.site/submit-feedback/

The UK cannot compete against a subsidised Chinese industry, and it shouldn’t have to.

The people of South Wales are in shock, their steel works in Port Talbot is a vital part of the Welsh economy, and it will close unless swift and meaningful action is taken by government . In Llanwern too there is a foreboding mood of uncertainty. There has been a gross (and maybe purposeful) failure of industrial planning stretching back to 2005 when the Harvard Business Review pointed out the correlation between rising Chinese state subsidies and the increasing export of steel.

Wales makes good quality steel, and we ask that British manufacturers buy their steel closer to home so that our jobs and communities can prosper as they should. We must campaign to make sure that new investors don’t profit at the expense of the workers.

The Financial Times has followed Tata’s strategy over the last year(s) and we are aware the Tata board have been seeking to “get out of steel” within the UK for some months. Port Talbot is a 1950s plant and whilst Tata have invested, those who have visited equivalent facilities on the continent e.g. TATA’s steel works in Holland refer to Port Talbot “as a bit of a dump”. The investment has not been coming to Wales as it should.

This crisis was completely foreseeable, and work on a new business model should have been well underway months ago. The fact that the Prime Minister and business secretary preferred to jet away at such a crucial time says it all about Tory UK industrial strategy.

The alleged losses of £1million a week have not been corroborated by any other sources. If true such losses pale to insignificance when compared to the £375billion raised to prop up the banks by means of the newly invented ‘Quantitative Easing’ vehicle.

The Tories have an unfinished job, started by the Thatcher government, to fully dismantle organised labour, as part of a sink or swim policy for manufacturing. This has been a disaster for larger projects where we see major engineering opportunities, in the UK, outsourced to France, Germany, Spain, Japan or China. We have the engineering talent, our universities and industries are world leaders in many fields, including the steel industry. A conservative government saved Rolls Royce in the 1970’s, and it returned to profitability.

We need to find intelligent solutions for the Welsh future and its economy. What the UK government could do:

1. Implement the EU 2014 Procurement Directive, which allows the Buyer to measure bids on Socio-Environment as well as economic (price factors). Steel could be legally preferred from Port Talbot under EU rules if the UK government had adopted this European policy.

2. Remove energy subsidies from fossil fuels and redirect the money into our core strategic manufacturing when needed. Energy subsides (whilst investing and developing Green energy alternatives) for strategic high energy users such as blast furnaces should be possible. Grants for increased energy efficiency measures should be available in any case.

3. Have a credible long term industrial strategy, especially for critical industries – Energy and Steel are just two. When knee jerk reaction is strategy, we know this country is in trouble.

4. Nationalise or subsidise, for the interim. Develop new Public/Private partnerships structures, for The Peoples’ Benefit. The market has obvious weaknesses in unrestrained global commodity prices – oil, steel, gas etc. The market may be very good for shareholders, it is not good for jobs, and it is certainly not good for critical industries.

Wales can continue to develop high quality products. South Wales is an early leader in coated strip steels and high quality steels (railways, cars, aerospace). Tata has been researching and developing extraordinary rolled steels e.g. solar cell coatings; even the UK has enough sun light to make this a huge market.

Above all, British products should be made with British steel. 589 new armoured vehicles for the Army are being built using steel from Sweden. The Westminster government has already let slip that steel for the fleet of Type 26 Frigates could be supplied from abroad with multi-billion pound contracts – denying South Wales industries the sort of vital business that could secure their futures.

The UK cannot compete against a subsidised Chinese industry, and it shouldn’t have to.

Pippa Bartolotti, Candidate for Newport West and Regional List Candidate for South East Wales.